The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation was born out of the interests, passions and persistence of Joe and Judy Roetheli, whose ongoing mission is to care for the welfare, guidance and success of diverse groups including the elderly, needy, entrepreneurs and pets.  Formed by Joe and Judy Roetheli along with their sons, Steffan and Michael, the foundation was organized under Missouri law as a 501 (c) (3) charitable entity in 2003.  The name for the Foundation derives directly from the Roetheli name and Swiss family lineage.  When translated from Swiss German into English, Roetheli literally means “little red one”.



joe-judy-photo-2015Dr. Joseph Roetheli’s goal in life is to be remembered as having loved God and family and as a fun-loving and 4C thinking entrepreneur who helped many.  He was born and raised on a farm near Hermann, Missouri.  He received a B.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a M.S.A. in food & resource economics from the University of Florida.  He returned to the University of Missouri-Columbia where he earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics.

During over 40 years of working, Dr. Roetheli has held leadership positions in the private, academia, and government sectors; he is a Vietnam Veteran.

Judy Hill Roetheli was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida.  Judy attended Trevecca Nazarene University where she earned a B.A. in Education.  After college, she taught school for two years before she met her husband, Joe.  After starting a family several years later, it was important to both Joe and Judy that she remain home with the boys, giving her the opportunity to be active in the boys’ extracurricular activities, the PTA Board, and church choir.  As the boys grew, Judy continued to teach and substitute for 16 years with the opportunity to work with elementary, high school and autistic pre-school children.

In 1996, Joe and Judy turned entrepreneurs when they began a pet food/treat company with the dental treat known by many dogs and cats as “Greenies®”. After growing the company to the eighth largest pet food/treat company in the world and receiving over 4 dozen awards, the company was sold to Mars, Inc. in 2006.  Joe and Judy remain entrepreneurs today as they lead a number of entrepreneurial companies from their headquarters in North Kansas City, Missouri.

As a result of their success in the private sector, Joe & Judy founded, lead, and manage The Roetheli Li I’ Red Foundation, a 501 (c)3 charitable entity.  Joe and Judy, devote much time, effort, and financial resources to helping others through The Roetheli Lil Red Foundation.  Joe considers this work as his most important achievement; his vision is that bringing hope and inspiration are special gifts.  He wants everyone to become the best they can be.  Judy welcomes each coming day with eagerness to inspire others and do great things.

Judy and Joe have been blessed with 6 grandchildren; enjoy traveling, playing board games and cards.


Steffan graduated with honors from Park University with a S.S. in business management and a minor in criminal justice in 2001.  Upon graduation, Steffan pursued and continues to work in the public sector.

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 and his wife, Michelle, have three children.  He enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, board 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.  After serving 4 years, Michael pursued and continues a career in the private sector evaluating spacecraft designs for companies developing commercial vehicles for access to space.

In addition to The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation, Michael and his wife, Jenny, have founded a faith-based, non-profit organization called Freedom Reins Ranch http://www.freedomreinsranch.org/.  Freedom Reins Ranch is a program that mentors children between 7 and 18 years old using horses to teach life lessons such as confidence, discipline, kindness, leadership, etc. that are applicable throughout life.

Michael and his wife, Jenny, have three children.  He enjoys spending time with family, the outdoors, working with his Foundation, board games, and is active in his church.

Associate Members


Agnes Roetheli Gaertner was born and raised on a farm near Hermann, Missouri. She was the first in her lineage to have the opportunity to attend high school and college.  She pursued her Swiss heritage and studied German and French at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she earned her B.A..  She later earned a master’s degree in German Language and Literature from California State University, Fullerton.

Agnes was a teacher of German and French for over three decades in California where she served as the chair of the Foreign Language Department.  She was named a Fulbright Foreign Exchange Teacher and spent a year teaching English in Wuppertal, Germany.

During her teaching career Agnes also served as chair of the Leadership Committee at her high school and worked as the GATE facilitator and coach for the high school’s Academic Decathlon and Odyssey of the Mind teams, which won numerous awards.

Agnes has assisted The Roetheli Lil’ Foundation with writing and/or editing materials and preparing manuscripts for books and stories.  She has also been instrumental in the research for various projects.

Agnes and her husband live in Temecula, California, where she enjoys gardening flowers, vegetables, citrus, and avocados.  She loves reading, square dancing, collecting antiques and traveling.


Serge Roetheli, a distant relative of Joe Roetheli, was born in 1955 in Switzerland.  As a young child, Serge spent many hours hiking with his mother and “being an outdoors lover” quickly grew into a lifestyle and eventually a career as a mountain climber and guide.

Serge’s commitment to training and fitness drove him to excel as a young boxer where he became a six­time national boxing champion in Switzerland and was selected to represent the country in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.  Boxing training taught him the love of running and kept him in top condition as part of his ongoing fitness regime.

At the age of 40, Serge, along with his wife, Nicole, ran from Tierra de Fuego, Argentina to Fairbanks, Alaska.  After nearly three years and 14,984 miles they completed the run known as “The American Challenge”.  They later embarked on a five year, 25,422 miles, journey running through 37 countries and over 6 continents to raise awareness of the plight of children in Third World countries and live their dream to run the world.

Serge and Nicole had no logistical support on the inconceivable trek and no major sponsor.  This run is known as the ‘World Tour”.  The Lil’ Red Foundation produced an inspirational documentary film and book about the journey entitled “The 25,000 Mile Love Story”.

He continues to work as a climbing guide and speaks to groups around the world about his journey and life insights.

Vision and Values

Lil’ Red Foundation…pumping the life blood of hope to help others, one heartbeat at a time!

DREAMS involve:


Lil’ Red Foundation is built on the themes of instilling respect, encouraging dreams, and providing hope.

With respect and a dream plus thinking, hope is on the horizon. Virtually anyone can accomplish amazing things and be “successful”, as one who knows first-hand, Serge Roetheli says: “Virtually anything is possible if one is willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices to succeed.”

RESPECT relies upon:


HOPE is represented by: