Reminiscing with a Forestburg icon…

Ike celebrates 90 years

The former mayor of Forestburg turned 90 on Oct. 7 and was the guest of honor at a celebration Sunday, Oct. 6 at the 4-H Building in Forestburg. Rolland Roe Petesch or “Ike”, as we all know him, spent the day getting reacquainted with family and many friends from near and far who came to let this unique man know how much he meant to them.
Ike was born on a farm near Letcher in 1923 but moved with his family at the age of five into a house in Forestburg that he would occupy for the next 83 years. Throughout his life, that town would become not only his home but his family in every sense of the word.

“IKE” PETESCH turned 90 years young recently and celebrated with an open house celebration at the 4-H building in his town of Forestburg.

Everyone in Sanborn County knew Ike as the guy who ran the pool hall in Forestburg. He opened his first pool hall business in June of 1945 in the vacated Burrill family store which was on Main Street in Forestburg. That building burned, so in 1953, Ike built a new building on the southeast corner of the block where Doren’s Bar is today.
For those who grew up in and around Forestburg, Ike’s Pool Hall was the hub of all social activities for the 28 years that he owned it. People of all ages enjoyed the card games, hamburgers and hot dogs, beverages and general camaraderie that was its trademark. The establishment was open from eight in the morning until midnight seven days a week with Ike working all of those hours, so there was no time for a wife and family. He did do a lot of “kid-sitting” for patrons who trusted him to watch their kids when they needed to go somewhere. When business got hectic and he was cooking, Ike trusted the kids to get what they wanted and make their own change. He also freely made loans to those who asked and said he was only “burned” once.
Ike served as treasurer of the Forestburg Development Corporation that built the Forestburg gym in the early ‘60s and sponsored many dances as fundraisers for the cause. “That gym,” he said, “was a great thing for the town and showed the dedication and determination of the Forestburg community,” which he believes still lives within its patrons.  Ike also served as the appointed mayor of Forestburg for 20 years and maintained the well system with meticulous accuracy.
Perhaps Ike’s greatest legacy to the history of Forestburg was the inauguration of softball and baseball teams, which he organized, managed and coached for 25 years. He said coaching is tough, especially when working with many ages and both genders and that “you gotta use different psychology on all of them.”  Ike was definitely the man for the job as he played the game himself well enough to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. Ike especially remembers being picked top player of the Forestburg team by Daily Republic editor Les Helgeland in 1941.
When a man lives to be 90 years old, you know he has a lot of wisdom to pass on to the younger generation, and this is what Ike would like to share: “Take part in what’s going on around you, don’t loan money, and learn to deal with all kinds of people.” He also feels it is very important to “…get right with the Lord,”, which he did a few weeks ago when he was baptized and became a member of the Catholic Church.
Ike has come a long way from the little boy who picked rocks with his brother off the race track at Ruskin Park for a stipend of two ice cream cones, and carried golf bags at said park for 25 cents a round. He is now the guy people call at all hours to give them the name of a forgotten baseball player or a community member and come to spend the afternoon with at Prairie View Care Center because Ike’s memory is as iconic as he is.
Someone recently told Ike that there would have been no baseball in the town of Forestburg if it hadn’t been for him. But it seems that baseball isn’t the only good thing that did happen there, thanks to Ike.

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