Rolfes, Helen Florentine 1910 – 1991

Miss Rolfes was born November 1, 1910 in the family farmhouse on Devil’s Hole Road outside of Pemberville,  OH to the proud parents; Lewis Henry Rolfes (1866 – 1934) and Katherine (Poggemeyer) Rolfes (1874 – 1951).  She lived on this farm for most of her life. Miss Rolfes died May 24, 1991. The Rolfes Family immigrated to this country from Osnabruck, Germany in 1836. Her mother’s family emigrated from the nearby area of Hoyel, Germany in 1892.

Helen had one brother, Milton and five sisters, Leona, Frances, Irene, Nelda and Kathryn. She started school at the English one room schoolhouse on the corner of Bradner Road and Devil’s Hole Road. During the elementary school years she was accelerated one grade because of being an outstanding student. As there was no high school near her on Devil’s Hole road, the school board sent her to Woodville High School. She graduated from Woodville and was a member of the first graduating class in the new building, of which she was very proud. Her father, the late Lewis Rolfes, who had been a teacher in the one-room Sweitz School, felt that Helen should carry on the family tradition and was determined that Helen would be a teacher. Thus, he all but mortgaged the homestead to send her to UT during the depression.

In June 1931 she graduated from the University of Toledo when the university had just relocated to the University Hall on Bancroft Street. She was one of the first group to graduate from the (then) new West Bancroft Street Campus. She received her Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts in 1932 from the University of Toledo. Although jobs were scarce in the depression, Miss Rolfes found one. It paid $1,000 a year. “I didn’t mind the low salary,” she said. “At least I had a job.” [Toledo Blade “Teaching Reaches the Golden Years” by Don Wolfe] At first Miss Rolfes directed plays, was cheerleading adviser, taught girls’ physical education, and was a long time booster of athletics at Eastwood. Those were merely extra jobs. By day she taught English and Latin and was in charge of the library. Later, as she wound down her career, she taught mathematics and watched over study halls.

Miss Rolfes was an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was also a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Greater Toledo Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Education Association and the Ohio and Eastwood Education Associations.

Helen’s professional teaching career spanned 50 years in one school district Troy-Luckey, Pemberville and Eastwood High School. During these fifty years Helen totally devoted her life to all school affairs of the students and their families. She was on the Pemberville Library Board of Trustees 1962 – 1990 and the original planning committee to establish the Pemberville Public Library. Helen volunteered thousands of hours at the Lutheran Old Folks’ Home and Orphanage on Seaman St. in Oregon, Ohio.  Helen was a member of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bradner Road where she was baptized, confirmed and buried. As well as her professional life, Helen’s church activities were a large part of her life.

There was a retirement party for Helen at Eastwood High School in 1981. Over 400 people attended: At this time a scholarship was established in her honor at Eastwood High School. Over $2000 was given by various people. Much more money has been given since. One student each year receives a scholarship in her name. Also at this time she received the Governor’s Proclamation for being an Outstanding Teacher in the State of Ohio.

Miss Rolfes also took delight down through the years on how students fared after high school. Her pride and joy was to see children develop into leaders, and her prize pupil was Charles Kurfess, who went on to become Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.

“She has probably had a greater influence for good with more young people than anyone certainly in this part of the country, both because of her personality and teaching, and because of the number of years she has taught.”