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2012 Laurel Crowned Circle Award Recipient
The Laurel Crowned Circle Award is the highest honor given by Omicron Delta Kappa. It may be awarded by a vote of the Board of Directors to an outstanding person who has exemplified the ideals of the Omicron Delta Kappa Society. Colonel Ralph Hauenstein has lived an extraordinary life that exemplifies the service and leadership Omicron Delta Kappa seeks to inspire in its members. The Circle at Grand Valley State University nominated Hauenstein stating, ?"We can think of no living person more deserving of the Laurel Crowned Circle Award." On the eve of Colonel Hauenstein's 100th, birthday, we hope through this award even more young leaders can be made aware of and be inspired by this member of the Greatest Generation.?
His service to our nation began in 1935 when he was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and became commander of an all-African-American Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Michigan. After two and one-half years on active duty, Hauenstein returned to civilian life and became city editor of the Grand Rapids Herald. In December 1940, he returned to active duty and rose to the rank of Colonel, serving under General Dwight Eisenhower as chief of the Intelligence Branch in the Army's European theater of operations. In 1945 he was among the first Americans into liberated Paris, war-torn Germany, and Nazi concentration camps.
After the war, Colonel Hauenstein found himself in international trade, partnering with European enterprises to provide goods and services to consumers in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere where democracies were struggling. Popular items such as Goldfish Crackers and Andes Candies made it to the United States due to Hauenstein's entrepreneurship. During the Eisenhower administration he served as a consultant on the President's Advisory Commission. By his own admission, Colonel Hauenstein has never retired. At the age of 99, he works almost every day and is active in numerous causes. His philanthropy has benefited a variety of organizations devoted to medical research and to education. Omicron Delta Kappa is pleased to honor Colonel Hauenstein with the 2012 Laurel Crowned Circle Award.
Click here to watch a video of Colonel Hauenstein being told of this honor.