Three honored as Pillars of the Community Tuesday night

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Another three people were inducted as Pillars of the Community Tuesday night during the second night of Freedom Fest.

This year’s inductees, honored at Bandshell Park, include Dr. Ralph T. Holman, Belita Schindler and Rosalie Seltz.

Holman, who passed away in 2012, came to Austin and joined The Hormel Institute in 1951 and pioneered work in the area of essential fatty acid research, food stabilization technology and nutrition.

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Holman also conducted world-renowned lipid research for over three decades and was known for coining “omega-3” and “omega-6” fatty acids.

The Institute’s Ted Hinchcliffe, Phd, who spoke on behalf of Holman’s family along with Gail Dennison, said that Holman was a pioneer in the Institute’s continuing legacy of discovery.

“It’s central to what we do at The Hormel Institute,” he said. “Dr. Holman really discovered something that is amazing.”

“He really was a pioneer and father of omega-3,” Dennison said. “It continues to impact people worldwide. He was a very interesting and understanding man.”

Holman was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and past president of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. Holman also directed the institute from 1975-1985 and served on the Board of Directors for The Hormel Foundation.

Schindler moved to Austin with her husband Dick and their four children in 1972, opening Belita’s Residential and Commercial Interiors in 1978. 

A noted volunteer throughout Austin, Schindler also served on numerous boards and committees, including that of the Austin ArtWorks Festival that she co-founded over 10 years ago.

Prior to that her work also included establishing the ArtWorks Center in downtown Austin on Main Street.

The honor Tuesday night surprised Schindler, who will now join her husband on the pillars. Dick Schindler was among the first five enshrined in 2016 along with George A. Hormel, Jay C. Hormel, Richard Knowlton and Jon Erichson.

“You certainly know how to knock the socks off somebody who’s sitting there quietly,” Schindler said briefly.

Seltz was an English and journalism instructor at Austin High School starting in 1950 through 1993.

As the faculty advisor for student publications at Austin High School, she often provided school news to the Austin Daily Herald. She received the lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota High School Press Association in 1989. 

Seltz has been an active volunteer with the Hospital Auxiliary, Cedar Valley Service, Mower County Historical Society and the Austin High School Alumni Association.

According to Josh Berhow, one of Seltz’s grandchildren, there were few who didn’t know Seltz.

“Everyone knows who she is and you understand why,” Berhow said, glancing up at his grandmother in the crowd. “She’s truly deserving of this amazing honor and we’re all very proud of her.”

“This is a very overwhelming experience, something that wasn’t expected,” Seltz said and added that she was honored to be among those already enshrined. “I can’t believe I’m going to be up there too.”

The Pillars of the Community can be found along the sidewalk on Main Street North, bordering East Side Lake. QR codes on the bronze plaques allow visitors to access more information about each pillar.

Past Pillars

2016: George A. Hormel, Jay C. Hormel, Richard Knowlton, Dr. Richard Schindler, Jon Erichson.

2017: Ira James Holton, Gary Ray and Esther Mitchell Morse.

2018: Norman Hecimovich, Robert Enright and Lyman Baird.

2019: Gertrude Ellis Skinner, John O’Rourke and Bonnie Rietz.

2020: Patricia K. Piper, Geraldine Rasmussen and Larry Dolphin.

2021: Dr. Olaf H. Hegge, Jacob “Jake” Herzog and Susan Grove.

2022: Frank Bridges, Michael Ruzek and Miquel Garate.