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Outstanding seniors needed for recognition

Do you know of a retiree in your community who enjoys spending his or her time volunteering at community events in the area, in nursing homes, with hospice, or with any number of other nonprofit and service organizations in the community?

Do you think that person deserves to be recognized for their service to others? Nominations are now being sought for the 2014 Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen awards.

The award recognizes senior citizens who have made outstanding contributions to their community since reaching age 65. Nominees must be 70 years of age by June 1, 2014.

Though the title of the award is “Outstanding Senior Citizen,” the award is not based so much on individual accomplishments as it is on the person’s volunteerism.

“I think it’s important for our communities, and for society in general to acknowledge the importance of giving,” said Becker County Senior Coordinator Karen Lenius.

“It’s a way to teach the up and coming generations how important it is to volunteer and be active in the community… to give back, to be socially engaged and contributing,” she added, noting that for many of the seniors honored, volunteerism is something that has been deeply ingrained in them since childhood.

“So many of them say, ‘I don’t want it to be about me’,” Lenius said.

But while many people hesitate to step forward and be recognized for their volunteer efforts, she added, the Outstanding Senior Citizen program is more of a celebration of the spirit of volunteerism as a whole than it is about lauding personal achievements.

“It’s a chance to say thank you to all of our volunteers,” Lenius said.

She feels particularly strongly about having older volunteers act as teachers to younger generations — particularly when it comes to passing on such skills as knitting, needlework and carpentry-woodworking.

“So many of those skills are going away,” Lenius added — because the people who knew how to do them are dying without passing them on to someone else.

“Find a willing grandchild, a willing neighbor or friend — someone to connect with and teach,” she said.

All of the Outstanding Senior nominees for 2014 will be honored during the annual Becker County Senior Fest celebration on Thursday, June 19 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. The ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m.

“We will introduce each of the nominees and read a little bit of their ‘volunteer story’,” Lenius said. 

From that pool of nominees, one man and one woman will be chosen to be honored at the Becker County Fair on Thursday, July 31 — also known as Senior Day, the same day it has happened every year at the fair since 1973, when Georgianna Selkirk and John Dahl were the inaugural award winners.

County level award winners will be eligible to compete for the title of Minnesota’s Outstanding Senior Citizen during the Minnesota State Fair; they will be offered a free trip to the state fair for the recognition program, which takes place during Senior Day on Thursday, Aug. 28.

Official nomination forms are available by contacting Karen Lenius, Becker County Senior Coordinator, at Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, 1125 West River Road, Detroit Lakes MN 56501, or by phone at 218-847-1385.

The forms can also be downloaded from the Minnesota State Fair website at (click on the “Recognition Programs” link at the bottom of the home page).

Past winners

Past winners of the Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen title read like a “Who’s Who” of the lakes area senior community over the past 40 years. They include the following:

  • 1973: Georgianna Selkirk, White Earth, and John Dahl, Detroit Lakes.
  • 1974: Hazel Farnam, Detroit Lakes and Pastor George Dirks, Osage.
  • 1975: Mrs. D.W. Daggett of Frazee and Pastor Rueben Rock, Ponsford.
  • 1976: Irene Vizenor, Ogema, and Carl Jacobson, Audubon.
  • 1977: Myrtle Johnson, Detroit Lakes, and Lew Kent, Ogema.
  • 1978: Idela Rindy and Conrad Ohman, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1979: Pearl Sexton of Osage and Pastor Elmer Johnson, Detroit Lakes.
  • 1980: Rose Cummings and Herman Hulin, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1981: Edna Dallum and Sheldon Solheim, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1982: Evelyn McCanna and Byron Allen, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1983: Dorothy Carlson of Ogema and Clarence Illg, Frazee.
  • 1984: Alice Nordstrom and George Simpson, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1985: Doris Moe of Audubon and Orris Christensen, Lake Park.
  • 1986: Rae Klomstad, Detroit Lakes, and Arnold Haukebo, Frazee.
  • 1987: Helen Benshoff and Henry Gjersvig, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1988: Mildred Elton, Audubon, and Harley Schooler, Detroit Lakes.
  • 1989: Eleanor Trieglaff and Vernon Daggett, both of Frazee.
  • 1990: Delores Belz and Charles Askegaard, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1991: Mildred Otway, Detroit Lakes, and Harald Hendrichsen, Lake Park.
  • 1992: Gladys Holt and Norman Erickson, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1993: Ruth Helgerson and Robert Irvine, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1994: Dorothy Bratlie and Roger Roy, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1995: Marie Lundberg and Herb Flatt, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1996: Marge Bergquist, Detroit Lakes, and Amer Froysland, Audubon.
  • 1997: Harriet Davis and John Jacoby, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 1998: Millie Berg, Lake Park, and James Dorrance, Detroit Lakes.
  • 1999: Clara Lysaker and Jim Love, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2000: Ellen Johnson, Audubon, and Charles Rew, Frazee.
  • 2001: Anna Schlauderaff, Detroit Lakes, and Albert Fischer, Frazee.
  • 2002: Arlene Veronen, Detroit Lakes, and Earl Johnson, Audubon.
  • 2003: Gloria Buhaug, Lake Park, and Rome Villiard, Detroit Lakes.
  • 2004: Marion Jacobson, Lake Park, and Erling Kolke, Audubon.
  • 2005: Marion Schattschneider and Hal O’Connor, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2006: Sally Hausken and Arlie Shodean, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2007: Dorothy Harsh, Lake Park, and Howard Westlie, Detroit Lakes.
  • 2008: Catherine Davis, Lake Park, and John Downs, Detroit Lakes.
  • 2009: Solveig Nordsletten and Leonard Thielen, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2010: Luetta Dankert Shodean, Detroit Lakes, and Jim Lamont, Frazee.
  • 2011: Cecilia Ziegler, Frazee, and Mike Wammer, Lake Park.
  • 2012: Vivian Lee and Charles Korinta, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2013: Donna Zimmerman and Bob Sonnenberg, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.
Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454