3246 North Winn Road, on the west branch near Canoe Creek.
Hougen, Virgil C. and Leona C. (Gronbech)
Virgil C. Hougen was born 24 Jul 1905 on a farm near McCallsburg, IA. He was baptized and confirmed at Bethany Lutheran Church.
He began his education in a small country school and graduated in 1922 from high school. Virgil attended Iowa State University, Ames, IA for 2 years. He then returned to the farm in a partnership with his father. During this time he decided to respond to the call of the Ordained Ministry. The partnership was dissolved and he went to St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN. At the same time he attended ISU during the summer and became an Alumnus of ISU and a graduate of St. Olaf.
While at ISU Virgil met Leona Gronbech from Jewel, IA. They were married 18 Aug 1931. Although it had been their plan to take over the farm, Leona also a graduate of ISU, now found herself married to a candidate for the Seminary.
Pastor Virgil C. Haugen and Leona C. Haugen
Virgil attended Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN and received his Bachelor of Theology Degree in 1934 and his Master of Theology Degree in 1939. He served Congregations in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Coming from the farm, Virgil felt close to and called to serve the Church in rural, town and country Ministry. He became the editor of the Rural Lutheran, a publication serving South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. He was also a member of the Rural Life Commission.
In 1952 Virgil accepted the call to serve St. John Lutheran Church, Locust, and Hauge Lutheran Church, both rural Decorah. Two years later the church body, Evangelical Lutheran Church,, asked him to become the Administrator of the Aase Haugen Homes, Inc., Decorah.
When Virgil became Administrator they became members of Decorah Lutheran Church. His uncle, Rev. Johan
Olai Hougen, had served Decorah Lutheran as Pastor from 1897 to 1907.
Virgil and Leona transferred from Decorah Lutheran to become Charter members of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Decorah (west side) where he was elected the first President.
Virgil and Leona had 5 children: 0. Paul. Rov Eugene. Ruth Marie. Marlow James, and Curtis Leon.
Virgil was an active member of the Lions Club until he retired. After he retired as Administrator of the Aase Haugen Homes, Virgil served as a volunteer guide at the Vesterheim Norwegian Historical Museum.
In 1989 Virgil and Leona moved to Ames. They were not interested in leaving Decorah and the greater community of Winneshiek Co., but at that time there were no retirement facilities other than long-term care nursing homes. They became residents of Green Hills in Ames, a retirement facility with nurse call.
Pastor Hougen died suddenly on 8 Apr 1991 while at a Senior Citizen Center preparing to lead a Bible Study. He was 84 years old.
The Congregations served by Pastor Hougen include: Zion and Nidoras, New Effington, SD, 1934-1940; 4 Congregations: Bang, Elim, Bethlehem and Our Saviors, rural Irene, SD, 1940-1946; Gol and Moland, Rural Kenyon, MN, 1946-1952 and St. John and Hauge, Rural Decorah, 1952-1954.
While living at Locust, rural Decorah, one bedroom became the bedroom and study for the 4 sons. Their daughter Ruth had a bedroom and the parents the third. This meant that a double bunk bed had to be constructed for the 4 boys.
While serving St. John and Hauge, the Hauge Congregation became the largest contributors in their offerings per person in the Decorah circuit. St. John, an independent Congregation, became a member Congregation of the American Lutheran Church Body.
In 1954 the American Lutheran Church offices in Minneapolis called Pastor Hougen to become Administrator of the Aase Haugen Homes, Inc. This meant the management of the Residential Home 5 miles SW of Decorah, the Residential Home in Calmar, IA and the management of 2 farms, 2 homes for the two families who lived on the farms, a dairy herd, a cow-calf herd, a hog facility and 640 acres of cropland.
Under his leadership Pastor Hougen led the Aase Haugen Homes into a new standard of care and the building of a new long-term care facility in Decorah on 4 Ohio St.
During this time Leona served as Dietician for the Homes and later became a faithful volunteer at the Homes involved in sewing, mending clothes for the residents and the making of blankets and quilts for Lutheran World Relief. In the beginning years of Oneota Housing, Inc., 5 Ohio St., she served on the board.
On 17 May 1992 John Kjome had been commissioned to build the Pulpit which was dedicated in memory of Pastor Virgil C. Hougen.
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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021