Hanna Rosenberg Gradwohl

Honored by:David M. Gradwohl
Brick location:PAVER:8  map

Hanna Rosenberg Gradwohl has unswervingly followed her interests in social work and community service since her days as an undergraduate college student. Both in her professional career and her role as a concerned citizen in American society, she has performed as it is said above and beyond the call of duty. Her commitment to equal access and opportunity for all members of the community tenacity of purpose and compassion for her fellow human beings merit recognition.

Hanna was born on 23 December 1935 in Coburg, Bavaria, Germany, a city near the town of Sonneberg (Thuringia) where her parents, Ludwig Ernst Rosenberg and Ilse Speier Rosenberg, lived. As the waves of Nazi fanaticism swept across Germany, her maternal grandparents left their homeland in 1936. Hanna's parents were forced to flee in 1937. Her paternal grandparents and other family members were not as fortunate; having waited too long to escape they were captured and transported to concentration camps at Terezin and Treblinka where they were murdered.


Sponsored by American relatives who lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, Hanna's family resettled there and found new jobs. While her grandmother took care of the baby, Hanna's grandfather, father, and mother (who had been store owners in Germany) went to work respectively as a rug cleaner, stock "boy", and laundry worker. Raised in a three-generation household, Hanna grew up in a loving and positive-oriented ambience: the family never allowed the pain and bitterness of their experience to dominate their lives. Hanna was taught both German and English at home, and as a child and young woman, was active in musical activities -- singing in choral groups and playing violin in orchestras.

 Hanna attended the University of Nebraska, and graduated in 1957 with a B.A. in Social Work. In addition to working in sales and merchandizing to help defray her college expense,s Hanna spent several summers serving as a counselor at camps for youths "at risk": Camp Grassick, Easter Seals Camp for handicapped children, North Dakota (1954); Y.W.C.A. Camp, Omaha, Nebraska (1955); and Camp Algonquin, United Charities of Chicago camp for disadvantaged youth with emotional problems, Illinois (1956). Her academic and service achievements were recognized in a number of honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Mortar Board, Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology honorary), Psi Chi (Psychology honorary), Alpha Lambda Delta (freshman women's scholastic honorary), and the German Scholarship Honorary. She was also the recipient of the Towne Club Scholarship Award and three years of Regents Scholarships.

 Following her graduation from the University of Nebraska, Hanna married David Mayer Gradwohl (whom she had met in Lincoln, shortly after her family arrived from Germany, at the home of her grandfather's cousin who was married to a cousin of David's mother). In 1958 and 1959 the Gradwohls lived in Crailsheim, Germany, where David was stationed in the U.S. Army. During that time, Hanna volunteered services as a translator and assisted with activities at the McKee Barracks school for children of American military personnel. In 1959 the Gradwohls returned to the United States where Hanna entered a graduate program in social work at Boston University and worked as a social worker and foster home finder for the Jewish Family and children's service.

In 1962 Hanna moved to Ames where David had obtained a teaching position in anthropology at Iowa State University. During the 1960s and early 1970s Hanna's time was spent mothering three children and serving as a volunteer in many community activities. She also assisted her husband in his summer field schools in archaeology (conducted in the Red Rock Reservoir, Saylorville Reservoir, and proposed Ames Reservoir project areas in Iowa) and served temporarily as head cook for the Winchester Archaeological Excavations Project in England.

Hanna was a co-founder of the Ames Jewish Congregation in 1962 and served for a number of years as the congregation's secretary and social committee chair. Later, she was elected president of the congregation -- its first woman president and perhaps the first woman president of a Jewish congregation in Iowa. In 1968, Hanna co-founded the Ames Children's Theater (along with Carole Horowitz, Shirley Shaw, and Annette Rowley) and served on its Board of Directors for a number of years. She appeared in and produced several shows sponsored by the Children's Theater and ACTORS (Ames Community Theater) organizations. At that time, Hanna was active in the League of Women Voters, chairing their Human Resources Workshops in 1970 and 1971. She also volunteered services at Mary Greeley Hospital and the Octagon (Ames Center For the Arts). In 1974, Hanna was appointed by the Mayor of Ames to serve on the city's first Human Rights Commission. During those years she also volunteered time as a troop leader and Day Camp Assistant for the Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts. In addition she served as advisor for the ISU Mortar Board active chapter asd also taught German for the Ames Foreign Language Program in the primary schools. In 1975 Hannah returned to her pursuit of a graduate certification in social work and obtainedher Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Iowa in 1978. She completed her practicum at Boit of Iowa and assisted for sceveral years in their divorce workshops.

 During 1978 and 1979 Hanna worked as the Story County Child Support Recovery Officer through the CountyAttorney's office. In 1979 she accepted a position as a social worker with the State of Iowa's Area Education Agency 11 (Heartland) serving public schools in Ames and Story County. She remained in that position until 1994 at which time she chose to take an early retirement. Hanna is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Iowa State Education Association, the Iowa School Social Workers Association, the PACE (the Social Workers Political Action Committee). In 1988 she was the recipient of the Heartland Agency's Excellent Professional Practice Recognition.

While working as a full-time professional social worker, Hanna continued her community service activities. In 1982 she was a co-founder of the Story Council council for the prevention of child abuse (now called CAPE, the child abuse prevention and education council). At various times ince then she has served as president, vice-president, and board member of the council. She co-founded, helped to find grant funding for, and continues to participate in the council's Parents of Newborns Support Program which assists in linking up people in central Iowa with needed social services. For several years she organized the council's Halloween carnival at the North Grand Mall as a safe-haven for children to enjoy games and treats without being on the streets. In 1989 she was appointed to the Ames United Way Board and chaired its allocations committee in 1991. In 1992 she was appointed to the  Ames ASSET (Ames Social Service Evaluation Teams) committee. In recognition of her many and varied volunteer activities, Hanna received an Outstanding Service Award from the Ames/Story County Women'Poltical caucus in 1985. In 1989 the Central Iowa Martin Luther King Holiday Celebration committee awarded Hanna a Marthin Luther King Excellence Award for her volunteer services in social work, education, and the prevention of child abuse.

Hanna is the mother of Steven Ernst Gradwohl (a physician at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan), Jane Mayer Gradwohl Nash (an assistant professor of psychology at Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts), and Kathryn Mayer Gradwohl (a social worker in the Minneapolis public schools and physical fitness instructor, St. Paul, Minnesota). She has three granddaughters: Alexandria Mayer Gradwohl, Kelsey Mann Gradwohl, and Hanna Gradwohl Nash. She is, as the epitome expressed in Proverbs 31, "a woman of valor" and her husband and children "call her blessed".

Paving Inscription:

"Hanna Rosenberg
A Woman of Valor
More than Rubies
Call Her Blessed"