Lenning leaves legacy of leadership
BY BONNIE KAY BALDWIN
LAKE MILLS GRAPHIC
“What kind of legacy will you leave behind?”
Legacy can be defined as a couple of things. Finances or property or anything that can be handed down by a will. Or, something that can be passed down from generation to generation, more on the order of something less tangible. This is the type of legacy to which this article will refer.
There is a former LMHS student from the class of 1955 that is leaving behind an incredible legacy. His name is Oscar Lenning. He will tell anyone, that he came from a stable foundation and solid familial relationships in Lake Mills.
“My experiences with friends, outstanding teachers, and attending classes and social events all through my school years in the Lake Mills area, also had a major impact on shaping who I became. So did my summer jobs and years as a college student,” said Lenning.
During June 2018, Lenning and his wife Renie, were featured in a Christian publication called the ‘Thrivent magazine.’ The title of the article was, “What’s Your Legacy?”
According to Thrivent (a financial membership organization for Christians), in that same June 2018 article by Stacey Freed, she says that “Your life is defined by your values and passions. Here’s how you can pass them along after your’re gone.”
The article also highlights the Lennings’ meaningful idea of their ‘last moment’—a way of communicating with their family when they are both gone.
A quote that Freed shared from the Lennings, goes like this. “We wrote a letter to our children telling them, how very proud we are of them and how we want them to remember the memories we’ve created, and to forgive us for anything we may have done in their lives that needs forgiving.” Renie added, “The most important thing we’re leaving for them is our Christian values.”
Christian values were instilled in Oscar and his siblings, by both his parents. Growing up on a farm five miles south of Lake Mills, near Winnebago Lutheran Church, and the son of a Norwegian immigrant, Trygve Lenning, and mother, Bernice (Severson), who was a homemaker/farm housewife and mother of four: Oscar, Larry, David and Bev. The siblings described their mother as extremely hard-working, kind, loving and giving. Father Trygve was also described by his children to have a strong Christian faith, impeccable values, and consistence in his parenting.
Being only two years apart, and the older two of the four, Oscar and Larry shared a great deal of memories and history.
The two “best friends”, served in the Navy, but in different locations. They met numerous times while in service, meeting in Yokosuka, Japan and frequently in their joint home port of San Diego. Larry was an electronics technician on an aircraft carrier, and Oscar an electronics technician on a submarine. Sadly, Larry passed away more than 25 years ago, while serving as a missionary overseas.
Oscar attended colleges and received these College Degrees:
• 1969 Ph. D. University of Iowa, Iowa City—Counseling Psychology with minors in College Student Personnel Administration, Higher Education and Statistics
• 1964, B.S., Iowa State University, Ames—Industrial Engineering/Engineering Operations
• 1964, B.A., Wartburg College, Waverly—Secondary Ed./General Science, magna cum laude (elected senior rep to student senate and elected president, Lutheran Student Association
• 1961, A.A., Waldorf College, Forest City—Pre-engineering, magna cum laude
Extensive achievements along his journey include being an executive officer, author, consultant, grants person, journal editor/reviewer, community leader and alumni distinguished service recognition.
He has also completed more than 30 leadership achievements for five colleges including Waldorf College, Forest City (now Waldorf University).
He has held more than two dozen professional positions—from earlier years (1962-63) as an engineer for Missile Site Security Radar Development and Testing for Sylvania Electronic Systems Lab, Mountain View, Calif. to recent positions as director of his own consulting firm and as Senior Assoc. for PTB & Associates, Silver Spring, Md.
Beyond that, Lenning has a substantial list of professional publications he has authored, and a recent book he co-authored with Renie.
“The book is entitled ‘Brain Changers 365: Build a Better Brain with 7 Activities Each Day.’ It is described at www.brainchangers365.com,” said Lenning. “The book has been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) which is headed by an internationally-recognized medical doctor, specializing in that area. Based on its research, ARPF believes that individuals, couples or small groups who spend 10-15 minutes each day using the stimulating materials therein for that day, can help delay and possibly even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease (assuming they also do such things as eat properly, have a good physical exercise program and socialize regularly).”
Lenning’s wife, Lorene (Renie for short) formerly, Bunting, has had the greatest influence upon him, he said. She became an elementary school teacher, during which time, “she developed and collected countless different brain stimulation activities during those 40 plus years and 30 plus in the regular classroom at various grade levels from grade one through grade eight, and nine years as a K through five gifted education teacher.”
“Renie grew up on a farm near Strawberry Point, and her parents gifted their land to EWALU Bible Camp. EWALU stands for Eastern Iowa Lutheran Bible Camp.” The Lenning’s have three grown children—Alisha (Jade), Denise (Jeremy), and Chris (Jennifer). They have five grandchildren, as well.
“Contentment and enjoyment still persist after 55 years of glorious marriage to a wonderful partner and helpmate who has been the love of my life. Our three grown children are caring, respected in their careers and also have loving marriages. Our five grandchildren have the potential to help and serve others and make a positive difference for their world.”
“I have always wanted to let the Lord use me in ways that will serve others . . . I have been blessed with a satisfying multi-faceted career, that I think made a difference, ongoing involvement in church and ministry, and wonderful friends . . . All of my personal and career successes were due to the leading and support of my Lord. My life has led me to acknowledge and accept my many faults and bad habits, that persist to this day; accept the Lord’s forgiveness and leadership/help in making a positive difference for others, even during my 80’s and after three serious bouts with cancer.
It is fun and really satisfying to continue serving as a consultant with two colleges; go into the classroom along with my wife and others once a week to help teachers at needy Valencia Middle School here in Tucson; participate in various ministries at our Mount Zion Lutheran Church and in the ministry of Via de Cristo of Southern Arizona.”