Harold & Elsie Boutelle

Elsie & Harold Boutelle

Excerpt from ORONOCO, PAST AND PRESENT (used by permission from Richard and Peg Boutelle)

Harold I. Boutelle, son of Frank Edward and Alice (Montgomery) Boutelle, was born March 30. 1911, in Cascade Township, Olmsted County, Minnesota. He attended school at District #30 Rural School, and later graduated from the Rochester High School in 1929.

He worked at construction work for a short while and was then employed by Foster Battery Company in Rochester. In 1935, he started working for Maurice Alexander at Alexander Auto Electric, where he continued to work until November of 1949, when he decided to start an Auto Electric business of his own, Harold’s Auto Electric.

December 10, 1931, he married Elsie Marie Patterson, daughter of Charles Edward and Bertha (Schrock) Patterson in Rochester, Minnesota. Elsie was born November 3, 1913, near Waterloo, Iowa, and moved to a farm near Preston, Minnesota when two weeks old. About 1917 her parents purchased a general store in Potsdam, Minnesota, where they lived and operated that store for four years. The family then moved to Rochester where they operated grocery stores until 1931.

After Harold and Elsie married, they lived in her father’s apartment building for about three and one-half years. They had bought a lot in northeast Rochester from Charley Carroll and proceeded to build their own house in 1935. It was lots of hard work. It was during the depression days of the thirties, and Harold and his wife did most of the work building the house.

The couple had three children, two sons, Richard Irwin, and Gerald Wayne; and one daughter Beverly Rose. The children grew up in that house and all attended Holmes School and graduated from Rochester High School.

Richard was born February 25, 1933, in Rochester, Minnesota. After his graduation from high school, he attended and graduated from Rochester Junior College in 1953. That fall he enlisted in the United States Air Force and was trained at San Diego and Brownsville, Texas. After his graduation, he continued his service at Hamilton Air Force Base at San Francisco, California. At the time of his transfer to California, Dick came back to Rochester and married his fiancé, Margaret Jean Hansen.(daughter of Hans and Clara Hansen).

Margaret (Peggy) was born July 22, 1935, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and came to Rochester with her parents in 1943 where her father was the Immigration and Naturalization Officer.  Peggy graduated from Rochester High School in 1953 and went to Westmar College. After their marriage, the young couple started housekeeping near Hamilton Air Force Base. They were married in Rochester, June 7, 1954.

At the conclusion of his service, they returned to Rochester and Dick resumed employment at his father’s garage. They have four children; (1) Connie Sue, born March 6, 1956, who married Larry Lathrop on August 21, 1976.  Connie and Larry have three children:  Carrie Sue, born November 15, 1977; Lori Beth, born July 11, 1980; and Michael John, born March 11, 1982.  (2) Diane Kay was born January 16, 1959, and married Murray Dean Jorgenson on June 10, 1978, and they have two children; Jennifer Lea, born April 16, 1979; and Tina Marie, born August 25, 1981.  (3) Steven James was born July 2, 1961; and (4) Michael John was born March 15, 1965.

After 18 years of employment with his father, Dick and Peggy purchased the business, and Harold and Elsie retired in 1973.

Beverly Rose was born April 3, 1938, in Rochester, Minnesota, and attended Rochester schools and graduated from Rochester High School. In 1960 she graduated from Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in English. Beverly taught English several years, and now works in the Public Library in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  On August 30, 1958, while she was in college, she married William Russell VanDevender of Pueblo, Colorado. He is the son of Nell and the late William R. VanDevender. Bill graduated from the Pueblo High School and in 1959 graduated from Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Music Education.  In 1963 he graduated from the University of Iowa with a Master of Arts Degree, majoring in Music Education.

Bill has taught in Hull and Swea City Iowa, and is presently teaching in the Oskaloosa, Iowa, Junior High School. Beverly and Bill have two children: Jeffrey Scot who was born January 22, 1962, in Estherville, Iowa.  He attended Oskaloosa school and graduated from Oskaloosa High School in 1980, and is presently attending Northwest Missouri State University in Kirksville, Missouri, majoring in Music Education. Their daughter Pamela Kay was born November 18, 1966, in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She is attending Oskaloosa schools and will graduate high school in 1985.  She is active in the school band and cheerleading and sings in the church choir and belongs to the M.Y.F.

Gerald Wayne Boutelle was born June 21, 1944, in Rochester, Minnesota.  He attended Rochester schools and graduated from John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minnesota, June 8, 1962.  He enrolled in Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa, and received his B.S.A. degree with cum laude honors from Westmar in 1996.  During his senior year, he served as student pastor in Spencer, Iowa.  During 1968-69, he served a year of internship in Esperazola, New Mexico. He attended the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Naperville, Illinois, later going to McCormick Theological Seminary of Chicago, Illinois, and receiving a B.D. degree cum laude from there, in 1970. He received a Master of the Science of Theology degree in conjunction with a project and teaching assistantship in the Bible Department at McCormick Seminary. He was ordained June 27, 1971, at the United Presbyterian Church of South Holland, Illinois.  He is presently serving in a church in Springfield, Illinois.

Just before Jerry graduated from Westmar College, he married Judith Ann Miller of Waverly, Iowa.  She was born October 20, 1944, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Richard Miller of Enid, Oklahoma. They were married April 6, 1966. She graduated from the Methodist Kahler School of Nursing and received her R.N. Degree in the fall of 1966.

When Jerry entered the Naperville Seminary, Judy took work at the Aurora, Illinois Hospital and later at Chicago hospitals when he studied at McCormick Seminary.  They have three children; Kathlena Ann Boutelle, born October 5, 1972, in Harvey, Illinois and Shari Elaine born July 12, 1976, in Harvey, Illinois. Their son Gregory Wayne was born March 25, 1980 in Peoria, Illinois.

After Harold and Elsie lived in their first house for thirty years, they bought a new house in the Elton Hills area in Rochester, Minnesota. They enjoyed their new home and worked hard at operating their Auto Electric Shop which was at 432-434 South Broadway in Rochester.  Harold worked on cars and managed the business, while Elsie did the bookkeeping, waited on customers, and ordered and unpacked parts.

In 1945 they came to Oronoco and looked at property around Lake Shady.  They liked what they saw and purchased three lots from Erwin Hewitt in Maple Grove Addition on the lake shore west of Highway 52. The next spring they built a small summer cottage there. The family all enjoyed boating, water skiing, and fishing on the lake. They all treasure memories of the years of fun at the lake.  Their only neighbor at that time was the Rev. and Mrs. Ralph Lynn and their families.  Their summer cottage was next door to the west, and they spent their summers on Lake Shady.

In 1973 Harold and Elsie retired and built the cottage into a year around home, here in Oronoco. It was a big project.

Since moving to Oronoco, they have been members of the Oronoco Senior Citizens. In June 1979, they became leaders of that group, after Harriet Glasenapp resigned from twelve years of service to the Seniors.

Harold and Elsie have been long time members of Homestead United Methodist Church in Rochester, Minnesota.

Additional Information about the Boutelles added by Hazel Markham:

Oronoco was blessed when Elsie and Harold Boutelle chose Oronoco for their retirement home. Since they were members of my church in Rochester, Minnesota, I had come to know them already before they moved here so I knew they would be an asset to Oronoco.

Both of them were very talented and interesting to be with. There was much they did for our village. Harold built beautiful doll houses and Elsie outfitted them with furnishings and little people dressed in stylish clothing.

Another Oronoco citizen, Harlem Albers, used to play his accordion in a band at old-time dances, but was now unable to use his left hand because of a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome. He was also stricken with leukemia with which he struggled for a long time. He hated to give up his music However, he hated to give up his music. He rounded up some of the members of the Oronoco Seniors and started a Kitchen Band. They entertained and enjoyed it for quite a while. Harriet Glasenapp played the piano and helped fill in the base chords for Harlem, and Carl Culver filled in on the harmonica. Harold Boutelle played music on an instrument he made out of a collection of cash register bells. The rhythm section consisted of several women who used various kitchen gadgets. Among them were Elsie Boutelle, Shirley Koenig, Barbara Smallbrock, Doris Ritter, Corky Stuve, Lois Haglund, Lydia Culver, and Ann Schmidt. I also played piano with them once in a while.

Oronoco Seniors Kitchen Band

One time Harlem had cancer on a part of his mouth and had to have it removed just before we were scheduled to perform at a nursing home. Harlem did a lot of singing at these gigs. He couldn’t sing with part of his mouth cut off and the rest bandaged up. He called each of us to tell us that the gig was off. He told me “we won’t be singing this week.” Then he added “I will never sing again.”

Within a week or so, Harlem called again to tell us of another date he had made for us to perform again. He was a hard man to keep down. However, eventually, he did get very bad eventually and had to quit. Knowing it would be the last time we would all perform, he called us all together for our last supper at the Fisherman’s Inn.

Last supper at Fishermans Inn

(click to see full picture)

When the Oronoco Senior Citizens needed a leader, Elsie and Harold volunteered and arranged the meetings and bus tours and made fun events for all the attendees. The group voted Harold and Elsie as King and Queen in their pageant and they rode in a convertible in several parades.

Most of you know about Elsie’s wonderful book about Oronoco history called ORONOCO, PAST AND PRESENT. Permission has been granted and some excerpts will appear on our web page from time to time, but you may also read the entire book at the Oronoco Area History Center. The book is not to be taken away from the Center however.

A terrible tragedy struck the Boutelle family on April 21, 1997. In preparation for a yard sale, Harold went out on Highway 52 to put up a sign. As he attempted to cross the highway, a vehicle came along and struck him knocking him down and causing him multiple fractures. He was transported to Saint Marys from the scene by helicopter. The accident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. near the intersection of U.S. 52 and First Street Northwest. The driver was not injured and no charges were filed. Harold did not recover from the accident, but was very ill from that day forward until his death over four years later.

Obituary: Harold Irwin Boutelle – Rochester – 06/29/2001

The funeral for Harold Irwin Boutelle will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Homestead United Methodist Church in Rochester, with the Rev. Duane M. Gebhard officiating. Burial will be in Grandview Memorial Gardens in Rochester. Mr. Boutelle, 90, of Rochester, formerly of Oronoco and retired owner of Harold’s Auto Electric, died Thursday (June 28, 2001) at Samaritan Bethany Heights, where he had resided four years. Born March 30, 1911, in Cascade Township, Olmsted County, he lived in Rochester until 1973 and then in Oronoco until returning to Rochester in 1997. On Dec. 10, 1931, he married Elsie Marie Patterson. She is a homemaker and former bookkeeper. After working at several Rochester garages, including Alexander Auto Electric, he opened Harold’s Auto Electric in 1949 and operated it until his retirement in 1973. Mr. Boutelle was a longtime member of Homestead United Methodist Church. He and his wife were co-presidents of the Oronoco Senior Citizens for 12 years. Survivors include his wife; two sons, Richard (Peg) of Rochester and the Rev. Gerald (Judy) of Petersburg, Ill.; a daughter, Beverly (William) Van Devender of Oskaloosa, Iowa; nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Seven brothers and three sisters preceded him in death. Friends may call from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Ranfranz Funeral Home and an hour before the service Saturday at the church. Memorials are suggested to Homestead United Methodist Church or Samaritan Bethany Inc.

Obituary: Elsie M. Boutelle – Rochester – 03/18/2002

The funeral for Elsie M. Boutelle will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at Homestead United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Duane M. Gebhard officiating. Burial will be in Grandview Memorial Gardens. Mrs. Boutelle, 88, of Rochester, a former bookkeeper at Harold’s Auto Electric, died Friday (March 15, 2002) at Samaritan Bethany Heights. Elsie M. Patterson was born Nov. 3, 1913, near Waterloo, Iowa, moved to Minnesota with her family as an infant and attended Rochester public schools. On Dec. 10, 1931, she married Harold Boutelle. Her husband owned Harold’s Auto Electric and she did bookkeeping for the company. In 1973 they sold the business to their son and retired to Oronoco. Mr. Boutelle died June 28, 2001. The couple were co-presidents of the Oronoco Seniors Club for 12 years, and her book, “Oronoco, Past and Present,” was published in 1983. Mrs. Boutelle returned to Rochester in 1997. She was a longtime member of Homestead United Methodist Church. Survivors include a daughter, Beverly (William) Van Devender of Oskaloosa, Iowa; two sons, Richard (Margaret) of Rochester and the Rev. Gerald (Judy) of Petersburg, Ill.; nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Two brothers and a sister also preceded her in death. Friends may call from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Ranfranz Funeral Home and an hour before the service Tuesday at the church. Memorials are suggested to Homestead United Methodist Church or Samaritan Bethany Heights.

Elsie and Harold Boutelle will live on in the hearts and memories of many of us with great fondness and love.