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Senior News: Wherefore Art Thou Class of 1970?


September 12, 2016

Perhaps because of my own name, I’ve always been interested in names. Several years ago I was visiting with my friend Terri Magelssen. “My sister Roilene was here this summer,” she said.

“Wait a minute.” I stopped her, “You have a sister named Roilene? I went to high school with a Roilene Heimbigner.”

“One and the same,” Terri answered. Then she went on to tell me that Roilene often returns to Havre in the summers to visit her son Brad Holland and his family. Since then I’ve run into and visited with Roilene quite a few times at church, and at 4-H events as her granddaughters are in 4-H. We always leave with “Let’s have lunch sometime.” Well, recently we did have lunch and we had a great time catching up on the last 46-plus years.

Roilene did not graduate from Havre High School in 1970. She met David Holland who was going to Northern Montana College, married him and moved to Sunburst. She then graduated from Sunburst High School.

I first got to know her because she lived “out North.” She rode the St. Joe bus while I rode the Wildhorse bus. Her step dad worked for Johnny Romain; and Roilene and her family lived on the Schnitzmier homestead on the north side of Red Rock Coulee. She attended Havre schools from the eighth grade to midway through her junior year.

With fondness, she remembers her favorite teachers as Dee Willits (Business), Ray Watson (History), Twila Clawson (English), Mary Granier (English), Frank Fox (Biology), Georgia Rice (Driver’s Ed.), and Shirlee Smith (Librarian).

In January 1978 Roilene’s life took a completely different turn when her marriage ended and she decided to enlist in the United States Army. After being inducted in Butte, she went to basic training at Fort McClelland in Alabama; and then on to Advanced Individual Training in Augusta, Georgia. While in basic training, she was selected to be a nominee for a White House Communication Agency. She was not chosen but went back to the original contract that said she should go to Germany. There she served as a Military Occupation Skill Specialist in a Communication Center of a Field Artillery Unit.

Along the way she met Larry Fain who was also in the Army. Roilene shared, “First of all he became my best friend … and then I fell in love with him. I wouldn’t tell him I loved him. He had to say it first. He did. The rest is history.” In July 1979 they were married in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She had to return to Germany and it wasn’t until November that they were able to be together permanently in Grafenwohr, Germany.

Time in Germany was followed by numerous assignments including Newport News, Virginia, and two years in Korea. In 1992, Roilene served in the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This was during the time which Gen. Colin Powell was the chief. “He was a true soldier’s soldier. Excellent.”

Later, when Roilene received her associate degree in computers, Gen. Powell was the guest speaker. She asked if Gen. Powell could present her diploma. A cranky professor asked, “Why do you think you deserve that?” “Because I was his assistant at the Pentagon.” Nothing more said. She did indeed receive her degree from Gen. Powell.

Roilene took an early retirement from a back injury after serving our country for 15 years. Larry Fain retired after 20 years and then worked another 20 years as the assistant manager of the fieldhouse for George Mason University.

Her son, Brad Holland, is married to the former Rachel Hanson and they have three daughters: Junia, Brady and Clara Jo. Brad works for Triangle Communications. Roilene’s daughter, Valerie McAlpine, is married and lives in Sunburst. They have two sons Joseph and Benjamin.

Roilene remembers going to the “BCDI” for lunch. That’s the “Beaver Creek Drive-In” now known as “Rod’s.” “The tater tots were the best!”

One of her favorite memories was being in the cafeteria with the football team. One of the female teachers informed the group of students, “I’m a Greek … but I wasn’t born abroad.” A soft rumbling that began with Greg Bostic soon turned in to a roar of the entire team. The team evidently didn’t understand “abroad” as being born oversees. Instead they thought she said that she wasn’t a broad. Enough said. Ha! Ha!

“Those were good days. We might tease but we respected each other. We stuck up for each other. Bullying was not allowed.”

Roilene concluded our lunch with: “I’m very proud to have served my country and worn its uniform. I am deeply proud of my husband Larry who served his country for 20 years including his original time in the Marines in Viet Nam and then later the Army. I am blessed. God is good.”

Thank you, Roilene, for your service to our country and for sharing your time as a Blue Pony. We are blessed! God is good!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6.


Ila McClenahan is the Pastoral Care & Activity Director for Northern Montana Health Care.


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