May 2nd, 2022
The Hohmann name is well connected Bethel College’s music department, even though the last of the family died in 2018.
Now, a gift of $500,000 from the estate of Rupert K. Hohmann has established a fourth scholarship bearing the Hohmann name, this one to promote orchestral music.
Pam Tieszen, Bethel’s vice president for institutional advancement, announced the new endowed scholarship at the Masterworks concert at Bethel on May 1.
Until his health forced him to move to Kidron Bethel Village, Rupert Hohmann was a familiar figure on campus.
He was a collector of aluminum cans, and he often “checked in” with the advancement office or dropped by to see a faculty or staff friend during work hours.
He lived in the large frame house on the corner of College and 25th St. in North Newton, just south of campus, the house in which he grew up, along with two sisters, as the son of Walter H. and Elsbeth Hohmann.
Walter Hohmann taught music and directed choral groups at Bethel College for almost 40 years, 1923-62, founding the mixed a cappella choir now known as the Bethel College Concert Choir. He wrote choral compositions and co-edited the 1940 Mennonite Hymnary.
Rupert Hohmann graduated from the Mennonite Bible Academy (high school) at Bethel in 1946 and from Bethel College in 1949 with a B.A. in music, then completed a Master of Music degree at Wichita State University in 1951.
A talented violinist, he was the first Newtonian ever to join the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Hohmann earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and did post-doctoral work at Yale University.
He taught and conducted instrumental music at Bethel from 1957-62, at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, from 1963-66, then spent the next 23 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
There, he conducted the university orchestra, taught violin and graduate courses, and conducted the orchestra for the annual alternating opera or musical theater production.
Hohmann retired to North Newton in 1989, and continued to play violin on occasion with the WSO and the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. He died Aug. 13, 2018, at the age of 90.
Over the years, Hohmann established three scholarships at Bethel in honor of his parents and family: a keyboard scholarship, the Rupert K. Hohmann String Scholarship Fund, and a conducting scholarship.
The Walter H. Hohmann Choral Conducting Scholarship is awarded to a member of the Bethel College Concert Choir, currently Trae Gehring, senior from Pretty Prairie, Kan.
The newest scholarship, established from the Hohmann estate, is called the Rupert Hohmann Orchestral Scholarship. It will be given to one or more members of the Bethel orchestra, based on ability and decided by music faculty.
“On behalf of Bethel, I want to acknowledge the Hohmann family legacy, and today, Rupert’s legacy specifically,” Tieszen said, “for the excellence of music instilled in numerous Bethel students over the years and the gifts of scholarship that will continue to support student musicianship for years to come.”
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu