The Schowengerdt commitment to Korea's quality of life
From Kansas to Korea, for more than 40 years they touched the lives of many through their dedicated work as missionaries and agriculturalists.
Dean L. Schowengerdt '59, '51, and his wife, Marjorie Knostman Schowengerdt '48, '50, are the 1993 Alumni Medallion Award recipients. The award is the most prestigious of Alumni Association honors. Nominees are selected for humanitarian service to society, significant contributions to community, state or nation, and outstanding work in their chosen field.
Shortly after the Schowengerdts graduated from K-State, they entered Korean language studies at the University of California at Berkeley, and later Yale University School of Far East Language. The couple then moved to Korea to begin a life-long commitment to improving the quality of life there.
The Union Christian Service Center in Taejon, Korea, which Dean directed, included work relief for war refugees from 1952 to 1954, limb making and vocational training for amputees. Marjorie managed their home, children and ChungNam Foundling Home.
Dean also promoted post war development projects for funding by international sources. The projects included mountain land husbandry of sheep, and farm production loan fund and rice bank cooperatives. He also directed the distribution of donated livestock in South Korea, and other farm production resources from the Heifer Project International for more than 30 years.
Marjorie's direction of the ChungNam Foundling Home started at the request of the Korean government. The home cared for 321 abandoned or orphaned babies and children. Additionally, she taught western tailoring for the Amputee Rehabilitation Center.
As organizer and teacher of Taejon's first community kindergarten for English-speaking children, Marjorie worked with scholarship funding for economically deprived women students. Along with escorting Korean orphans for overseas adoption, she helped establish the Korea Christian Academy. Until the establishment of this school, no area of South Korea offered a first through 12th grade school with dormitory facilities for English-speaking students.
The Schowengerdts returned to the United State approximately every five years to report to churches and communities and confer with K-State agricultural specialists. Their efforts resulted in the improvements of Korean livestock, pastures, machinery, water wells and businesses. During all their work the couple remained focused on spreading the Christian faith and developing rural churches.
The Schowengerdts are the parents of five adult children.
Faith Wendland, conference secretary of Global Ministries Kansas East Conference, United Methodist Church wrote the following in nominating the Schowengerdts for the award: "My spouse and I participated in a Mission Study Tour to Korea and Japan as planned and conducted by the Schowengerdts. In our travels, we so often observed the respect and love which the Korean people have for these servants to gave their lives to the mission of the church in Korea."