Mark Donhowe '70
Mark Donhowe came to Luther from Story City, Iowa, and graduated with a major in history and minor in physical education. He was a four-year letter winner in track and field and was named “Most Inspirational” in 1969. He served as a member of the Community Assembly and worked part-time in Sports Information. He also served in the U.S. National Guard from 1970 to 1976.
Donhowe taught and coached for the Minnesota Lake Public School District from 1971 to 1973, before earning the M.Ed. degree in Sports Administration at Ohio University. Donhowe landed a graduate internship in 1974 at the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union with the legendary E. Wayne Cooley. Cooley became a great friend and mentor, and Mark chose to stay with the IGHSAU for a decade, shepherding the growth of girls’ sports in the State of Iowa.
Mark entered the investment, insurance and real estate enterprise joining Decorah’s A&J Petersburg Insurance and Real Estate Agency in 1987. As a part-owner, co-manager and agent, the business grew from a staff of seven… to a staff of 20… and from one office to three. The Agency has handled the accounts of the City of Decorah, Winneshiek Medical Center, and Luther College, including settling the college’s $2.2 million flood claim in 2008.
But, it is Mark’s contributions as a sustaining volunteer leader in the community of Decorah for a myriad of organizations that are remarkable.
From leadership with Decorah Lutheran Church, the Lions Club, the Ulster Project, and as a mentor for clients at Northeast Iowa Helping Services, to fundraising for various community initiatives, he is also a vociferous advocate for economic development and education… There are so many positive projects Mark has had a hand in.
Mark served Vesterheim-Norwegian American Museum as a Local Campaign co-chair. He worked on the Trout Run Trail Fund Raising Committee to construct the $8.5-million project that brings thousands of visitors to the area, and provides a venue for local wellness. He served for more than 25 years on the boards of Decorah Jobs, and Winneshiek County Development, during the acquisition and development of the Decorah Business Park. He was president of both organizations, providing a progressive and even-handed vision for the future economic health of Decorah.
In support of education, Donhowe served for 25 years on the Northeast Iowa Community College Foundation Board and as president for their first-ever capital campaign. He and his wife, Vicki (Mohlis) Donhowe ’70 are charter members of the NICC President’s Circle. Mark served on the Decorah Public Schools Foundation Board and Shareholder’s Committee prior to being elected to serve 12 years on the School Board. During that time, the community passed two bond issues to build a new middle school and renovate Carrie Lee Elementary. Decorah schools are consistently ranked among the very best in the state--and in the nation. The Donhowes have established scholarships at Decorah High School and at Northeast Iowa Community College.
At Luther College, Mark and Vicki are former class agents for the Class of 1970, have served as capital campaign leaders, Life Members of President’s Council, and are members of Heritage Club. Through their planned gift they have provided endowed funding for a Donhowe family scholarship as well as scholarships honoring Luther faculty members, who were positive influences on Mark and Vicki: Kent Finanger ’54, Bob Naslund ’65, Weston Noble ’43, and Paul Solberg ’61.
Mark and Vicki are parents of alumnae children, Lea (Donhowe) Lovelace ’97 (Mark '96), and Sara (Donhowe) Goldberg ‘00 (Josh). In retirement, Mark volunteers at the Decorah Community Food Pantry, follows his five grandchildren's activities, and golfs whenever he can. And... you can sometimes spot "mild-mannered citizen" Mark Donhowe at the podium of an important public meeting advocating for positive and innovative projects... as he always has.