Roger H. Clausen, age 93, of Okoboji, formerly of Holstein, passed away on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at the Lakes Regional Healthcare of Spirit Lake. A private family funeral mass will be held at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church of Holstein with the Msgr. R. Mark Duchaine and the Msgr. Kenneth A. Seifried officiating. Burial will be at the Calvary Cemetery of Holstein with military rites conducted by the American Legion Dessel-Schmidt Post #225 of Holstein. A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 1:00 PM at VT Industries south parking lot.
Roger Clausen was born on January 9, 1927 on a farm outside of Holstein, Iowa to Henry and Olga (Lamp) Clausen. His life on the farm, in rural northwest Iowa, shaped him throughout his youth and instilled a strong work ethic and sense of pride for his country. After graduating high school, Roger enlisted in the Navy where he served in WWII and the Korean War. Upon discharge from the Navy, Roger went on to graduate from the University of Denver.
After college, Roger returned home to Holstein, and married the love of his life, Rosemary in 1952. The couple was blessed with two children, Douglas and Elizabeth. In 1956, Roger founded Van Top, which would eventually become VT Industries. Van Top started with two employees in a rented chicken coop and specialized in manufacturing furniture and laminate countertops. It was Roger’s early vision that shaped the business and the postformed laminate countertop industry as we know it today and in 2005, he was inducted into the Kitchen and Bath Industry Hall of Fame.
In the early 1960’s Roger diversified the business by adding laminate doors to the product offering. Today, VT Industries is the industry-leading manufacturer of commercial and residential architectural wood doors, a fact that made Roger very proud. He often said that never in his wildest dreams did he think the company would grow into what it is today.
Roger was more than just an accomplished entrepreneur and businessman; he was also a well-respected, hardworking leader at Van Top and within the community. Roger and Rosemary’s philanthropic spirit supported Holstein and northwest Iowa causes, large and small, and include the Rosemary Clausen Performing Arts Center, Briar Cliff University, and other endeavors close to their hearts.
It has been said that Roger didn’t know a stranger and his kind smile and outgoing personality helped him create long-term friendships and business relationships. Roger took a personal interest in each of his employees. Even after his retirement in 1989, he would often be found catching up with the employees on the production floor and throughout the office.
Roger was also a lifelong learner and learned how to fly early in his career. His love of flight and business intersected, as he would often travel by air for sales calls in his Piper Comanche airplane, helping grow the business beyond the Midwest.
Greater than the sum of all his business achievements and accolades was his love for his family. He leaves his family with an amazing legacy of love and kinship that is present in his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He will forever be cherished in their memories made as a family, from fishing in Canada to the boat rides in Okoboji, and countless more.
Roger is survived by his wife, Rosemary (Struchen) Clausen; son, Douglas Clausen and wife Joanie; daughter, Elizabeth Hansch and husband Dennis; six grandchildren, Ryan Clausen and wife Stephanie, Trisha Schmitt and husband Colin, Lindsay Armstrong and husband Dr. John, Aaron Clausen and wife Kelsey, Alexander Hansch and wife Kelly, Eric Hansch and wife Barbie; 12 great-grandchildren, Bella, Leo and Dylan Schmitt, Will, Blair and Quinn Armstrong, Sienna Clausen, Max, Tommy and Windy Hansch, Charles and Jack Hansch.
Roger is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Olga (Lamp) Clausen; sisters, Maurine Clausen and Lois Richards and nephew, Ky Richards.
Family, the local community, education, and the arts were all important aspects of Roger's life and a donation in his name to the Holstein Performing Arts Foundation is a thoughtful way to honor his life. Memorial Donations can be sent to the following address:
VT Industries, Inc.
Attn: Rosemary Clausen Performing Arts Foundations
P.O. Box 490
Holstein, Iowa 51025
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