MuseumMinute

Award-Winning Connections

It’s time for another post featuring an article from the Des Moines University Magazine! For my past posts, please see here and here.

While my previous posts have focused on DMU’s book collection, today I want to highlight a very unique alum and his famous grandson. Originally published in the Spring 2010 issue, “An Early Global Health Crusader, with a Celebrity Connection” features Dr. John Rolles, who graduated from the school–then known as the Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy and Surgery–in 1952.

Excerpts from the article:

After graduating from England’s Nottingham University and becoming an ordained minister, Rolles and his wife, Helen, worked as missionaries in India. …Deciding they could best serve India by providing medical care, Rolles brought his family …to Iowa, where he enrolled at DMU in 1948.

…After John graduated, the Rolles family returned to serving villagers in India, with financial contributions from Still faculty and students, their church and the Polk County Society of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons.

When I began researching Dr. Rolles, I was blown away by not only his popularity and the amount of support his classmates bestowed upon him, but by his dedication to become a physician. I found most of the research by searching The Log Book, the College’s newsletter, which ran from 1922 until 1972. You can search the entire Log Book online here.

But I promised you a celebrity connection, didn’t I?

Well Dr. John Rolles has a very well-known grandson …Colin Firth! Yes, the 2011 Academy Award-winning actor is Dr. Rolles’ grandson; his mother lived in Des Moines during the years her father was studying medicine. Pretty cool, huh? As an archivist, I do a lot of genealogy work for researchers – this was one of the most unique requests I’ve come across.

Just another example of cool things in and around Iowa. 🙂

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