As a teacher for 43 years, Rollo Keithahn spent his career helping students succeed. After Rollo’s dealth in 1984, his wife, Lena, chose to honor his commitment to NIACC and his students by creating The Rollo C. Keithahn Memorial Scholarship through the NIACC Foundation. Several Rollo C. Keithahn Memorial Scholarships are awarded each year from the initial endowment, continued gifts from Lena and an additional gift in 1997 from Rollo’s sister, Luella Keithahn.
Rollo was born and educated in Minnesota and spent much of his adult life as an Iowa teacher. Rollo taught at Britt Junior College from 1928 to 1943 and at Mason City Junior College (NIACC’s predecessor) and NIACC from 1943 until his retirement in 1971. While at Mason City Junior College and NIACC, Rollo taught history and economics. Rollo expected a lot from his students and encouraged them to continue their education with careful planning.
Rollo’s teaching ability was respected by his co-workers and his students. Roger Watson, retired NIACC instructor, said, “I had always heard of economics as the dismal science, but Mr. Keithahn made it so interesting that I considered making economics my major. Although his teaching style was formal, he could not hide the twinkle in his eyes.”
Another former student, venture capitalist John Pappajohn, said Mr. Keithahn was a terrific instructor. During his 24 years of teaching, Rollo has a positive impact on many students.
In addition to an outstanding career educating North Iowa students, Rollo enjoyed many community activities and hobbies. He was an avid reader, gardener and world traveler. He also enjoyed classical music and opera.
Although Rollo died in 1984, his legacy of caring for his students continues through the Rollo C. Keithahn Memorial Scholarship.