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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A working man

Retiree gains recognition for saying 'yes'

Writer Studs Terkel has championed the working-class citizen for decades. His name is synonymous with everyday heroes. So it's appropriate that the Illinois Humanities Council uses his name to honor individuals for their volunteer work, just as it's appropriate for Carl Volkmann to receive the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award.

Volkmann, a member of Grace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Ill., was presented with a bronze medal by Springfield Mayor Timothy J. Davlin.

"I had been somewhat active volunteering when I was working, but I decided when I took retirement [as director of the city's Lincoln Library] at age 59 that I should do more," Volkmann said. "After that I pretty much said 'yes' to everything."

He has served as archivist of the ELCA Central/Southern Illinois Synod, president of the Sangamon County Historical Society and secretary of the Mayor's Senior Citizens Commission of Springfield.

Much of Volkmann's volunteer work has dealt with the arts. He's been a member of the Symphony Chorus of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra is one of more than a dozen organizations that Volkmann has assisted since retiring.

It was before an orchestra concert in November that he received the award from Davlin, who nominated him, an honor only Illinois mayors are allowed. "It was such a special place and time to receive the award," Volkmann said.

Although Volkmann — the son of a Lutheran pastor and graduate of Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa — opted for teaching history and then working in library sciences instead of becoming a pastor, his faith has played a central role in assisting others.

"I'm not the kind of person who goes door-to-door trying to get people to come to my church," he said. "Instead I use my leadership skills and my experience to help people in whatever way I can. I've tried to reach out to people by being an active voice in my community."


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