Dan Huebner (right) receives his award from Steve Johnson, Vesterheim executive director. (Submitted photo)
Dan Huebner (right) receives his award from Steve Johnson, Vesterheim executive director. (Submitted photo)

Vesterheim Norwegian-American museum and heritage center recently presented Dan Huebner its "Den Høyeste Ære" (The Highest Honor) award at a dinner at the Hotel Winneshiek.

The award is reserved for those "more than extraordinary" board members "who should be honored in a special way for their contributions."

This award has only been presented three times since 1993.

Past honorees have been Gerhard Naeseth for his work with what is now the independent Norwegian-American Genealogy Center in Madison Wis.; Dr. Eugene Nordby, who was on the Board for over 30 years and served as its Chair for many of those; and Mar Wrolstad, who served both as Trustee and interim executive director, and authored Vesterheim's first long-range plan.

Huebner has demonstrated a lifetime of distinguished service to Vesterheim as a member, donor and Trustee. He and his late wife, Bonnie, served as co-chairs of the audit committee. They were members of the long-range planning committee, and Dan was head of the museum's think tank advisory group and most recently served as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Other awards bestowed upon the Huebners include a platinum level Kroneklubben certificate for lifetime giving to Vesterheim totaling over $1 million - they are sole occupants of this category - and the "Mange Takk" award for special service to the museum. In addition, they are members of the Valhalla Society for planned giving to the museum.

"Vesterheim is especially indebted to Dan and Bonnie for their keen interest in and complete support for the renovation of our Westby-Torgerson Education Center," Executive Director Steve Johnson said.

"They saw a need and fulfilled it, and as a crowning touch, established the Dan and Bonnie Huebner Endowment and a major maintenance fund for Westby," Johnson added.

Their dedication to education at Vesterheim did not stop there.

Their financial support created the Håvard Bergland Knifemaking Classroom and continues as they support youth education as the sole sponsors of the museum's highly successful fourth-grade Pioneer Immersion Program. The list detailing their support includes exhibitions, events, membership and programming.

"I am deeply moved by receiving this honor," Huebner said.

"I share my wife Bonnie's deeply seated belief in fostering educational opportunities for everyone. Our support of Vesterheim has stemmed naturally from that and from our love of the Decorah community and everything the museum does to enrich and enliven it. Thank you."

For more information on the museum's youth programs, membership opportunities, exhibitions, classes events, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim's website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.