SUBLETTE — If you are an animal lover or pet owner, you cannot explain to people who are not, the unconditional loyalty and affection not to mention the companionship that dogs and cats provide. Rhonda Politsch dedicated her life to her career and her beloved dogs and sadly it cost her her life.
It was a scorching sweltering summer one Friday morning last August when Politsch decided to visit a Farm and Fleet store in Ottawa. She had one of two of her ‘children’ as she liked to refer to them, her collie Quinn, accompanying her. As she opened her van door, Quinn jumped out and took off toward the highway and eventually ran into a cornfield. Naturally, Politsch went after her four-legged mischievous canine and ended up lost and disoriented, not to mention overheated and dehydrated. If you have ever been in or near a cornfield the heat can be intense from the density of the stalks. Politsch was found deceased the next morning by law enforcement, she was 62.
Quinn was later found that day and was eventually brought back to the Vet where Politsch adopted him and was placed with a family with young children.
According to Politsch youngest sister, Michelle Vance, the love affair with animals started at an early age.
“She absolutely loved the ‘Lassie’ TV show and would say that she wanted to be a veterinarian or a Marine Biologist someday,” said Vance. “She showed her shelties in competition for a while and enjoyed the attention that her ‘babies’ received.”
Politsch was a loyal and committed employee of Pioneer State Bank in Sublette for 42 years. Her office was adorned with photos and stuffed animals. She even dressed up for Halloween one year as a Vet.
“Her dogs were her passion, and she would talk about them all of the time,” said Pioneer State Bank Sublette Branch Manager Katie Lefflman. “She even included them in her annual Christmas cards.”
Although quiet and a private person, Politsch was well liked and respected both in the community and by her work colleagues. She did a lot of behind the scenes volunteering in town and did not want any recognition. Her unending knowledge and willingness to help others was invaluable. There was not much if anything that she did not know and was the ‘go to’ person if a co-worker ran into a problem.
“She wore a lot of hats around here and she knew everything inside and out,” said Leffelman. “She lived and breathed this bank. It has been a long year without her. She is irreplaceable.”
A co-worker Annette Bonnell was having lunch with her grandkids one afternoon near Mendota Lake when she spotted a dog bag dispenser and immediately thought of Rhonda.
“I noticed that a new area had been set up in memory of a dog passing and I thought how much Rhonda would have appreciated such a place,” said Bonnell.
She brought up the idea to Leffleman, who in turn went to the bank CEO Sarah Cansino who had originally said that the bank wanted to do something special in Politsch honor. As a result, four dog care stations were installed by Leffelman and her parents including two in Sublette (Mini Park and Centennial), one in Earlville at the bank, and one in Paw Paw at the bank.
“Purchasing, installing, and dedicating the dispensers on behalf of Rhonda is the perfect way to honor two of the things that she loved, “explained Cansino. “Rhonda was a resolute employee. She fought for her community, employees, and customers. She was a wonderful person, and her pups were her comfort.”
Besides the dog dispensers, the bank has set up a scholarship fund in her name and planted a flowering magnolia. A memorial service was held in front of the tree back on Nov. 5 of 2021.
“It has been overwhelming the outpouring of love for my sister,” said Vance. “Rhonda would be completely embarrassed by all the recognition. The family is very thankful and appreciate the kind gestures.”