Marie Rolle, devoted supporter and retired director of Career Planning and Placement Center, died Saturday, March 29. She was 93.
If Joseph Rolle was the campus “dad,” Marie Rolle was the “mom,” a mentor and teacher to many young men and women as they traversed their educational path and sought careers. As director of the Career Planning and Placement Center, Mrs. Rolle’s kindness and passion for helping others succeed made NAU feel like home and launched many a successful career.
“Marie Rolle exuded a sincere enthusiasm and deep sense of loyalty that set her apart as one of Northern Arizona University’s most beloved supporters,” said NAU President John Haeger. “She defined the essence of NAU’s ‘personal touch’ and her presence will always be felt here.”
In fact, the NAU campus itself was home to the Rolles for many years. Dean and Mrs. Rolle accepted jobs at his alma mater in the late 1940s and moved their two sons into a two-bedroom apartment in Taylor Hall. The Rolles continued to live on campus for 13 years, raising their children alongside young adults who benefitted from the close-knit environment.
Robert Crozier, two-time alumnus and retired 40-year NAU employee, lived in Taylor Hall when the Rolles were its head residents. He recalled Mrs. Rolle’s sense of humor that provided a balance to the strict rules for the young men who lived there.
“She was student-oriented, a very kind and generous person, and a stalwart supporter of NAU even after she and Joe retired,” Crozier said. “I can’t say enough good things about Marie. We will all miss her.”
Mrs. Rolle’s willingness to volunteer in various capacities in support of the university led to jobs as manager of the campus bookstore, then into the Career Planning and Placement Center.
“Marie and Joe represented an era of thoughtful, caring staff members who enabled NAU to become the great university that it is today,” said NAU President Emeritus Eugene Hughes. “Without a doubt, they will go down in history as but one of a few Dr. and Mrs. Lumberjack couples.”
In a multitude of ways, Mrs. Rolle was integral to the atmosphere of the Flagstaff campus, with she and her husband serving as beacons guiding young people toward careers and service roles. After their retirement, their children established the Joseph and Marie Rolle Award for Excellence scholarship in 1989 to continue their support of students who demonstrate high achievement.
“Marie was a remarkable person and her importance to NAU and so many of our graduates cannot be understated,” said Hank Peck, NAU alumnus and president of the NAU Foundation board. “Marie worked for many years for the university, helping graduates find jobs. She is responsible for launching many careers, mine included. So many of us were first generation students with no cultural knowledge of college. We were away from home and Marie was that touchstone for us that made NAU our home, too.”
The Rolles continued to attend ceremonies, alumni and donor recognition events and often represented the university in the Flagstaff community and beyond. The NAU Alumni Association created the Joe and Marie Rolle Spirit of NAU award in their honor and they were recognized with an Arizona Board of Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Higher Education in 2009.
Marie Morfeld was born Aug. 20, 1920, in Greeley, Neb., to A.B. and Susie Morfeld. After graduating from St. Bonaventure High School in 1937, she moved with family to Arizona. She attended the University of Arizona and was an honorary member of Gamma Phi Beta.
Mrs. Rolle was preceded in death by her husband of 68 years, Joseph; their son Lawrence “Murph” Rolle; brothers Larry, Francis, Joe and Paul; and sister Bernice. She is survived by her son Charles (Julie) Rolle; daughters JoAnne (Steve) Rolle Harper and Randi (Doug Ulmah) Rolle.