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Heywood Recipient Molly Woehrlin Turns Spotlight Onto Community Builders

Woehrlin is honored for her 50 years of being a catalyst for institutional and social change in Northfield.

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The audience shouldn’t have expected anything less from “Marvelous Molly.”

Instead of basking in the glow of being recipient of the 2012 Joseph Lee Heywood Distinguished Service Award, turned the spotlight onto the type of community service organization that she helped foster in Northfield for 50 years.

During her acceptance speech Wednesday evening at the Northfield Ballroom, Woehrlin—called “Marvelous Molly” by banquet emcee and General Chairman —lauded the achievements of . Better known as TORCH, the program works to improve graduation rates and post-secondary participation of Northfield’s minority and low-income students and those who would be first-generation college attendees.

In recent years, TORCH has aided in raising its graduation rate for Latino students, which stood from 36 percent between 2001-2004, according to the TORCH website.

Now, said Woehrlin, all the students involved in TORCH graduate from high school.

Woehrlin termed TORCH’s accomplishments as “tremendous results.”

“Northfield is filled with this kind of creativity and people who work to fill in the gaps,” she said. “We have people who will see a problem and the next year, start an organization to help.”

Woehrlin—one of the first female county commissioners in Rice County and a founder of a number of Northfield nonprofits geared for institutional and social change—is the 30th recipient of the Heywood Award. Given annually by the Heywood Award Committee, the honor goes to a resident who “remind us of our past and our promise to improve our community for the future.”

During the past five decades, Woehrlin has been associated with such groups as the , , A Better Chance, Project Friendship, , , , , League of Women Voters and the .

Woehrlin called Heywood Northfield’s original community builder. Best known for standing up to—and being killed by—the James-Younger Gang in its botched attempted robbery at the , Heywood served his community as volunteer treasurer for , the and the First Congregational Church.

“He was a prime example of a community builder,” Woehrlin said. “May we all continue to work to build community.”

Speaking in Woehrlin’s honor at the banquet were Candy Taylor, executive director of 5th Bridge; Ann Vohs, who was elected to the Rice County Board of Commissioners with Woherlin in 1983; and Woehrlin’s son Alex.

“I’m not here to praise her, but to roast her,” said Alex, who ribbed his mother about her cooking and her discipline techniques. “You all know about her professional life. I’m here to talk about her home life. That was different.”

Said Woehrlin, “I didn’t expect to be upstaged by my son.”

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PREVIOUS HEYWOOD WINNERS

• 1983 – Al Quie

• 1984 – Robert Shumway

• 1985 – Bernie Hughes

• 1986 – Curt Oleson

• 1987 – Karl Rolvaag

• 1988 – Paul Johnson

• 1989 – John Machacek

• 1990 – Wayne Eddy

• 1991 – Ken Grism

• 1992 – Don McRae

• 1993 – Jean & Orv Perman

• 1994 – Dan Freeman

• 1995 – Sanford “Sam” Haugen

• 1996 – Dorothy Schilling

• 1997 – Shirley Nelson

• 1998 – Don Lindberg

• 1999 – Mary Lou Street

• 2000 – Jerry Skluzacek

• 2001 – Jim Sawyer

• 2002 – Marv Grundhoefer

• 2003 – Will Brosz

• 2004 – Orin DeLong

• 2005 – Gene Finger

• 2006 – Don Pavek

• 2007 – Chip DeMann

• 2008 – Scott Richardson

• 2009 – Maggie Lee

• 2010 – Will Healy

• 2011 — Brett Reese

Jon Shepard September 07, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Absolutely awesome! Well chosen and well met Molly! And wish I was there... I really really do. Alex sounded like a hit too, and eloquence comes to us agedly, eh? I say that from having grown up with Alex and always looking up to Molly. Northfield is truly one of most special places in the universe! Gosh I miss it. Jon Shepard (nfld HS '81)

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