MVL honors 4 with ‘Spirit of MVL’ award

Submitted photo Spirit of MVL Award Recipients (from l to r): Drew and Sharon Buck, Valerie Holzhueter, Keith Wessel.

NEW ULM — On Saturday, Nov. 20, four individuals were honored as recipients of the 2021 “Spirit of MVL” award. Drew and Sharon Buck, Valerie Holzhueter and Keith Wessel were honored for their spirit-filled service to others and for Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School.

Drew and Sharon Buck both grew up in South Haven, Mich., and were married in 1977. They moved around a bit: Drew a teacher/construction worker and Sharon an RN. Drew became certified to teach in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and they began their life in New Ulm. Drew taught at Martin Luther College for 24 years and coached several sports including women’s volleyball, men’s baseball & basketball, and also a year of track. During this time, Sharon built a Mary Kay business. A Christian education was always a TOP priority. Their three children, Lance (Emily), Russ, and Emily (Matt), attended St. Paul’s Lutheran School in New Ulm and continued on to become MVL graduates. Russ passed away in 2006. The Russell Buck Fund was founded in his memory, which has supported Hmong and Chinese evangelists as they receive seminary training and plant churches. Drew and Sharon have 6 beautiful, brilliant grandchildren. They now reside in Peachtree City, GA and attend Faith Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg, Georgia. They enjoy traveling and spending time with family.


Valerie Hozhueterl began her involvement with MVL in 1998 when she answered a church bulletin appeal for volunteer help, and has never looked back. She wanted to learn more about the school, as her boys would begin their education at MVL in the fall of 2000. Over the years, Val has freely and passionately given her time to MVL and its mission in so many ways. She was integral in the opening of New 2 You in Mankato, a second thrift store which provides ongoing budgetary support to MVL through regular gifts, and also served as the Board of Directors President there for seven years. She served on several committees including the MVL Foundation Marketing Committee, MVL Public Relations Committee, MVL Booster Club Auction Committee, and in 2009, spear-headed the committee of five, to produce the first Spirit of MVL Recognition Reception. In 2010 she was hired as the MVL Mission Advancement Coordinator. During her years in this position, she oversaw the first MVL Gala in 2013 following the Spirit of MVL Recognition Reception, promoted ongoing fundraising with a focus on the MVL Partnership Fund, met with donors, and worked tirelessly with her team on the Building on the Rock Campaign. In 2020, she retired from full-time service at MVL and is currently working part-time for MVL Mission Advancement, with a special focus on Estate Planning. Val is married to Paul, and they have been blessed with three sons; Grant (Lindsay), Greg (Emma) and Galen.


Keith Wessel was born and raised in New Ulm, and after attending St. Paul’s Lutheran School he enrolled in the first freshman class of MVL, in the fall of 1979. He earned nine athletic letters as well as the National Choral Award during his high school years (’79-’83). While attending Northwestern College of Watertown, Wisconsin, (’87) and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (’91) he often spoke at MVL celebrations and fundraising events. Upon completion of his seminary training, Keith was assigned to Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan, where he served as a tutor and American Literature instructor for three years. In 1994 he was reassigned to serve as parish pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Marietta Georgia. After eight years in the Atlanta area, Keith followed the Lord’s call to MLC, where he has served since 2002 as a professor of theology, Greek, and Latin. In addition to his B.A. and Master of Divinity degrees, Keith has also earned a Ph.D. in Classical Civilizations from the University of Florida, and a graduate certificate in Philosophy and Ethics from Harvard. He has served the New Ulm community as a member of the Brown Co. Historical Society board, a member of the Hermann’s Victory 2009 planning committee, and as a member of the Hermann Monument Society since 2010. Keith has been married to Elizabeth (Eckert) for 31 yrs., and their marriage has been blessed with five children: Allison (Brian) Lee of Statesboro, GA; Emily (Micah) Ray of El Paso, TX; Daniel (Bekka) of Sharpsburg, GA; Joseph (Jr. at MLC) and Joanna (Fr. at Bethany). All five Wessel children (plus one daughter-in-law) attended MVL.


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