Founders and Associate Members

In addition to Joe and Judy, their two sons, Steffan and Michael, were also founders of The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation. Two other individuals, Serge Roetheli and Agnes Roetheli Gaertner, have contributed greatly to the Foundation and are now Associate Members.




Steffan Roetheli, the eldest son of Judy and Joe Roetheli, was born in Florence, Alabama, in 1978.

Steffan attended elementary school in Florence and Springfield, Virginia. He was an Eagle Scout, an avid reader, especially of spy and detective books, and enjoyed going to Christian camp.

Steffan spent his high school years in Kansas City, Missouri, attending Oak Park High and was an active member of the Gladstone Law Enforcement Explorers, a community service group that helped big events with security.

In 2001, Steffan graduated with honors from Park University with a BS in business management and a minor in criminal justice. After his sophomore year, he succeeded in becoming a detention officer for the Kansas City Police Department.

Upon graduation, Steffan was accepted into the Kansas City Police Academy. After completing the Academy he was assigned to an inner-city station as a patrol officer. During his five years on the streets, he, like so many other officers, was shot at (fortunately not hit) and was also beat up by a gang. He has received commendations for assisting in homicide investigations and apprehending burglary suspects and was promoted to Detective in 2006.

Steffan has twice represented The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation on trips to Guyana, South America, to help inaugurate new villages built by the family Foundation in conjunction with Food for the Poor. It was during these trips he gained a new passion for helping the underprivileged.

Steffan is married to Michelle Stroud Roetheli and has two sons, Isaac and Levi. He enjoys Cowboy Action Shooting where he has won awards at several competitions and been a representative of his club at state competitions. He also enjoys traveling, camping, table games, reading, and is active in his church.



Michael Roetheli received his undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri S&T) in 2003 and his MBA from Liberty University in 2010.

After completing his undergraduate work, he took an officer’s commission in the United States Air Force and became a navigator on the B-52 bomber. After serving 4 years in the Air Force, Michael opted for a civilian job working with a subcontractor on the NASA’s Orion program. The Orion program is NASA’s designated successor to the Space Shuttle program, which was ended in 2011. Michael currently works for the ARES Corporation helping to evaluate spacecraft designs for companies developing commercial vehicles for access to space.

In addition to his work with The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation, Michael and his wife, Jenny, have initiated a non-profit called Freedom Reins Ranch ( Also a 501 (c) (3), the organization is designed to help children develop into better people. It is a mentorship program that helps any child that is between 7 and 18 years old who is willing to come out to the Ranch. The program matches one child with one adult and one horse. The horses are a wonderful tool to help a child develop skills, conquer fears, and to learn how to treat others respectfully (and how to treat animals).

Michael and his wife Jenny live on a ranch near Abilene, TX. They have 3 children…4 horses, 2 dogs, a llama, and cattle.



Associate Members


Serge Roetheli is a very distant relative of Joe’s, but they routinely refer to each other as “Brother”, despite the fact that they did not know each other until 1996.

A renown endurance athlete, Serge Roetheli, was born in 1955 in Switzerland. As a young child, Serge spent many hours hiking with his mother throughout the area and “being an outdoors lover” quickly grew into a lifestyle.

Athletic from an early age, Serge’s commitment to training and fitness drove him to excel as a young boxer. With hard work and dedication, Serge became a six-time national boxing champion in Switzerland. In 1976 he was selected to represent the Swiss boxing team for the Montreal Olympics.

His commitment to fitness and his love of the outdoors naturally led him to a career as an alpinist and mountain guide. His years training as a boxer had always kept him running and in top condition as part of his ongoing fitness regime.

At the age of 40, Serge, along with his wife and only crew support, Nicole decided to run from Tierra de Fuego, Argentina to Fairbanks, Alaska—14, 984 miles and nearly three years later, as they were completing what would become known as the ‘American Challenge’, Serge and Nicole were already planning to embark on the ultimate adventure….to run around the world.

Five years later on February 13, Serge and Nicole again left their home in Switzerland and began “The World Tour”. This was a grand adventure that would take them five years, through 37 countries over 6 continents. Serge would run 25,422 miles with Nicole again by his side as his crew support, coach and wife. Now back from this great journey, Serge is again back in the mountains he loves, working as a climbing guide and speaking to groups around the world about his journey and life insights.

As Serge often says when speaking about the “World Tour”, “Nothing is impossible if you are willing to pay the price”.



Agnes Roetheli Gaertner grew up on a small Missouri farm where her parents eked out an existence. Her great-grandfather was orphaned at age nine, just weeks after the family arrived in the United States from Switzerland. She was the first in her lineage to have the opportunity to attend high school and then to attend college.

Agnes pursued her Swiss heritage and studied German and French at the University of Missouri, where she earned her B.A. She was awarded a master’s degree in German Language and Literature from California State University, Fullerton.

She served as the chair of the Foreign Language Department while teaching German and French for more than three decades, primarily at a large Southern California high school. In 1978, she was named a Fullbright Foreign Exchange Teacher and spent a year teaching English at a Gymnasium (college-prep high school) in Wuppertal, Germany. For the last three years of her teaching career, she served as chair of the Leadership Committee at her high school. She also enjoyed working as the GATE facilitator and as the coach for the high school’s Academic Decathlon and Odyssey of the Mind teams, which won numerous awards.

Agnes has devoted thousands of hours to The Roetheli Lil’ Foundation, which provides assistance to those in poverty in third-world countries, promotes pet therapy in long-term care facilities, supports entrepreneurship, and produces inspirational documentary films, books, and stories. She writes and/or edits materials, helps with a host of activities related to preparing manuscripts for books and stories, conducts research for books and documentary films, and continues to work to uncover details of the Roetheli genealogy. She also has been stellar in conceiving ideas to improve the Foundation’s documentary films and serves as a very effective travel planner.

On several occasions, Agnes has traveled to Switzerland for the Foundation to garner information, to translate interviews with distant relatives, and to help identify key videography sights and personnel to interview. She excels in organizing trips to German and French-speaking countries; she always identifies fascinating sights, quaint hotels, and excellent food while honing her language skills.

Agnes and her husband live in Temecula, California, and she enjoys growing flowers, vegetables, citrus, and avocados. She loves reading and square dancing, and she relishes the opportunity to travel, especially where she can communicate in German.

To confirm their on-going interest in education, Agnes and her husband have established the Gaertner-Roetheli Scholarship at the high school in their home town (Hermann, MO), where each year several students with interests in education, agriculture, or foreign languages are named scholarship winners. They have also built a replica one-room schoolhouse, which is stocked with era desks, books, and other classroom supplies. She and her husband also collect other antiques; she specializes in glassware from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They both enjoy sharing stories of their antique collection with guests.