1994 AAA Recipients
Judy (Fosen) Baer ‘73
Judy Baer believes her ability to write is a gift. From God. “My career is very spiritual to me. I feel I have a voice in me that somehow speaks to teenagers. And my instincts tell me that little voice is the voice of God.”
Baer’s “voice” speaks to thousands of young people through her books focusing on issues facing today’s teenagers: peer pressure, teen pregnancy, child abuse, disabilities and prejudice, to name a few. Her Christian fiction series, Cedar River Daydreams, has 21 titles and nearly one million in sales.
“I believe strongly in author responsibility. When you put words on a page, you have no idea how those words will affect people for good or ill. You must be responsible, especially when you’re writing for children. You have to be honest.”
Baer receives more than 200 letters a month from young readers asking for her caring advice. Her readers see her as their “unshockable best friend.”
“A little girl once wrote to tell me about a difficult decision she had to make. She thught about what a character in one of my books had donein a similar situation and decided to do the same thing. She thanked me for my help. And then she added, ‘P.S. I didn’t believe in God before, but I think I do now.’ When you look back on your life, you wonder if you made a difference,” says Baer. “I feel my greatest accomplishment is that, judging by the letters I receive, my writing has made a difference to some young people. Maybe those words, those gifts from God, changed a life or two.”
Mardeth (Bervig) Dovre ‘57
“My folks taught me a great lesson when I was growing up. They always left a place better than they found it. They moved quite a few times and wherever they lived they would fix up their house. They would get involved in the community and their church. That’s what I’d like to do – always leave a place somehow better than I found it.”
Mardeth Dovre has achieved that goal as an educator, community leader, parent and first lady of Concordia. Her warm, open personality and dedication to service have touched many lives: students who took business education classes from her during a 23-year teaching career; residents of communities where she has served on citizens’ advisory committees and taken leadership roles on numerous boards; and countless alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the college she holds so dear.
“All the good things that have happened to me in my life are very directly related to Concordia. I prepared for a career here; my family started here; I’ve lived my life here. And it has been such a good life, I hope I am able to give something back....I got the greatest fortune cookie years ago,” says Mardeth. “It said, ‘Do not confuse activity with achievement.’ We can all be so busy, busy busy – but you have to always remember what’s really important in life.”
Norman Jones ‘53
His philosophy is simple. “Stay with what you believe in.”
Norman Jones’ belief in the importance of family, integrity, and Christian values has served him well in business and in life. The chairman and chief executive officer of Metropolitan Financial Corporation, a business with $8 billion in assets and 210 offices in eight states, remembers the early days when Metropolitan was a small seven-employee business located in a tiny north Fargo office.
“I believe we’ve been successful because we’re located in a part of the country where people still believe in honesty and integrity. When they borrow money, they believe in paying it back,” says Jones. “We also had a lot of dedicated employees who had strong Midwestern values who were willing to work to make it happen. They were an important part of our Metropolitan family.”
Jones is proud to be part of the Concordia family. “I am so committed to Concordia because it is one of the few church colleges that really sticks closely to its mission of sending Christian men and women into the workplace; people who have values and a belief in doing what’s right for each other. So many of the problems we have in our country today stem from the loss of those values.
“Jesus says in John 13:34, ‘…love one another; event as I have loved you, that you also love another.’” From the man who guided the creation of a multibillion-dollar business…a very simple bottom line.
1993 AAA Recipients
Robert “Bob” W. Peterson ‘51
The results have been the same for the past 20 years. When the votes are counted for state auditor, the winner is Bob Peterson.
A leader in his state, his church and community, Peterson seems to look for new ways to serve. His involvement in scouting is legendary. He recently received the Silver Antelope Award from the Boy Scouts of American National Council, a distinction given to only 11 other leaders in the nation this year. The award is made to those who exemplify distinguished service to youth.
Peterson has established a solid political and professional career and is widely considered to be one of the most popular state officials in North Dakota. He was a respected teacher and successful basketball coach at Williston, N.D., winning a state championship with Phil Jackson, now coach of the three0time NBA champion Chicago Bulls.
Peterson has served as president of his church congregation where he brought his vision, enthusiasm and leadership to help energize the worship and music programs. Keith Odney, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Cross in Bismarck writes, “…if there is one word that I believe describes Bob, beyond his leadership and willingness and desire to serve others, that word is integrity. He always seeks to do what is right and honorable, in all aspects of his life, public and private.”
Wilma Jean (Kvenild) Pierson ‘52
She is described as a woman who thinks of others; a woman who works tirelessly to make the world a better place. Wilma J. Pierson gives the precious gifts of time and energy to her church, her community, and to Concordia College.
Pierson is an active member of First Lutheran Church in Minot, serving the congregation on many levels. She is president of the Women of the Church, a member of the church council, and a bible study leader. Her leadership skills have brought her to a number of prestigious positions including executive committee member of the National Board of the American Lutheran Church Women, and membership on the advisory board for the commitment to Mission Appeal of the American Lutheran Church.
For six years Pierson served on the Concordia College Board of Regents, making valuable contributions to the group and promoting college throughout western North Dakota. With her husband, Warren, she is an active volunteer on behalf of Concordia, and their four children are all Cobbers.
This woman of the church spends much of her time reaching out to her community. She has worked as a volunteer with the Women’s Action Board in Minot, setting up and maintaining a shelter for battered women. Through her efforts to help others, she is indeed one of the finest examples of Concordia’s commitment to service.
Roland D. Martinson ‘64
“A remarkable man.”
“A gift to our church.”
“One of Christ’s most active followers.”
These are some of the words friends and colleagues use to describe Dr. Roland Martinson, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul. Martinson has dedicated his life to helping others through words and deed.
A leader in the church at every level, Martinson is a sensitive man who is able to channel his energies into nurturing, caring relationships with the people he meets. His programs to help troubled young people and families earn praise from scholars and congregations alike. Martinson is regarded as a faculty leader, motivating others to continually work on revising and upgrading curriculum.
This gifted teacher travels the world in his service for the division of global mission of the ELCA. Martinson is a recognized lecturer in workshops, conferences and congregations across the country. He serves as a consultant to congregations and education institutions on matter affecting children, singles, marriage and the family.
Martinson also blesses those around him with his delightful sense of humor. David Tiede, president of Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary writes, “When he turned 50 this summer, we teased him about getting older. Rollie immediately stood on his hands and walked around the room to demonstrate that the Concordia College pole vaulter was still with us!”
1991/1992 AAA Recipients
Calvin R. Larson ‘52
In a day marked by disenchantment with the political process, it is cause for hope and rejoicing to find among legislative ranks individuals who consistently demonstrate great integrity, and who weigh not only the legality of issues but whether or not they represent the right thing to do.
Such a person is Cal Larson, who served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1967 to 1974 and who has been a member of the Minnesota Senate since 1987.
Respected in both Parties, the energetic legislator is known for his untiring efforts on behalf of his constituents. “A prolific legislative author, Larson seems to perpetually be in the midst of state battles, carrying the torch of rural Minnesota with great tenacity,” one newspaper editor wrote, praising Larson for his “fortitude in engaging the issues of the day.”
Owner-operator of C.R. Larson Co., insurance and real estate, Cal Larson is committed to helping people through community service as well. A strong leader, he has been president or board member of virtually every major organization, fund drive, advisory and planning committee in the city and country. He was most recently appointed to the Minnesota Council for the Blind. A charter member of Concordia’s C-400 Blub, Larson was also a member of the college’s Board of Regents and served as its chair.
Larson’s wife, Loretta (Pederson) and their two children are also Concordia graduates.
Solveig M. (Stenerson) Swendseid '50
When she couldn’t answer a question about what “American church women do about missions,”Solveig Swendseid did not let the question drop. When a search of American Lutheran Church Words Missions records and archives revealed a dearth of information, she wrote a proposal, which was subsequently approved; set up an efficient and well-organized plan of action; and conducted a project, Women in Global Mission, that resulted in in-depth taped interviews of 98 missionary women. She carefully verified the information and had transcripts made, which are now part of the church archives and of the libraries of three seminaries.
When she was asked for advice on creating an organization for battered women, Swendseid did not let the question drop. She helped set up the bookkeeping recordkeeping, reporting and fund raising for the Southern Valley Alliance for Batter Women, and though she lived 45 miles away, contributed countless hours as a volunteer.
When questions began arising about inclusive language in the church, Swendseid did not let the questions drop. She brought a resolution before the Southwest Minnesota District of the ALC.
These are but three examples from the full and purposeful life of a woman of many talents and varied careers – missionary with her husband to Japan for 13 years, homemaker, mother, organist, administrator – a woman who takes action while most people just talk.
Solveig’s husband, the Rev. M. Douglas Swendseid, and three of their four daughters are also graduates of Concordia.
John C. Ylvisaker '59
When John Ylvisaker graduated from Concordia with a music education major in 1959, he took a teaching position in Morris, Minn. He was surprised and discouraged to discover that his high school music students did not share his enthusiasm for the classical music he knew and loved so well.
And so he bought a guitar and taught himself to play. Class response told him he was onto something. A Pete Seeger concert fully converted him to the message and medium of tradition music.
Thus began a ministry that introduced to the Lutheran Church a new genre of church music – the contemporary folk hymn – a combination of folk song and rock ‘n’ roll. For the past 32 year4s John Ylvisaker has been traveling the United States, playing and singing his songs – of which there are more than 1,000. He has produced three songbooks – Borning Cry I, II and III (named after his most popular composition) – and has contributed numerous liturgies to other collections.
Older audiences, not having grown up with rock ‘n’ roll, warmed slowly to his innovative styles, which sounded strange to their ears. Young people, however, were from the beginning attracted to the lively beat, singable melodies and cogent messages of this fresh and interesting music.
He maintains a busy schedule, playing nearly every week at conferences and conventions, worship services and Bible camps. He has appeared at Concordia on several occasions, and his liturgies and hymns are often used in Concordia worship services.
Junald Rendahl '23
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