Northfield Rotary Club

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Northfield Rotary Cogwheel | September 12, 2019

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 10:22am

TODAY’S PROGRAM | Thursday, September 12, 2019

Today: Sam Ouk, Working with Refugees (Wakely)

Next Week: Climate Action Plan Advisory Board  (Kallestad)

Birthdays: Rotarians Around the World

Last Week: 

Jesse James Bike Tour Chalk Talk

Two Weeks Ago

Looking back on a 40-plus year career in marketing, Bob Thacker probably wouldn’t consider  “Elf Yourself” his crowning achievement, but it’s hard to argue with more than a billion social media downloads. He helped create a cultural event.

“Elf Yourself” is one of those social media gimmicks that invites people to park portraits of friends and family on the bodies of dancing elves. We’ve all been there. This was part of an Internet marketing strategy developed while Bob was at Office Max, and it went viral. 

Bob came to Minnesota in 1970 to begin his long and distinguished career in the creative arts. He worked for some of the leading Twin Cities advertising agencies; helped shape Target’s brand and expansion in the mid-80s; served as chief marketer for Office Max, before it was subsumed by Office Depot; helped launch Austin’s SPAM museum while working at BBDO; and most recently completed a five-year run as head of the non-profit Adopt a Classroom. 

A self-described “fatal optimist,” Bob said things happen for a reason. But you often have to be patient to learn what that reason is.

He grew up in Lincoln, Nebr, the great-great-grandson of original prairie homesteaders who lived in a sod house. That chapter in his family history led Bob to one of his many Thackerisms: When you live in dirt, you learn to dream big.

 Bob’s mother was a teacher, his father a postal worker.They modeled a life of service and community investment, which he took to heart. He went to the University of Nebraska, graduating with a degree in advertising. He married and moved to Minnesota.

Working for Target, Bob thought big and took risks. He aligned the company with the restoration of the Washington Monument in D.C. and teamed with architect/designer MIchael Graves to turn the construction scaffolding into its own temporary work of art. Bob also changed perceptions of people with disabilities by including them in Target ad campaigns. Target was the first advertiser to do so.

Bob has four children. All work in the marketing arena. He married Northfield professor Karen Cherewatuk and moved to Northfield a few years ago. He considers his new hometown value added.  He has jumped in with both feet. Besides his active Rotary work, he is chair of Northfield Shares .and is involved in other local activities.

He and Karen have built a house that will allow them to “age in place.” It is built to accommodate a range of adaptations as they age. They are writing a book about this concept and their idea will be featured soon in Mpls.-St. Paul magazine.


David Koenig grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, received his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and a graduate degree from Northwestern. His wife, Jennifer’s appointment at St. Olaf brought him to Northfield 22 years ago. David passed on a career as a CIA operative and has made is living in the field of “risk management.” He has two children. His son is in college, and his daughter is a junior at Northfield High School.


Guests: Annie Mickelson (Rychner), Robert and Henry Steed and Bryce Seidl (J. Steed), Marcos (Haslett-Marroquin), Henry Hillemann (Hillemann), and Bea Rebello, former exchange student, now a St. Olaf student (V. Dilley).

Scholarship Enhancement: Greg Siems

Hello Exchange Students:  

Our Fab Five Exchange Students were formally introduced to the club with flags flying. We have the privilege this year of getting to know Sophie from Germany, MarK from Hungary, Diago from Brazil, Ollie from Slovakia, and Ara from Paraguay. Please make them feel at home in Northfield.  

Bike Tour Huzzahs:  

Brett Reese, co-chair the Jesse James Bike Tour, recognized three committee members for their outstanding work this year. They are: Dale Ness for hitting an all-time record in tour sponsorships; David Wolf for his tireless work developing new routes; and Shelley Holden for her work recruiting volunteers. 


• St. Olaf College’s International Friendship Program is looking for volunteers to welcome foreign students to the community. If you are interested, contact Alyssa Herzog-Melby.

• Northfield Climate Action Day will be Thursday, Sept. 19. We will formally dedicate the new EV Charging Station at Fifth and Water at 2 p.m. There will be an electric vehicle tailgating party at First UCC parking lot from 5 to 6 p.m. and a symposium at the Carleton College Weitz Center from 6 to 8 p.m. See Beth Kallestad for details.

• Mike Krance, executive director of Northfield Shares thanked all who participated or contributed to the Northfield Shares Dinner Sunday, Aug. 25. It was a hugely successful exercise in community building. He also invited people to participate or volunteer to help with the Defeat of Jesse James Days Run/’Walk Sunday, Sept. 8. Northfield Shares sponsors it.

• Mark Abbott announced that Northfield Y will be celebrating five years of operation Sunday, Sept. 29, 1 to 4 p.m. at the Y. 

• Kristi Purcell reported the “Learn to Fish” event Aug. 24 was a big success. She also encouraged members to participate in the Cannon River Watershed Project’s 11th annual watershed cleanup Saturday, Sept. 21. 


Categories: Organizations

Northfield Rotary Cogwheel | August 29, 2019

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 5:06pm

TODAY’S PROGRAM | Thursday, August 29, 2019

Today: Thacker, Classification (Koenig)

Next Week: Bike Tour Prep

Birthdays: Rotarians Around the World

Last Week: 

Mark Lancaster, Northfield Insurance Agency

Mark moved here last October after purchasing Northfield Insurance Agency. Kevin Rodgers and his wife are both still working there and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Mark’s wife of nearly 10 years, Tricia, is a corporate attorney for Taylor Corp in North Mankato. Both are former college basketball players, and at 6’9” and 6’3” they are one of the tallest married couples in the world. They met when his sister signed him up for a membership in; all it took for both Mark and Tricia was a one-month membership.

Their daughter Mackenzie, a sophomore at UW River Falls, wants to be a veterinarian. Their six-year-old twins, Eleanor and Coraline, are the tallest twins in their age group in the country right now. And their youngest, Josephine, is four. 

Mark is from Amboy, Minn., and played basketball in Maple River, where they won a state championship in ‘93. He played on an all-star team with Northfield’s Sam Richardson and was a McDonald’s All American player. Tricia played basketball at Gustavus.

They are very happy in Northfield — a nice bonus, since they came here only because of the business opportunity. They feel confident they have found their forever home.

The name Mark means “strong defender” and he has chosen to live his life that way. His father told him you can be intimidating and bully people, or you can choose to be caring and use your size to defend others. Mark sees his business role that way as well, helping people protect their most important assets.


Rick Estenson moved to Northfield 29 years ago. His wife, Kris, works at the Piper Center at St. Olaf. Their son Sam, a former Outbound to Japan, works at Google. Their daughter Maria works for Ashoka, which is DC-based, but is now working remotely from Salt Lake City, where she has recently moved for her husband’s job. Rick works at First National Bank of Northfield, whose ownership will change a week from tomorrow though nothing else will change for quite a while. Perhaps next May or June they will lose the FNB name and become part of the Merchants network. Merchants is a Winona-based bank. They’ve been told they’ll still pretty much run independently.

Exchange Students Arriving:

Vice President Vicki Dilley introduced four of the five 2019-2020 Inbound students who have recently arrived: Mark from Hungary, Diogo from Brazil, Oliver (Ollie) from Slovakia and Araceli (Ara) from Paraguay.

2017-2018 Inbound Bea from Brazil is back in Northfield to start college at St. Olaf. She introduced her sister and her mother, who is a Youth Exchange Officer at her Rotary club in Brazil.

Statement of Purpose: The Rotary Club of Northfield is dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through service and shared experience. We invite people from all corners of the community to join us as we partner with others to support youth, build sustainable infrastructure and preserve our planet.

Pascal Cogan (Charlie Cogan); Tanya Charlick-Paley, Rotary member and YEO from Owatonna, now working at St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom and Community (Jean Wakely).

Scholarship Enhancement: Ollie


• The Bike Tour still needs a few volunteers, especially sag drivers on Saturday but also helping putting up the route signs on Friday and base cleanup from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

• The Rotary Foundation was named the #1 charity on Charity Navigator’s recent “10 best” list!

• Nigeria has now gone three full years with no new cases of polio, so polio has been declared eradicated in Nigeria. If there are no new cases in the next year, all of Africa will be declared polio-free.

• Rick Olson from Prior Lake Rotary will be talking about renewable options for your home August 22 here at the Methodist church.

• The new Rotary-sponsored EV charging station downtown is already in frequent use and serves as an education tool as well as being useful. 

• The CRWP’s fishing event at Ames Park is August 24, 1-3 p.m. 44 kids have signed up. If you love fishing and want to come and help kids learn, they would love the help. 

Happy News:  

• Bruce Morlan surprised and converted a northern Minnesota audience member when they learned he is a conservative who supports doing something about climate change. • Ann and Mike Leming went to the recent EV test drive in Faribault and bought a Tesla.

• Kristi Pursell and her husband are celebrating  their 10 year anniversary. • Penny Hillemann is delighted to have purchased a powerful electric lawn mower that can manage the overgrown grass in her yard. • Larry Vorweck and his wife are celebrating their 23rd anniversary. • Virginia Lorang is proud new grandmother of a baby girl. • Fred Rogers and his wife celebrated their 43rd anniversary yesterday.


Categories: Organizations