GRINNELL, IA – Kites Over Grinnell, now on its sixth year since its revival by the Grinnell Rotary Club, will honor the memory of two long-time Rotarians – Howard Raffety and Dennis Anderson.

            Called “A Festival to Remember,” Kites Over Grinnell will be held on Sat., Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ahrens Park at 1510 Penrose Ave.

            Anderson, who joined Rotary in 1974, passed away in October last year while Raffety, who joined Rotary in 1987, passed away in November.

Both their lives had been rooted in agriculture. Anderson, a native of Minnesota, came to Grinnell in 1969 and was plant manager at Cargill and then a hail adjustor for Grinnell Mutual.  Raffety farmed for 60 years, representing the third generation of Raffety farmers in the area. 

Megan Veldbloom, Raffety’s daughter who is carrying on the family’s farming tradition with her husband Lance, said that her father joined Rotary in 1987 after she graduated from high school and went off to college.  Since both her brother Mike and she were out of the house, she speculated that her father joined Rotary because he had more time on his hands. 

“My father’s legacy is that he modeled being generous with his time. Through Rotary he could be part of the community, get to know more people, and be an ambassador for agriculture.”

Raffety, in fact, made it a point to share crop reports at Club meetings, according to Jim White, himself a long-time Rotarian.  White recalled with fondness how Raffety would bring to the Club the first ear of corn that he would harvest. An Iowa State graduate, Raffety also kept members abreast of how Cyclones were doing during both the football and basketball seasons.

Anderson served as president in 1978-79. White said that as president, Anderson made sure that weekly speakers received the attention that they deserved.

“Rotary meant a lot to Denny,” according to his widow Joy Anderson. “He enjoyed it very much.”

White said that both Anderson and Raffety were strong supporters of Rotary Scholarships that the Club awarded annually to numerous Grinnell High School students who went to college.  Both always lent a helping hand at Rotary’s annual chicken barbecue.  

“They did whatever good Rotarians do for the Club that they cared about,” said White.

The tradition of honoring Rotarians at Kites Over Grinnell was started in 2017 when the festival was dedicated in memory of Bob Brierly. The following year, three generations of the Urfer family – Samuel Urfer, Jim Urfer and Jim’s daughter, Julie Beach, were honored in 2018; Jim Ahrens in 2019, and Dewey Meyer in 2021.  There was no Kites Over Grinnell in 2020 because of COVID.

For more information about Kites Over Grinnell, contact Bruce Blankenfeld at 641-990-1152.

Howard Raffety enjoyed showing school children how to make a kite during their art class. Photo taken in 2019.

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