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Imfelds enjoy success in weak economy
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Marge and Bob Imfeld continue to be a loving “Swiss” couple at their real estate office on the corner of Acacia and Main streets in Ripon after raising five successful children. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON — Marge and Bob Imfeld have made a mark in real estate and more importantly in the fabric of the Ripon community they have called home since they were first married in the mid-1960s.  

They witnessed one of their best years in the downed economy and saw the successes of their five children who are all in their own vocations today. Both are outstanding achievements in today’s world.  

“We had our second best year last year,” they agreed.  

“Hearing that, some people would get mad at us and some people wouldn’t believe us,” Bob said of their success.  

Asked why they have been so successful as a couple in real estate, Bob answered:  “Because we are in this together, she likes the desk work and I hate it.  I love the field and she hates it.  I was in construction when buildings went from the ground to the sky and I understand a lot of it  - so when I take clients out, a lot of times I will talk people out of something that others wouldn’t.”

Becoming associates in the real estate business, they have  survived the recession.   They have made a positive name for themselves within the community gaining the trust of their clients.  Marge said that her husband, being a cabinet maker, allowed him to speak as a resource to several of their clients, talking them out of a sale – because structurally it was just not right for them – and they told their friends of the Imfelds’ honesty in business.

Their real estate service to their clients has not without excitement.  They had one sale some six years ago where a couple was separated and wanted to sell their home.  She  said the man refused to sign off on the deal which frustrated his wife and the buyers as well.

It was all taken care of when the man’s motorcycle was confiscated by his wife and taken to their office and put into an empty suite.  The deal was it would be released to him by his family when his signature went down on the dotted line. Police were called to stand by in the neighborhood to keep the peace.

They both chuckled as they reminisced about their youngsters reading off their weekly chore assignment as the years passed that were jotted down on a calendar hung behind the door.  And then there was their chanting as they went on summer barbecues in the back of their parents’ pickup truck.

As they would drive into Woodward Reservoir to a cove carrying the family name, the kids would all stand in the back of the truck to let others know who was coming down the road.

“We are the Imfelds, the mighty Imfelds,” was their deafening cheer that always put a little red into their parents’ faces and drew the attention of other weekend vacationers.  There were few who didn’t recognize the family was on the approach and about to land at their coveted spot.

Proof of their Swiss heritage
Bob and Marge go way back in recognizing family history.  Their mothers both grew up in Imperial Valley and were actually school mates. Both were Swiss descendants.      

Marge said they ended up getting married and having children the same year.  Of those children Bob was 23 days younger than the woman he was to marry in Ripon.

“We got married here at the Swiss Club,” she said after celebrating 49 years of marriage.

She noted in that year Jamie Roos was the second almond festival queen.   

Bob said those were the days when the queens were picked by their cultural heritage.  They did Dutch and then they drew from the Swiss and Portuguese and possibly Italian – but they weren’t exactly sure about that.

It was in 1964 when they met and they were married in 1967.  

Limburger cheese in VW’s manifold
Smiling ear to ear, they said they went to Yosemite for their honeymoon in their 1967 Volkswagen, thinking they had hit a skunk on the way.  

“We stopped several times on the way looking for a skunk, but somebody had put limburger cheese on the manifold – and since it was a rear engine I couldn’t smell it from the front while we were driving,” Bob recalled.

“We finally figured it out when we got up to about Mariposa,” he quipped.  

They finally learned it was a member of the Schallberger family from Lodi – Paul was the culprit, they said.

“He never did own up to it, but we knew it was him,” Bob chuckled.

Marge said they got to the gateway to the valley – with its beautiful scenery – thinking how awful it smelled up there.  That’s when they opened the engine compartment and saw the melted cheese.

In Yosemite the two hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls and up to Nevada Falls and witnessed the fire falls being pushed off the cliff – the second to the last year it was ever done with crowds watching from the valley floor.

They spent their honeymoon in one of the cottages at Yosemite Lodge, Marge remembers – no longer there as they got flood out two years ago.

Being in the nostalgic mode, Bob recalled his first grade teacher Mrs. Cogin at Four Tree Elementary School in Escalon that no longer exists.   Marge grew up in Pleasanton in her primary years.

“The only thing that remains there now is the bathroom and the pump,” Bob said.  

He said his family initially spoke Swiss, with him learning English early on in school and serving as an interpreter to a new family that moved into the neighborhood from Switzerland, the Erhlers.

Can still hear ‘those scissors’
“One thing I remember I grew up on a small dairy.  When there was recess time I was outside playing.  So I would run over by the fence and did my little duty and the teacher saw me and came over with the scissors,  snapping them like this,  saying, ‘Next time you do that I’m cutting it off.’  I didn’t do it any more – I do remember that,” he laughed.  “I never forgot that.  Man I was scared.”

When you lived on a 40-acre dairy, who in the heck ever went into the house to go to the bathroom, he questioned.  “I can still hear those scissors.”

He said his first job was cutting peaches in Escalon where they fired him – after getting a work permit at 12. He made $7 a week and was let go because he couldn’t keep up with the women.

“Then I was hauling chicken manure for a farmer in Escalon shoveling into a wheelbarrow when $1.25 was minimum wage.  I did that for about two weeks and then the guy had a manure truck and all I had to do was sit in the manure truck – they took them out into the field and spread it for $2.50 an hour.”  

With that increase in wages, he said he was in hog heaven.

Before getting into real estate with his wife, Bob was a cabinet maker for 36 years – 19 years at Union Plain Mill. He also worked doing cabinet work for St. Joseph’s Hospital for nearly 17 years.  

When they were first married they were actually care takers at the Swiss Club at the east end of Main Street in Ripon and both of them worked.  Their first home was on Dove Road near the Woodward Reservoir.

In the early years of their marriage Marge always worked as a bookkeeper, first working for Gene Miller with a Stockton business machine firm known as Savin replaced by Xerox.

She spent 10 years at home mothering their five closely spaced children, then going to work for Joe Lopes Insurance as a bookkeeper.  After the insurance business sold, she went to work for Carol Hill Real Estate in Escalon in 1982 and she got her real estate license a year later.

“I got my broker’s license in ’87 and at that time came to work for Century 21 All-Pro here in Ripon.  That’s where I met the four of us who started Re/Max,” she said.  Marge was the only one with a broker’s license and she took the lead in the new office.

The other professionals were Steve Enserink, Judi Van Riet, and Pat Stormal, saying they bought the franchise September 11, 1990.  

Of their five children Trudie manages a physical therapy clinic in Castro Valley. Emily is the entrepreneur in the family and owns Pizza Plus in Murphy’s.  Andrea teaches at Eisenhut Elementary School.  Heidi is a seventh grade teacher at Weston Elementary in Ripon and Hans is a survey engineer at Stanford University in SLAC at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Marge said that she and Bob are truly “blessed” with their kids and grandchildren.

She again chuckled in talking about their kids:  “When you have five kids, you have to have a disciplined home.”