Hope's Hobos performing in Walker.

by Otto Ringle

That’s him second from the right! If you want to see him without his silly hat and dirty face, come to any hockey, basketball or football game and he will be there!

You might have to wait in line, however, if you want to talk to him, because he is always flooded with students that he has taught over his many years at WHA Schools — students hugging him and he hugging them in return!

I was inspired to write this column when I watched Murray Bright present him with an autographed picture of the publicity of a song Murray composed for Heather Cruse. The song is entitled, “The Son,” and today, it has probably been downloaded all over the world.

In his presentation, Murray gave all the credit for Murray’s music ability to his old music teacher. The award was made during practice of the Hope Lutheran Chancel Choir, and I don’t know if everyone in the choir felt the same, but I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat, as I witnessed the most memorable event.

When the event was over, the two of them didn’t shake hands — they gave each other big hugs! What a wonderful event and what a magnificent tribute to a very deserving person!

“Roger-Dodger” and I have been singing together for going on a half-century, and I always greet him in that perhaps unconvential, uncivilized and uncouth manner. Never once, however, has he ever shown any dismay, displeasure or dissatisfaction, when I use the old military phrase I picked up while in the service.

At that time, the punch-line was, “Roger-Dodger, you old Codger,” and the addition would probably work for both of us now, as I believe we are the oldest members of the Hope Chancel Choir.

We have been singing together since 1973, when our family moved back to Walker and Roger was the choir director. Our choir sang in the balcony of the old Hope Lutheran Church when it was where the Cass County Courthouse parking lot is now. During those 46 years, we have also sung together with the Cass County Barbershoppers, the Walker Area Foundation Choir, the Walker Area Voices and the foursome called, “Hope’s Hobos,” shown above.

By the way, the other two members of the quartet were, a retired physician and surgeon, Lee Christiansen (right), and Darrel Rodekuhr, a retired jet pilot for the U.S. Air Force, (second from the left).

Roger was born in the hockey town of Roseau. The town was also strong in religion and music. Rog always enjoys telling the story that happened during the ‘50s, when the farmers around Roseau had a very good year. They donated the necessary funds to build a huge hockey arena for the community. When Rog learned of the very generous donation he enticed them to donate the necessary funds to purchase a pipe organ for his Lutheran Church in Roseau.

Hey, Rog! why don’t you do the same thing for Hope Lutheran?

Rog attended Concordia College, played trombone in the band and studied choral directing under Professor Paul J. Christianson. His training is extremely evident today, as Christianson always enjoyed hearing a good, solid, singing from the bass section.

When Rog is directing, every time I am able to hit a low D in choir, he looks at me and smiles.

After college, Rog married his high school sweetheart — Kay. I call her “Princess Kay of the Milky Way!” She giggles.

Together Kay and Roger have raised their family in Walker — Christopher, David and Mary Beth. They also have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Over his many years in Walker, Roger has been responsible for setting up many Madrigal Dinners at Christmastime. Also many musicals during the year, with the help of the Drama Department and his accompanist and good friend Mike Kerrigan — pianist extraordinaire!

Roger has always been very proud of the accomplishments of his many students that he has taught over the years, and in a much more refined and polite manner, Roger Dodger’s name will forever be recognized, appreciated and respected for his unending support in the Walker Youth Hockey Program and especially for the Roger G. Strandlie Vocal Music Scholarship.

That great honor was set up by two of his former students and is given every year at the WHA Schools.

The next time you see Rog, don’t shake his hand, give him a big hug for his many years of lighting up our musical world!


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