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Senior group celebrates an anniversary

The Rosemount Area Seniors have gathering people for 50 years.

The location has changed and the people involved are different, but in many ways the idea that serves as the foundation of the Rosemount Area Seniors is much the same as it was when the group formed 50 years ago: Give the city's senior population a reason to gather, give them something to do and connect them to their community.

The names associated with the group's formation read a bit like a who's who of Rosemount's early days. There were Uitdenbogerds and Werners, Genzes and Streses.

"The very first meetings that they had as a group of a few people was at the little white Methodist church on Burma Avenue next to a lumber yard, approximately where the Legion is now," said Darline Lehman, a member of the group for 15 to 20 years and a former president.

The activities like then were much like they are now. Members played cards, ate together and met for coffee.

From the church the group moved to the basement of what was then the Ken-Rose Shopping Center, and from there to the Rosemount Plaza Senior Apartments. They held their first dinner there in 1978, according to records Lehman has found.

"I know that in the Plaza they used to have chili dinners and some other dinners, but it was mostly pot lucks," Lehman said.

The Rosemount group split with Apple Valley seniors in 1989, and in 1995 they moved their activities from the downtown apartment building to the recently completed Rosemount Community Center. They have been there ever since.

Jan Stoven started working with Rosemount seniors in 1986 as part of a grant the District 196 Community Education department got to work with seniors. She put on computer classes, cooking classes and other activities for the senior community.

Even now, she smiles when she thinks of some of those early members.

"I'm smiling just thinking about some of the things they'd say and the laughter," said Stoven, who still works with community ed. "They'd come in the door and a couple of the men just had a wonderful greeting."

Members would fill her in on the city's history and anything else she cared to know about Rosemount. Stoven remembers a group that loved the Rosemount community and in particular the schools that served the city's residents.

"They loved Rosemount High School," she said. "Their kids went to school together."

Those original members are gone now, but the group they started remains strong. Rosemount Area Seniors has its own advisory board and is administered by the city's parks and recreation department.

When current president Mel Engle moved to Rosemount a few years ago, he looked to the senior group as a way to meet people. He believes the group is important for the community's seniors.

"If they didn't have it, where would the seniors in Rosemount go?" he said. "Some of them don't go out to other places, like Apple Valley and Farmington.... Some of them are up there in age where they can't travel."

The group may soon have a new home. The city has discussed including space for senior activities in a new senior apartment complex to be built along Highway 3 on the site of the former St. Joseph School. Those plans are still taking shape.

Rosemount Area Seniors celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month with a riverboat trip. There will be another activity Oct. 10 at the community center. There will be activities and gift bags for seniors to take home with them.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606