Gretchen Roufs

Every 10 years, I choose to highlight some of my favorite columns from the decade. In 2013, I chose the gentleman who herded sheep across London Bridge, and the hockey referee who carried goofy props to help diffuse anger on the ice. Since then, I've been fortunate to continue writing about equally interesting individuals and endeavors.  

The Keiki Fishing Conservancy, founded by Gavin Morisada and a friend, focuses on sustainability. The organization teaches kids to fish and helps them learn how to preserve both ocean resources and Hawaiian cultural traditions.  

Storm chaser Josh Ward says they don’t just pursue storms on the Oklahoma landscape. They admire and respect the storms, capture photos, and often act as first responders to move debris so people can get out of their shelters.   

Ed Corr is a longtime rower and board member of the West Side Rowing Club. His leadership and passion for the sport has helped club members achieve such heights as competing in the Olympics, among other international competitions.  

Mr. Edwin Parker, at the age of 91, was decorated as a Knight in the French Legion of Honor for the courage he displayed while fighting for freedom in France during World War II. Mr. Parker passed away at age 93. May his memory be a blessing.  

Art collector Warren Weisberg said, “Some of our stuff is a little weird,” and I’m sure the sculpture of a man with a urinal for a head falls into that category. Warren makes sure the art is emotional and has meaning.   

Independent filmmaker Mike Ossian and his wife and leading actress, Anne, make award-winning horror films on their Iowa farm on weekends (including “Roman’s Bride” and “Psycho Magnet”). I’m still getting up the nerve to watch his films.    

And there are champions in our midst, including competitive powerlifter Asher Braaten who bench presses more than 300 pounds; Richard Rones, a national-level competitive water skier, travels 850 feet in 17 seconds on a single waterski; Bowling Hall of Fame member, and four-time recipient of the statewide “Top Bowler of the Tournament", Bill Allen also competes at the national level; Michael Kauffman, with a torn hamstring/wrapped leg, won the International Racquetball Tournament Georgia Men’s Doubles Championship; world’s best cornhole player Matt Guy won the inaugural “King of Cornhole” championship title, and multiple times since.   

As I continue to reflect, I’m reminded of so many amazing people among our ranks. There are hundreds who have generously served; from driving a mobile kitchen truck feeding people in impoverished areas, to leading a project donating 5,000 refurbished bikes annually to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have them.   

And then there’s the industry’s big-hearted response to crises. In 2005, I wrote about businesses that donated pallets of toilet paper, disinfectants, cleaners, and red bio-hazard bags to areas ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Fifteen years later, during the pandemic and beyond, people in jan/san again stepped up to help. Suppliers and distributors who spent long pandemic-era hours filling warehouses and trucks with disinfectants, hand sanitizer, and facemasks, also cooked food for others, helped with online church services, sewed facemasks, delivered care packages, and donated disposable gloves, tampons, and, of course, toilet paper.  

To those of you I’ve written about, thank you for telling your heartfelt, interesting and quirky stories. To those I haven’t yet gotten to, I can’t wait to meet you! Happy anniversary, Sanitary Maintenance, and may the next 80 years be as interesting and inspiring as the last 80. 

Gretchen Roufs, a 25-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “Freetime,” contact her at