Jesse Rolph, a former Lodi resident and long time local businessman, died Friday, August 24th, 2012. He was 86 years old.
If Jesse had a choice in how he might leave this world, it would have been during a par round of golf with his family and friends – a round played entirely down the middle and without a single three-putt. (In Jesse's mind, there was no excuse for a three-putting a green). Alzheimer's unfortunately prevented him from finishing his final round in the manner he would have preferred.
Jesse was born in Delphos, Kansas in 1926 to Jesse and Hazel Rolph. He leaves behind his two siblings, his loving wife, golf and dance partner, Marilyn, to whom he was married for 65 wonderful years, his three beloved sons, three cherished daughter's-in-law, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren, specifically:
Brother, Kenneth Rolph of Gresham, Oregon, Sister, Diane Rolph of Waldport, Oregon, Wife, Marilyn Rolph of Fresno, California, Son, Richard Rolph and wife, Cinda Rolph of Fresno, California, Granddaughter, Whitney Mooneyham and husband, Mike Mooneyham of Fresno, California, Great granddaughter, Riley Mooneyham of Fresno, California, Great grandson, Fisher Mooneyham of Fresno, California, Grandson, Noah Rolph of Fresno, California, Grandson Carson Rolph of Fresno, California, Son, Craig Rolph and wife, Valerie Rolph of Golden, Colorado, Granddaughter, Hannah Rolph of Denver, Colorado, Grandson, Samuel Rolph of Phoenix, Arizona, Granddaughter, Abigail Rolph of Golden, Colorado, Grandson, Victor Rolph of Golden, Colorado, Son, Mike Rolph and wife, Trina Rolph of Fresno, California, Grandson, Nicholas Rolph of San Francisco, California, Granddaughter, Gabrielle Rolph of Fresno, California
In 1942, Jesse moved with his mother, father and two younger siblings, to Newberg, Oregon, where he eventually met Marilyn at a high school dance. Following high school he joined the Army Air Corps and served his country for two years. He married Marilyn in 1947 while he was attending Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, from which he graduated in 1949 with a B.S. in Business Administration.
With marriage and college behind them, Jesse and Marilyn moved to California where Jesse began a 40+-year career as an independent insurance agent. In 1964 Jesse joined Kundert's Insurance in Lodi and developed his business into a successful 30+-year partnership, which became Kundert and Rolph Insurance.
He would not want his insurance career to be at the center of his life story. He was a family man first and he surely would want to be remembered as such.
Rolph family life was filled with fishing, camping and sports, and never did Jesse miss his children's events. Later in life, he and Marilyn often traveled great distances to see their grandchildren's sporting events. Forever the family coach, Jesse would always offer a few critical observations in his own casual manner. In sports as in life, he praised hard work and loathed bad attitudes and excuses. His support of his children and grandchildren was always 100%, win, lose or draw.
The family dinner table was Jesse's headquarters. At 6:00pm each day, stories of the day were shared, jokes were told, opinions and arguments were volleyed, and problems were exposed and solved. Jesse's dinner table was a remarkable environment where the family learned to live, love and grow close. It was a wonderfully warm and friendly home that Jesse and Marilyn created together.
In 2007, with Jesse's Alzheimer's disease advancing, he and Marilyn moved to Fresno, California, to be closer to their family. Before the Alzheimer's took his mind away, there was rarely a day when he was not in contact with his children and grandchildren. For many years, he penned and mailed friendly, clever notes to his nine grandchildren. Each note always included a stick of gum and occasional messages to pass along to parents and even the family pets. When visiting his grandchildren, he would wrestle with and tease his grandsons to toughen them up. With his granddaughters he would read and dance and play in a gentle manner. And, just as he did with his own sons, he ended phone conversations and written notes to his grandchildren with, "Be good."
Jesse Rolph's legacy is one of a family man. While he was robbed of his memory during the last fifteen years of his life, and left unable to recognize the fruits of his labor, his character is clearly alive and well in his grandchildren; evidence that he did his job well, worked hard, loved his family and friends, and along the way created a family culture of openness, honesty and integrity.
He will be missed by his family and by so many in Lodi that called him friend.
Farewell Jesse. Farewell Dad. Farewell Poppa. Be good.
There will be a private, family-only service on Sunday, September 2.
The family has established a memorial fund in Jesse's name and will be making a donation to the Advanced Alzheimer's Care Unit of the Golden Living Center in Fresno, California. In lieu of flowers, if you wish to contribute to the fund, please make your check payable to Marilyn Rolph and send to: The Jesse Rolph Memorial Fund at 1114 N. Fulton Street, Fresno, California 93728.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from August 31 to September 7, 2012
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