Leading the way
Women’s History Month celebrates women of character, courage and commitment. Judy Christian- son, LaVonne Lommel and Gladys Savage fit that definition, Red Wing Women’s Network announced.
The organization inducted Christianson, Lommel and Savage into the Red Wing Women’s Hall of Fame during the annual luncheon Wednesday at the St. James Hotel.
In presenting Christianson for induction, Ruth Nerhaugen recalled when the former Red Wing School Board president and current Anderson Center Board member was flat on her back in a Twin Cities medical center. Nerhaugen drove up hoping to lift her spirits.
“But what really perked her up was when someone delivered a manila envelope — containing her ‘packet’ for an upcoming Sheldon Board meeting,” Nerhaugen recalled with a laugh.
Christianson was determined to stay current despite knowing she would miss the meeting.
“Judy devoured the reports,” Nerhaugen said. “I’ve never looked at a board package the same way since.”
Christianson made volunteering a career, with education her primary focus, but also a love of the arts and history. She played a role in founding Sunnyside School, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical and Rocking Horse Academy.
“She is an incredible role model, not just for girls and young women, but for all of us who hesitate to say ‘yes’ when we know that a few hours of our time would mean a lot to some group, board or commission that’s in dire need of volunteers, when we know that — like Judy — we can make a difference here in Red Wing,” Nerhaugen said.
Donna Dummer introduced Lommel, whose driving force has been health education. Her nursing career included 19 years as education director at Seminary Home. She also served as director of practical nursing at Southeast Tech.
Lommel also has commitments to AAUW, Faith in Action, Red Wing Community Education and the Church of St. Joseph.
Her latest endeavor is St. Crispin Living Community, which will break ground this year on a state-of-the-art, integrated senior living complex that Minnesota lawmakers approved despite a statewide moratorium on nursing home construction in hopes it will revolutionize how we care for the elderly.
“That will be a whole new experience for all of us,” Dummer said.
Judy Johnson introduced Savage, who cofounded and taught what today is early childhood and family education at Colvill Family Center. She also established the Goodhue County Licensed Child Care Association and spent 17 years at Southeast Technical.
“She has a mission to help,” Johnson said, rattling off a list of Savage’s community involvement since retirement.
The three recipients made a point to credit and praise others.
“I have worked with many of the women in this room,” Savage said.
“The very humbling part of it is to be honored and appreciated by strong, mentoring women,” Lommel said.
Christianson noted that those who started Women’s Network years ago inspired her and served as mentors.
“You should be very proud,” Christianson told Women’s Network members of their accomplishments and those of the women who came before them. “A month is not adequate to honor the work women have done.”