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
- Phillip Anschutz, native of Russell, KS, businessman and entrepreneur
- Father Boniface Joseph Axtman was born November 19, 1908, on the family farm near Rugby, ND. His father was Franz (Frank) and his mother was Kunigunda Kistner Axtman. Both of his parents were from Baden in Russia. Father Boniface's father Frank, was drafted into the Russian Army in 1892 and he served four years as an infantryman and drummer. Father Boniface's mother died when he was two years old and leaving six children. Frank then married Marianna Bertsch from Strassburg, Russia and together they added six children. In 1923 Father Boniface entered the preparatory (high school) regimen at St. John's in Collegeville, MN. He made his Benedictine profession on July 11, 1930, and he was ready for the novitiate along with earning a Bachelor's degree in 1932. On 1940 Fr. Boniface was selected to assist in the conduct of San Beda College in Manila, Philippines, until 1947. He earned a doctorate in education from University of Santo Tomas. He spent over two years in an internment camp when the Japanese took over during World War II. The last few months before they were freed from behind Japanese lines, they were on starvation rations of just one cup of uncooked, unhulled rice daily. Sick, weak and dying, they were liberated by the American forces on February 23, 1945. On his return to St. John's, he taught Spanish, philosophy and theology and was Dean of Men at St. John's. He died January 6, 1990, and is buried in the Abbey Cemetery.
- Alice Bauer and her sister, Marlene (Bauer) Hagge, professional women golfers and among the eleven founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). They were born in Eureka, South Dakota, to Dave Bauer, a naturalized American of German-Russian heritage and Madeleine (Magdalena) Eckman Bauer. Madeleine was born in South Dakota to Heinrich Eckman (b. 29 April 1879 in Kassel, Glueckstal District, Russia) and Magdalena Wanner Eckman (b. 29 August 1883 in Kassel, Glueckstal District, Russia).
- Glen Beck of Everett, WA, b. 1964, talk show host and producer. His Kost grandmother was born in Worms, Beresan District, South Russia
- Gordon Bietz, former president of Southern Adventist University, ancestry to Alt-Posttal, Bessarabia
- Craig Bohl, b. 1958, native of Lincoln, NE, head football coach, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY; former head football coach, North Dakota State University, Fargo, where his teams won three consecutive FCS national championships
- Oscar Brosz, (deceased, 1900-1993), native of Tripp, SD; banker there from 1919-1959 and Chairman, Board of Directors, Dakota State Bank, Tripp, SD. President and Executive Officer, Western State Bank, Sioux Falls, SD; South Dakota State Auditor, 1958-1959; South Dakota State Superintendent of Banks, 1961-1962; National Treasurer of the General Conference of Congregational Churches of America and a member of the Conference’s National Council for thirty years. Early in his banking career, Oscar, together with a banker from Freeman, SD, managed the monetary donations that supported the shipment of milk cows to Germany immediately after World War I
- 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), b. Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. in Roswell, NM. Singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, activist and humanitarian. Denver’s heritage is Mennonite German
- Angie (Brown/Braun) Dickinson, b. 1931, Kulm, ND. Actress in movies and in the Police Woman television series, for which she received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. In 1959, she received the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for her role in the Western film Rio Bravo. Dickinson received North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award in 1992. Dickinson’s maternal Hehr grandparents were born in Bessarabia
- Steven Dietz, native of Denver, CO, University of Texas, playwright
- Ottilie Doering (born, 1895) was the most dominant female golfer of her time in South Dakota, winning a record seven South Dakota Golf Association (SDGA) women’s championships in a span of 16 years beginning in 1932. She became the first female to win four consecutive women’s championships, from 1936 through 1939, and won again in 1941 before capturing her final title in 1948. Considering that no championships were conducted during 1943, 1944 and 1945 because of World War II, her record shows seven of 14 championships during this span, a string unmatched by any male or female golfer in South Dakota history. Ottilie was the vice president of the South Dakota Republican Party from 1935-37 and was secretary of the South Dakota Board of Regents from 1939 to 1947. Her father, Nathaniel Koenig, was born in Paris, Bessarabia in 1862.
- Mike Dosch (deceased), 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)
- Adolph “Spike” Dubs (deceased, 1920-1979), U.S. career diplomat assassinated while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; noted Soviet expert, served as ranking chargé d'affaires at the American Embassy in Moscow, 1973-1974; born in Chicago with Volga German ancestry
- Dr. Richard Ehman, originally from Saskatoon SK, specializes in diagnostic imaging at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, with many ground-breaking discoveries in MRI technologies, credited with more than forty patents and medical inventions advancing patient care around the world
- Michael B. "Mike" Enzi, a retired Republican United States Senator who represented the state of Wyoming from 1997-2021. During his time in the Senate he served as Chairman of the Committee on the Budget. He was raised in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and graduated from high school in Sheridan, Wyoming. Enzi was born 1 February 1944 in Bremerton, Washington, to Elmer Jacob and Dorothy Bradley Enzi. Elmer Enzi was born in New Leipzig, North Dakota, to Jacob Enzi and Anna Maria Hieb. The Enzi family immigrated to the United States from Freudental in the Grossliebental District, Cherson Province, Russia. The Hieb family immigrated to the United States from Neudorf in the Glueckstal District, Cherson Province, Russia.
- Ronald Peter Erhardt (deceased,1931-2012), native of Mandan, ND, graduate of Jamestown College, head football coach,North Dakota State University (1966-1972); NFL football coach with the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets; offensive coordinator for Super Bowl champion, XXI, XXV
- Donald Everett, Jr., president of Runza Restaurants founded by his Volga German grandmother, Sara Brening Everett, in 1949 in Lincoln, NE and his father Donald Everett, Sr
- 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
- Tim Gaines, b. Timothy Hagelganz, 1962, Portland, OR, with Volga German ancestry, best known as a long-time bassist for the Christian medal band Stryper
- Charles Gemar, native of Scotland, SD, Lieutenant Colonel, NASA astronaut with three shuttle missions
- Monika Gossmann, b. 1981, raised bilingually (German and Russian) in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. At age six, she immigrated to Germany with her family. Monika has Volga and Black Sea German ancestry. She is Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, teaching and directing in the School of Theatre, Dance, Acting, Performance and Somatics. Monika is an actress, screen writer and producer
- Ashley Graham, model, Henderson, Nebraska, Mennonite German heritage
- Matt Groening, b. 1954 in Portland, OR, creator of The Simpsons. Matt is of Mennonite German heritage. Groening’s father grew up in Canada in a Mennonite Plautdietsch-speaking family
- LeRoy Hehr, native of Logan County, ND, opera singer
- Thomas Bernard “Ben” Heppner, b. 1956 in British Columbia, Canada. World-class operatic tenor. Heppner has appeared in virtually all major opera houses in the world in Europe, North and South America, and has worked with some of the biggest names in the conducting world. Heppner has received numerous awards and distinctions, and his heritage is Mennonite
- Ben Herbert, b. 1983, from Calgary, AB, native of Regina, SK, member of Team Canada, Gold Medalist in Men’s Curling at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Ben continues to curl at world-class level. His ancestors from the Volga German villages of Holstein and Kraft in Russia emigrated to Canada in 1906 and 1911
- Henry D. Herr, b. 1946, Nashville, TN, from Wishek/Bismarck, ND. He is a retired healthcare executive. His undergraduate (1968), Bachelor of Business Administration and graduate (1971), and Master of Science degrees from the University of North Dakota. Herr received an Honorary Doctor of Letters awarded by University of North Dakota in May, 2022. He is a Vietnam Army veteran. Herr Cofounded Healthways, Inc. and AmSurg Corp. that became publicly traded companies. His paternal grandparents (Herr) were born in Kassel, Glueckstal District, South Russia, and his maternal grandparents (Krein) were born in Neudorf, Glueckstal District (grandfather), and Rohrbach, Beresan District (grandmother), South Russia
- Josh Heupel, b. 1978, Aberdeen, SD, head football coach at the University of Tennessee. He played college football, quarterbacking the University of Oklahoma Sooners to the 2000 BCS National Football Championship. His Heupel ancestors immigrated to the United States from Kassel, Glueckstal District, Russia
- Richard James Hieb, b. 1955, Jamestown, ND, former NASA astronaut and veteran of three space shuttle missions. He is a faculty member in the University of Colorado, Boulder, Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. His Hieb ancestors immigrated to the United States from Neudorf, Glueckstal District, Russia
- John Leonard Hopp, Jr., (deceased), native of Hastings, NE, baseball player in the 1940s and 1950s
- Raymond Theophil “Ray T.” Hirsch (deceased, 1897-1964), b. Tripp, Hutchinson County, SD, to parents from Friedenstal, Bessarabia, and Gnadenfeld. At age 15, Ray played the piccolo in the Tripp City Band. In 1918, when he was 21, Ray enlisted in the U.S. Navy, joining the John Phillip Sousa Military Band and played the sousaphone
- Michael "Mike" Huether, is the former mayor of Sioux Falls, SD, and host of KELO-Land TV series On The Road, with broadcasts from small towns across South Dakota. Mike is a philanthropist with significant donations to sports facilities in South Dakota communities. A native of Yankton, SD, his German-Russian roots can be traced to Crimea and to the Glueckstal colonies of Kassel and Neudorf.
- Chris Isaak, (b, 1956), native of Stockton, CA, rock singer and actor, Chris has released nine albums, twelve singles, was nominated for two Grammy awards, acted in several motion pictures, and starred in his own TV series. Chris’s German-Russian ancestry traces to the Bessarabian village of Kulm
- 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
- JoEllen Koerner, native of Freeman, SD, nursing and patient care
- Cheryl Ladd (Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor), native of Huron, SD, actress, singer, author
- Art Leno was born on January 20, 1910, and died on March 19, 1975. His grandparents were immigrant Germans from Russia. He was one of the hardest working and dedicated members of the then known North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia, which he helped to establish. He served as its Vice President and was on the Board of Directors. He was instrumental in planning and organizing the Centennial celebration in Bismarck on June 8-10, 1973, to commemorate the arrival of the first Germans from Russia to Dakota Territory. Prior to the Celebration, Art worked diligently to design the Centennial Medal as a memento for our people. Through his assistance, we had very special guests such as Dr. Karl Stumpp from Tubingen, Germany. The Count Maximillian and his sister Countess Gunilla von Bismarck, direct descendants of the "Iron Chancellor" and that the city of Bismarck was named for, were also our guests.During his association with the Society, he made many other lasting contributions. One was the editing of the Society's publication, the Heritage Review. Another was his writing of the memorial service which has been observed on Sunday mornings during the convention.
- Richard Loffler, an award-winning wildlife sculptor from Regina SK, whose colossal artworks include “Buffalo Trail” at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson WY and the Stampede rodeo bull “Outlaw” in downtown Calgary Alberta.
- Ben Meier (1918-1995), native of Napoleon, ND, Secretary of State of North Dakota (1995-1988)
- Judith Knittel Meierhenry (b. 1944) is a native of Gregory, South Dakota, daughter of Adolph John Knittel & Anna Elizabeth Voos. She received her Bachelor of Science in 1966, Master's in English in 1968, and Juris Doctor in 1977 - all from the University of South Dakota. She practiced law in Vermillion, South Dakota. In 1988, she was appointed to the Second Circuit Court and became the presiding judge in 1997. In 2002, she was appointed to a seat on the South Dakota Supreme Court. Judge Meierhenry was the first woman justice to serve on the South Dakota Supreme Court, and she served until her retirement in 2011. Judge Meierhenry has paternal Black Sea German-Russian heritage from Crimea and maternal Volga German heritage from the village of Merkel.
- Randy Meisner (1946–2023) was the bassist and founding member of the rock band the Eagles (1971–1977). A descendant of Volga Germans from the colonies of Grimm and Hussenbach, he was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to Herman and Emilie (Haun) Meisner. All four of his grandparents were Volga German immigrants.
- Joe (Smokey) Mendel (deceased), native of Hutchinson County, SD, minister, teacher, athlete. Joe (Smokey) Mendel: Champion of Excellence
- 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
- 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”
- Trent Preszler (b. 1977), native of Faith, SD, is a viniculturist, CEO of Bedell Cellars and former Chairman of WineAmerica, builder of wooden boats, and author. His merlot was the official red wine of Barack Obama’s 2013 Inaugural Luncheon. Previously, he worked at The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy during the Clinton years and was a Rotary Scholar at the Royal Botanic Gardens U.K. Preszler was featured on CBS Sunday Morning 20 June 2021 in a discussion of his memoir Little and Often, the story of how the inheritance of his rancher father's tool box helped him wrestle with the grief of his father's and sister's deaths by building wooden boats, leading to self-discovery and forgiveness. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Iowa State University, Ames, IA, with an M.S. in Agricultural Economics and a Ph.D. in Horticulture, both from Cornell University. His paternal Preszler and maternal Wittmayer ancestry can be traced to the Glueckstal colonies in Russia.
- 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.
- Toby Roth, Republican United States Representative, U.S. Congress, 1979-1997, Appleton, WI, born at Strasburg, ND. His family emigrated from the Catholic Kutschurgan District villages of South Russia (today near Odessa, Ukraine) to Strasburg, Emmons County, ND
- Paul Meinrad Sand was born in Balta, ND, on October 21, 1914. His parents were Paul A and Clara (Vetsch) Sand. His father Paul A was born in St. Michael, MN and his mother was born in Hague, ND. Clara Vetsch Sand's parents, Peter and Katharina Vetsch were born in Baden, Russia. Paul M. Sand attended the University of North Dakota law school and graduated with an LLB, which was later converted into a juris doctor degree. He was admitted to the North Dakota bar shortly after graduation. He was inducted into the Army for World War II and one year later he graduated from OCS school as a Second Lieutenant. He served on the European Theatre while in the military. He performed duties in various positions of the military justice system, such as trial judge advocate, defense counsel, member of general court, law member of general court and president of special court. He was also assistant staff judge advocate of the United States Berlin District. He attended the London Law School Society while he was in the service. Shortly after the cessation of hostilities in the European Theatre, he began serving with the War Crimes Commission and he headed a war crimes team in the British Zone of the Army of the Rhine in Germany. The teams duty was to obtain evidence and data for use in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials, by commanding U.S. investigation teams attached to the British Army of the Rhine. He was discharged as a lieutenant Colonel. He began his private practice in Rugby, ND. He later served as Assistant Attorney General from 1949 to 1963. He was then appointed First Attorney General. He was elected to the Supreme Court in 1974. He died while in office on December 8, 1984. Justice Sand is remembered for his legal knowledge, love of baseball and bow ties, passion for growing roses and his gentle spirit.
- George F. Schaal (1856–1920) was a pioneer and served as mayor of Winslow, Arizona Territory for seven years. Originally from Teplitz, Bessarabia, South Russia and later Scotland, South Dakota, Schaal learned to become a watchmaker in Denver, Colorado before moving to Winslow to work on watches and timepieces for those who worked on the railroad. He owned and operated a jeweler and optician business in town, which his niece, Anna Maria Schaal, ran when George returned to Russia in 1911 to see his homeland and again when he suffered a stroke a few years later.
- Alexander John “Rube” Schauer (1891-1957), b. Kamenka, Odessa Region. In 1900, his family emigrated to Garrison, ND. He played professional baseball from 1913 to 1917 with the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics.
- Joey Schmidt, native of Napoleon, ND, musician, former member of Alan Jackson Band, performed on Lawrence Welk Show
- Dr. Russell C. Schnell, native of Castor, AB, now living in Colorado. Biologist, chemist, atmospheric scientist, and Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient in 2007. For fifteen years (2005-2020) Schnell was Deputy Director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML), Boulder, CO, His Volga German ancestors emigrated to Canada from Norka, Russia
- Kyle Bubba Schweigert, born 1962, is a native of Zeeland, ND and graduate for Jamestown College. Bubba is head football coach for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, 2014 to present; previously he coached football at Minnesota-Duluth (2004-2007) and Southern Illinois (2008-2013). In 2001, Bubba was defensive coordinator for the UND Fighting Sioux winning the NCAA Division II national title. His father is the late Clarence Schweigert, 1930-2000) and his mother, Virginia (Brandner) Schweigert (1928-). His maternal grandmother: Emma Brandner (1902-1945). His great-grandparents: Frederick Brandner (1873-1937) born in Bergdorf, Glueckstal District, South Russia who emigrated alone to the United States in 1890, at the age of 17. Frederick met Elizabeth Merkel (1877-1977) on the ship to the USA. They were married in 1894 – he was 21 and she was 16. Bubba’s paternal grandparents: John Schweigert (1906-19876) and Regina (Feist) Schweigert (1906-1989); John was born in Alexanderfeld, today near Odessa, Ukraine, the Schweigert family villages. Regina was born near Zeeland. Paternal great-grandparents: Ludwig Schweigert (1868—1926) and Katherina (Dupper) Schweigert (1857-1956).
- 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.
- Donald Soeken, b. 1941, native of Lyons, KS. Ph.D. social worker, psychological counselor, author, journalist, America’s best-known psychological counselor to whistleblowers. His expert-witness courtroom testimony is credited with helping to win dozens of cases involving illegal reprisals against whistleblowers in government and business alike. Dr. Soeken has testified before Congress, has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, and many other publications, and has appeared on the CBS Evening News. He is president of the Whistleblower Support Fund, a nonprofit that advocates for whistleblowers. His 2014 book, Don’t Kill the Messenger!: How America's Valiant Whistleblowers Risk Everything in Order to Speak Out Against Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Business and Government, profiles nine whistleblowers that Soeken has counseled. His second book, “Breaking the Silence,” is coming out this fall. Dr. Soeken’s integrity and service to others have been recognized with numerous awards. He has both Ostfriesland and Volga German ancestry, and his GR family were Kindsvaters from Dietel and Galliarts from Dreispitz. He is president of the International Foundation of American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.
- 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
- John Stiegelmeier was the head football coach at South Dakota State University from 1997-2022. In 1999, Stiegelmeier was named the North Central Conference Coach of the Year after finishing the season with an 8–3 overall record. Stiegelmeier was also honored as the Great West Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2007 after compiling a 7–4 overall record and winning the GWFC title. He was also named by the American Football Coaches Association as the 2007 NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Region 5 Coach of the Year along with being named one of the five finalists for the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Stiegelmeier was also a finalist in 2009. He was named the 2022 recipient of the Stats Perform Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the national coach of the years in college football’s Division I subdivision. His SDSU Jackrabbits football team won the FCS 2022 National Football Championship. John, born Feb 7, 1957, grew up and attended school in Selby, Walworth County, South Dakota. His parents, Milton and Phyllis (nee Bossert) Stiegelmeier were farmers whose heritage is German Russian. John’s Stiegelmeier grandfather came to the USA having been born in Bergdorf, Glueckstal, South Russia and his Grandfather Bossert was born in Hoffnungstal, Akkerman, Bessarabia.
Sources: from Wikipedia, Family Search and Selby 1900-2000 Centennial book
- 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
- Alfred Elton van Vogt, (deceased, 1912 - 2000). Born in Edenburg, Manitoba, Canada. Science fiction writer. Author of "Slan" (1946), "The World of Null-A" (1948), and "The Universe Maker" (1953), among many other works. Van Vogt inspired several writers who went on to become giants in the science fiction community. Philip K. Dick said: "There's no doubt who got me off originally and that was A.E. van Vogt.” Van Vogt’s grandparents and great-grandparents were Mennonites who came to Canada from Russia in the 1870s.
- Charles F. Wald, (Retired) b. 1948, Minot, ND, four-star general, U.S. Air Force, former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Headquarters; Honorary Doctor of Law degree, North Dakota State University, Fargo, and former NDSU Bison football player. General Wald’s German-Russian heritage traces to the Kutschurgan District, South Russia
- Theresa Johana (Mack) Wald was born May 26, 1925 in Minot, ND, and died May 18, 2022 in Grand Forks, ND. She was buried in Karlsruhe, ND, her hometown. She was married to Ben Wald, who preceded her in death and is also buried in Karlsruhe, ND. Theresa Wald was a person who wholeheartedly supported the Germans from Russia Heritage Society. She believed in it and worked for its success. She served as the Society's Secretary from 1977 through 1979. She worked during conventions whenever help was needed. Also known as Terry, she needed to be kept busy and as a hobby, she bought an accordion and took lessons to play it. Then she bought a harp and learned how to master that. She was an artist and held several shows with her paintings. Through her interest in her family history, she made several trips to Russia in pursuit of that information. This included a visit to Odessa, Ukraine and her nearby ancestral Catholic villages of the Kutschurgan District. Terry had a talent and drive for writing and authored several books. Some of her books were "The History of the Alphabet," "Women Who Made Our History," "Portrait of a Church," and "German My Way." She contributed financially to the Germans from Russia Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo for Prairie Public's award-winning 2005 documentary, "A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia." Her additional donations to the GRHC were for the Germans from Russia history fellowship to help preserve the cultural heritage of the Germans from Russia in North Dakota. She contributed to the Germans from Russia building that was constructed on the grounds of Prairie Village Museum in Rugby, ND. She believed in these causes and wanted them to be successful. Through all her work, she remained a close friend.
- Brad Wall, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, former 14th Premiere of Saskatchewan (2007-2018)
- Arnold George “Arnie” Weinmeister, (deceased, 1923-2000), Portland, OR. Arnold served in WWII in Europe. Arnie signed to play football for New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference. In 1949, he joined the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Arnie was selected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1984. After leaving football in 1956, Arnie became an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. His father, Peter Weinmeister, emigrated from Dietel, Volga Region, Russia
- Lawrence Welk (deceased, 1903-1992), native of Strasburg, ND, musician accordionist, bandleader, television personality, entrepreneur. His parents, Ludwig and Christina (Schwahn) Welk, emigrated in 1894 from the village of Selz, Kutschurgan District, South Russia (near Odessa, today in Ukraine). Welk received the first North Dakota Roughrider Award in 1961. Welk’s birthplace is now the Welk Homestead State Historic Site, State Historical Society of North Dakota – www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/welk
- Carson Wentz, b. 1992, Bismarck, ND, formerly played quarterback professionally for the Philadelphia Eagles and now plays for the Indianapolis Colts. He played quarterback on several North Dakota State University FCS National Championship teams. His ancestry traces to the Black Sea 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.
- Charles Christian (C C.) Young, introduced the karakul sheep to the United States. Young was born Karl Jung in Neu-Elft, Bessarabia in 1874 and immigrated to the United States in 1892, settling in Dickinson, North Dakota, where he studied medicine with a local doctor and anglicized his name. When Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Dickinson on his whistle-stop campaign for vice-president in 1900, Young served as his interpreter with the local German-speaking population, thus making friends with Roosevelt. After graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Illinois, Young was an attending physician at Cook County General Hospital in Chicago before moving to Bexar County, Texas, where he became interested in sheepbreeding. In 1908 he traveled to Russia carrying Roosevelt’s personal letter of introduction to the Court of the Tsar. Crown officials allowed Young to travel to Bokhara where he met with local tribesmen and purchased fifteen head of karakul sheep, five rams and ten ewes. He imported them to the United States and is credited with establishing the karakul sheep breed in the United States. Young traveled widely in Russia and wrote a book, Abused Russia. He lectured frequently across the United States, and made an appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York while on the Chatauqua circuit.
- Dr. Delore Delmar Zimmerman, Grand Forks, ND, is a native of Wishek, ND. Delore received his Bachelor of Arts degree (1976) and a Master of Arts degree (1980) from the University of North Dakota. In 1986, he received a Doctorate of Philosophy from the Pennsylvania State University, and in 2022 an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of North Dakota. Delore founded Praxis Strategy Group, an economic development and strategy company, in 1994 and Praxis Africa in 2009. As the result of his work in West Africa he was appointed as a development chief in both Ghana and Liberia. His paternal (Zimmermann) great grandparents emigrated to the USA from Friedenstal, Bessarabia in 1889, and his maternal (Boschee) great grandparents migrated to the USA in 1884 from Kassel, Glueckstal District, South Russia.
- Russlanddeutsche Persönlichkeiten, Historischer Forschungsverein Der Deutschen Aus Russland E.V.
- 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.
- Monsignor George Aberle (deceased), Hague, ND, author, writer
- Dr. Armand Bauer (1924-1999), native of Zeeland, ND, soil scientist, was with his wife, Elaine Levi Bauer, a founder, charter member, and life member of what is now the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS). He served on the GHRS board of directors from 1970 to 1986 and edited the GRHS Heritage Review and other GRHS publications from 1975 to 1999. Professor Bauer translated many articles. He collaborated with Professor Lavern Rippley in translating and editing Richard Sallett's important book, German-Russian Settlements in the United States. He earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from North Dakota State University, Fargo; and a Ph.D. from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. Dr. Bauer was a soil scientist for three years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Conservation Service, before becoming professor at NDSU in Fargo, where he established the first soil testing laboratory in North Dakota and developed curricula for many NDSU courses, teaching hundreds of students. After 20 years at NDSU, he carried out important soil science research at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory near Mandan, retiring in 1991. He was the first soil scientist to be inducted into the North Dakota Agricultural Hall of Fame. His ancestral roots are in the Crimean villages of Herzenberg and Heilbrunn (paternal Bauer family) and Heilbrunn, Saragil, Tjabeutsche, and Neudorf (maternal Walz and Ellwein families).
- Sharon Chmielarz was born and raised in Mobridge, SD, daughter of Theodore and Ella Grenz, both North Dakotans. The heritage of Ted was the village of Hoffnungstal Bessarabia. He was born in a sod house near Fredonia, ND. Ella’s family came from Kiel, Germany. Sharon is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She taught German and English in public school. She is also a poet with thirteen books of poetry and three children’s picture books published. Her career is recognized by the South Dakota Poetry Society who awarded her the 2021 title South Dakota Poet of Merit.
- Harold M. Ehrman (1934-2021), was a native of Eureka, South Dakota and graduated from Eureka High School in 1952. He joined the U.S. Army where he was a paratrooper from 1952-1954. He received his BS in Electrical Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1959 and went on to work as an engineer and engineering department manager for Hughes Aircraft at various US locations including El Segundo, California. Harold was a member of the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) and served on the GCRA Steering Committee, was the webmaster of the GCRA website, and was the compiler and editor of the following GCRA publications: Glückstal Colonies Births and Marriages 1833-1900 (1997); Glückstal Colonies Deaths 1833-1900 (1998); 1858 Glückstal Colony Census (1998); Glückstal Kolonien Geburten und Eheschlieβungen, 1833-1900, (German edition); and Glückstal Kolonien Todesfälle, 1833-1900, GCRA (German edition). His contributions also included extensive, valuable desktop publishing in support of Janice Huber Stangl's two books: Collectivization in the Soviet Union: German Letters to America, 1927-1932 (2012) and Marienberg: Fate of a Village (2000). Harold was also co-author, with his sister, Irene Ehrman Voyce, of Fritzlie und Gredele und Verwandschaft (Fred Ehrmann-Margaret Dockter and Relationship)(1979). Harold's German-Russian ancestry can be traced to Hoffnungstal/Odessa and Neudorf in the Glueckstal District.
- Dr. George K. Epp (1924-1997) was born in the Mennonite village of Osterwick (Pavlovka) in the former Chortitza Settlement, Ukraine. In 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and George’s life changed forever. At the age of sixteen he was drafted into the German Wehrmacht and, given his command of the German, Ukrainian and Russian languages, was assigned as an interpreter. As the German army retreated westward after 1943 George eventually ended up in southern Bavaria where he was captured by the American army. Fortunately, George was released shortly after the war ended, and in 1947 he was among the first group of Mennonite refugees to leave Germany for Paraguay, where he taught and served as a lay minister. In 1954, George and his wife Agnes Froese, immigrated to Canada. Already fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, German, and Spanish, George began studying English and taking night-school classes to complete his high school requirements. George then enrolled at the University of Manitoba and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in German. In 1976, he earned his Ph.D. in history with a dissertation on The Educational Policies of Catherine II. George gave up his career as a glass-blower in 1968 and began a long and distinguished teaching career. From 1978 to 1983, he served as President of the Canadian Mennonite Bible College; from 1985 to 1992, he served as Director of the Mennonite Heritage Centre and helped to establish its successor – Menno Simons College at the University of Winnipeg, becoming its first president. He was also instrumental in establishing the Chair of Mennonite Studies at The University of Winnipeg.
Dr. George Epp authored these books: The Educational Policies of Catherine II: The Era of Enlightenment in Russia; Rilke und Russland; Geschichte der Mennnoniten in Russland, 3 volumes.
- Arthur E. Flegel (deceased, 1917-2018), certified genealogist, author, businessman, veteran of World War II, native of Bentley, ND, and long-time resident of Menlo Park, CA. Arthur was instrumental in creating the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) in 1968, served as its fourth president from 1981 to 1984, and chaired the fundraising campaign for the English-language publication of Dr. Karl Stumpp's book, The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763-1862. He and his wife Cleora (Cleo) authored the history of her family, Reuscher-Schnell kinship: a century in America, 1875-1975. He also wrote the history of his family, Kinship: Flegel, Pflugrath, Sauer, Beirle, Pfennig, Mueller, Mauch, Haussaue: A history and genealogy of our German from Russia ancestry and kinship on three continents, and compiled the impressive book, Extended Relationships of the Kulm, Leipzig, Tarutino Communities in Bessarabia, Russia. He donated his personal library of genealogical materials to AHSGR, and it is preserved as the Arthur and Cleora Flegel Library. Arthur’s German-Russian roots were in Bessarabia and the Caucasus. His father was born in Kulm, Bessarabia, and his mother was born at Lilienfeld, North Caucasus. In 2001, the Arthur E. & Cleora Reuscher Flegel interview was produced on DVD. Arthur appears in Prairie Public’s 2010 award-winning documentary, It’s All Earth and Sky.
- Dr. Adam Giesinger (1909-1995), author and historian, was born in a sod house on a homestead near the village of Holdfast, SK. From 1922 to 1929, he attended Campion College in Regina where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction. From 1942 to 1976, he was on the staff of St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, teaching chemistry, mathematics and physics. In 1957, he was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Manitoba. Adam was past president of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (1978-1981) The Dr. Adam Giesinger Scholarship was established at St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba. The Dr. Adam Giesinger Collection was established at the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo. Dr. Giesinger authored these books: Die Wanderungen Meiner Ahnen: Vorarlberg, Baden, Elsass, Sued Russland, U.S.A., Kanada, From Catherine to Khrushchev, Reports of 1942-1943 from German Villages in the Ukraine, The Way It Was: A Family History and Autobiography, Adam’s ancestral Black Sea German village was Mannheim, Kutschurgan District, today near Odessa, Ukraine.
- Peter Goldade, grew up near Selz, ND and reared on his grandfather's homestead. He was employed for 34 years by a major U. S. aerospace firm, Collins-Rockwell International. Goldade is a genealogist, researcher and author of these books: The Goldade Family History with Memories of the Village of Selz and Russia, The Jundt Family History, The Migler Family History, Life Under Tyranny, and Our Relatives: The Persecuted. His ancestral Catholic Black Sea Germans villages of the Kutschurgan District, today near Odessa, Ukraine are: Elssas: Migler, Schmidtheisler, Hauck, Germann; Kandel: Riehl, Baumann; Mannheim: Schatz; Selz: Goldade, Jundt, Sander, Becker, Reiss, Ell; Strassburg: Schmeider. https://www.goldade.net.
- Emma Schwabenland Haynes, born in Portland, OR, to immigrant German-Russian parents from Straub and Norka on the Volga, and was a leading subject matter expert on the history, culture, and family ties of the Germans from Russia. Emma completed B.A. and M.A. degrees with honors at the University of Colorado. Her master's thesis focused on German-Russians in the Volga and in the United States. She completed a groundbreaking study, "History of the Volga Relief Society," in 1941. After an exchange year in Breslau, Germany in 1930-1931, she taught for 14 years at Isaac I. Elston High School in Michigan City, Indiana, before accepting a U.S. government assignment to serve as a translator and interpreter at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, where she also oversaw the Visitors Center for the families of the defendants. In Nuremberg, she met her husband, and they lived in Europe for the next 28 years, where Emma served as the European representative of American Historical Society of Germans from Russia from its founding in 1968 until the Hayneses returned to the U.S. in 1976. While living in Washington, DC, Emma researched passenger manifests in the National Archives, and the names of Germans from Russia on those lists were published by AHSGR. Emma served on the AHSGR Board of Directors until 1983.
- Dr. Joseph S. Height (1909-1979) was a native of Tramping Lake, Saskatoon, Canada. He was professor of German at Franklin College, Indiana (1960-1975), an author, and a historian. He attended St. John’s College in Edmonton, Alberta where he specialized in foreign languages. After graduation, he spent three years in Germany studying German and Philosophy. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Philosophy and German from the University of British Columbia. His Doctor of Philosophy in German was from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Height authored the following books: Homesteaders on the Steppe (1975); Paradise on the Steppe (1973); History of the Mannheim Heidt Kinship 1786-1966, Die Muddersproch der Kutschurganer, Beresaner und Liebentaler: A Basic Franconian Dialect Grammar with Vernacular Vocabulary, Pronunciations and Idiomatic Usage (1975); Folksongs of Our Forefathers: Liederbuch der Schwarzmeer-Deutschen (in Russia, America and Canada) (1978); and Memories of the Black Sea Germans (1979). Dr. Height’s translations included the following: The German-Russians (Stumpp 1964); Gold of Goethe: Favorite Poems in the Original German with New English Translations (Goethe, Height 1964); Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862 (Stumpp 1972); and Pioneer History of the Stang Kinship (Stang 1979). Dr. Height’s 1949 doctoral dissertation was entitled "The Translation of Goethe’s Lyric Poems into English: A Comparative Study of the Formal Aspects of Verse and Their Application to the Problems of Translation." In 2018, The Dr. Joseph S. Height Collection was donated to the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, North Dakota.
- Dr. Sidney Heitman (1924-1993) was a noted professor of history at Colorado State University at Fort Collins from 1955 until his passing. After serving as a B-24 bomber pilot in the Pacific theater during World War Two, he received his higher education at the University of Missouri and Columbia University. During his tenure at Fort Collins, he was also a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and a guest lecturer at a number of American, European, and Israeli universities. As one of the earliest members of the Association of Nationalities Studies (also publisher of the academic journal Nationalities Papers), he distinguished himself on the international stage as an early pioneer in the emerging academic field of Soviet Studies in the United States during the 1970s and 1980s, including comparative research on ethnic Armenian, German, and Jewish emigration movements out of the Soviet Union to their respective historical homelands. In 1975, he also established the Colorado State University Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project. The study project concentrated on German from Russia influences in northern Colorado and conducted extensive interviews with what constituted the state's second largest ethnic group. The study project is now part of the archive renamed the Sidney Heitman Collection since 1993. He also held the distinction of serving as a graduate faculty committee member for Volga German scholar Dr. Timothy Kloberdanz at Colorado State University at Fort Collins.
- Dr. Timothy J. Kloberdanz, native of Sterling, CO, anthropologist, author and writer.
- Bernd G Längin (deceased), journalist, author.
- Debra Marquart b. 1956, native of Napoleon, ND, Distinguished Professor of English, Iowa State University, Ames; Poet Laureate of Iowa, author, poet, musician. Marquart appears in Prairie Public’s award-winning documentaries, “It’s All Earth and Sky” and “Homesteading”. She has written six books, including her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere. She has German-Russian heritage in the Kutschurgan villages of South Russia - www.debramarquart.com
- Dr. Dona Reeves-Marquardt, Austin, TX, received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She is Professor Emerita, Texas State University at San Marcos, where she taught German language and literature for many years. She was a Fulbright scholar at Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany. Dona has translated major works including Peter Sinner’s Germans in the Land of the Volga and Gottlieb Beratz’s The German Colonies on the Lower Volga, the latter together with Dr. LaVern Rippley and Leona Pfeifer. She is co-author with Dr. Brent Mai of German Migration to the Russian Volga (1764-1767): Origins and Destinations. Dona’s books also include German Culture in Texas; Retrospect and Retrieval: The German Element in Review; and Texas Country: The Changing Rural Scene. Dona’s grandparents immigrated in 1876 from the Volga villages of Kratzke and Grimm in Russia to Russell County, in western Kansas.
Dona was scriptwriter with her late husband, Dr. Lewis R. Marquardt for these Prairie Public’s award-winning documentaries: “A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia,” “It’s All Earth and Sky,” “At Home in Russia, At Home on the Prairie,” and “We (Never) Don’t Forget: Germans from Russia in South America”. She was a member of the Board of Director of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR). In 2019, Dr. Dona Reeves-Marquardt was awarded the AHSGR Distinguished Service Award, and Dr. Lewis R. Marquardt also received the same award that year.
- Dr. Lewis R. Marquardt (deceased, 1936-2020), Austin, TX, native of Linton, ND. He taught humanities at Arizona State University (1970-1981) and art history in the Art Department at Texas State University San Marcos (1993-1998). He completed undergraduate studies at Minot State University, financing his study by founding, directing, and playing with the popular dance band, “The Collegiates” at countless high school proms across North Dakota and Montana. After teaching music and band at Miller and Webster SD, Lew received an M.A. from Colorado State University, Greeley, and a Ph.D. in Humanities from Arizona State University. He spent the years 1958 to 1961 in the United States Army, mainly as a Russian linguist stationed near Kassel, Germany. As a result of that military service, he was fluent in German, and from 1988 to 1998 accompanied Dona Reeves-Marquardt and her Texas students on their one-month study sessions at the University in Hannover, Germany. He served for one term in the South Dakota State House of Representatives (1969-1970).
Lew was past president of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) and started the Arizona Sun chapter of AHSGR. He received the AHSGR 2019 Distinguished Service Award, and Dona was similarly honored. Lew was an Executive Director of the German Texan Heritage Society. Lewis and Dona were scriptwriters for Prairie Public’s award-winning documentaries: “A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia,” “It’s All Earth and Sky,” “At Home in Russia, At Home on the Prairie,” and “We (Never) Don’t Forget: Germans from Russia in South America.” Lew’s paternal ancestors emigrated from the Black Sea German villages of the Kutschurgan District, South Russia to Hague, North Dakota. Lew and Dona were members of the first Journey to the Homeland Tour in May 1996, traveling to Germany and Ukraine. They provided meticulously prepared lectures and presentations at many AHSGR and GRHS conventions.
- Michael M. Miller, Director Emeritus, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, was a member of the NDSU staff from 1967 to 2022. He now volunteers at the GRHC and with Prairie Public. Since 1996, he has written a monthly column, "In Touch with Prairie Living," for North Dakota and South Dakota weekly newspapers. He has been executive producer for Public Public's ten award-winning Germans from Russia documentary series. Miller directed the Journey to the Homeland Tour, a heritage tour to Germany and Ukraine, leading twenty-three tours from 1996 to 2019. In 1987, he compiled the book, Researching the Germans from Russia.
In 1990, Miller received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mountain Plains Library Association, He was named 2008 Librarian of the Year by the North Dakota library Association, received the 2010 State Historical Society of North Dakota Heritage Honor Award, and the 2018 NDSU Friend of Extension Award.
Other important projects include his instrumental role in securing the Lawrence Welk Collection at the NDSU Archives; Dakota Memories Oral History Project; helping the Tri-County Tourism Alliance in Emmons, Logan, and McIntosh counties; and serving as president of the Friends of the Welk Homestead.
Michael was raised and received his early education in the Germans from Russia community of Strasburg, ND. His parents, Mary (Baumgartner) Miller and Peter Miller, were first generation Americans. His grandparents immigrated from Strassburg, Kutschurgan District, near Odessa, and Krasna, Bessarabia. He grew up in a strong German family that included speaking the German language, eating German food, and solid family values.
He received his higher education degrees from Valley City State University and the University of North Dakota.
Michael has a saying, "My lifelong dream has been to preserve, document, and enrich the heritage and culture of our Germans from Russia community." Miller has established an endowment for the GRHC by designating the NDSU Foundation as beneficiary of his retirement account. Read more about Michael's career here on the NDSU Foundation website.
- 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.
- Dr. LaVern J. Rippley (1935-2022) was a German-language educator, linguist, and scholar. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career spanning six decades, with his large body of original academic and translation work treating the broader German-American experience, including Germans from Russia. Born in Wisconsin and a grandson of German immigrants, he served for a time in the U.S. Army and received his education with a B.A. at Holy Cross College, a B.S. at the University of Wisconsin, a M.A. at Kent State University, and a Ph.D. at Ohio State University. He also earned a Fulbright Scholarship and early in his academic career even was able to travel with his wife Barbara through a number of Soviet Bloc countries in Eastern Europe as well as across the Soviet Union from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) to Orenburg in the Urals. He traveled to Ukraine three times as well. Following a brief stint at Ohio Wesleyan University, he taught German language and culture at Saint Olaf College, in Northfield, Minnesota from 1967 until his retirement in 2017, and served as chair of the German Department on multiple occasions. Along with leading student groups abroad, he proved to be a most generous financial benefactor to Saint Olaf College. In addition, he was a founding member of the Society for German American Studies or SGAS (1968), the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia or AHSGR (1968), and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society or GRHS (1971). For his many years of dedicated service, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from SGAS in 2011. One of his most notable contributions to the preservation of the German from Russia heritage includes his translation collaboration with Dr. Armand Bauer of Richard Sallett’s classic 1931 study Russian-German Settlements in the United States (1974). Moreover, Rippley worked with the AHSGR teams that translated Gottlieb Beratz’s The German Colonies on the Lower Volga: Their Origin and Early Development (1991) and Dietmar Neutatz’s The “German Question” in the Black Sea Region and in Volhynia, 1856-1914 (2013). He also published the popular studies Of German Ways (1970) and German-Americans (The Immigrant Heritage of America) (1976).
- Dr. Homer Rudolf (deceased, 1939-2018), native of Wishek, North Dakota, BA in Music, Jamestown College, Jamestown, ND; MA in Music History & Literature, The University of Southern California, PhD in Musicology, the University of Illinois. Homer was Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, where he had taught classes in music history and musicology for many years, served as musical director, and chaired the Department of Music. Homer was coordinator of the Glueckstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA, https://www.glueckstal.net) from 2010 to 2014. He was editor of two major GCRA books, The Glueckstalers in New Russia and North America (2004) and The Glueckstalers in New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America (2008). Homer was scriptwriter for the award-winning Prairie Public documentary, A Soulful Sound: Music of the Germans from Russia (2005) and lead scriptwriter for the award-winning Heaven Is Our Homeland (2005), a GCRA production. His ancestral German villages were Bergdorf, Glueckstal, Kassel, Neudorf, and daughter colony, Klein Bergdorf (Glueckstal District, South Russia). He was a member of the 1998 NDSU Journey to the Homeland Tour to Germany and Ukraine. His obituary can be viewed online at the Affinity Funeral Home website. Homer’s donated his personal library to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo – Homer Rudolf Collection.
- Rev. William C. Sherman (1927 – 2022) was a well-known religious leader, celebrated scholar and educator. He taught Sociology of the Great Plains and Sociology of Religion at North Dakota State University from 1971 to 2001. He served as Pastor at St. Paul’s Newman Center, NDSU, from 1965 to 1975. He served as Pastor at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND, from 1976 to 2003. Pope Francis would say he had "the smell of the sheep" due to his consistent time spent with students. Father Sherman was awarded two honorary doctorates, one from the University of Mary, Bismarck, and one from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. His work highlights the unique and complex history of North Dakota inhabitants, especially that of the Germans from Russia. In 2012, Father Sherman donated more than 13,000 images to the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (GRHC), NDSU Libraries, Fargo. These images constitute The Father William C. Sherman Photograph Collection at the GRHC. In 2022, GRHC completed the traveling exhibit, Building Life and Home on the Prairie, based on the North Dakota homestead photographs of Father William Sherman. He also authored many books including Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of North Dakota, published by NDSU Press, a comprehensive account of the many ethnic groups that settled in North Dakota. He was co-editor of the book, Plains Folk: An Ethnic Atlas of North Dakota’s Ethnic History. Other books include: African Americans in North Dakota, Prairie Peddlers: Syrian-Lebanese in North Dakota, Scattered Steeples: The Fargo Diocese, A Written Celebration of Its Centennial, Selz, Russia: Home Colony, St. Michael’s Church and Native Americans, Valerian Paczek: Polish Priest, War Hero, and Wagons North: Minnesota to Oregon.
- Janice Fay “Jan” Huber Stangl (deceased, 1936-2021), native of Bowdle, SD, genealogist, author, speaker, elementary teacher and piano instructor. Janice authored the book Marienberg: Fate of a Village. She compiled commentary and translations for Collectivization in the Soviet Union: German Letters to America, 1927-1932. Janice contributed several articles for the books, The Glueckstalers in New Russia and North America (2004), and The Glueckstalers in New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America (2008). She edited the translation of German to English for the book, Cookbook for Germans from Russia.
- Thomas A. Stangl, (reprinted with permission) noted researcher and writer of extractions of historical records of German colonists in Prussian Poland and South Russia, including Bessarabia; Life member of Germans from Russia Historical Society (GRHS), and American Historical Society for Germans from Russia (AHSGR); member of the Glückstal Colonies Research Association (GCRA) Steering Committee. In 1998 and 2002, Thomas and Janice Stangl joined the NDSU Journey to the Homelands tour, visiting the Glückstal Colonies in Moldova and Odessa and other colonies in Bessarabia. They also joined the 2007 Journey group at the Bundestreffen of Germans from Russia at Wiesbaden, Germany. Tom’s major areas of contribution to the history of Germans from Russia include:
- Researcher/editor of the GCRA Points-of-Origin (3,000+ page document published digitally, 2004, 2008, 2015, 2021).
- Initiator and Coordinator of Acquisition, Translation, and Publication of many files of German-Russian documents from Ukrainian archives in Odessa and Dnipropetrovs'k.
- Early researcher (with his wife, Janice Huber Stangl) of microfilms of Captured German War Documents, Berlin Document Center, accessed at US National Archives II, College Park, MD; they made workshop presentations at GRHS and AHSGR conventions and in other venues, focusing on these collections, especially the records of the Einwandererzentralstelle (EWZ – "Central Immigrants Office").
- Researcher, extractor/translator, and publisher of records about German colonists in South Prussia, South Russia, and Bessarabia – especially the Lutheran Church duplicate records of the Saint Petersburg Consistory; church records in the German ethnic provinces of the Rhine Valley, and church and civil records of German colonists of Prussian Poland to determine villages of origin for German colonists in Russia.
- Extensive study, creation of maps, publication of articles, and presentations describing the migration routes of German colonists from the Rhine Valley provinces to South Russia.
- Author of numerous articles in GCRA publications (GCRA Newletter; The Glückstalers in New Russia and North America, 2004; and The Glückstalers in New Russia, the Soviet Union, and North America, 2008), as well as in the GRHS Heritage Review on a myriad of subjects, including – 1809 Frankfurt am Main Passports; Records of the Berlin Document Center; In the Service of Russian Nobility; The Gift of an Inheritance from Silesia; Early 19th Century Guardianships; Regarding conversions of colonists' faith –1837-1842; Conversions of Faith, Theresia & Anna Frömmerich; The Begger's Cart; Mobility or Wanderlust of the Glückstal Colonists; Report on 1804 Arrivals; Inheritances From Abroad; Reports on Persons Living Outside Their Colony; Emigrations to New Russia; Emigrants to America 1872–1874.
- Collaborator with his wife, Janice Huber Stangl, on her book, Collectivization in the Soviet Union, German Letters to America, 1927–1932, 2012, by contributing two essays in the Appendix concerning Russian KGB (Kommissariat of State Security) and MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) files from the State Archives of the Odessa Region: A Bolshevik Miscarriage of Justice 1938, Case No. 12481-p – Emanuel Seefried, et al., Marienberg; and Translations from the Case of Philipp Mainhardt, husband of Emma Seefried.