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dana college  ALUMNI and Friends ASSOCIATION


Homecoming 2023: set for Saturday, October 7
The Dana campus once again will be the site for Homecoming 2023. Activities planned include Kringle and Mingle at the Danish Archives in downtown Blair, class reunions at various locations in town, Venerable Vikings reception (dinner?) for the 50th class reunion, a Tailgate/Food Truck Lunch at the gym on campus, award ceremonies for Distinguished Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame, plus a social hour to close out the day.

You’ll be able to see the progress on the renovations/repurposing of Blair and Mickelsen Halls. We hope to have representatives from Angels Share, Lutheran Family Services, and Easter Seals present to talk about their plans and missions on the campus.

Attendees will also be able to purchase Dana logowear and other items at the Alumni Bookstore in Gardner Hawks. Hope to see you there!

Watch for a schedule of events to appear on the website or any of these Facebook pages: You Know You Went To Dana If ..., Dana College Alumni, Dana College Baby Boomers & Beyond (BBB) Committee, and Dana College GenX and Millenial Committee.


Distinguished Alumni, Hall of Fame Honorees Named
The Dana College Alumni Association has selected its 2023 honorees for the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Athletic Hall of Fame. They are Toni (Ahrendt) Jensen and Matt Maltby.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to a person who has brought credit to Dana through service to his or her alma mater, church, community and profession.

Toni is a 2003 graduate with a degree in Social Work. She was an active participant in campus life and spent a semester abroad to work in a women’s shelter in London, England. Following a stint at the Office of Courts and Probation at the Nebraska Supreme Court, she went on to teach at Nebraska Wesleyan University while completing a doctoral degree.

In addition, Toni established a Masters of Social Work program at NWU, a rigorous endeavor to meet multiple national standards in order to achieve accreditation. Hers is only the second accredited program in the state of Nebraska. She now serves as the MSW Program Director and Department Chair.

The Athletic Hall of Fame Award is given to individuals, coaches or teams who have achieved outstanding success in intercollegiate athletics while competing at Dana.

Matt Maltby is a 2003 graduate who achieved unparalleled success in field events for the Vikings. He was a three-time All American in the shot put and finished second one year in the Indoor Nationals. He established school records in the shot put, discus, hammer and weight throws during his career.

Matt went on to continue his success as a coach at Midland University. There he prepared 25 individual conference champions, more than 30 All Americans, and five individual national champions. In 2018-2019, he was named the U.S. Track and Field Assistant Coach of the Year with his men ranked no. 1 in the hammer throw and no. 2 in shot put and discus nationally.

These outstanding Dana alumni will be honored at Homecoming on Saturday, October 7th. Join us then in recognizing their contributions to the Dana College legacy.

Easterseals to Build Special Needs Camp On Former Dana Campus
Easterseals Nebraska, a subsidiary of the Visiting Nurse Association, has purchased 64 acres of the western portion of the Dana campus for a camp to provide outdoor education and recreation activities for both youth and adults with disabilities and other challenges.

The previous Easterseals camp was destroyed by a train derailment in 1999, and the association has been searching for a permanent home of its own ever since.

It will be the only overnight camp facility in the state of Nebraska to serve people with special needs. Plans call for multiple cabins plus other activity centers that are easily accessible for people with physical limitations.

Those plans include a lake for boating activities, splash pad swimming pool, indoor and outdoor horse riding arenas, health facility, archery range, event space, greenhouse, zipline and more. The camp is expected to open in the summer of 2025.

Ed Shada of Angels Share, owners of the Dana campus, is pleased to welcome Easterseals to the campus. He said the Angels Share concept has always been to have a coalition of organizations working to uplift society’s most vulnerable people, and this camp will make a great fit with that mission.

The City of Blair is also excited to have the camp within the community. It will being new jobs and many visitors to Blair while providing a much-needed service.

The camp encompasses land beginning with the former Rasmussen and Holling dormitories, proceeding west to the edge of Black Elk Neihardt Park, and extending southward to Highway 91. Holling Hall is expected to become apartments for camp leaders and administrative offices.

More information can be found at

Work Continues On Blair and Mickelsen Apartments Conversion
Construction progress has been steady on Blair and Mickelsen Halls throughout the spring and summer months. Both former dormitories are being repurposed into apartments by the Angels Share organization, owners of the Dana campus, for youth who have aged out of foster care and for low income elderly housing.

As of this writing, the apartments are scheduled to be ready for occupancy this December. Studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units will be available. Elevators are being installed in both buildings.

Youth and seniors will be housed in both buildings, creating an intergenerational community. The hope is for seniors to provide mentorship opportunities and a sense of family that the youth may not have experienced in their lives.

The Dana Alumni Council is actively working to secure limited tours of the buildings during Homecoming, provided that safety issues can be met.

The application process and income requirements will be announced as they become available in the next newsletter or on the website,, or on the various Dana Facebook pages.

Lois Paine, 1948 DanianDana Alum Honored at Dedication Of Women Veterans Monument

The impact of Dana College continues to be felt in drawing the world smaller and closer. Recently Glenn Wachter, a Dana alum, was present at the dedication of a new monument in Blaine, Minnesota, to women who had served our nation in the military.

Having served in the Navy, Glenn visited with one of the women being honored at the ceremony who likewise had served in the Navy. Lois (Paine) Widmark, 101 years old, had served during World War II in Washington, DC, as a code-breaker of Japanese military transmissions. During their visit, she revealed that she also was a Dana alum!

Originally from Blair, Nebraska, Lois had earned a two-year teaching degree at Dana in 1948 following her military service. This was a common practice at that time when service members took advantage of their military benefits, and the nation was in need of teachers and other skilled professions.

Lois met her husband, Arnold, at Dana, and married while attending there. She told Glenn Wachter that her father used to light the Copenhagen gas lamps in front of Old Main every night. Upon graduation Lois and Arnold moved to a farm in Ivanhoe, Minnesota.

She went on to teach in schools near there while earning her four-year degree from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, teaching full time while studying part time. Lois is currently the oldest living graduate of SMSU.(Credit: Glenn Wachter, SMSU)

Lois (Paine) Widmark with Glenn Wachter


Music Fest Coming To Dana Campus Labor Day Weekend
Highway 91 Music FestIn celebration of progress made this year, Angels Share is bringing the Highway 91 Music Fest to the Dana campus on Saturday, September 2nd.

Event organizer Bob Morrison says the event will feature three blues bands. The opening acts, Vertigo and Redwoods, are products of the Omaha Blues Society’s educational program, giving young people an opportunity to learn the business and to perform.

The headline act features Brandon Santini, a seasoned performer from North Carolina who does over 100 shows a year internationally.

The music will being at 3:00 p.m. that day on the football field. Food trucks will be available. Fans are encouraged to being lawn chairs and coolers for beverages. No glass bottles allowed. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for youth 18 and under, children under 10 admitted free of charge. In the event of inclement weather, the Music Fest will be moved inside to the Gardner Hawks gymnasium.

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