Cogwheel Archive

Northfield Rotary Cogwheel | September 12, 2019

September 12, 2019

TODAY’S PROGRAM | Thursday, September 12, 2019

Today: Sam Ouk, Working with Refugees (Wakely)

Next Week: Climate Action Plan Advisory Board  (Kallestad)

Birthdays: Rotarians Around the World

Last Week: 

Jesse James Bike Tour Chalk Talk

Two Weeks Ago

Looking back on a 40-plus year career in marketing, Bob Thacker probably wouldn’t consider  “Elf Yourself” his crowning achievement, but it’s hard to argue with more than a billion social media downloads. He helped create a cultural event.

“Elf Yourself” is one of those social media gimmicks that invites people to park portraits of friends and family on the bodies of dancing elves. We’ve all been there. This was part of an Internet marketing strategy developed while Bob was at Office Max, and it went viral. 

Bob came to Minnesota in 1970 to begin his long and distinguished career in the creative arts. He worked for some of the leading Twin Cities advertising agencies; helped shape Target’s brand and expansion in the mid-80s; served as chief marketer for Office Max, before it was subsumed by Office Depot; helped launch Austin’s SPAM museum while working at BBDO; and most recently completed a five-year run as head of the non-profit Adopt a Classroom. 

A self-described “fatal optimist,” Bob said things happen for a reason. But you often have to be patient to learn what that reason is.

He grew up in Lincoln, Nebr, the great-great-grandson of original prairie homesteaders who lived in a sod house. That chapter in his family history led Bob to one of his many Thackerisms: When you live in dirt, you learn to dream big.

 Bob’s mother was a teacher, his father a postal worker.They modeled a life of service and community investment, which he took to heart. He went to the University of Nebraska, graduating with a degree in advertising. He married and moved to Minnesota.

Working for Target, Bob thought big and took risks. He aligned the company with the restoration of the Washington Monument in D.C. and teamed with architect/designer MIchael Graves to turn the construction scaffolding into its own temporary work of art. Bob also changed perceptions of people with disabilities by including them in Target ad campaigns. Target was the first advertiser to do so.

Bob has four children. All work in the marketing arena. He married Northfield professor Karen Cherewatuk and moved to Northfield a few years ago. He considers his new hometown value added.  He has jumped in with both feet. Besides his active Rotary work, he is chair of Northfield Shares .and is involved in other local activities.

He and Karen have built a house that will allow them to “age in place.” It is built to accommodate a range of adaptations as they age. They are writing a book about this concept and their idea will be featured soon in Mpls.-St. Paul magazine.


David Koenig grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, received his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and a graduate degree from Northwestern. His wife, Jennifer’s appointment at St. Olaf brought him to Northfield 22 years ago. David passed on a career as a CIA operative and has made is living in the field of “risk management.” He has two children. His son is in college, and his daughter is a junior at Northfield High School.


Guests: Annie Mickelson (Rychner), Robert and Henry Steed and Bryce Seidl (J. Steed), Marcos (Haslett-Marroquin), Henry Hillemann (Hillemann), and Bea Rebello, former exchange student, now a St. Olaf student (V. Dilley).

Scholarship Enhancement: Greg Siems

Hello Exchange Students:  

Our Fab Five Exchange Students were formally introduced to the club with flags flying. We have the privilege this year of getting to know Sophie from Germany, MarK from Hungary, Diago from Brazil, Ollie from Slovakia, and Ara from Paraguay. Please make them feel at home in Northfield.  

Bike Tour Huzzahs:  

Brett Reese, co-chair the Jesse James Bike Tour, recognized three committee members for their outstanding work this year. They are: Dale Ness for hitting an all-time record in tour sponsorships; David Wolf for his tireless work developing new routes; and Shelley Holden for her work recruiting volunteers. 


• St. Olaf College’s International Friendship Program is looking for volunteers to welcome foreign students to the community. If you are interested, contact Alyssa Herzog-Melby.

• Northfield Climate Action Day will be Thursday, Sept. 19. We will formally dedicate the new EV Charging Station at Fifth and Water at 2 p.m. There will be an electric vehicle tailgating party at First UCC parking lot from 5 to 6 p.m. and a symposium at the Carleton College Weitz Center from 6 to 8 p.m. See Beth Kallestad for details.

• Mike Krance, executive director of Northfield Shares thanked all who participated or contributed to the Northfield Shares Dinner Sunday, Aug. 25. It was a hugely successful exercise in community building. He also invited people to participate or volunteer to help with the Defeat of Jesse James Days Run/’Walk Sunday, Sept. 8. Northfield Shares sponsors it.

• Mark Abbott announced that Northfield Y will be celebrating five years of operation Sunday, Sept. 29, 1 to 4 p.m. at the Y. 

• Kristi Purcell reported the “Learn to Fish” event Aug. 24 was a big success. She also encouraged members to participate in the Cannon River Watershed Project’s 11th annual watershed cleanup Saturday, Sept. 21.