The GRHC is deeply appreciative of persons who have donated financially and their personal family collections to preserve the rich culture and heritage of the Germans from Russia.

Acknowledging and Remembering (donors)

Marie Rudel Portner, born in 1897 was a native of Fessenden, ND. Her parents, Simon and Dorothea (Weber) Rudel, were born in Bessarabia, Russia. They immigrated separately to the USA and married in Scotland, SD, In 1893, they moved to a farmstead in Wells County, ND. The Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Endowment was established in 2000 at the NDSU Foundation. As the eighth of twelve children, Marie exemplified moral strength, humorous wit, and focused determination, which characterized many ethnic Germans from Russia settlers with other early pioneers of the Northern Plains and the Dakota prairies.

Gisela Schilling Keller, born in Germany, was employed at the NDSU Varsity Mart from 1967 to 1994. In 2001, as a financial gift to the GRHC, Gisela established the Uto Gerhard Keller zu Kellerrode Endowment at the NDSU Foundation. Michael Miller shared, “Gisela Keller’s story unfolds the difficult transition of leaving her homeland and beginning a new life in North Dakota.”

Dr. Vern Freeh (1926-2011), native of Harvey, ND, graduated from North Dakota Agricultural College in 1951, where he was student body president. GRHC published two books authored by Vern Freeh, “Child of the Prairie, Man of the World: The Memoirs of LaVern “Vern” Freeh”, and “Couldn’t Be Better: The Russian Farm Community Project”, with income donated to the GRHC. Upon his death, the memorial funds were donated to the GRHC.

Notable Germans from Russia
  • Monsignor George Aberle (deceased), Hague, ND, author, writer
  • Phillip Anschutz, native of Russell, KS, businessman and entrepreneur
  • Dr. Armand Bauer (deceased), soil scientist, translator, editor of Heritage Review
  • Glen Lee Beck, talk show host and producer, his Kost grandmother has ancestry to Works, Beresan District, South Russia
  • Gordon Bietz, former president of Southern Adventist University, ancestry to Alt-Posttal, Bessarabia
  • Craig Bohl, native of Lincoln, NE, head football coach, University of Wyoming
  • Thomas Daschle, native of Aberdeen, SD, U.S. Senator from South Dakota (1987-2005), served as both Majority and Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, ancestry to the village of Kleinliebental, Liebental District, South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine)
  • John Denver (deceased, 1943-1997) Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., singer, songwriter
  • Angie Dickinson, native of Kulm, ND, actress
  • Steven Dietz, native of Denver, CO, University of Texas, playwright
  • Mike Dosch (desceased), Strasburg, ND, accordionist and organist, KFYR Television, Bismarck, ND, 1950s-1960s
  • Weston Dressler, Bismarck, ND, professional football player, plays for Winnipeg Blue Bomber (CFL), Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL), Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)
  • Arthur E. Flegel (deceased, 1917-2018), Menlo Park, CA, businessman, genealogist
  • Merle Freitag, native of Mitchell, SD, United States Army, Lieutenant General (3-star), distinguished alumnus of South Dakota State University
  • Viola Frey, native of Lodi, CA, artist, ancestral villages of Kassel and Neudorf, Glueckstal District, South Russia
  • Charles Gemar, native of Scotland, SD, Lieutenant Colonel, NASA astronaut with three shuttle missions
  • Dr. Adam Giesinger (deceased), native of Holdfast, SK, author, historian
  • Ashley Graham, model, Henderson, Nebraska, Mennonite German heritage
  • LeRoy Hehr, native of Logan County, ND, opera singer
  • Dr. Joseph S. Height (deceased), native of Tramping Lake, SK, author, historian
  • Josh Heupel, Aberdeen, SD, quarterback football player at Oklahoma, NFL football player, now head football coach at the University of Central Florida, ancestry to Glueckstal District colonies
  • Richard J. Hieb, astronaut
  • John Leonard Hopp, Jr., (deceased), native of Hastings, NE, baseball player in the 1940s and 1950s
  • Chris Isaak, native of Stockton, CA, rock singer
  • Alvin J. "Al" Jaeger, native of Beulah, ND, Secretary of State of North Dakota (1993 to date)
  • Rhoda Janzen, Harvey, ND native, grew up in Mennonite German family, writer, author
  • Bruce Kison, native of Pasco, WA, Major League Baseball pitcher: Pittsburgh Pirates (1971-1979), California Angels (1980-1984), Boston Red Sox (1985)
  • Johnny Klein, Jr., (deceased), native of Strasburg, ND, drummer on the Lawrence Welk Show for 25 years
  • Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz, native of Sterling, CO, anthropologist, author and writer
  • JoEllen Koerner, native of Freeman, SD, nursing and patient care
  • Cheryl Ladd (Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor), native of Huron, SD, actress, singer, author
  • Bernd G Längin (deceased), journalist, author
  • Debra Marquart Iowa State University, native of Napoleon, ND, author, poet, musician, appears in award-winning Prairie Public documentary, “It’s All Earth and Sky
  • Ben Meier (1918-1995), native of Napoleon, ND, Secretary of State of North Dakota (1995-1988)
  • Randy Meisner, native of Scottsbluff, NE, musician, singer, songwriter and former band member of the Eagles
  • Joe (Smokey) Mendel (deceased), native of Hutchinson County, SD, minister, teacher, athlete
  • Reuben F. Mettler, (deceased), born in Shafter, CA, with roots to Menno, SD rocket pioneer and CEO of the aerospace firm TRW, ancestry to the colony of Kassel, Glueckstal District
  • Michael M. Miller, bibliographer, writer, executive producer of documentaries
  • Kara Mund, native of Bismarck, ND, Miss America (2017)
  • Allan Neuharth (deceased, 1924-2013), Eureka, SD, journalist, founder of USA Today, appears in the award-winning Prairie Public documentary, “It’s All Earth and Sky
  • Leona Wasinger Pfeifer (desceased, 1929-2019), Hays, KS, German Language Professor at Fort Hays State University, folklorist, writer
  • Gwen Black Pritzkau (deceased), native of Salt Lake City, UT, genealogist
  • Autumn Reeser, La Jolla, CA, actress, also starring on the Hallmark Channel, North Dakota roots with Black Sea German ancestors from villages of Neudorf and Kassel near Odessa, South Russia.
  • Alexander John “Rube” Schauer (deceased, 1891-1957), born in village of Kamenka near Odessa in South Russia, grew up in Garrison, ND, professional baseball pitcher who played for the New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics between 1913 and 1917.
  • Joey Schmidt, native of Napoleon, ND, musician, former member of Alan Jackson Band, performed on Lawrence Welk Show
  • Brian Schweitzer, former Governor of Montana (2005-2013), appears in award-winning Prairie Public documentary, “It’s All Earth and Sky
  • Harold Serr, native of Tyndall, Bon Homme County, South Dakota, was a longtime employee in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, becoming head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in 1964. In 1921, he was one of a group of young men from southeastern South Dakota who traveled to Europe by ship to care for more than 700 milk cows that had been donated to the German people by South Dakota farmers.
  • Rev. William C. Sherman, Grand Forks, ND, sociologist, author and writer
  • Rebecca Staab, actress, born in Hays, Kansas, grew up at Omaha, Nebraska
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl, actor, first in East Germany, then in West Germany and later in USA
  • Miriam Toews, grew up at Steinbach, MB, writer, novelist
  • Jonathan Toews, NHL professional hockey player, Chicago Black Hawks, native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, played at University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, Mennonite German heritage
  • James Unruh, Jamestown, ND College graduate, former President of Unisys Corporation, businessman
  • Brian Urlacher, native of Pasco, WA, former Chicago Bears football player
  • Charles F. Wald, native of Minot, ND, General in U.S. Air Force, former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command Headquarters, Honorary Doctorate, NDSU
  • Brad Wall, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, former 14th Premiere of Saskatchewan (2007-2018)
  • Lawrence Welk (deceased, 1903-1992), native of Strasburg, ND, musician, accordionist, bandleader and television personality
  • Carson Wentz, Bismarck, ND, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. The ancestry of Carson Wentz relates to the Black Sea German village of Worms, Beresan District, South Russia.
  • Hayley Wickenheiser, first-time member of the Canada Women's Ice Hockey Olympic Hockey team, captain
  • Rudy Wiebe, native of Fairholme, SK, Canadian author and winner of the Governor’s General Award, has Mennonite German heritage
  • Ted C. Wills, mayor of Fresno, California from 1969-1977
  • Harvey Wollman, native of Frankfort, SD, 26th Governor of South Dakota
  • Roger Wollman, native of Frankfort, SD, Justice on the South Dakota Supreme Court, and Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals of the Eighth Circuit.

Related Links:


Significant Contributors (scholars)

The GRHC is pleased to recognize significant scholars, genealogists, researchers, writers and contributors to the history and culture of the Germans from Russia. Many of these people have worked closely with the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. They share a living legacy of their dedication to preserve and document the rich heritage of the Germans from Russia community.

  • Dr. Armand Bauer
  • Edna Mae (Schieve Zweigle) Boardman
  • Dr. George K. Epp
  • Alice Riedlinger Essig
  • Arthur E. Flegel
  • Margaret Aman Freeman
  • Dr. Adam Giesinger
  • Brother Placid Alois Gross
  • Dr. Joseph S. Height
  • Georg Hildebrandt
  • Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz
  • Bernd G. Längin
  • Anne Roesch Larson
  • Leona (Wasinger) Pfeifer
  • John (Johannes) Philipps
  • Gwen Bernice Black Pritzkau
  • Dr. Homer Rudolf
  • Reverend William C. Sherman