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Dr. Alan Roelfs Phd 06/17/2022

Alan P. Roelfs formerly of Grantsburg Wisconsin, passed away on June 17th, 2022.

Dr. Roelfs was born on November 18th, 1936, and raised on a wheat farm near Stockton, Kansas. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Kansas State University in 1959 and 1964. As a graduate student at Kansas State University, he also worked as a research technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service. In the mid-sixties he transferred to the University of Minnesota, St Paul. There he continued to work for the USDA and in 1970 and received a PhD in Plant Pathology. He was then promoted to USDA-ARS Research Plant Pathologist at the Cereal Rust Laboratory and became an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Dr. Alan P. Roelfs retired on January 2, 1994, after 32 years with the United States Government.
Dr. Roelfs devoted his career to understanding cereal rust diseases, particularly wheat stem rust and wheat leaf rust. Dr. Roelfs was recognized as one of the world’s major leaders in cereal rust research. Following retirement, he retained a part-time association with the Cereal Rust Laboratory and the Department of Plant Pathology and maintained several active research interests.

Alan’s love for nature and the outdoors signified how we each should maintain a life well lived. After his retirement, Alan was involved as a volunteer at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. He also provided an active presence in his church community, Central United Methodist Church, Grantsburg.

Alan was preceded in the death by his parents Paul and Florence Roelfs.
He is survived by his brother- Norman Roelfs. His children, Judy Bertram, Lorene Finch, David Roelfs, Rekha Roelfs, and Ravi Roelfs. Three Grandchildren – Kimberly, Amber, and Mindy Bertram.

Please stop by when you are able, to join for a time of visiting with friends and family, as we remember Alan on Saturday, July 23rd, 2022, from 1p.m to 4p.m. at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

A special thank You to Woodland Hill Senior Living- Presbyterian homes of Hudson WI, and Our House Senior Living Memory Care of River Falls WI for providing care for Alan prior to his passing.

Cremation Services provided by Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


  • Tammy Anderson Posted June 24, 2022 2:11 pm

    Alan was a very special man. His love of plants and the outdoors and his willingness to share his knowledge with others was amazing. I can’t begin to count the number of hours he spent mentoring my daughter, in plant and bird identification. She very much Ed enjoyed hours spent with Alan volunteering at Crex. If you looked across the church and didn’t see Alan there, you could pretty much bet that he was volunteering at Crex. I consider myself to have been very lucky to have spent time with Alan in conversation many , many times. His presence has been missed in the community. My deepest sympathies to Alan’s family, during this difficult time of Freiburg. May God bless you and keep you.

  • Deanna (Thompson) Bloomquist Posted June 25, 2022 2:04 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss of Alan. I have such fond memories of him from Arlington Hills UMC as a confirmation teacher and counselor for our youth group for Junior High. He was a lot of fun and always made you feel welcomed. Learned a lot about the Bible from his class. Sending lots of love and prayers to the family.

  • Nilceu Ricetti Xavier de Nazareno Posted July 2, 2022 10:23 am

    We regret very much to know that Dr. Roelfs has passed away. The last time I had been with him was in 2008, in the APS Centennial event in Minneapolis. He gave a speech on rust. He was apparently fine. He stopped answering my emails, but I was not aware he was fighting with Alzheimer. A pity. I considered Dr Roelfs as a second father in the Cereal Rust Lab. As a brazilian student, I miss Dr. Roelfs very much for his patience in guiding me through my MSc degree work. World wheat rust people are orphans of a great scientist and a big hearted man.

  • Tim Carver Posted July 19, 2022 1:08 am

    I met Alan when working with Bill Bushnell about 40!years ago. What an inspiring and knowledgeable man. And fun. Thanks, Alan.

  • Akhilesh Mishra Posted August 9, 2022 10:12 am

    Deeply grieved and saddened with the shocking news of the sad demise of Dr Alan Roelfs that I could see just now. Dr Roelfs was my mentor and advisor during my PhD studies at Minnesota during 1992-96. Besides being a keen researcher, he was an excellent teacher. He guided and inspired many students like me. I can’t forget his weekly Wednesday afternoon classes which we grad students, research associates and visiting scientists awaited eagerly. He was a moving encyclopedia on cereal rusts. He was a great human being as well, always helping everyone in any need. Me and my family will remain grateful to him for his multifarious support during our stay period in Minnesota. I feel proud having proposed his name for the Award of the Distinguished Friend and Mentor of Dept of Plant Pathology, Univ of Minnesota which he received during 1995. May his soul rest in eternal peace and may his research and teaching keep inspiring and motivating the cereal rusts researchers throughout the world.

  • Gary Bergstrom Posted August 11, 2022 9:52 am

    I learned this week of Alan’s passing. My condolences to all his family, friends, and colleagues. I remember Alan for his seminal contributions to knowledge of cereal rusts, but especially for his generosity and enthusiasm in discussing science with his colleagues. I benefited from several in-depth discussions with Alan that I will long treasure. Farewell to a giant of plant pathology! Gary Bergstrom, Cornell University

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