Howard Huelster ’49

2004 Distinguished Citizen Award

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Professor Emeritus Howard Huelster began teaching English at Macalester in 1949. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1958, served as assistant dean from 1964 to 1967 and retired with 40 years of service to the college in 1990. He specialized in American literature, 20th century literature and composition. An innovator, he inspired students of all disciplines in his popular class, "The Essay in Word and Picture," and he was the first in the department to employ a desktop computer. A true Macalester family, Huelster alumni include Howard’s wife Mary Ann MacDonald Huelster ’47, his father, sister, three sons, a grandson and several in-laws.

Parallel to his career in academia, Huelster also had a 17-year civic career advocating for people with developmental disabilities. In 1951 a son, Scott, was born to the Huelsters. Scott was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and at that time children like Scott were deemed to be best served in residential institutions.

The Huelsters soon joined other parents in advocating for their children. In 1954–55 Howard served as president of the Minnesota Association for Retarded Children ARC, followed by a term as St. Paul chapter president. Over time, the organization’s objectives grew to include enhanced educational opportunities and community resources.

Professor Emerita Patricia Lanegran Kane ’47 recalled Huelster’s work in the 1960s on the ARC Committee of Visitors. He personally visited institutions for the developmentally delayed, noting conditions that needed to be addressed for the comfort and safety of the residents, and seeing that those changes were made, she said. In addition to his work with the ARCs, Huelster served on the Ramsey County Human Services Advisory Board, on the subcommittee on mental illness and on the board of Unity Unitarian Church, where the generations of Huelsters can still fill the pew.