Saturday, July 26, 2008

Celebrating our Common Heritage

The theme of the 2008 International Convention of Germans from Russia this week in Casper, Wyoming (July 28-August 3) is Celebrating our Common Heritage. And to underscore that theme, society officials have tapped two uniquely qualified persons as keynote speakers for the convention banquet on Saturday night (August 2).

Our German-Russian Communities: A Common Heritage, An Uncommon History will be the message delivered by Dona Reeves-Marquardt and Lewis Marquardt of Austin, Texas, when they address the joint convention of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the Germans from Russia Heritage Society at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. Members from both societies – perhaps a thousand in all – will be wrapping up a full week of workshops, business meetings, and festive celebrations.

The convention opens Monday, July 28th and runs through Sunday morning, August 3rd. Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal will greet attendees during the official Opening Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 31st.

Dona Reeves-Marquardt holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and is Professor Emerita at Texas State University, San Marcos, where she taught German language and literature for many years. Primarily of Volga-German ancestry, she has published articles on the language, history and culture of Germans from Russia and has translated major works in that area, including Peter Sinner’s Germans in the Land of the Volga and Gottlieb Beratz’ The German Colonies on the Lower Volga with LaVern Rippley and Leona Pfeifer. Dona’s parents immigrated in 1876 from Volga villages to Russell county, Kansas. She was a Fulbright scholar at Johannes Gutenberg Universit├Ąt in Mainz, Germany and has studied and traveled extensively in Germany, most recently with her husband, Lew Marquardt, to her ancestral villages in the Palatinate.

Lewis R. Marquardt was born and raised in North Dakota, the eldest son of a German-Russian father and an Irish mother. He grew up among Black Sea Germans and spent his early years teaching instrumental music in South Dakota, and Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities at Arizona State University, Tempe. His grandparents immigrated in 1888 from Black-Sea-Kutschurgan villages to Emmons county North Dakota. After the death of his first wife, he married Dona Reeves-Marquardt, a Volga-German, with whom he has traveled extensively in Germany, France, and other European countries, exploring ancestral villages, art museums, Fachwerk, and the phenomenon of foreign culture. He is a charter member of AHSGR.

Dona and Lew are Life Members of both GRHS and AHSGR and have spoken frequently in a dual-lecture format using digital presentations.

As a part of the evening, the directors and officers of the organizations will be introduced, and the new GRHS directors and officers will be installed. AHSGR will also announce its Distinguished Service Award.

Several beautiful items have been contributed to the societies, and drawings for those prizes will also take place.

The evening will conclude with the Passing of the Lantern. Next year, AHSGR will convene in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. GRHS will meet in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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