By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Rodger and Mary Erickson of Delano have a close-knit family with true community spirit.
“We really enjoy serving the community,” Rodger said. “We’re very open to helping out when we can.”
Mary’s actively involved in the Red Cross Bloodmobile in Delano, and Rodger recently retired from the Delano Fire Department after 21 years of service.
Rodger and Mary have three sons, Andy, 27, Matt, 25, and Chad, 21, who all graduated from Delano High School.
Andy is part of a new Delano organization, the Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT), which trains for readiness in basic disaster situations.
Andy and Chad also help with the family business, CARQUEST Auto Parts in Delano. Andy has a degree in bodywork, and Chad went to school for small engine repair.
Mary has a full-time job as a life pensions underwriter in the metro area, but still finds time to do bookwork and other errands for the business.
A new grandson also keeps Mary and Rodger busy. Andy and his wife, Tonya, had their first child, Caleb, eight months ago.
“He’s starting to have a personality,” Rodger said.
In July, Rodger decided to retire from the Delano Fire Department so that he’d have more time to spend with his grandson.
“It was time to be selfish with my time,” he said.
As for the fire department, Rodger said he misses the camaraderie, but doesn’t miss getting up in the middle of the night.
The department typically responded to more than 300 calls per year, so Rodger said he often had to leave birthday, anniversary, and holiday celebrations.
“One year there was a barn fire on Christmas Eve, and we were out all night,” he said.
Fire calls also shortened dates, sometimes, as well.
“Mary and I wouldn’t go to the movie theater, because nine times out of 10, I’d have to leave her there,” Rodger said.
For about eight years, Rodger was also a member of the Delano planning and zoning commission.
Now, Rodger has a bit more free time, but still works about 50 to 60 hours a week at his business. The best part of being his own boss is “the illusion of being in control,” he said.
He’s been into automotive work since high school, when he took a job at Big A Auto Parts, which is now the NAPA store in Delano.
Rodger graduated from Delano High School in 1978, and stayed in the automotive industry, working for Star West Chevrolet in Delano for 14 years.
“I’d always been mechanically inclined,” he said.
Rodger purchased CARQUEST in Delano in 2002, and has seven employees, including his sons.
“Everybody kind of does everything,” he said.
One perk of having the business is going to national CARQUEST conventions every other year, he said. He’s traveled to San Antonio, San Diego, and most recently, the Bahamas.
Rodger and Mary like taking trips throughout the US, but consider Delano their permanent home.
“I think we’ll probably always be attached in some way,” Rodger said.