2009 AAA Recipients
Glory A. Monson '58
Glory Monson has been the founder, artistic director and creative force behind Village Arts Inc., for more than 40 years. She is a community builder, an exemplar of excellence, a versatile artist and a motivator to generations of young people. Village Arts programs include musicals, children's theatre and an orchestra with musicians ranging in age from grade school students to senior citizens.
Olaf Storaasli '64
Olaf Storaasli is a senior research scientist in computational mechanics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, following thirty-five years at NASA. He is an internationally known expert on parallel methods for structural mechanics on high-performance computers. Storaasli has authored more than 80 works on computational structural mechanics, has received fellowships for postdoctoral research in Edinburgh, Trondheim and Oslo, Norway, and is a lecturer at research institutions and universities in this country and abroad.
David Johnson '64
David Johnson was the senior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church and the visionary behind the establishment of the Hope South campus in Fargo. He was vice chair of the Billy Graham Area Wide Crusade, and a member of the DUI Task Force, Teens and Parents Task Force and the Human Research Ethics Committee, all in Fargo. Johnson is widely known for his ability to create a vision and then organize people and tasks to achieve it.
James Jaranson '69
James Jaranson is a board-certified psychiatrist who is also certified in public health and general preventive medicine. He is semi-retired from active practice of psychiatry in Minnesota and consults in the field of rehabilitating politically motivated torture survivors. He co-chairs the Section of the Psychological Consequences of Torture and Persecution of the World Psychiatric Association and has represented the United States on the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. He writes and lectures extensively on the care of refugee patients and torture survivors.
2008 AAA Recipients
Ordean Oen '49
Ordean Oen is retired from a distinguished 31-year career as a research physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work centered on the development of fission and fusion energy sources. Oen has turned his hobby of making wild fruit into jelly and wine as a valued source of financial support for the Park River (N.D.) Lutheran Bible Camp, and his family and grandchildren continue to participate in Concordia Language Village programs.
Dianne (Larson) Kimm '60
Dianne Kimm is manager of the Lutheran Social Services refugee program, where she has worked tirelessly on behalf of refugees from Somalia, Bosnia and Russia. She has assisted with refugee resettlement in the region, helping with basic housing, language education, legal issues and achieving citizenship. She is a community leader who has served the Pelican Rapids School Board for 30 years.
Charley Johnson '72
Charley Johnson is a well-known television newscaster, who is general manager of KVLY and KXJB TV in Fargo. He previously worked as a news director at both stations and also in radio. He is considered one of the Red River Valley's most recognizable and trusted newsmen. He served as president of the Trinity Lutheran church council, on the Concordia National Alumni Board and has taught broadcast journalism and news writing.
2007 AAA Recipients
Darwin Gorder '61
Darwin Gorder is vice president for development at Oak Grove Lutheran School, Fargo, where he has worked for 42 years. Prior to working in development, Gorder served as principal and athletic director for 27 years and instructor and coach for 12 years. He serves on numerous community and church committees, including Bethany Homes Board of Trustees, the Metro Tournament committee and church council at Hope Lutheran Church, Fargo. Gorder is a member of C-400 and the Letterman's Club.
Dr. Rein Uritam '61
Rein Uritam is the graduate program director and professor of physics at Boston College, where he has worked for 39 years. He was chair of the physics department for 14 years. Uritam was resident of the Association of Marshall Scholars from 1991 to 2001, nationally promoting the scholarship program and serving with the British Ambassador on the national selection committee. He was knighted in 2002 for his service with the association. Uritam is also very involved with Dover Church.
Dr. Menkir Esayas '64
Dr. Menkir Esayas is a regional director and area counselor for Africa and the Middle East through the International Lutheran Laymen's League, St. Louis, where he has worked for 14 years. He previously worked as executive director of Africa Church Information Services in Nairobi, Kenya, executive secretary for communication services for The Lutheran World Federation and executive director of Radio Voice of the Gospel in Addis Ababa. Esayas has served as a World Health Organization consultant.
Ingrid Christiansen '66
Ingrid Christiansen is a capital mitigation specialist, assisting people facing the death sentence in hopes they will receive a lighter sentence. She previously worked at Associated Colleges of the Midwest Urban Studies Program for 31 years, Genesis House for Women in Prostitution and as chair of the board of the Division for Church in Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for eight years. Christiansen is involved in church and community organizations, along with serving as a Concordia guest lecturer numerous times.
2006 AAA Recipients
Dr. James B. Hofrenning ‘50
James Hofrenning returned to Concordia after active duty in the Pacific Theater during World War II and completed his degree in 1950. He went on to receive divinity degrees from Luther Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from New York University. For 10 years he served as senior pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., before returning to Concordia in 1964 to teach religion and ethics. Hofrenning left an indelible imprint on Concordia College. He founded the annual Faith, Reason and World Affair Symposium that opens each academic year by probing timely issues; F/M Communiversity, which annually brings learning to all ages in the community; and the Charis Ecumenical Center that is a source of continuing education for pastors and lay ministry. His faculty peers bestowed Hofrenning with the Reuel and Alma Wiji Distinguished Professor award in 1991 for his influential role in bringing continuing education to adults and lay clergy in the region. He was also recognized with the inaugural Fargo Temple Beth El Humanitarian Award in 1984 for his community service. But it was in his role as teacher where Hofrenning achieved his greatest calling. Another legendary educator at Concordia, Dr. Walther Prausnitz, recalled that Hofrenning possessed the revelations of a genuine, concerned, experienced and knowledgeable human being. “I see Jim as representing what the college promises to its students: a life filled with knowledge but committed to service.” Following retirement in 1993, Jim and Ing Hofrenning moved to Minneapolis where they are active in church activities and Jim continues to write. Lutheran University Press published his latest book, “Easter People in a Good Friday World: Making Wise Moral Decisions,” in 2004.
The Rev. Raymond C. Siegle ‘56
For much of his career, the Rev. Ray Siegle was pastor at Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, N.D. He also served parishes in Nome, Fingal, Rugby and Lisbon, N.D. Throughout his ministry, Siegle involved himself in the broader church and community. He served on the Churchwide Council of the ELCA at the time of the change from the ALC, he was a member of the Altru Health Systems board in Grand Forks, and chaired the Lutheran Social Services board of North Dakota. He was a widely known advocate and resource for Alcoholics Anonymous and was honored numerous times for his caring service to chemically dependent people.
Siegle said Concordia prepared him well for his ministry. “I believe God calls us all to find ways by which we can minister to people, both in their time of need but also during their lives. In all kinds of ways, God asks us to put the gospel into question. I saw it happen with my teachers at Concordia and then in the communities where I served. You relate to people wherever they are.” The Red River Flood of 1997 brought devastation and suffering to Grand Forks with raging water and fire. In the midst of this, Siegle was a steady source of solace, support and hope to all of Grand Forks. He helped affected families meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs, held families together and helped them begin their path to wholeness. ELCA Bishop Rick Foss says, “Ray’s remarkable stamina and undaunted spirit were among God’s best gifts to the Grand Forks community in the years following the flood. While Ray was a marvelous pastor in almost any circumstance, the crucible of the flood revealed his great depth and capacity.” Siegle and his wife, Ruth, moved to Moorhead in 2002 where he served as interim pastor at Hope Lutheran in Fargo and Trinity Lutheran in Moorhead. He passed away in June 2006.
Richard H. Solberg ‘68
With steady support and encouragement of his wife, JoEllen, Dick Solberg has generously committed his time and business expertise to numerous leadership positions on behalf of the college. Personal stewardship is important to Dick and JoEllen, who passionately believe in the mission of the church. They have made a personal commitment to two ministries they strongly believe in: Concordia and Red Willow Bible Camp, where they worked as counselors during their college years. “Concordia and Red Willow help people grow in their faith,” Says Dick. “Our goal is to help both these places that we love so dearly to remain viable for future generations.” Upon his graduation in 1968, Solberg went to work at First National Bank in Grand Forks, N.D., and Citizens State Bank in his hometown of Finley, N.D. In 1982 he founded State Bank of Fargo, now named State Bank & Trust. From a modest beginning in a north Fargo strip mall, State Bank & Trust has grown to 11 locations with assets totaling $1.4 billion, making it the largest independently owned bank in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Phyllis E. Zimmerman ‘59
Following her graduation from Thiel College in 1956, Phyllis Zimmerman enrolled at Concordia to study vocal performance from legendary conductor Paul J. Christiansen, completing her degree in 1959. Zimmerman says she learned the “ethics of excellence” at Concordia because at every rehearsal the choir was asked to give the highest level of artistic expression possible. “Great music was happening every day,” she says. “For me, it was a lesson in living and I wanted to live my life in those creative moments.” She first taught high school music in her native state of Pennsylvania before becoming the choral director at Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School, where she taught from 1969 to 1995. Noted for their awe-inspiring excellence, her choirs toured Europe several times and performed in Romania by invitation of the U.S. State Department. Following her retirement, she founded the Canticle A Cappella Choir, a community that has recorded several CDs and performed on National Public Radio and NBC-TV. Today she is an active composer and arranger of sacred music. Through her distinguished career as a choral conductor, Zimmerman has become one of the most beloved residents of Santa Barbara, Calif. “She is a true educator, a gateway and enabler, an instiller of confidence and a provoker of excellence,” says one devoted member of her community choir. As another admirer says, “Phyllis continued to lead an ‘examined’ life. This is a woman who epitomizes grace, elegance of spirit, command of her art, and utmost integrity in the pursuit of excellence and beauty.”
2005 AAA Recipients
Dr. J. Robert Hanson ‘51
J. Robert Hanson grew up in Osakis, Minn., the son of a coronet player in the Ringling Brothers Circus Band who was also a furniture dealer and undertaker. Hanson planned to take over the family business, but as a student he decided to make music his career and switched his major from business to music. “That’s the path that took me on my life’s work.” That path has led him to the principal trumpet’s chair with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducting the Concordia College Band for eight years, conducting the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra for 16 years, and founding and conducting the Concordia College Orchestra from 1967 until his retirement in 1995. “My career is a long list of ‘ah has,’ but that’s the way music is,” says Hanson. Some of his standout memories include performing the annual Christmas Concert, working with world renowned soloists with the F-M Symphony, and performing his composition, “To God Alone the Glory,” commissioned for Concordia’s Centennial celebration. His proudest achievement was building the Concordia Orchestra from the ground up, including taking it on its first European tour in 1986. Hanson continues to compose today, using a computer to test his ideas or to rework his older manuscripts. He also continues to teach trumpet and brass instruments part time, and this fall will return to campus to conduct the orchestra during Bruce Houhlum’s sabbatical. Hanson and his wife, Lois ’51, who retired from Minnesota Public Radio in 1995, now reside in downtown Minneapolis where they frequently attend concerts and recitals.
Judith K. Siegle ‘84
Judy Siegle’s book, “Living Without Limits: 10 Keys to Unlocking the Champion in You,” tells how she has turned tragedy into triumph. It is a story that inspires people to look beyond their limitations. “It’s my story,” says Siegle. “I live with confidence, hope and joy every day even though I have this loss.” In a split second, she went from being a star high school athlete to a quadriplegic. Though the healing continues, she relies on her faith in God and the strength of her family to bring her to her new reality. Her personal motto became, and continues to be, “although the game may change, the game will go on.”
“My time at Concordia were years of huge transition in my life,” says Siegle. “The love of God, the help and love of the Concordia family and their support and encouragement for me made a difference. Concordia never said ‘no’ tome or said I couldn’t do something. Whether it was letting me live in a freshmen dorm, or making a room accessible for my wheelchair, Concordia accepted me just as I was. Concordia was the family God put me with during my years of transition. She is the national record holder for women’s wheelchair racing for 400, 800, 1500 and 5000 meters; she has twice represented the United States at the Paralympics; she was named the 2000 USA Wheelchair Track & Field female athlete of the year, 2002 Healthcare Professional of the Year, 2002 YWCA Woman of the Year and North Dakota Disabled Citizen; and she was elected to the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame and the Concordia College Board of Regents. Siegle is a community disability specialist at MeritCare Health System in Fargo. She is actively involved in Wheels for the World, collecting, restoring and delivering wheelchairs and walkers to more than 50 countries, and she is the founder of the disability ministry at Hope Lutheran Church.
Dayton E. Soby ‘61
Dayton Soby recently completed 33 years as a partner in the Rider Bennet law firm of Minneapolis (140 attorneys). Before that, this political science major, participated in the Washington Semester, graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge (and future Supreme Court Justice) Harry Blackmun. He has been a three-term president of Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Vally, Minn., chaired the Fairview Southdale Hospital Board of Trustees, served on the boards of the Fairview Health System, Luther Seminary Foundation, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota and other organizations, and was president of the Concordia Alumni Association and the found of the C-400 Life Endowment Fund. Recently, Soby was a finalist, along with another Concordia alum, for the presidency of Luther College.
“My career is a long list of doing things I’d never done before. I simply tried to do whatever I thought I should be doing, and apparently it eventually added up. The people at Concordia made kids believe they could make difference. It was an important lesson. Concordia prepared us to go out and do. The college has a good understanding of the doctrine of vocation. Concordia, like my family, believes in service and that’s how we were nurtured. I also think Concordia is innovative and entrepreneurial. Its people are willing to try new things and pursue creative opportunities. There is a spirit of purpose at Concordia that influences the affairs of the world as the college’s mission declares we ought to do.”
Dr. Roger L. Gilbertson ‘59
“Concordia was responsible for instilling in me the values system that has sustained me throughout my life,” says Dr. Roger Gilbertson, president and chief executive officer of MeritCare Health System in Fargo, N.D. “The college grounded me in a way that made me comfortable in the world, and made me realize I could do things I didn’t know or believe I could do.”
After graduation, Gilbertson became a radiologist and in 1993 he was elected by his peers to preside over the complicated merger of Fargo Clinic and St. Luke’s Hospital into MeritCare, the largest healthcare provider in the region. Gilbertson’s fellow physicians and community leaders felt he was ideal for the task because he “brings precise focus to issues” and is “able to make difficult decisions with great understanding.” Gilbertson is known to hold strong opinions, but is a willing listener and a good communicator. Others say he is a visionary but practical, and his leadership style is participatory. Those characteristics were summoned by the Board of Regents in 2003 to lead the search for a new president during a crucial time for the college.
“I thought we needed to be proactive and aggressive,” recalls Gilbertson. “We needed to seek out the candidates we wanted to see come to Concordia, and we needed to tell the story of Concordia not just from the standpoint of our place in higher education, but speak of our overall excellence – that students are valued here – and that there is great support from faculty and alumni.” A standout high school athlete, Gilbertson was recruited by legendary football coach Jake Christiansen to play quarterback and run his intricate offense. “I had already decided on trying for a career in medicine, but my family didn’t have the resources for a college education,” says Gilbertson. “Jake gave me the opportunity to come to Concordia, and with the college’s excellent reputation for medical school preparation, I couldn’t have been more excited.”