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Selfless: Rohr given award for work at Rosemount Senior Living

Scott Rohr, from Rosemount, holds the Excellence in Customer Service Award he received from Augustana-Elim Care Services, who manage The Rosemount Senior Living at Steeple Center in Rosemount. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia.1 / 2
The Rosemount Senior Living at Steeple Center in Rosemount gave Scott Rohr their annual Excellence in Customer Care Award for 2018. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

ROSEMOUNT — After teaching high school history for 30 years in Rosemount and Eagan, Scott Rohr wanted to find another meaningful career. He found the perfect match at The Rosemount Senior Living at Steeple Center.

In fact, it's such a good match that Augustana-Elim Care Services, which manages the senior facility, just awarded Rohr the company's Excellence in Customer Service Award as part of the annual Augustana Awesome Awards.

"The adjective that comes to mind is selfless," said Bill Peters, housing director for The Rosemount. "He is one of the most selfless people I have ever known."

Peters said many people are giving in one area of their lives, but Rohr "gives time to almost everything. He gave so much to his students, and now he gives to the seniors. He gives back to his church, people in shelters, to the troops. It is that universal giving that is not just targeted in one place. It really is an inspiration."

Rohr works part time at The Rosemount as a server in the dining room. That's his official assignment, but his unofficial duties go far beyond that. He leads a weekly Topic Talk on Thursday mornings which has become one of the most popular activities at the residence.

He chooses a topic, usually a current event with an historical base, and he brings photos, cartoons and maps in to support the discussion.

"That's one of the really nice things about this is that they have lived through so much of this," Rohr said. "They think about it, and they remember it. I ask them about a picture and they say, 'That's Joe McCarthy,' and there might be another picture, and they say, 'That is Richard Nixon.' They know who those people are, so I relate the history of those pictures to them."

Rohr said they look at a different topic each week, but the discussions often don't end when the scheduled hour does.

"Many of them will come talk to me in the dining room afterwards," Rohr said. "They will ask questions. This can go on for days. They watch the news and they are really up on current events. They know that I am a good person to talk with about the news, so I enjoy doing that."

While it is similar to teaching history in high school, "It's a very different audience than kids in school, but they have some very strong opinions, and they are free to express them there."

When Rohr was preparing to retire from teaching in 2015, both of his parents went into hospice care. His father had Alzheimer's disease, and his mother had cancer.

"They were in hospice together," Rohr explained. "They were in the same room and died in the same bed 70 days apart."

Rohr said he had been looking for a way to serve others after he finished teaching. With his parents in hospice care, he talked with the staff and asked them what motivated them to work with dying patients.

One staff member told him, "We are their companions on the last leg of their journey, and that is an honor."

Rohr heard that, and said, "Yes, that is what I want to do."

In one sense, it should be no surprise that Rohr, a worship leader at his church, ended up working at The Rosemount Senior Living at Steeple Center.

"This place is actually a mile from where I grew up," Rohr said, "and I live 3 miles south of here. I watched this place being built. When I knew it was completed and open, I came and applied here."

With no formal nursing or medical training, Rohr was delighted when Peters offered him the job serving in the dining room. Peters also told Rohr that if he had any ideas about ways to serve the residents better, he should talk to Peters, and they would find a way to make it happen.

Rohr wasted no time. In addition to the Topic Talks, he has served as DJ at several residential dances, helped set up special dinners, assisted residents wrapping care packages for soldiers, and played guitar for many events.

It's a two-way street. Rohr said the residents have taught him to "live life all the way until the end. These people have something to give. I know they experience depression and health issues, but when they come down here to the dining room, they are life, and I love being around them."

Rohr makes sure he greets residents by name. "I always think of it like when Norm came into Cheers."

For the past eight years, Rohr has visited the Hastings Veterans Home on a regular basis. "He creates a fabulous social setting for our veterans," said Katie Wrich, recreational therapist, "He reaches out and provides so much friendship by sitting down and really listening to the veterans. It is truly something that the veterans look forward to and our staff, as well. He is so warm and inviting."

"You don't go into this work for the money," Rohr said. "You go in for the intrinsic things and to serve people. When I got that award, when they brought me up on stage, I got really choked up because I looked down at the staff that was there, and I thought, I represent great people. This has my name on it, but I represent people who care."

Peters said Rohr has made him ask some difficult questions. "What am I doing with my life? What am I doing with my time? When you have somebody that makes you think by their actions, it is really cool. That's what he has done for me."

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

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