Madison – Rolf A. Rodefeld, 72, left the last books he read unshelved when he died Dec. 4 at the UW Hospital. Born June 12, 1951 to Rodney Milo and Virginia Eleanor (Gundlach) Rodefeld, Rolf was their proud and doting son and a lifelong super-citizen of Madison.
After high school he completed undergrad and graduate studies in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin, where he was also employed until his 2017 retirement from the Wendt Library of Engineering. Rolf delighted in a public service career as a librarian, accurately tracking research materials and otherwise serving the many students for whom he cared. Famously unsuccessful in employing such fastidiousness at his own desk or at home, Rolf did extended his passion for order into his beloved community: reorganizing and volunteering in the OutReach LGBTQ+ resource center’s library; becoming ID-Madison’s de facto sacristan purchasing, cleaning, storing and setting up items for four decades of meetings and liturgies; and as a longtime poll station captain for the city, tenaciously readying his election gear days in advance, insisting on strict adherence to rules which allowed his fellow citizens to participate confidently in voting.
Rolf nourished his civic mind as a union steward at work, a Madison Common Council groupie, and by rarely missing a good meeting in organizations and campaigns of interest. He served on committees and the boards of both ID and OutReach. Kind and generous with his time, Rolf promptly accepted requests for help from friends or strangers. Not one to suffer political hypocrisy, he was always at the ready to employ witty gossip in defense: “Oh, you think THAT’S bad/crazy/extreme? Well…” The inevitable long story to follow made Rolf an engaging, approachable, valuable mixer at gatherings. Stories of his childhood and full life in Madison were always available for willing (and occasionally, unwilling) listeners.
In private life, Rolf spent considerable time tending the roses surrounding his riparian Yahara River home. He enjoyed long walks and commenting on nature and its magnificence. During the legal and social battle over Native American treaty rights in the 1980s, Rolf did some intense research and found some of the original treaty documents which proved valuable in the federal case which restored the right to hunt and fish of six tribal entities throughout their former territories in Wisconsin. An out and proud gay man, other friends of Dorothy he had met along his life’s journey enriched and fulfilled his rainbow-bedecked life.
Rolf was predeceased by his parents; a childhood pet, chihuahua Tim Tam; and, best friend, Henry Dudek. Rolf leaves to mourn a circle of friends, Mark Jochem, Zeke Schliewe, Paulette Quick, Sarah Cronn, Gregory Humphrey and James Wilson. There are many others, especially among ID-Madison and OutReach who he hoped would know of his affection also. A special thanks to the staff of The Jefferson senior community, who supported him as he began to thrive again post-pandemic.
At Rolf’s request, his ashes will be inurned in the family plot at Hope Lutheran Cottage Grove Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, his friends invite contributions in Rolf’s name to OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center, located at 2701 International Lane, Ste. 101, Madison, WI 53704. ID-Madison will welcome all those wishing to rejoice in the friendship that Rolf shared with us to a Celebration of Life in January, details to be posted at idmadison.org.
Thank you, Rolf, for being a steady, loyal and thoughtful friend.
Informed Choice Funeral & Alternatives
3325 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53704