In Pictures: The Goethe Family Circle Event

It was a night of celebration at the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, as we welcomed the inaugural members into our Goethe Family Circle.

The Lifetime Giving Community recognizes the outstanding support and donations these patrons and partners have given throughout their lifetime – without them, the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta wouldn’t be here today and we felt that this had to be honored and shared with our members, friends and the local community.

So, we got everybody together in one room to celebrate, including delegates, local business leaders and members of Atlanta’s German-American community, all of whom have some sort of connection and involvement with the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta.


We wanted to show our members, supporters, students and friends just how much we value their support and friendship and how they keep the Goethe-Zentrum alive, so, with drinks and canapés, the evening got underway.

Our Executive Director, Miriam Bruns, welcomed everybody to the event, explaining how, without their help, none of what we do would be possible, describing how we are a unique center for partnering with the Alliance Française and, most importantly, thanking everybody for their support – the reason we were gathered in the auditorium.

Before we celebrated our Lifetime Giving Community, we honored our volunteers – the people behind the scenes who really do keep the Goethe-Zentrum operating! Our chairman, Mr. Barry Spurlock, described how volunteers are so important to the center and that the people helping us out right now are from all sorts of different backgrounds. He then introduced last year’s Volunteer of the Year, Mrs. Liesl Kii who took to the podium, to present this year’s winner with their award, explaining how this volunteer is at the Goethe-Zentrum morning, noon and night, whenever he is needed and is known as our ‘go to’ person. He makes hundreds of phone calls to students to remind them that classes are starting again, never loses his cool and entertains us with his extensive knowledge of opera and European history, Mr. David Kerr:

The next people to be honored were our founding members, because of course, without them; we definitely wouldn’t be here today! Miriam described how, back in the 1990’s when the cash from Germany that kept the Goethe-Zentrum afloat was cut, a group of supporters got together and established the Friends of Goethe and German Language Institute to keep the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta alive! We wanted to honor those members and their contribution to the center since:

Mr. Greg Duncan
Mr. Dieter Elsner
Mr. David F. Golden
Mr. Claus Halle
Ms. Marghareta Hauschild
Mr. Axel H. Mees
Dr. Christa Merkes-Frei
Ms. Louise Shaw
Ms. Maria Woodliff
Mr. Peter Halpaus
Dr. Eike Jordan
Mr. Stefan M. Tiessen
Dr. Viola Westbrook
Ms. Rita Wübbeler


Sadly, they weren’t all present at the event but those that were we thanked by Miriam for all their help, dedication and leadership to keep the Goethe-Zentrum alive when its future was in doubt! She also pointed out that the founding members who were present at the event are still very much involved in the center today and often step in when things aren’t quite going to plan!

Next we heard from Bettina Gardner – she’s the International Affairs coordinator at the Office of Mayor Kasim Reed who talked about Atlanta’s strong connections with Germany and its large German-American communit. She talked about their contributions to the city, focusing on the honorees present at the event, adding that their commitment has enriched the City of Atlanta.


The Hon. Christoph Sander, Consul General of Germany in Atlanta spoke next, thanking the investors, companies, volunteers and donors who make the Goethe-Zentrum possible. , saying that it’s humbling to see their dedication to maintaining the center and the tremendous work it does to teach German culture in the region.


Then came the really important bit – honoring the first members of our Goethe Family Circle Lifetime Giving Community. These patrons and partners have played a very important role in making sure the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta is able to do what it does each and every day – their outstanding contributions keep the wheels in motion and enable us to carry out our mission in Atlanta. Each member who was present was invited to the stage, presented with a certificate and a replica of a glass that Goethe himself would have drunk out of before being toasted with a glass of sparkling wine! The inaugural members are:

Dr. Bruce S. Allen
German-American Cultural Foundation
The Halle Foundation
Mr. Peter S. Knox IV
The Lanie & Ethel Foundation
The Siemens Corporation
Mr. James Thurmond Smithgall
Mr. Barry L. Spurlock

Then came the surprise of the night from the Halle Foundation when it’s representatives Dr. Eike Jordan and Marnite B. Calder announced that to mark 10 years since the early passing of the organizations founder, Claus M. Halle, it had decided to donate $10,000 to the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta to help us to continue with our mission, describing the center as an example for others to follow and we couldn’t be more grateful!


Posted on February 19, 2014, in What's Happened? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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