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Steph (Hanson) '73 and Fred Koch '73

Eau Claire, Wis.

When Steph and Fred reminisce about Luther, they describe a story of how they were instilled, both individually and as a couple, with a sense of confidence that they could in fact meet the world and step forward as mature and responsible citizens.

The Kochs use the words “difference makers” in describing those who coached and guided them, and they kept these thoughts in mind when they established the Hanson-Koch Scholarship in support of the Sesquicentennial Fund . “We really believe that Luther College, this place we love, is filled with enlightened faculty and staff who understand that leading, mentoring, and role modeling—truly caring—go hand in glove with teaching,” says Fred. “These difference makers shape lives.”

Two such difference makers who helped Fred and Steph are Dave Roslien, vice president emeritus for college advancement, and Paul Solberg, professor emeritus of health and physical education.

Fred and Steph remember vividly the spring of 1973 when, as a newly married couple with freshly minted teaching certificates, Paul Solberg gently suggested that they should indeed consider moving to western North Dakota, 800 miles from home, so Fred could accept a teaching position, which were not plentiful at the time.

Years later at an alumni gathering, and during a difficult business stretch for the couple, Dave Roslien acknowledged his deep appreciation for the quality friendship he enjoyed with Fred and Steph. He also shared with them a story about trust and finding one’s way out of the woods. Roslien’s comments struck home with the Kochs and gave them some much-needed ballast.

This advice and affirmation from Solberg and Roslien stuck with the Kochs throughout their successful careers.

“We hope this new scholarship, when it is fully funded, will help provide an opportunity for deserving students so that they might come to Luther and encounter their own difference makers,” says Steph.  “When that happens,” adds Fred, “then the I.O.U. we feel we owe Dave Roslien and Paul Solberg—our Luther difference makers—will have been paid forward.”

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