Concordia honors alumni at 2012 homecoming celebration

Published by Concordia University, Nebraska 9 years ago on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 2:51 PM
Partners in Mission & Ministry Award: Duane and Mary Hilgendorf

The Concordia Alumni Association honored eight individuals and two couples as part of its 2012 Homecoming and Alumni Reunion Weekend celebration, Oct. 12-14. The awards are given annually to those who have made outstanding accomplishments in their careers, personal endeavors or in service to the university, church or world.  

This year’s awards and honorees:

Church Worker Alumnus of the Year: Ronald Royuk

Ronald Royuk has served in Lutheran education for 43 years. He graduated with a degree in education, studying organ and geography. He served as a youth director and organist in Euclid, Ohio, before becoming a teacher, music director and football coach at Bethany Lutheran Church and School in Parma, Ohio. Royuk then served 20 years at First Lutheran Church and School in Knoxville, Tenn. He was principal of Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas, Martin Lutheran High School in Northrop, Minn., and Lutheran High School of Greater New Orleans in Metair, La. He served as president of the Lutheran Education Association and continues to supervise secondary student teachers at Concordia. He and his wife, Elaine, have three children and are active members of St. John Lutheran Church in Seward and Concordia’s Alumni Council.

Lay Worker of the Year: Gerrod Lambrecht

Gerrod Lambrecht began work for Healthcare Services Group, Inc., and eventually advanced to the level of divisional vice president in 2005. He began work for Magnolia Health Systems in Indianapolis, Ind., in 2008 and was promoted to chief operating officer in 2010. Since 2010, Lambrecht has sponsored two scholarships for Seward High School students attending Concordia. He and his wife, Sarah, have one son, Luke.

Young Alumnus of the Year: Kurt Jostes

Kurt Jostes graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska in 2007 with a degree in business administration.  In 2008, Jostes began serving as director of advancement with Recovery Assistance, Inc. He and his wife, Rebecca, attend St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Orleans, La. He continues to work with mission teams from Concordia, most recently the senior members of the 2011 Bulldog football team.

Lifetime Service Award: Charles Ore

Dr. Charles Ore has served the Lutheran church for over 50 years. He began teaching at Trinity Lutheran School in Lincoln, Neb., before beginning a career as professor of music at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Ill. Ore then came to Concordia University, Nebraska, in 1966, serving as chair of the music department. He led the department through the accreditation process with the National Association of Schools of Music, helped rewrite music curriculum, rebuild the music library, develop assessment tools and add a music lab for composition. Ore retired in 2002, but continues to teach piano and organ part-time as faculty emeritus. He served as an organist and choir director at First St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chicago, Ill., and at Pacific Hills Lutheran Church in Omaha, Neb., from 1976 to 2002. Ore then served as organist at Plymouth Congregational Church and at First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Neb. He is a nationally recognized composer of many choral and organ pieces, using hymns, liturgy and chorale preludes to serve congregational worship. He has recorded five CDs of his music.

Lifetime Service Award: Leah Serck

Dr. Leah Serck began teaching at Redeemer Lutheran School in Denver, Colo. She also served as one of the original off-campus cooperating teachers for Concordia Teachers College student teachers until 1971 when she began training teachers full time. Since 2002, Serck has taught as professor emerita at Concordia. She has led teacher workshops for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Education Association for more than 30 years. She served as the early childhood education program director from 1971 to 1994. Additionally, she sang in the adult choir and taught Sunday School for 24 years at St. John Lutheran Church in Seward. She served on the LCMS Nebraska District Sunday school curriculum committee for 10 years. She has worked with a commission for the developmentally disabled for more than 10 years, as well as an early childhood representative and secretary for the LEA. Serck helped begin Concordia’s Early Childhood Conference and Plum Creek Literacy Festival, now both held annually. She also funds the education library for faculty and students in the Thom Leadership Education Center.

Lifetime Service Award: Theodore von Fange

A Deshler, Neb., native, Theodore von Fange began his teaching career in 1935 after just one year of college at Concordia, at only 19 years old. Von Fange served as teacher for eight grades, choir director, organist, pastor and driver of the school wagon. He returned to Concordia before heading to Wauneta, Neb., to teach in another one-room school. He then received a bachelor’s degree from Concordia. He taught in California and served as principal of Houston Lutheran High School. He helped start Lutheran high schools in Cleveland, Ohio, Mayer, Minn., and San Diego, Calif. He later moved to Winfield, Kan., serving as principal and teacher at St. John’s College. He became dean of the department of education at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., until his retirement in 1983. Von Fange was elected to the Kansas State Board of Education during which time he initiated certification and accreditation procedures approved by the board. After moving to Seward in 1991 with his wife, Verda, he chaired Concordia’s 1992-1993 annual fund, helping to raise $900,000. He continues to serve as part of the Seward County Aging Commission.

Partners in Mission & Ministry Award: Duane and Mary Hilgendorf

Duane and Dr. Mary Hilgendorf have served Lutheran schools in Arkansas, Florida and Wisconsin. Duane has taught, coached, served as athletic director, youth director and as director of development in Sheboygan, Wis. Mary has taught both elementary and secondary school. Duane worked as dean of development at Concordia University, Wisconsin, before moving to vice president of advancement in 1997. Since, he has become the senior vice president of advancement, a member of the Administrative Council, and is vice president of the Concordia University, Wisconsin Foundation. Mary served Concordia University, Wisconsin as an adjunct professor, assistant, associate and full professor of education, assistant to the dean of human services, chair of the elementary/middle education department, director of the Women’s Leadership Institute and director of Lutheran Teacher Placement. After retiring, she continues to serve as an ambassador to the Women’s Leadership Institute. The Hilgendorfs have been annual supporters of the church work scholarship and “On A Mission” campaign.

Church Leadership in Outreach Award: Jerold and Karen Markin

Jerold and Karen Markin have served ministries in Southern California, Iowa, Nebraska, Arizona, Hong Kong and Hanoi. Jerold, a Vietnam War veteran, has led youth groups to five LCMS National Youth Gatherings. He began serving at Hong Kong International School  in 1996 as a teacher and basketball coach. He currently volunteers as a teacher and English tutor while coaching with LCMS missions in Hanoi, Vietnam. He also serves as a church council member of the Hanoi International Church. Karen has served as a religious education facilitator and curriculum writer at HKIS and has written religion curriculum for Concordia Publishing House. She served LCMS missions in Vietnam as an English teacher and currently teaches first grade at the Concordia International School in Hanoi. The Markins have served four years as foster parents to 17 children in addition to their own four children. Both are active in Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Karen has established a Girl Scout troop in Hanoi as well.

Honorary Alumni Award: Jeffrey Craig-Meyer

Jeffrey Craig-Meyer began service to the LCMS as the assistant director for the “For the Sake of the Church” campaign to increase attendance and funding for Concordia schools. He has served the LCMS Foundation, helped in the development of LCMS World Mission and managed the “Fan into Flame” campaign for global outreach. He was the director for campaigns and special programs for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and is now the national executive director of development for Educational Enterprises, Inc. He was a member of the church council and congregational president of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Mo. Craig-Meyer was a lay delegate to the LCMS Synodical Conventions in 2004 and 2010, and is an active member of the Lutheran Foundation board of directors in St. Louis. He served as a lay delegate to the LCMS Synodical conventions in 2004 and 2010. He is an active member on the board of directors for the Lutheran Foundation in St. Louis. Jeffrey and his wife, Justine, have two children.

Friend of Concordia Award: Fred Schmidt

Though not a Concordia University, Nebraska alumnus, Fred Schmidt has generously supported Concordia’s two most recent capital projects, the Thom Leadership Education Center and the Walz Human Performance Complex. He also supports athletic, music and drama events on campus. He has served as president and vice president of the annual youth fishing event in Deshler, Neb., is president of the Deshler Rural Fire Protection board, and a past president of the Izaak Walton League of Thayer County. Schmidt is an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hebron, Neb., where he has served as elder, trustee, treasurer, zone officer, and a member of the Laymen’s League. He has served as a delegate to the LCMS Nebraska District convention and Synodical convention. He is also a part of Concordia’s Heritage Society.