Darrell “Bopa” Lee Rognholt, 53, took his last Harley ride to heaven on January 7th, 2021.
He was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer six months, to the day, prior to his passing. Darrell boldly stated he was going to stubbornly fight because the words “can’t” and “won’t” are not in his vocabulary. Being the determined man that he was, he honored that statement until the very end.
Darrell was born on October 19th, 1967 to Ruth and Harland Rognholt at Sacred Heart hospital in Eau Claire. Due to his parents being the fresh ages of 44 and 46 years old, he was initially believed to be a tumor. As siblings do, they nicknamed him “tumah”.
Darrell and his five siblings, Marty, Lorna, Lola, Verna, and Wayne were raised on a 80 acre farm in Buffalo County. They lived a typical farm life, waking up before sunrise, working hard throughout the day, and being in bed after Wheel of Fortune. This lifestyle created many Darrell sayings around his sleep routine as he would say, “You can sleep when you’re dead!” and “It’s the shank of the day!”
Darrell attended primary schooling in Gilmanton, Wisconsin where he insisted he was the smartest in his entire class. This sentiment speaks to his humor due to the size of his class being small enough to fit in a large closet. At the young age of 17, Darrell committed himself to his country because he felt it was his duty to serve. He spent eight years as an Army National Guardsman Infantry Soldier and obtained the rank of Sergeant. Darrell held this honor to serve as one of his greatest gifts and continued to live his life in service.
In 1992, he married Stacy Thompson, committing himself not only to her but to her daughter, Cassandra. To Darrell, since the first day he saw her, there was and never would be a second thought on Cassandra being his daughter. Darrell made this feeling clear in 1998 when he officially adopted Cassandra as his own. The couple shared another child in 1995, who they named Alexis, aka Darrell Jr. While his daughters gave him a run for his money, everyone knew they were the light of his life. Darrell and Stacy parted ways in May of 2005 after 13 years of marriage.
Darrell wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, evident in the 18 years of construction labor followed by 15 years of water and sewer department work. Darrell’s most recent position was one that he held with great pride as the Director of Public Works for the City of Mondovi.
On top of his dedication to his employers, his hard work extended to managing the family farm with his brother, Wayne. The two carried on the Rognholt brother tradition of always bickering about what ‘the right way’ to farm meant – a historical dynamic which has been carried down by multiple Rognholt brother generations.
Darrell made sure to work harder than any other person to remind his daughters, Cassandra and Alexis, to “Give it 110% all the time, Kiddos.” This mentality not only shaped who he was but also the legacy he has left behind.
While hard work was crucial to who Darrell was, his most enjoyable passion was to sit in the pasture and watch cows – he named it his personal form of therapy.
Connecting to the outdoors was a lifetime goal of his. He would call himself a deer whisperer and often say he could ‘live off the land’. He spent a majority of his free time searching for the ‘turdy point buck’ with his youngest daughter and cruising the Buffalo County bluffs in search of morel mushrooms, which he could spot from 50 yards out.
When he wasn’t spending time working and outdoors, he would take many Harley trips around the Midwest with his longtime girlfriend, Denise Kruger. While many know him as a very frugal business man, him and Denise frequently enjoyed spending ‘a little’ extra at the casino. They shared many beautiful memories and laughter.
Darrell was the firm father who would try to ground his daughters for a year over a letter grade he deemed unacceptable and the grandfather who would let his grandchildren get away with just about anything. These four grandchildren had his whole heart, and he never forgot to tell his oldest daughter to “Give the kids a kick in the butt from Bopa.”
While this loss will sting for many through all the years to come, Darrell would want everyone to take your time to grieve, remember the good times, have a miller lite, and “toughen up” in his honor. Lastly, be sure not to take life so seriously, as he always told his daughters “That’s my goal in life ya know, for you to have fun.”
Due to COVID-19, services will be postponed upon Darrell’s wishes and a celebration of life will occur at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials or donations may be made to the Rognholt family at: 641 Park Ridge Dr., Eau Claire, WI, 54703.
Kjentvet-Smith Funeral Home has been entrusted with the final arrangtements.
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