Kickstart for Class of 1970 Scholarship

Jeremy Shapiro

In town early for football practices, Roger Roe ’70 first met his future wife, Paula Speltz Roe ’73, outside Burling Library during Paula’s freshman orientation week at Grinnell. As Roger was going into the library, he stopped, introduced himself, and asked Paula to come watch a Pioneers football game.

A half-century later, the couple still value the ideas and ideals the College taught them. They are showing appreciation through a $150,000 pledge to support an endowed scholarship, the class of 1970’s gift for its 50th Reunion celebration in 2020. The need-based scholarship will be awarded to future students.

“Higher education is a significant shared value in our relationship,” Roger says. “We thought by contributing when we did and the amount that we did, it might help kick-start the class’ efforts and motivate individuals within the class.”

Roger is a member of the 50th Reunion planning committee and served in a similar capacity during the class’s 45th Reunion. Part of his role is fundraising to accumulate sufficient funds for the class gift.

“I admire that Roger takes this on, and I really think it’s indicative of his love for Grinnell,” Paula says. “I think it’s rewarding for him because it renews relationships. He’s genuinely interested in his classmates, and this is a way to connect and catch up with what’s happened over the years since graduation.”

Roger is still close with quite a number of classmates and teammates. He lettered three years in baseball and football and was captain of the baseball team his senior year. The history major was president of East Norris Hall during his junior year.

His Grinnell experiences helped him excel in law school at the University of Minnesota and in his legal career. “Being an attorney was a wonderful, rewarding career. Without that educational foundation, it wouldn’t have happened,” he says.

While Roger was a partner at Rider Bennett and other law firms in Minneapolis, Paula served as executive vice president for compensation and benefits first at Target Stores and then at Norwest Bank, which later merged with Wells Fargo, where she oversaw the pay plans and benefit programs of the nearly 200,000 Wells Fargo employees.

A native of a small town in Minnesota, Paula says her perspective was greatly expanded by her exposure to the diversity and intellectual challenge at Grinnell. Her world was further broadened by participating in an Arts of London and Florence program.

Armed with her Grinnell history degree, Paula headed to the Twin Cities during the 1973 economic recession. Eventually she landed a job at an insurance company in Minneapolis as a contract analyst.

“As uninspiring as that first job was, it quickly led to other jobs with much more opportunity and responsibility,” she says. “There’s no doubt the writing and critical thinking skills I gained at Grinnell were immensely helpful then and throughout my career. Once started, my career accelerated as fast as I could handle — especially considering Rog and I were also parents to two active, interesting, and engrossing daughters.”

The now-retired couple lives parts of the year in Minneapolis, California (where their children and grandchildren live), and Naples, Florida, where they attend the annual January reception with Grinnell swimming and diving student-athletes.

“We’ve met a lot of current students, and they are really impressive,” Roger says. “They are thoughtful, committed, socially conscious, and reflect the values of Grinnell.

“Providing an opportunity for another qualified individual to attend Grinnell is rewarding for both Paula and me and, hopefully, an inspiration to all the members of the class of 1970.”

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