Rodney L. Bleifuss

Rodney L. Bleifuss, died of natural causes at age 92 on January 31 in Grand Rapids, MN.

His career as a geological engineer centered on the taconite industry in Minnesota. He was a professor at the University of Minnesota and assistant director of the Mineral Resources Research Institute in Minneapolis. He later became the division chief of the Minerals Beneficiation Laboratory of U.S. Steel in Coleraine. He consulted abroad in Canada, Venezuela, Tunisia, Japan, and China.

In 1989 Rod returned to the University of Minnesota as director of the Coleraine Minerals Research Lab when the site was transferred to the university. He held the University’s Endowed Taconite Chair from 1997-2000. After retiring, he continued to consult and offer advice until finally clearing out his office at the age of 90.

He maintained memberships in The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; Society of Economic Geologists; and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. Rod co-authored 10 patents and is sole patent holder of the “Row-Go” human-powered vehicle.

Rod left the family farm in Spring Valley, MN and enlisted at age 18 in the U. S. Army where he volunteered for the airborne and served in the 82nd. With assistance from the GI Bill, he married and supported his young family while pursuing an education. He received his PhD in geology from the University of Minnesota in 1966.

He was devoted to his work and family. Rod loved sailing and over the years he treated friends and family to many adventures. Though he couldn’t resist tipping the world on its edge, Rod always managed to avoid the lee shore and return everyone safely home.

His friends will remember Rod at Pokegama Senior Golf where he was celebrated as the second oldest player to play in the year he turned 90. He also founded the Contingency Club for former research employees of U.S. Steel which meets twice a year to reminisce and reconnect.

Rod’s lifelong commitment to friends and family held true, even as his family grew and changed over time. He is greatly missed by survivors: wife, Meredith Goar Bleifuss; children, Terry Bleifuss (Mark), Patti Bleifuss (Jim), Todd Bleifuss, Carmi Bleifuss, William Norman (Jennifer), Carolyn Riley, Daniel Norman (Marlene); and granddaughters, Isabelle and Elizabeth.

A Celebration of Life for Rod is expected during summer 2021. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to: “In These Times” and Doctors Without Borders.

Arrangements are with the Rowe Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Grand Rapids, MN. To sign the online guestbook or send condolences visit

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