Irvin Maurice Alfred Rotto (age 91) of Bemidji, Minn., died on July 8, 2022, at the Aurora on France care facility in Edina, Minn.
Irvin was born on July 22, 1930, in Starbuck, Minn., the son of Reverend Isaac Rotto (Luther Class of 1925) and Jonette (Rafshol) Rotto. He grew up in Berthold, N.D. (1931-1939) and Portland, N.D. (1939-1948) where his father served as a Lutheran pastor, and he graduated from Portland High School in 1948. Irvin had many great stories of spending his summers during the 1940’s sitting on a John Deere “A” tractor and working for a local farmer just outside of Portland. He played on the Portland High School six-man football team, as well as the high school basketball and baseball teams. Irvin began college at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1948. However, due to the Korean War, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in Dec. 1950. After completing his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, Irvin began intensive Russian language studies at the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., in June 1951. He was eventually assigned to an Air Force Base in Chicksands, England, starting in June 1952. In Sept. 1954, Irvin was diagnosed with tuberculosis and began antibiotic treatment at a hospital at Lackland Air Force Base; he continued his treatment at a VA hospital in Minneapolis. After spending 18 months in the hospital, he was finally discharged from the VA Hospital in March 1956. In September 1956, Irvin resumed his studies at Luther College, enrolling as a junior and eventually obtaining his B.A. degree in Latin and Journalism in the spring of 1958. Irvin met Ardith (Gulbro) Rotto ‘58 in Oct. 1956 at Luther College, and the two had their first date at “The Polly” restaurant in Decorah, Iowa. Irvin and Ardith were eventually married at Big Canoe Lutheran Church near Highlandville, Iowa, on March 19, 1960.
After receiving his M.A. degree in Russian language from the University of Minnesota, Irvin and Ardith moved to Pittsburgh, Kansas, where Irvin taught Russian at Pittsburgh State University for three years. In 1964, Irvin enrolled in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and spent two academic years at Illinois. As a summer job during the summers of 1965, 1966 and 1967, Irvin worked as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. He began teaching at Bemidji State College in the fall of 1966, and he would then spend his next 56 years living in the Bemidji area. Irvin retired from Bemidji State University in 1993 after teaching Russian, Russian Literature, Latin, Norwegian and English at BSU for 27 years. Irvin served as president of the congregation at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji in 1980, and he was also elected to the Bemidji District 31 School Board in 1984 and served for four years. Irvin and Ardith purchased a townhome near Phoenix, Ariz., in 1994, and spent the next several retirement years dividing their time between Minnesota and Arizona.
Irvin was a dedicated husband and father, and was married to his beloved wife “Ardie” for over 61 years. He loved his three grandchildren as well as one great grandchild whom he got to meet in the final days of his life. Irvin and Ardith enjoyed travel to Norway, England, Europe, and many other places throughout the United States. Irvin enjoyed many gatherings of family and friends over the years. He was an avid golfer, and he enjoyed watching the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. Irvin very much enjoyed listening to “classic” country music from the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Irvin was the second born of nine children and is survived by his two sons; Nelson (Lynn) and Erik Rotto ‘89; three grandchildren, Erika (Zac), Torsten (Lindsey) and Benjamin Rotto ‘23; one great grandchild, Soren; brothers, Curtis Rotto ‘60 and Luther Rotto ‘71; sisters Ruth (Rotto) Lyngaas ‘58, Alma Rotto-Morgan 61, and Jonette (Rotto) Martinson ‘69. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ardith (Gulbro) Rotto ‘58; brothers John Rotto ‘51 and Theodore Rotto 56; sister Christine (Rotto) Hefte ‘53.
A memorial service was held for Irvin on Aug. 6, 2022, at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Memorials are suggested to First Lutheran Church in Bemidji or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV.org). Arrangements are under the direction of Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home, Bemidji.