Lonning honored for his service to mankind

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2002

A longtime community volunteer with a keen interest in history has been honored as this year’s Service to Mankind Award winner by the Albert Lea Sertoma Club.

Roger Lonning, a retired teacher and school librarian, was presented with the award at a recent club banquet.

Lonning was born in Iowa City, Iowa, one of seven brothers. When his family moved to a farm in Allamakee County, Iowa, he attended a rural school there through the eighth grade. This was followed by schools in Lansing and Waukon, Iowa, where he graduated from high school.

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Lonning served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1953, with 5 1/2 years in active duty.

Following marriage to his wife, Marjorie, the couple lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa, while Roger attended and graduated from Iowa State Teachers College there.

He began his educational career in Clarion, Iowa, as the school librarian. In 1957, he found a position as sixth-grade teacher in the Albert Lea School District. In 1961, he became the librarian at Albert Lea High School, and served in that position until he retired. After retiring, he continued to do substitute teaching.

The Lonnings have one daughter, Kathy, and two sons, Stuart and Steven.

Roger has been working on a goal of taking each of his six grandchildren with him at different times on a visit to Norway to explore their Scandinavian roots and heritage.

Heritage and history play important roles for Lonning right here at home. He serves as president of the Freeborn County Genealogical Society. He is a volunteer guide for the Freeborn County Historical Museum and has worked on the museum newsletter since 1968. He has logged 20 years as treasurer of the Freeborn County Historical Society Foundation. He also edits the Sons of Norway newsletter. Lonning helped found the Story Lady Doll & Toy Museum and serves as its treasurer.

He has also served 12 years on the United Way Board, is secretary for the Golden K II Kiwanis Club and is a member of the Elks Club. Lonning serves as a Community Education Advisory Board member, is a member of the SELCO Library board, is an adult Sunday school teacher at Calvary Baptist Church in Albert Lea, and is chairman of TRIAD, a cooperative organization of the Albert Lea Police Department, Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and senior citizens educating seniors about the threat of scams. He has taught over 40 classes for AARP’s 55 Alive defensive driving classes.

On the Pelican Breeze, Lonning is a guide, and wrote the script used on tours of Albert Lea Lake. For the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Lonning works on the agriculture committee and with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, organizing bus tours of area farms. The tours range from annual outings for area third-graders to Elderhostel tours to educate people about farm life in Freeborn County. He also participates in the CVB’s Spark Plug program.

&uot;The Albert Lea area is indeed fortunate to have Roger in our midst with his leadership and community service,&uot; said Alice Jacobson, Sertoma Club member and chairwoman of the Service to Mankind Award.