Roland “Rolly” Kenneth Conklin, 86, of Pepin, WI, and formerly of Red Wing, MN — loving father and grandfather, joyful lover of life and people, witty storyteller, skilled woodworker, homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate-chip cookie connoisseur — went to heaven on Friday, January 8, 2021.
Rolly was born during a dust storm on June 22, 1934, in Faribault, MN, to Kenneth and Esther (Caron) Conklin. After graduating from Faribault High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In 1954 he married Marilyn Ardis Luckow in Faribault, and together they raised their five children: Scott, Carrie, Holly, Jeff and Anne. Rolly proudly served in the Navy as a nuclear submariner for 20 years. He retired as Master Chief Petty Officer in 1973 and returned to Minnesota, where he was employed by and eventually retired from the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, Red Wing.
Retiring from employment at age 58, Rolly never stopped contributing and connecting. He was a tireless community volunteer, dedicating countless hours to the Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing and as an active member and Commander of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Base of United States Submarine Veterans.
He was selfless, always generous with his time, talents, stories, support, and love. In addition to carpentry skills, Rolly will be remembered for passing along to his children a fearless confidence to tackle any home renovation project, no matter how big or small. “Bompa” loved gathering with family, telling funny jokes and stories, puttering in his workshop, doing crossword puzzles, building furniture and toys for his children and grandchildren, and making and eating dessert. Rolly would like to remind you that there is ALWAYS room for dessert and time for a well-told tale.
Rolly is survived by the love of his life and wife of 66 years, Marilyn, Pepin, WI; four children: Scott (Renee) Conklin, Prior Lake, MN; Carrie (Jim) Becker, Red Wing, MN; Jeff (Cheryl) Conklin, Hastings, MN; and Anne (Dan McGrath) Conklin, Red Wing, MN; a son-in-law Craig Lunde, Maiden Rock, WI; 14 grandchildren; 12 (soon to be 13) great-grandchildren; two sisters: Carol (Sid) Davis, Cromwell, MN, and Karen (Dennis) Bauer, Waterville, MN; and many other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Holly Lunde, daughter-in-law Linda Conklin, and great-grandson Silas Sheldon.
Due to the pandemic, a private Catholic Mass for immediate family only will be held at St. Felix Catholic Church in Wabasha, MN. Interment with military rites will take place at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.
Services are entrusted to Abbott Funeral Home & Crematory, Wabasha, MN. Words of sympathy or remembrance may be left at www.abbottfh.com. In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to donors’ choice. An ice cream social celebration will be held when we are able to gather.