Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Hawkinson Foundation announces 2009 honorees

Sara and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer of Minneapolis, and Dr. Helmut and Rotraut Diefenthal of Moshi, Tanzania, have been selected to receive the 2009 Honorary Award of The Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice. The awards are made annually by the Minneapolis foundation to individuals or couples who have devoted their lives to promoting peace and justice.

The Nelson-Pallmeyers are long-time peace and social justice activists who have been married for 27 years and are members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis. Jack, 58, is an associate professor of justice and peace studies at the University of St. Thomas and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008. Sara, 53, serves as executive director of the Center for Families in north Minneapolis.

The Diefenthals, married since 1953, have been medical missionaries in Tanzania for more than 20 years. Helmut, 85, a retired University of Minnesota assistant professor of radiology, and Rotraut, 83, a radiological technologist, maintain a busy radiology practice, train medical officers and coordinate the efforts of volunteer teaching physicians. The Diefenthals are members of Grace University Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Minneapolis.

Born in Germany in 1924, Helmut Diefenthal grew up in Berlin and spent two years as a medic on the Eastern front during World War II. After completing medical school and a residency in internal medicine, he and his wife, Rotraut, born in East Prussia, spent four years in Malaysia, doing clinical work with a special emphasis on tuberculosis and parasite infestation. They were then assigned to a remote hospital in Tanzania.

“While working in very different realms, these two couples share a profound commitment to making the world a better place. They are exemplary models of peacemaking and it is our honor to recognize their years of dedicated service here and across the world,” said Deon Stuthman, board chair of the Hawkinson Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1988 to honor the late Rev. Vincent L. Hawkinson, who served 30 years as pastor of Grace University Lutheran Church.

Previous Hawkinson Honorary Award recipients have included Mulford Q. Sibley, Polly Mann, Marianne Hamilton, Stanley and Martha Platt, Joel Mugge, Arthur and Martha Sternberg, Eleanor Otterness, Louise Pardee, Larry Cloud Morgan, Joseph Schwartzberg, Marv Davidov, Lynn Elling, Eleanor and John Yackel, Brigid McDonald, Jane McDonald, Kate McDonald, Rita McDonald, Donald Irish, Gene and Mary Lou Ott, Luther Granquist, Marie and John Braun, Ralph and Kay Hilgendorf, Lowell and Carol Erdahl, Arvid “Bud” Dixen, Rhoda Gilman and Betsy Raasch-Gilman.

The Foundation also awards annual Hawkinson Scholarships to students demonstrating a commitment to peace and justice. Since 1988, more than $100,000 has been given to 87 students.

The 2009 Honorary Award and the Hawkinson Scholarships will be presented on Sunday, November 8, 3:00 p.m., at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis.

For more information about the Hawkinson Foundation, call 612/331-8125.