To understand Jim and Emajean Westphal, you must have a basic grasp of botany.

Specifically, you have to understand root systems.

Roots of the heartiest plants tend to be tough, deep, unseen but essential to what grows above.

The Ripon Commonwealth Press’ 2013 “Person” of the Year is two people, actually. The Westphals’ love for each other, belief in faith and family, and mutual affection for the community of Rosendale make them inseparable.

Indeed, their intertwined roots in the village of about 1,063 run well below the surface.

Sure, they hold title to two corners of the town’s center: the intersection of highways 23 and 26.

But the two businesses they own — Bluemkes Hardware & Appliance store and Bluemkes Food Mart — are only the symbols of an extensive root system beneath the community that dates back to May 1903.

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