Late mayor Arn Koelpin is Tourism Person of the Year

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Left to right, Katherine Austinson, Joel Koelpin, Caleb Koelpin, Tom Furth, Josh Koelpin, Ruth Koelpin, Paul Koelpin, Becca Koelpin, Beth Scharf, David Scharf, Kathleen Backer and Wayne L. Wagner.

NEW ULM — Arnold “Arn” Koelpin was posthumously awarded the 2018 Tourism Person of the Year award Tuesday afternoon.

His wife Ruth Koelpin and family were presented the award at Martin Luther College (MLC). The presentation of the award was a kept as a surprise for Ruth, who was visiting the college for lunch with her family.

Members of the New Ulm Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the individuals who nominated Arnold waited in a nearby conference room to surprise Ruth with the good news.

Ruth had submitted her husband for the award in April, but had not heard anything from the CVB until then.

In Ruth’s nomination letter, she said Arnold had a true love and joy of his adopted city and its history. He came to New Ulm in 1962 to teach at MLC. He raised his family of four children and chose this city to be his final resting place.

In addition to Ruth, Arnold was nominated for this award by others, including Katherine Austinson, Wayne Wagner and Kathleen Backer.

Koelpin received this honor for his decades of work promoting tourism. For over 30 years he served as a tour guide for the Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in starting city tours for the incoming students and parents at MLC.

He authored the booklet “Hermann, from Legend to Symbol” and the Turner Hall pamphlet “A Heritage Preserved.”

Because Arnold spoke German, he was often asked to accompany German visitors around the city. He even took visiting former governors and other dignitaries on tours. Arnold once promoted New Ulm on Gov. Jesse Ventura’s weekly radio program.

He was also the mayor of New Ulm from 2000 to 2003, served as a member of Hermann Monument Committee and as a member of the Sister Cities Commission.

Ruth said her husband worked long and hard to promote New Ulm, but he enjoyed doing it.

“I am not sure how he would feel about receiving the award, but he deserved it,” Ruth said. “I hope he is looking down on this with a smile.”