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In the name of education

Marjorie "Marge" Gray Vogel and Jane Donkers of Red Wing, longtime members of the American Association of University Women, are being honored by the local chapter for their contributions to the community.

Because education has been a driving force for both women, the group made two donations to the AAUW Fund in their names.

"This fund is the largest and oldest fund in the United States dedicated to assisting women to further their education," chapter President Sandy Wollschlager said.

"AAUW Red Wing Area Branch is proud of our longtime members, and pleased to donate money in their names." The "named gift" program requires a minimum $750 donation per honoree.

Local chapter members approved the donation in acknowledgement of "the extraordinary gifts of time, talent and resources" both women have made to the community and to AAUW.

"We all know them, have worked with them, and have benefited from their leadership and service to AAUW's mission," according to club officials nominating Vogel and Donkers for the honor.

Both have been AAUW members for more than 50 years, and both were named by the Women's Network to the Red Wing Women's Hall of Fame. Both also were homemakers raising four children and workers at their churches.

Vogel came to Red Wing in 1933, newly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in art education, to establish an art program at Red Wing High School. The following year she was a co-founder of the League of Women Voters of Red Wing.

When she married Arnold Vogel after three years of teaching, her contract was not renewed, but that did not stop her. The AAUW arranged for her to teach art lessons to adults and later to children as well.

Her ongoing work as a volunteer art educator put her in a lead position in 1952 when the "art workshop" incorporated as the Red Wing Arts Association. Twenty years later she was equally involved in an ecology and art partnership that led to the establishment of the Red Wing Environmental Learning Center.

Vogel did not have her first one-woman exhibit until she was 96. That exhibit in 2008 filled the Red Wing Arts Association's Depot Gallery with a wide range of creations including pottery and prints as well as paintings and other creative projects. Display panels also illustrated her activism in community affairs.

Donkers graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in home economics, then studied at Columbia University Teacher's College with help from a Ford Foundation Scholarship. Her first teaching job was in Faribault, Minn., schools. She left that position in the 1950s when her husband, Bill, took a job in Red Wing.

She also was an active community volunteer, a member of AAUW beginning in 1950 in Faribault, and a member of the League of Women Voters researching civic issues and promoting voter education.

From 1975 to 1984, Donkers served on the Red Wing School Board, including two years as president. In addition, she served on the Interstate Rehabilitation Center Board for six years. She broke a "glass ceiling" at Norwest (now Wells Fargo) Bank, serving as the first woman on the board of directors from 1975 to 1998.

Donkers also has been a volunteer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing, where she taught life skills to juvenile girls, and at the Goodhue County Detention Center library.

Donkers' and Vogel's commitment to education was what inspired local AAUW members to make the donation in their name to the AAUW Fund, Wollschlager said.

"The AAUW Fund is a multi-million dollar fund administered by National AAUW. It is the largest and oldest fund in the U.S. dedicated to assisting women either to further their studies or conduct some form of community action," she said.

"The education component is most often a post-doctoral study or research."

Putting Vogel's and Donkers' names on the award, she added, is a way "to reward stalwart, longtime members without whom our state and branch work would not be possible."