Good Neighbor Award Honor goes to Betty and Roger Buchholz

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Betty Buchholz
Betty Buchholz has been a long-time Carter House Board member. Her husband, Roger (green jacket) has worked on many community projects, including installation of the playground equipment in Founders Park. Both will be honored at Elkader’s Annual Awards Banquet.
Her husband, Roger

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

An Elkader couple whose involvement in the community has touched everything from the Founders Park playground to the Carter House Museum will be the latest recipients of the Register’s Clayton County Good Neighbor Award.

Roger and Betty Buchholz will be honored Monday, January 21, as part of the annual Elkader Community Awards banquet. The Register award was launched four years ago as a way to recognize people in the community for their “untiring, selfless acts of compassion, generosity and caring spirit.”

Elkader residents for 50 years, Betty and Roger moved to the area when Roger was offered a teaching job at Central.

“I graduated college with a guy who went to high school here,” Roger recalled. “He was aware of the job but wasn’t interested in it because he was going on for his master’s degree. That’s what I thought I’d do, too, but when the job was offered to me I thought it might be nice to put my degree to work right away.”

Roger taught math for 30 years before retiring. Never one to sit still, he also started driving a school bus in 1970—something he continues to do to this day.

Betty was trained as a nurse and for many years worked at Central Community Hospital. As their family grew, she quit nursing to provide home-based daycare. She continued that career while they raised their grandson, Luke, now a junior at Central, so that he would have playmates.

Even during their working years, Roger and Betty were active in many community pursuits. Betty co-chaired the community Christmas dinner at Peace United Church of Christ for more than 20 years. The Buchholz’ are long-time members there. She was a Girl Scout for many, many years.

“Betty once researched the number of organizations and clubs in the area, and there were like 50 of them,” Roger said. “We decided we needed to get involved in some and be active in the community. We made the choice to give something back because the community has given us so much.”

Roger was an active member of the Jaycees. In September 2005, he was appointed to fill a vacant Elkader City Council term. He was elected to the Council two months later and has been re-elected three additional times. His current term expires in 2022. Roger has also served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2012 and is the Council’s representative to the Turkey River Recreational Corridor.

Roger was an early advocate of turning the south end of town into a park following the catastrophic flood of 2008. When a group of Central parents banded together to raise money for playground equipment, they found a champion and fund-raising partner in Roger.

“There are very few people I encountered that share Roger’s enthusiasm and passion for making the community a great place to live for all ages,” said Sara Hertrampf, one of several parents who launched the playgroup effort. “He rolled up his sleeves and helped all the way from donating a private steak dinner to the silent auction at the dueling pianos event, to coordinating a crew for the installation of the playground. If I recall, Roger and Roger (Thomas) laid the stone for the shelters in the park, helped build the labyrinth, butterfly garden, and swift tower. He also took great care in choosing the flowers, shrubs, and trees to be planted in Founders’ Park. I’m probably forgetting and unaware of all of the other deeds that Roger did to help the community not only recover, but thrive, after the flood. The park would be a shadow of itself without Roger’s vision and efforts.”

Equally impressive have been Betty’s accomplishments in the community. She is a long-time member of the Carter House Museum Board and has been instrumental in helping the museum expand.

“For eight years Betty was the one who managed, cared for and organized the Carter House along with her cadre of volunteers,” said fellow board member LaVonne Augustson. “Betty’s position as president of the museum Board presented challenges and rewards. She met all issues with grace.”

 Betty has played a big role in preserving and promoting the area’s history in other ways. She’s worked tirelessly at promoting Motor Mill and has served on the Clayton County Historic Preservation Commission. Another interest of Betty’s has been collecting photos of every stone structure in Clayton County. An inventory of stone structures is now available online.

In addition to their volunteer work in the community, Betty and Roger are quick to promote Elkader as a great place to live and raise a family. Their four daughters—Teresa, Ericka, Beth and Sandra, and their grandson, Luke—were raised here. Roger believes that’s given their kids a competitive edge and kept them grounded.
The couple’s free time is spent managing their impressive flowerbeds and traveling. They’ve toured the U.S. and have also visited China, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This summer they’re headed to Peru and then on to German where they’ll hear their daughter Teresa, an accomplished mezzo soprano, perform.

A profile on Betty and Roger would be incomplete without a comment from Roger Thomas, who worked alongside the couple on many projects. Thomas, a former legislator, Main Street Director and Elkader Economic Director, had this to say upon learning about the honor: “Betty and Roger Buchholz are very deserving to receive the Clayton County Register’s Good Neighbor Award. Betty and Roger are a very special couple who serve as leaders in the community and volunteer their time and talents for various community and county organizations. If it’s building a stone wall, planting flowers in a park, digging through a dusty attic to retrieve historic relics or receiving foreign dignitaries, they are truly a part of creating legacy projects and championing everlasting effects on this community. Congratulations Betty and Roger!”

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