Rod Rommel: He truly made a difference
How did a humble farm boy rise to a prestigious position in business and community service to make a difference in the world?
For Rommelney Rommel of La Crosse (formerly of River Falls), it all started on his family's farm in Melrose, located 30 miles from Black River Falls. His rural upbringing instilled in him a dedication to business and the volunteer spirit that would touch the lives of so many along his
personal and professional career.
A modest man, Rommel said "I met my wife Judy when she taught second grade Sunday school at the Methodist Church."
Rommel asked her to be his date for the junior prom and it developed into a lifetime love affair for this bashful farm boy. RHe confessed that Judy was the only girl he ever dated. He and Judy grew up just seven miles from each other and Rommel just knew she was the girl for him.
The Rommels moved to La Crosse and lived there from 1975 to 1985.
In 1985 he accepted a CEO position at Farm Credit Services of Northwestern Wisconsin, who was opening an office in River Falls. Farm Credit Services is a cooperative and financial services company serving 21 counties in East Central Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.
While in River Falls, he was invited to a "Smoker" which was a social get together. He met many local people including many Freemasons. He got to know Wayne Rudesill, who asked him to consider joining the local River Falls Masonic Lodge. He joined in 1987 and went on to make his mark on the fraternity as well as the community.
Rommel's quiet and effective leadership skills and his commitment to the community called him
to serve in many capacities. In fact, Rommel's list of community activities reads like a who's who of River Falls.
He was a 20-year member of the River Falls Lions, Charter member of the Rotary, church
council and finance committee chair, UWRF Ag Advisor Council and he served on the River Falls
Hospital and River Falls Library new construction funding committees.
In 2000 he was named the UW —River Falls Outstanding Agriculturalist.
Rommel was also a board member of the St. Croix Valley Foundation, River Falls Senior Center, St. Croix Valley Restorable Justice board, and the Pierce County Board of Supervisors.
In addition, Rommel served as a board member of the Wisconsin Lion Pride Campaign from
2009 to 2014 as well as a board member of the Wisconsin Lions Foundation from 2008 to 2013.
He is a current board member and 1st Vice President (President Elect) of the Lions Eye Bank of
Rommel is a past master of Masonic Lodge #109 in River Falls, and is also a member of the York and Scottish Rite and a 27-year member of the Shrine. He is a past president of the St. Croix Valley Shrine Club.
As a Shriner, he also currently serves as a board member and Treasurer of the Twin Cities Shrine Hospital for Children. The hospital provides families with medical care regardless of their
ability to pay.
Not bad for a humble farm boy from Melrose.
Along the way his life has touched so many that it is daunting to comprehend it all.
His love of the fraternity of Freemasonry has moved him to numerous leadership roles in the
craft. His mild manner and gentle guidance has helped the River Falls Masonic Lodge and many
of its appendant bodies.
When he joined the lodge, he remembers being moved by the three brothers who spent time with him and Judy to get to know him. He felt a part of something where he could truly make a
Rommel retired last year and moved back in his original home town of La Crosse. He said he is
looking forward to getting involved in the local Masonic organizations.
If you are considering joining a fraternity that truly makes a difference in the lives of others, you
would do well to follow the example of Rommel.
The Wisconsin Grand Lodge of Masons in Wisconsin is holding special days in which good men
can become Masons in one day. It is called Masonic Day of Light and will be held in three locations in Wisconsin in March and April 2018. One such event will be held in Eau Claire on Saturday, March 24.
If you have an interest you can go online at Wisconsin Masonic Grand Lodge website.