Judy Russell

I am interested in preserving the stories, structures and culture of our ancestors in Warren County. I am living on a family farm, founded in 1861, which is one of the oldest areas in Warren County. I am a member of the Palmyra Stitchery Club which fund-raises for the Historic Palmyra Church. My aunt has a wealth of information about her early years in Warren County, and through her memories, I have become vested in learning more about preserving that history.

I have been president of the Carlisle Alumni Association for over 20 years and have conducted many fundraisers and events. I have also helped plan the fundraisers for the Palmyra Historical Church. I have participated and worked at events a the Carlisle Randleman House. I served as a school librarian for 37 years.

Raymond (Skip) E. Phillips, Jr.

Raymond (Skip) Phillips, Jr., a 1968 graduate of Des Moines Lincoln High School, Iowa State University  (BS-Architectural Engineering), Des Moines Area Community College (Computer Sciences), Drake University (MS-Computer Information Systems, EdS and EdD-ABD in Higher Education Administration / Distance Learning. Skip has worked in the fields of construction management, architecture, distance learning and computer systems analysis and management.  Presently, Skip is running his own small construction company as both a carpenter and licensed Architect in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Skip has a passion for volunteering.  It should come as no surprise that volunteering in the education arena and getting into construction projects go straight to his heart.  Skip has been involved with the plans for the renovations of Lincoln High School, several local churches, Rebuilding Iowa, Habitat for Humanity and currently acting as the architect for Palmyra Methodist Episcopal Church.  He has stayed involved as a board member of the Lincoln Alumni Association, a Greenfield Township Trustee, chairman of the board for Northern Warren Fire and Emergency Response Agency and volunteer building evaluator architect for disasters with Iowa Homeland Security.  

Most of all, Skip still has time to be a devoted husband of nearly 46 years to Lin, father to Joel (Katie), grandfather to Tom and Mary.

Elodie Opstad

While retired from working, Elodie Opstad remains actively involved as a volunteer. She is a SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) counselor helping persons navigate the complexities of Medicare. She is also a founding member and current board member of Indianola Park Friends, and a board member of the Indianola Parks & Recreation Community Foundation.

Satisfying a childhood desire to be an archeologist, Elodie has been involved with the repair and resurrection of old gravestones at the Indianola IOOF cemetery since 2018. Over a hundred broken and buried gravestones have been restored to upright as a result of donations from tours and events with actors portraying the lives of early settlers.

Elodie has been writing about the history of Warren County since 2015, first for the Indianola Record-Herald Tribune and currently for the Indianola Independent Advocate. While her monthly articles reflect on the past, a connection to current events cannot be denied.

Elodie and husband Sandy live in Indianola and own a 1909 Arts & Crafts home, for which they have been caretakers for over thirty years.

Alfonso Valenzuela-Gumucio

Alfonso Valenzuela-Gumucio grew up in Santiago Chile. He was from an old family well rooted in Chile’s history and heritage. Their history traces its origins to the Basque region of  northern Spain, Germany and even a few relatives in Northern Iowa. 

That eclectic family that included politicians, diplomats, bankers, farmers, conservatives, liberals, writers, architects and journalists. They provided him with a wealth of ideas, and a sense of belonging. Alfonso’s love of food and his sense of style, guided him to pursue a career in hospitality. He graduated top of his class with a degree in Hotel Management and Marketing. He owned a catering company during his college years and travel extensively. His love of travel and adventure brought him to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After leaving the hospitality industry he decided to follow his passion for design, entertaining and style by opening a chic Design Store in Dublin, California called “Antiques & Eclectika”. He wanted to create a space where people could acquire furnishings and decorative objects  and inspire customers with design ideas that felt comfortable, yet stylish. He founded Alfonso Estate Liquidation and Auction house and became a licensed Realtor with Remax Accord in Castro Valley California.

After 25 years in the Bay Area, Alfonso and his husband Douglas Rooney (a native Iowan and Landscape Architect) along with their two Welsh Corgis decided that it was time to move closer to Douglas’ family, making Iowa home again. They purchased an historic farmstead outside Carlisle, in Warren County. There they raise Romendale CVM Sheep for wool, Llamas, Chickens and keep bees for Honey. Gleann Daire Farm will be certified organic in Spring of 2020. Now an adopted son of Iowa, Alfonso has joined  Realty One in addition to being  a farmer.

Alfonso’s interest in history, communities and preservation inspired him to become a board member of the Carlisle Area Historic Preservation Society, the Warren County Historic Preservation Board, as well as the Preservation Iowa Board of Directors.