“We got them home,” he said, referring to the community’s successful efforts to retrieve a busload of students from a country roadside during a hard-hitting blizzard.
Roy lived in Chokio with his wife, Rose Ann, and their children, some of whom were school-aged. He worked for the Co-op and was out delivering fuel oil to customers west of town.
“I ran into the storm before reaching Johnson. I made it to three places, and each of them said I should get out of the storm and stay at their homes,” Roy said. “The last was Charlie Spittle’s place, and the bus was stalled not far from there.
“I came upon the bus, and talked to Arnie,” Roy recalls. Arnie Hollen was a teacher assigned to ride along on the bus when there was threatening weather. Clayton Kolling was the bus driver who made three trips on foot to call for help and bring emergency supplies to the bus.
Roy told them he would drive to the nearby farm of his father-in-law, Rudy Luthard, to phone for help.
“I had the window of the truck open, trying to see, when all of a sudden I saw the evergreens of St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery,” he said. “I had gone right past my father-in-law’s!”
Roy continued north past the cemetery, and came upon Robert Grossman, who was stalled. Grossman jumped into the fuel truck with Roy and not too far ahead they came upon Dr. John Busch, the local veterinarian, whose truck was stuck.
“I asked him if he wanted us to try to pull him out, and he said yes, because he had medications in the truck that must not freeze,” Roy said. They were successful, and followed the doc to Tirevold corner, where Roy joined others stuck at the intersection of the Highway.
At this point, Roy and Robert joined Dr. Busch in his truck. The two took turns walking in front of the truck to help the veterinarian keep from running into the ditches.
Finally the trio arrived at the Co-op gas station. “We learned that Clayton had already got to Glen Carlson’s. We were about froze up. The rescue caravan was just getting ready to leave,” Roy said.
The next thing Roy did was go home and change clothes.
(Roy was listed as one of those contributing to the rescue in the Chokio Review of January 19, 1967. His sister, Audrey Erickson, also tells her storm story in a future blog post.)