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Nominees sought for Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizens

Past Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen winners include (from left) Willma Hanson, Marion Schattschneider, Leonard Thielen, Marion Jacobson, Walter Welle, Cecelia Ziegler, Mike Wammer, Donna Zimmerman, Charles Korinta. SUBMITTED PHOTO1 / 2
Three winners were chosen in 2015, including Janice Ness, David Birchem and Gladys Krogstad. SUBMITTED PHOTO2 / 2

Though the title of the award is “Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen,” the honor bestowed on one man and one woman each year is not based so much on individual accomplishments as it is on the person’s volunteerism.

“It’s an opportunity for our communities to recognize the importance of giving,” said Becker County Senior Coordinator Karen Lenius, who organizes the annual awards program.

“Though we honor one man and one woman each year, the focus is on the importance of the work that all of our community volunteers do.”

The awards recognize senior citizens who have made outstanding contributions to their community since reaching age 65. Nominees must be at least 70 years of age by June 1, 2016.

Lenius noted that for many of the seniors honored at the annual awards program, volunteerism is something that has been deeply ingrained in them since childhood.

“Every year, I’m impressed by our nominees — they’re incredible people,” she added — yet so many of them are reluctant to step forward and be recognized for all that they do.

“So many of them say, ‘I don’t want it to be about me’,” she said, noting that she had recently contacted one potential nominee to give her more information about the work he did — only to have him tell her that he didn’t want to be recognized.

But as Lenius likes to point out, the Outstanding Senior Citizen program is more 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.

And it’s also an opportunity “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.”

Do you know of a retiree in your community who enjoys spending his or her time volunteering at area nursing homes, with local hospice or caregiving programs, as a youth mentor, or contributing their time to 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? Then consider nominating him or her for the 2016 Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen awards.

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. Forms have also been distributed at various locations around town, including Ecumen Detroit Lakes, Essentia Health-Oak Crossing Nursing Home and the Detroit Lakes Senior Center.

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).

“We would like the applications to be turned in by the end of the work day on Thursday, June 30,” Lenius said.

From the pool of nominees, one man and one woman are chosen to be honored at the Becker County Fair on Thursday, July 28 — 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.

The festivities will begin at 1:15 p.m., underneath the big tent across from the 4-H dining hall.

County level award winners will then be eligible to compete for the title of Minnesota’s Outstanding Senior Citizen during the Minnesota State Fair; they will each be offered a free trip to the state fair for the recognition program, which takes place during Senior Day festivities on Thursday, Sept. 1 at the fairgrounds in St. Paul.

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 42 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 “Kit” 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, Audubon.
  • 2012: Vivian Lee and Charles Korinta, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2013: Donna Zimmerman and Bob Sonnenberg, both of Detroit Lakes.
  • 2014: Willma Hansen, Frazee, and Walter Welle, Callaway (both now live in Detroit Lakes).
  • 2015: Janice Ness, Gladys Krogstad and David Birchem, all 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