Lifetime Achievement Award for Rolf Bandle

The 3rd of four children, Rolf Bandle was born on the cusp of World War II during the summer of 1939, in a small quaint town nestled in northern Germany called Quakenbruck.  In a document he shared with his three daughters, he nostalgically referred to a simpler time when “self sufficiency was in high regard” and “people pursued trades from their own homes.” He  wrote: “I was ten when I got my first part-time job at a nursing home. I did errands, scrubbed the floors, worked in the garden, split wood, stoked the furnace, peeled potatoes and in general did whatever I was asked to do. I earned a meal a day and a dollar a week. When I was 12, I got a second job delivering packages to businesses in town during evening hours. I used a bicycle I had put together from spare parts. I made enough money to buy my own confirmation suit when I was 14. The same year I graduated after completing the 8th grade and started full time employment at a local insurance office.”

Rolf’s two brothers emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1950s and Rolf followed in 1960, working with them at Nelson’s Bakery, owned by cousins in Malden, Ma. He joined the army in 1961 and served for 6 years, meanwhile attaining his U.S. citizenship (1965), a high school degree (1964), married Edda Aschermann, his girlfriend from Germany (1963), enrolled in Northeastern University (1964) and started a family in 1966. He also became employed at John Hancock Insurance Company in 1966, where he worked his way up the corporate ladder for the next 35 years. He graduated from Northeastern in 1972 with high honors earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Rolf wanted to give his family a better life; he had a strong faith and lots of determination; he believed in education and giving back to his community. He joined the First Lutheran Church in Malden when he moved to the U.S. and this congregation became the family that he embraced over the years. His involvement encompassed many leadership roles from council member, superintendent of Sunday School, Treasurer, Grounds Manager, Assistant Minister and Evangelistic Community Outreach. He was one of the first people to greet new visitors and always hosted meals in his home for various members. He ran a food collection program for the local food pantry and was the driving force behind his church’s involvement in the Bread of Life Program, which provided hot meals to the homeless in Malden. Once a month for close to 30 years he cooked and served a hot meal in the basement of a large church in the middle of the city. When their stove broke down he cooked everything at home, and continued to serve it at the church. He visited shut-ins and brought meals to people recovering from surgery or undergoing cancer treatments. He became a Big Brother to a 6 year old boy until he turned 12, and his family moved out of range, continuing as a penpal for several more years. Rolf and his wife, who taught nursery school for 20 years, encouraged their three daughters to go to college and each of them obtained 2 degrees becoming an English teacher, a nurse and an environmental biologist. 

When Edda was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the late 1990s Rolf retired from John Hancock Insurance Company, purchased a Euro VW camper and traveled the entire U.S. for a couple of years, visiting every National Park, and even drove to Alaska. He wanted to explore and see all the places he had read about, sharing the experience with his wife while they could do so. 

On his return he contacted an organization called “Hospitality Homes”  and opened his house to people whose loved ones were in Boston hospitals and needed care for weeks or months of treatment and/or rehabilitation. From 2005 to 2015 he hosted numerous families providing a free place to stay and home cooked meals. These families praised Rolf and Edda’s hospitality and continue to correspond years later. 

As Rolf’s physical health took a marked decline and Edda’s Alzheimer’s progressed, it became apparent that he needed the help that he had always given to others. He moved into Avita of Wells in March of 2019 with his beloved wife, where they reside together.