By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my life here,” said Roland (Rollie) Bruckschen, speaking of his decades in Lester Prairie
“It’s a small, friendly community,” Rollie’s wife, Carol, added.
The Bruckschens were selected as this year’s grand marshals for the Prairie Days celebration, which is also the city’s 125th anniversary.
“I think it’s quite an honor,” Rollie said. “I’ll try to serve it my best.”
Giving his best effort is nothing new for Rollie, whose continual aim is to enrich the lives of those around him.
“I grew up halfway between here and Glencoe,” said Rollie, a 1949 Glencoe High School graduate. “My parents farmed and I farmed with them.”
He served in the Army from 1953 to 1955, and later returned to farming.
In 1965, Rollie accepted a custodial position at the Lester Prairie School District. At that time, Harold Klaustermeier was the head custodian.
“I had a good experience working with him, and I learned a lot,” Rollie said. “Most of the community knew the excellent gentleman he was.”
In addition to custodial duties, Klaustermeier and Rollie alternated driving school bus.
Rollie, whose route was south and west of Lester Prairie, said he only had one instance in which a student gave him trouble. He attributes his success partly to his habit of greeting each student by name as they entered and departed the bus.
“I knew a lot of the families,” Rollie added.
Rollie retired in 1993, after 28.5 years of service.
“I enjoyed every minute,” he said. “I met so many nice people.”
Carol grew up in Lester Prairie, and got her first job as a soda jerk at the old drugstore.
In 1954, she graduated from Lester Prairie High School, with a class of about 12 students.
Carol also had a career in Lester Prairie, serving as high school secretary for 26 years.
“Carol and I have a heart for Lester Prairie,” Rollie said.
Rollie served on the Lester Prairie Fire Department from 1968 to 1988, and received the Aquatennial Commodore Award in 2002. He also served on the Lester Prairie City Council for many terms.
“I was re-elected each time I ran, and I had a wonderful crew to work with,” he said.
Rollie served on the planning and zoning commission for two years, and has been a member of the American Legion for the past 21 years. Rollie also volunteers at the long-term care center in Glencoe.
From 1995 to 1997, Rollie volunteered as supervisor of the school safety patrol.
“It was an opportunity to work with the youth of the community,” he said.
As supervisor, Rollie gave advice to students and helped drivers obey traffic laws near the school.
“It’s very important. I would still be doing it today if I could,” he said, explaining that his health isn’t as good as it once was.
At the end of March, Carol hosted an open house at Lester Prairie City Hall for Rollie’s 80th birthday.
About 380 people participated in the celebration.
“I was so thankful for that,” Rollie said with a smile. “It makes you want to live a little longer.”
The Bruckschens are an honest, upbeat couple who are happy to make their home in Lester Prairie.
“Everyone helps each other in times of need here,” Carol said.
Rollie said that even the little things mean a lot, like when young people hold the door open for him at the grocery store.
“That’s very appreciated,” he said.
Family all around
Rollie’s son, Brad Bruckschen, lives in Minnetonka with his wife, Kristi, and children, Ella and Oscar.
Carol has three children, including:
• Kim Walters, who lives in Florida with her husband, Bob, and children, Jenessa, Jonathan, and Kelli;
• LuAnne McSwiggen, who lives in San Diego with her husband, Rob, and daughter, Anna; and
• Mike Heigl, who lives in Lester Prairie with his wife, Karla, and children, Alex and Adam.