ROCKWELL CITY: Lowell Stoolman
Community service drives Rotarian
ROCKWELL CITY — When Lowell Stoolman served as Rockwell City’s chief of police, he didn’t mind speaking to local groups like the Rotary Club, but he wasn’t looking for one more job to do, either.
“The Rotary Club regularly asked me to speak about topics like finger printing to Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE),” said Stoolman, a lifelong Rockwell City resident. “One member joked with me, ‘You know, you’re here so often for a free meal you should just join.'”
Stoolman thought about it and decided to get involved. Now he has become one of Rotary’s biggest champions. Not only does he remain an active member with the Rockwell City Rotary Club, but he will serve as Rotary District 5970 district governor in 2020-2021.
“It’s unbelievable how much good Rotary does,” Stoolman said.
If there’s a Rotary event in the area, Stoolman is there. You’ll find him helping serve a meal at the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education event at the local school. He hands out bicycle helmets and shares safety tips when the Rockwell City Rotary Club partners with the Rockwell City Police Department to host a Bike Rodeo at the South Central Calhoun Middle School. Even shoulder surgery doesn’t slow him down.
“He came to help get the flower beds at the city park ready for spring planting this year, just two weeks after his surgery,” said Calhoun County Attorney Tina Meth Farrington, a past president of the Rockwell City Rotary Club. “He couldn’t pull the weeds, but he held the trash bag and kept the conversation going.”
Expanding Rotary’s reach
Members like Meth Farrington reflect how Rotary has evolved through the years to become an even more dynamic civic group, Stoolman said. While Rotary links 1.2 million members across the globe, women weren’t allowed to join Rotary clubs worldwide until 1989. Prior to that change, local Rotary members tended to be businessmen, from bankers to insurance agents.
“We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the women in our club,” said Stoolman, who noted that about half of the Rockwell City Rotary Club’s 40 members are women. “They do a great job and help make our club a fun group.”
Grassroots at the core, Rotary has long been focused on bringing people in the local community together to work for the common good. This spirit of service has been part of the Rockwell City Rotary since the club was founded in 1970. It also extends to the Interact Club, a Rotary group for local students at South Central Calhoun High School.
“We want to get kids involved in the community,” Stoolman said. “Not only are they a big help with many of our service projects, but we hope these connections encourage them to raise their own families here someday.”
“You have to get involved”
The Rockwell City Rotary Club recently recognized Stoolman and his wife, Peg, a fellow Rotarian, as Citizens of the Year.
“Lowell knows how to pull people into projects and get them involved,” said Meth Farrington, who added that Peg Stoolman is also a tremendous volunteer. “He is probably responsible for recruiting most of the members, including me, into our club. He also has great ideas for service projects and is always there to help with all of our club projects and fundraisers.”
Service is second nature to Stoolman, a 1973 graduate of Rockwell City High School whose career included nearly 18 years with the local Police Department and many years with the city maintenance department in Rockwell City. He’ll never forget the day when a trench wall near a city street collapsed, nearly killing Stoolman and fellow city employee Phil Hammen. Only the quick action of another co-worker, Evan Kretlow, saved them.
“That changed my perspective on things,” said Stoolman, who was 44 at the time. “It makes you realize how precious life is.”
This mindset influenced Stoolman during the 32 years he served with the volunteer fire department in Rockwell City. It guides him as he greets the children who ride his afternoon school bus route in the South Central Calhoun school district. It’s why he’s quick to volunteer to help with projects around the community, many of which have been spearheaded by the Rockwell City Rotary Club.
“I’m so proud of all the improvements around the town square in Rockwell City,” Stoolman said. “There’s a really good quality of life to be had with small-town living, but you have to get involved. We welcome more people who are willing to serve and make the community a better place to live.”