Herald JournalHerald Journal Holiday Guide, Dec. 2, 2002

Winter Festival grand marshal: Herb Roufs

By Ryan Gueningsman

Herb Roufs, Winsted's 2002 Winter Festival grand marshal, was one of the first persons ever from the community of Winsted to go to a college, and he remembers it like it was yesterday.

"The gentleman reading my application looked at it and said, 'I'll give you one year, then you will quit,'" Roufs, 90, recalled.

"I asked him why he thought that, and the answer he gave me was because I was from a small town," he said.

"The man looked at the application further and said 'Wait a minute, I'm sorry, I take that back ­ I give you one quarter ­ you went to a private school,'" he said.

Roufs proved the gentleman wrong, earning his way to the University of Minnesota's honor roll, and graduated at the top of his class in 1935, specializing in the pharmacy industry.

"That put a fire under me, I guess," Roufs said. "There were only three of us who graduated with the honors I did."

He got married a year after graduating college and worked in Minneapolis for 18 years at three different drug stores.

Finding his way back to Winsted, he bought the drug store from Leo Schaffer, whose health was failing at the time.

"He (Schaffer) died right after I bought it, so I started from scratch," Roufs said. "I had also gotten married to Helen, and we had our four boys already ­ Donnie who was in the third grade, David who was in kindergarten, and Dennis and Dick who were not yet in school.

Roufs and his wife were active members of the community for many years, including a lot of things at their parish, Holy Trinity.

"I never missed anything in church," Roufs said. "My brother Cecil was even a priest."

Roufs was also instrumental in the building and funding of St. Mary's Hospital and Nursing Home in the late '50s.

He was the financial chairman of the group that raised the initial funds to get the facility in Winsted.

"It was the largest money drive in the state at that time," Roufs said. "I'm not bragging, just real proud of what we did. I feel bad that the hospital got away. I think they should have kept that."

By the time Roufs reached age 63, he knew that he would eventually have to find someone to sell the pharmacy business in Winsted down to. His selection was Ken Kremer, who would become Roufs' first full time employee, and eventually purchased the store from him.

"I'm not disappointed with anything," he said of passing on the reigns of the pharmacy business. "Ken is real good to the town and church, and has been a great friend of mine to this day."

Since retiring, Roufs has sold his home in Winsted and currently lives at the long-term care unit at Glencoe Regional Health Services.

His wife Helen passed away in 1994. They were married for 58 years.

Roufs never regrets leaving Minneapolis and moving back to his hometown to live his life.

"I'm awful proud of that town," he said. "I'm just happy I could do what I did."

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