‘Even small contributions have made a difference’

Stanhope couple steps up to volunteer

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Billie Shelton The Romps’ involvement in their community shows in this wall of awards and certificates of appreciation in their home that they’ve received from organizations they have served over the years.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the March Our Hometown Magazine. It is reprinted here for the enjoyment of our readers.



STANHOPE — Just because one lives in a community for years doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is connected to the town. It’s easy to just live there, to go about your own business, to tend to your job and your family without getting involved in your town.

That’s not how it is for Wayne and Mabelle Romp, though. For decades now they have both not only called Stanhope home but have grown their extraordinary hearts by quietly contributing their time and talents in countless ways for the good of their community.

“We like to think it’s a benefit to the community for people to be involved in different aspects of their town,” Wayne Romp said.

He is a hometown boy, which probably accounts for at least some of his willingness to get involved in life around Stanhope. He grew up on a farm a few miles east of town graduated from Stanhope High School in 1957, and has lived in Stanhope since 1963. The fall after graduation Wayne Romp began a temporary job as a lab tech at what was then called the National Animal Disease Laboratory in Ames, and it lasted through various positions for until he retired from there in 1994.

Retirement didn’t really last long, though, as that’s when Wayne Romp began working part time as the assistant city clerk for the city of Stanhope, handling utility billings. He held that job for five years, and then he and Mabelle had more time to volunteer locally for projects they enjoyed and believed in.

Like the Stanhope Lions Club, where he’s been a member for about twenty-five years now and has held most of the offices in the club. Hours and hours of the couple’s time are spent on the myriad of details that go into the annual Watermelon Day, which is sponsored by the Stanhope Lions. And on the big day they can be seen tending to things all over the park to help make sure the day is a success for the thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the celebration in the town park.

Mabelle, a Jewell native who attended school there, is a loyal Stanhope Lion, too, although she didn’t join until 2010. “It keeps us busy on local causes,” she said with a chuckle about the benefit of being in Lions. “You need a community club and focus in a town.

“Watermelon Day puts Stanhope on the map,” added Mabelle, who retired from an Ames plant in 1990 after 28 years. “Our club is smaller than it used to be, so we end up trying to keep it going.”

“I have enjoyed the camaraderie with other members who have like thoughts and who like to serve the community,” Wayne Romp said about why Lions is important to him. He has served as a zone chairman of the Iowa Lions and attended the 90th national convention for Lions in Chicago in 2007.

The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this spring. They met when Mabelle’s late husband built an addition on to Wayne’s house, where they still live. After she was widowed, Mabelle and Wayne, a bachelor, got acquainted and were married in 1978. Her three children now live in Michigan, Ohio, and Kansas. The Romps have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The Romps certainly don’t seem to need ways to fill the time in their retirement years. As active members of Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Stanhope, they have held many leadership posts there, including both teaching Sunday School. Mabelle Romp was secretary at the church for 10 years after she retired.

Starting in the early 1970s and into the 1980s, Wayne Romp served on the Stanhope city council and at other times as mayor. “I got to cut the ribbon for the new highway (state highway 17) when it was completed in 1979,” he recalled of a highlight of his years in city government. He was also the Stanhope representative on the county solid waste commission, including serving one year as its chairman.

Another way the Romps have grown their extraordinary hearts over the years was helping to establish a day care center in Stanhope in the 1990s, including hours of fundraising and attention to other details. Although it served a need for area families, when the day care center closed after five years, the Romps admit now that was a blow to them.

Wayne Romp’s loyalty to his school shows in the way he coordinates the address list for the annual alumni banquet, keeping close track of alumni who are deceased or relocate from year to year. In the 1990s, he took on a project that benefitted local history when he photographed the large composite class picture from each graduating class from the very first one in 1917 to the last class in 1962. Then he had them printed and bound into a 9” x 12″ book, which were in demand among Stanhope alumni.

And from 1988-90, the Romps wrote a Stanhope newsletter from their home that was distributed free each month at the local convenience store. It was a must-read for many folks in the area.

So it’s no surprise that neither Wayne nor Mabelle wonder how to fill the time in their retirement years. Why is volunteering for the community important to them? “Someone has to take care of the town,” Mabelle Romp jokes.

As Wayne Romp sees it, “there’s satisfaction in knowing one has made contributions toward helping to improve the lives of others. Even small contributions have made a difference.”