"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

Bigalk Rollerskating Reunion party to be held Sunday, April 22 in Harmony

Mon, Apr 16th, 2012
Posted in Harmony All

By Theresa Bigalk

It has been 25 years since Arlene and Earl Bigalk passed away. Their deaths were a shocking and devasting loss to their family and the community. Arlene died on April 20, 1987, at the age of 45, after an eight-month battle with leukemia. Nine days later Earl, age 47, died of a massive heart attack. They left behind seven children, ages 14-25 at the time: Kevin, Keith, Karolin, Kendall, Karen, Karl, and Kory…..the 7 K’s is what they were called.

Arlene and Earl owned and operated the local roller skating rink for over 20 years, before it was destroyed by fire. They also operated the local Bigalk Burger Barn. In newspaper articles written after their death, Arlene was described by those in the community as a second mom to the youngsters at the roller rink and burger barn. She was remembered as caring and concerned not only about her own kids, but others in general. She was the leader of the party and enjoyed her card clubs and bowling. Earl was remembered as a hard working family and community man. He was a youth minded man who always encouraged the young athletes and enjoyed attended sporting events.

The skating rink is where Arlene and Earl first met. In the 20 years they owned it, they always lead the couple’s grand march. “They were really good at skating and everybody at the rink called them Ma and Pa,” said Keith. “I remember playing hockey on Sunday nights after we would lock up,” recalls Kevin. “Dad, along with the older kids and adults would play hockey while Mom and the ladies sat and played cards. I remember we really busted up those windows with the hockey puck.”

Beyond the roller skates, the Bigalks recall other family adventures of piling all nine of them up on their toboggan and coasting down the snow covered hills of their farm. In the summer there are the memories of showing cattle at the Fillmore County Fair. “Once I was showing a calf and it went wild and knocked over the tent on top of the judges and queens,” Kory said. “Dad was always in the ring at fair time and we would be running around trying to catch my calf.” Karolin said, “Every year mom would tell dad that this is the last year of this, but we would always be back at it the next year.”

The support for the family over the years has been tremendous and greatly appreciated by the children. Bob and Judy Peters of Harmony graciously accepted Kory and Karl into their family so that they could stay in Harmony and finish their high school years. The Barb and Lynn Aggen family were also a big help to the boys with their 4-H projects over the years. The farm ended up being sold at an auction in 1990, due to the farm crisis. The burger barn was sold in 1987, a few months after they died, and has since been torn down. The roller skating rink was rebuilt in 1988 and is still operating in Harmony. On behalf of the Bigalk children, “We would like to express our gratitude for the love and support from family, friends and the community who helped us through this tragedy in our young lives. We will be forever grateful.”

The Bigalk children today

•Kevin, 51

Kevin and Joyce Bigalk live on acreage near Austin. Kevin has been employed at Hormel Food for 25 years. They have four step-children and 28 grandchildren, which keeps them busy.

•Keith, 49

Keith and Susie live in Canton. Susie runs a hair salon out of her house and Keith works for a pipeline company. Their daughter, Bobbie Jo was married last August to Michael Steward and resides in Missouri. Bobbie Jo works for a private preschool, teaching students with Autism. Michael is a Business Director for a technology company.  

•Karolin, 47

Karolin and Pete Lex were married in 1987 and reside in Zumbrota, MN. They have one daughter, Whitney, 18, who is a freshman at Univ. of Wisc. Stout. Karolin graduated from the U of MN with a degree in Agricultural Education and worked in the ag industry for fiveyears before launching her career in the financial services industry. Karolin is a Certified Financial Planner and owns Lex and Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial in Zumbrota. Karolin said, “I love the opportunity to help people with such an important aspect of their life. Frequently, I share my story about losing my parents at ages 45 and 47 and how it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected.” In their free time, Karolin, Pete and Whitney enjoy traveling to warm destinations and spending time with family. “Despite the great loss of our parents, I feel very blessed for the love, support and friendship of so many different people that helped us become the productive people we are today. We are all blessed with wonderful families, healthy children and gainful employment.  Thank you to all of you who have touched our lives!!!” said Karolin. 

•Kendall, 45

Kendall and Theresa were married in 1991 and reside on acreage near Goodhue. Kendall is an Electrical Lineman and has worked for Goodhue County Electric Cooperative in Zumbrota for 20 years. Theresa is the Director of Sales and Marketing for a Healthcare Company in Rochester. They have four boys.  Ryan, 23, is an Ag Mechanic and resides in Caledonia. Brady, 20, is an Electrical Lineman and is currently traveling across the United States building electrical substations. They were also blessed with the adoption of two children from Guatemala. Mariano is 13 and in the 6th grade. He is active in football, wrestling, and soccer. Kasen is five and is in Kindergarten. He loves to wrestle, fish, and catch frogs. In their free time they enjoy spending time with family, hunting, fishing and sports. Kendall said, “I am thankful for all the people who helped our family after the loss of our parents. Even after 25 years, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them. It is a daily reminder of how important family is and to cherish each day we have with those we love.”

•Karen, 44

Karen and her children live in the country near Cherry Grove, MN. Dylan, 19, works in construction in Rochester. Katie, 17, is a junior at Kingsland High School in Spring Valley. She is active in volleyball and softball. Derek, 13, is in 7th Grade and enjoys football, basketball, and baseball. Karen works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester as an Associate in the Department of Physician & Executive Compensation while attending school to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management. Together they enjoy riding horse, camping, riding dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, hunting, and trapping. Karen said, “I am so thankful for the great example our parents set for us kids. I am amazed at all our parents accomplished in their short lives. When I think  I am busy now days, I often think of my parents with us 7 kids and all the activities we were all in.  They were there supporting us all the way!”

•Karl, 41

Karl and Jacinta have been together for 13 years and have six children. George is 11, Angeline 10, Abigail 8, Arlene Rose 6, Alley 4, and Gavin 2. They reside in Sauk Centre, MN. Karl has been a Truck driver for 15 years and now owns his own trucking company. Jacinta is a busy stay at home mom. In their free time, they enjoy going on bike rides, roller skating, camping, walks through the woods, time with family, and playing cards and games. Karl is enjoying teaching his older children how to play the card games he learned growing up. Karl stated, “My parents are a shinning light in my heart and everyone who knew them. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life!”

•Kory, 39

Kory lives with his family in Plainview, MN. Kory is married to Kareen (Kurth) originally of Elgin, MN. They have 18 month old twins, James and Lila. Kory has been practicing veterinary medicine for 14 years, since graduating from veterinary school at the University of Minnesota. He currently owns and operates his own business, Diamond K Genetics. The business was named after Earl and Arlene’s farm, the Diamond K Farms. They also maintain a small herd of Simmental Cattle.  Kareen is a nurse at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. 

In memory of Arlene and Earl, please join the family on Sunday, April 22 from 1-4 at Wheelers in Harmony for an afternoon of reminiscing and roller skating. All are welcome…Spread the word!

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!

Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.