There’s no slowing down for Rosi
Rosi Huff is one tough cookie.The 73-year-old retiree has survived a world war, emigrated to the United States alone, ran a widely popular restaurant-bakery for nearly 20 years – and recently underwent knee replacement surgery. And she expects an identical procedure on her other knee within the year.”I’m not one to sit around the house twiddling my thumbs,” said Huff, her words still containing remnants of a German accent.”I’m too active. I would go crazy if I had to sit at home all day,” said the former owner of Rosi’s Little Bavarian Restaurant and Pastry Shop in Glenwood.A native of Landshut, Germany, Huff was raised with four sisters on a small farm. She was 6 years old when World War II started – 12 when it ended – and remembers those difficult times vividly.”We had family come to live with us in our little three-bedroom farmhouse. We had 13 women and children living there,” she said. “The food was so scarce because the government was taking everything. If a cow had a calf, they would take it. I never saw a banana in my life until I was 15 years old. After the war, I went to the market with my father and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. There were big blue grapes, bananas, oranges. It’s funny, people today can’t even fathom that.”
Before the war, Huff said her father had wanted a boy – she recalled calling her little sister Johnny as a joke.The Third Reich changed that.”Hitler was so evil, ” she said. “When my dad came back from the war, I remember he said to my mother, ‘I’m so glad we didn’t have any boys.'”Hardship, said Huff, has made her the strong-willed woman she is today.”It makes you such a stronger person than someone who has everything at their fingertips,” she said.At 24, Huff came to the United States in 1959 seeking a new life and opportunity. She first settled in Crystal Lake, Ill., where she knew a friend, and worked as a caregiver for an elderly couple. She held a second job as a housekeeper for a doctor. “I came out of a very close family, and they were beside themselves,” she said. “At first I was not happy here because I was very lonely. In those days, communications were not what they are today. We wrote letters.”
After six months, Huff quit her two jobs and went to work at a factory to make more money than just $35 a week. She was about to move back to Landshut when she met her husband, Jim, who also hailed from German heritage.”I didn’t go anywhere for a year,” Huff said. “Then I went dancing with my boss from the factory and his wife and I met my husband. I was planning to go home. I kept writing my family ‘I’m coming home, I’m coming home.’ Then I wrote, ‘I’m not coming home.'”The two married five months later, living in Illinois during the beginning of their marriage. They had three children – and eventually four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The couple, who have been married 47 years, relocated to Colorado after a vacation to the mountains.”Jim fell in love with the mountains when he visited Germany. He had never even been to Colorado before,” she said. “We sold our house, he quit his job, and we have no regrets whatsoever. I love Colorado. I couldn’t love it anymore – it’s just a great place to be.”The couple opened Rosi’s, which they sold seven years ago, to bring Huff’s talent of cooking and baking German cuisine to the public.”I love to cook and bake,” she said. “And the baking was a big part of Rosi’s. I would lock the door and bake until I got it all done for the next morning. My showcase had to be full – I could not stand it to have an open spot in there.”
Passing the Rosi’s Little Bavarian torch has not cooled Huff’s energy level. She and her daughter helped the restaurant’s owners learn the art of making Bavarian pastries for several years. Huff also worked at the Vapor Caves and Spa and learned to give facials and hand and foot massages. “This is my first summer I have not had a job,” she said.Huff said attitude has kept her going strong.”I wake up every day and thank the Lord I’m alive. You always have to count your blessings,” she said. “Being positive is where it’s at. People who are negative, I feel sorry for them.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or email@example.com