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RICHARD LOWELL HUSFLOEN Richard L. Husfloen, the 12th President of Augustana University College in Camrose, AB, died quite suddenly on Sunday, September 28, 2003. He was in Sun City, AZ at the time of his death, preparing for back surgery. He had served as President of Augustana for seven years before retiring this past June. He had been named President Emeritus by the Augustana board. Husfloen was born on August 5, 1937 in Fargo, ND, the second son of Joe and Clara Alfreida (Simonson) Husfloen. He grew up on the Midwestern prairies and the love of this landscape never left him. A photographer (in recent years a hobby, though he had at one time worked professionally) at heart he used the North Dakota prairies as a backdrop for the film, Diane, he and a friend shot and produced in the 1960s. Husfloens knowledge and interest in film was later used in the production of the film, The Joy of Bach, for Lutheran Film Associates, NYC, on whose board he sat for nine years. Richard Husfloen is survived by his brother James C. Husfloen, of Fargo, ND. By academic background, Husfloen was both a sociologist and a theologian. His undergraduate degree was from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN (1960) where he returned to teach sociology after finishing his graduate studies. His Master of Divinity was earned at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN (1963) and his Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey (1964). He had a special interest in small town and rural communities and travelled widely in the 1960s holding seminars on Rural Ministry for the American Lutheran Church. President Husfloen worked his way through university as an employee of Capital Airlines and United Airlines. He had his own private pilots license, honed by years of managing to get invited into the cockpits of airliners before airline security made that no longer possible. In recent years, his love of flying with commercial airlines led him to circumnavigate the globe many times as well as making hundreds of trips to Europe, Africa, and recently Australia. This interest led him and a friend, Neil Bardal of Winnipeg, to establish and run a small travel business as a sideline in the 1980s. Husfloen was ordained by the American Lutheran Church in 1969, serving parishes that ranged in size from Mott, ND to Sherwood Park in Winnipeg, MB. He served as administrative assistant to the American Lutheran Church District bishops in both Western North Dakota and South-eastern Minnesota. He specialized in the area of stewardship, later moving into more direct hands-on work in resource development, both for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and later in educational institutions: first at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and then at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, affiliated with Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. In 1996, he became president of Augustana University College in Camrose, a small college of 1000 students owned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and affiliated with the University of Alberta. Husfloens development skills came into play, raising money to reduce a $5,000,000 accumulated deficit by almost half and balancing the annual budget each of the last five years. Convinced that a small private college would never be able to obtain the kind of funding to enable it to continue as a top-flight school, he and the Augustana board worked to enable the school to become part of the University of Alberta educational system. In June of this year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada voted to convey the college to the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta. The negotiations for implementing that decision are still on-going. President Husfloen was convinced that it was important for the college to give something back to the community, both the community in which the college was located as well as the communities from which its students came: "Knowing that our primary serving area is rural and adjacent to our campus, it is important for us to acknowledge that we owe something to the communities from which our students come. For a long time schools such as Augustana have taken young people from small rural communities and educated them for careers that will not return them to these communities. While this has been an endeavor of willing participants, I think it is important for us to assume an obligation of care and concern for the communities from which our students derive. During his time at Augustana, Husfloen put strong emphasis on continuing education opportunities for both graduates and members of the community. In 1999, the college acquired the former TransAlta Utilities building in Camrose and turned it into a Centre of Community Education as well as space for classrooms and offices. That year the Centre opened its first distance education program with a full house of 38 paramedic students from small towns in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The program used the internet, print curricula, electronic media and face-to-face teaching to deliver course content. Husfloen found great satisfaction with a Working Families Scholarship program that was established by an anonymous donor in 1998. Working parents could receive support for tuition and living expenses for up to two years of study. President Husfloen was always proud of his Norwegian heritage. He often visited with friends and relatives in Norway and brought important Scandinavian figures to Augustana to enhance its Norwegian tradition. By appointment of the Norwegian Government, President Husfloen served as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Norwegian Research and Technology Forum in the United States and Canada, the only member of the committee from Canada. This past May, Husfloen was honoured with the degree Doctor of Divinity (h.c.) by the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, SK. In August, Augustana College named the TransAlta building The Richard Husfloen Centre. Husfloen was a hard worker who never walked away from a difficult situation. He sometimes ruffled feathers but in the end most people came to realize that his positions were always well thought through and had the best interests of others at the core. His former pastor, the Reverend Dr. Gordon Jensen, once said, He has often placed himself on the margins of the church, and has called for the church to face issues and realities that the church has often not wanted to face. Yet, this has been one of the great gifts he brings to the church. The church, the educational world and all who knew him are diminished by his death. Services to celebrate Richards life will be held in Camrose, AB on Thursday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Faith and Life Centre, Augustana University College Campus and in Winnipeg, MB on Tuesday, October 28, 7:30 p.m., Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, 7 Tudor Cres. at London Street. Donations in Richards memory may be made to Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55454. Friends and colleagues may send messages of condolence or reminiscences to firstname.lastname@example.org For updates to other services being held, please go to nbardal.mb.ca and follow the links to obitbulkloaduaries. NEIL BARDAL INC. 949-2200
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on October 04, 2003