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Longtime cook's legacy lives on

"Some of my first memories were mass at St. Joe's," Dianne Rolfing, a longtime Rosemount resident and employee of St. Joseph's community, wrote in a letter to her husband before she passed. The letter, entitled "My Love for St. Joe's," describes Rolfing's never-ending love for the church and school.

Last week, staff and students returned some of that love with a lunch event held in her name. Rolfing, who worked as a cook at St. Joseph's starting in 1970, passed away March 27. She was not only a beloved employee, but also member of the community. Included in the letter to her husband were memories that all came back to the same place: St. Joe's.

Rolfing and her family moved to Rosemount when she was a very young girl, and St. Joe's was where they found their community. Rolfing's father, Leo Ostertag, was a trustee. He became very involved in the church and was extremely passionate about getting a school founded there. Working together with other members they made it happen. The pastor at the time, Fr. Furey, found a group of Sisters, the Sisters of St. Agnes, who were willing to be apart of it.

"We all won, and in 1953, I was so proud to see my dad lay the cornerstone for the much hard worked for St. Joseph's School," Rolfing continued in her letter. Though she was too old to attend St. Joe's school once it was completed, she was still ecstatic.

Years later, Rolfing began her work with St. Joe's by taking a 4-hour a day job, in the school office as well as helping with the lunch program. After six years, the head cook retired, and she took over.

"Some of you will agree, I found my niche," she continued in her letter. "I loved the kids and enjoyed seeing them enjoy their break from the classroom."

Her memories were fond and there were many - many that were also shared by other members of the community.

"She was such a wonderful woman; so friendly and upbeat," Sue Saintey, director of food services at St. Joe's, said.

Saintey was one of many that worked with and knew Rolfing.

"(She) was very recognized at St. Joe's ... she was a pillar here," Saintey said. "Very kind, (and) the kids loved her."

In addition to her daily work that was appreciated by all, she also went above and beyond to help St. Joe's however they needed it. According to Saintey, after she retired, she did Meals on Wheels for many years. She also stayed involved in St. Joe's in other ways.

"One day one of the assistant cooks were sick ... she came back to help me," Saintey said.

Her helpful manner and contributions to St. Joe's was not lost with her passing. Her husband, Wesley, decided to give back to the school like his wife did for so many years. He decided to donate new lunch trays to St. Joe's on his wife's behalf.

Saintey, who said they were all very happy to have the 216 new trays, helped to organize a special day in which the new trays were to be incorporated into the school lunch. Rolfing's husband was a guest at lunch along with Rolfing's long-time coworker Mary Alice. The day was deemed "Dianne Rolfing Day."

Saintey took pictures of the eighth graders, the oldest kids in the school, with the old trays and the kindergarteners with the new ones.

"The bottom line - I worked at St. Joe's for 28 years and gave it my best," Rolfing said in her letter. "I loved every minute of it. So you have seen, St. Joe's has been a part of my whole life. God has been the center and guide through it all. Always there for me."