Inaugural Exceptional Service to Bethany Award recipients announced

Bethany Lutheran College is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Exceptional Service to Bethany Award. President Emeritus Norman Holte and Ms. Eleanor Wilson are being recognized for their contributions to the Bethany Community.

This Exceptional Service Award was created to recognize faculty or staff members, administrators, volunteers, or a specific class or group who has contributed substantially to the well-being of Bethany Lutheran High School or College by furthering its purposes and programs. The award is selected annually by the Bethany Alumni Board.

Norman HolteMr. Norman Holte was born on January 7, 1918, to Gabriel and Matilda (Nelson) Holte in Edy Township, Minnesota. In 1942, he graduated from Bethany Lutheran College, then worked for two years in the shipyards in Richmond, California. He then returned to college in 1944 where he graduated with a B.S. degree and later a M.A. degree in social studies both from the University of Minnesota.

He began his 41-year career at Bethany in 1945 teaching history, economics, political science, psychology, and social science. He also served as Dean of Students, Principal of the High School, Registrar, Academic Dean, and President of the College.

Norman Holte was known for his calm, gentle, humble, and faithful servant attitude, and most importantly he was committed to bringing the “One Thing Needful” to Bethany students throughout his many years on campus. He was thoughtful, enriched many conversations, and provided a consistent, steady hand to whatever he did at Bethany. Wherever the College needed him, he was willing to faithfully serve. As a result he made a wonderful impact on so many who studied and worked at Bethany.

Norman married Violet (Fevig) on July 18, 1947, and they were married for 64 years. Norman passed away on November 10, 2011, and Violet on April, 17, 2015. They have four children; James, Norman, Kathryn (Flantz), and John.

Eleanor WilsonMs. Eleanor Wilson was born on November 12, 1906, in Madison, Wisconsin. She was the youngest of five children born to Julius O. and Ragnilda (Nellie Johnson) Wilson. She received her B.S. degree in Latin from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her M.S. degree in Latin and Teaching Latin and English from Columbia University, New York City. She taught English and Latin at Antigo High School (Antigo, Wisc.), Lutheran High School (Racine, Wisc.), Madison West High School (Madison, Wisc.), and in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

She taught English and Latin at Bethany Lutheran High School and Junior College from 1952-1961, and was also an advisor to Service Club, Latin Club, and The Scroll newspaper. The Service Club she started at Bethany supported many projects such as making visits to mentally ill patients of the State Hospital in St. Peter, Minnesota, and to residents of the Kasota Home for Aged to visit, read, write, and sing. Also, this group collected money to purchase hymn books, buy communion ware, and Sunday school material for missions in Cornwall, England, India, Nigeria, and gather clothes, toys, and dolls for children of needy families in the area. Eleanor resigned from her beloved teaching position at Bethany in 1961 and moved back to Madison to take care of her two older sisters, Olive and Minnie. In retirement, she would tutor students in Latin, was active at her church, Our Saviour’s, by teaching Sunday School, and also continuing to support Bethany by being an active member of the Madison Area Bethany Auxiliary.

In 1990, through her estate, she endowed the Eleanor Wilson Chair of Speech/English Communication. This chair supports the teaching of communication courses, the continuation of intercollegiate speech competition, and instruction of seminary students in communication skills.

Eleanor Wilson  passed away on February 18, 1997.

Mr. Holte and Ms. Wilson will be officially recognized as the 2022 Exceptional Service to Bethany Award recipients at a reception held on Saturday, September 24, at 4 p.m. in Honsey Hall. This event will be a part of Bethany’s Fall Festival – A Homecoming Weekend. Bethany President, Dr. Gene Pfeifer will share remarks at the event, as well as Dr. Thomas Kuster who will speak on behalf of Eleanor Wilson, and Mr. Ron Younge on behalf of Norman Holte.

If you would like to nominate someone for this award, please download and fill out this form.