Al was born on Feb. 11, 1919, in Le Mars, the first of 11 children for Joseph and Rose (Langel) Rolfes. Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942, Al proudly served his country in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a soldier in the 165th Infantry, 27th Division.
At the end of the war, Al returned safely home to his thankful family and long-waiting fianceť, Kathleen Thill. They married on Jan. 23, 1946, and were blessed with three sons and five short years before a brief illness took Kathleen in 1951.
On June 8, 1955, Al and his sons charmed Mary (Kitty) Luken right down the aisle. Blessed many times over, they added five more sons and a daughter to their family. Al was most proud of his family and relished his roles as husband, dad and grandpa.
Although Al returned to farming with his father after the war, he also enlisted part-time in the Iowa Army National Guard (ARNG). Before long, the ARNG was Al's full-time career. He served 31 years before retiring in 1979. Over the course of his career, he served in Sioux City, Fort Dodge and Boone, before settling at the IA ARNG Headquarters, Camp Dodge.
Post his retirement from the ARNG; Al was employed for 15 years as the State's Military Records Archivist. During this time, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Gold Star Museum and served as its first director. In his retirement, Al continued to be very involved with the museum and especially enjoyed hosting a weekly coffee for the staff and volunteers.
Al was a man of deep faith, quiet strength, gentle compassion and great humility. It has been said that the quality of a man's life is measured by how deeply he has touched the lives of others. Al considered himself so blessed to have such a wonderful network of family and friends; however, in his humbleness he never quite realized that most felt incredibly honored and blessed to have him in their lives. He will be greatly missed.
Al is survived by his wife Kitty; children Dave (Kim) Rolfes of Gowrie, Gary (Carmen) Rolfes of Clinton, Scott (Becky) Rolfes of Polk City, Tim (Therese) Rolfes of Johnston, Tom (Jeannine) Rolfes of Granger, John (Julie) Rolfes of Milwaukee, Wis., Mary (Eric) Larson of Johnston, Joe (Kathleen) Rolfes of Chicago; 18 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; brother Wally (Theresa) Rolfes of Merrill; sisters Ann (Evon) Puetz of Le Mars, Esther (Ron) Kurth of Primghar, Jeanne (Norbert) Schmitz of Curie, Minn., Rosie Sitzmann of Kingsley, and Lois (Paul) Woll of Worthington, Minn.; sister-in-law, Bonnie Westergard of Le Mars; many nieces and nephews; and a host of treasured friends.
Al was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife Kathleen and their infant son Rodney; his sisters Leona Schmitz, Betty Wolbers, Rosella Rolfes and Florence Rolfes; and his daughter-in-law Janice (Hanrahan) Rolfes.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m., Friday at St. Mary of Nazareth Catholic Church in Des Moines. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, at the Church followed by a brief Vigil Service at 7 p.m. Additional visitation will begin at 12 noon, Saturday, Dec. 22, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Le Mars with a memorial service at 1:30 p.m. Interment with military honors will be at Calvary Cemetery in Le Mars, following the service.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Iowa Gold Star Museum or Mercy Hospice in Johnston.
Westover Funeral Home in Des Moines and Feuerstein Funeral Home in Le Mars are handling arrangements.