"Steve Roling, near Bellevue, Iowa 2009" © Sandy Dyas
It was December 17th, 2009. Steve Roling and I were driving the back roads and the high roads of Jackson County in his truck, taking in the winter beauty of the Iowa landscape. We have been friends since the late 1970s. Steve and Peggy (his wife) own a bit of land through years of investing in farmland rather than stocks and I was getting a first class tour of it.
In the early seventies, just out of the army, Steve began working for Nelson, a man who lived near Seattle, Washington. "Nelson Erection" was the name of the company. Steve was hired because his older brother Gene had worked in Alaska for Nelson but decided to return to college. Steve became part of a crew hired to build radar towers and Boeing aircraft hangers. Their motto was "We Always Get It Up".
In 1976, Steve began a logging business in Bellevue and named it "Steve Roling Logging". When he wasn’t traveling to all parts of the United States for Nelson, he was logging trees. Steve adamantly points out he has planted far more trees than he has ever cut down and he intends to continue. Harvesting full grown trees he planted as saplings is a physical reminder to him of life’s precious cycle.
During Steve's fifteen years of working for Nelson, he traveled to 49 states. "Like any other boy, I couldn’t wait to leave my hometown," said Steve. "I grew up on a farm in rural Bellevue and realized after seeing most of the U.S.A, Bellevue was really the place I wanted to call home. I returned to Bellevue and married the girl down the street."
My photograph of Steve was taken in front of a cabin he built on the first farm he bought. The land fondly became known as Rolly World in the mid-eighties. A spring fed creek, two ponds and so many memories....Rolly World.
Steve Roling just might have it all. He is living his American Dream. He is not rich in things but he has some of the richest land in Iowa and more friends than you can count. A hard worker, he also finds time to hunt and fish in Iowa, Colorado, Alaska, New York State, Florida, South Dakota and Arkansas. Sage Rosenfels (quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings) once wrote in a grade school essay that when he grew up, "he wanted to be just like Steve Roling because he got to hunt and fish all the time".
Steve and Peggy live in a modest home in Bellevue, on Second Street, down the street from the house my daughters and I used to live in. They have three grown children, Ryan, Michael and Christina. There is a big wooden bear standing on its hind legs in their front yard. You can't miss it.