Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area
Award: 2019 WACF Award in Philanthropy
Driven by humble beginnings, Roger and Ruth Gauquie were always taught to work hard and help others. Growing up in Tracy, Minnesota Roger’s family owned and operated a family restaurant and mobile gas station. Ruth grew up on a Milroy farmstead 15 miles down the road. They both learned at a young age the ethics of hard work, supporting your community and giving what you can. “As my mother always said: be good to people on the way up, because you might meet them on the way back down,” comments Roger, sharing that being humble and kind is the Gauquies’ core belief.
Married in October of 1980, Roger and Ruth have called the Willmar area home for over 40 years. They have 2 married children and 2 grandchildren. Ruth worked for Minnesota Electric Supply Company for 20 years, while Roger recently retired as CEO of Northern Factory Sales (NFS) after 40 years of service. In 2014, Roger and his business partner, Nathan Rohne, sold the company to employees creating an employee owned (ESOP) company. Community was always at the forefront for Roger and NFS, and creating the ESOP not only allowed the company to prosper and grow, but impacted the employees at NFS and the entire Willmar area. From humble beginnings through adult success, the Gauquie’s core beliefs shine throughout every aspect of their lives. Not only were the Gauquies devoted to their professional careers, but also their community. Roger served on the Rice Health Foundation Board of Trustees and the Ridgewater College Foundation Board, while Ruth volunteered for the Rice Health Foundation Gala. They support the YMCA, United Way of West Central Minnesota, Project Turnabout, Safe Avenues, Hawk Creek Animal Shelter and the Willmar Area Community Foundation. “It’s all about making your community stronger. The only way to make your community strong is to make your neighbors strong and helping to provide the opportunity for them to shine. We are stronger together than alone,” Ruth says.
Through their active involvement in the community, the Gauquies continue to see all the needs of their neighbors and feel empowered to help. Roger and Ruth believe in the actions of paying it forward. Roger shares, “Our community has given so much to us, and therefore, it is important for us to give back.” While being humility and kindness is reiterated by the Gauquies in many forms, they also demonstrate the power two people can have and how being community minded can bring forth not only a stronger community, but also create opportunities for everyone. Congratulations to Ruth and Roger on this well-deserved recognition as the Foundation’s 2019 Award in Philanthropy honorees.