Edna Hokenson established the Gustave J. Hokenson Fund in June 1995 to support a graduate fellowship in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering.
The University of Maryland lost a generous contributor and devoted friend when Dr. Edna Hokenson passed away in August 2005. She had been courageously fighting a reoccurrence of breast cancer that had returned in an aggressive form. Her quick wit and good humor will be missed. Dr. Hokenson created the Gustave J. Hokenson Fellowship for graduate students within the Aerospace Department in honor of her son, "Gus", who was a 1970 Ph.D. aerospace graduate. Gus went on to teach aerospace engineering at the Navy's post-graduate school and to work for several aerospace companies before starting his own, R&D, in 1981. The research he conducted in fluid dynamics is still referenced today. Gustave died of acute myelogenous leukemia in 1991 at the age of 45.
The first recipient of this fellowship award from 1996-1999 was Andreas P.F. Bernhard. Andy and Dr. Hokenson became good friends over the years. She was especially pleased to be part of the wedding of Andy to his wife, Ruta, in July 2001 at the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel. They remained in close contact even after Andy and Ruta moved away from the area upon his graduation. The second recipient was Suneel I. Sheikh from 2000-2001. Suneel and his wife, Kristen, also became close friends with Dr. Hokenson. They enjoyed many outings with her to visit the sites in the Washington area and spent a significant amount of time with her during her treatments. Matt Tarascio was the third recipient in 2003. The fourth recipient is Timothy T. Leach in 2005. Dr. Hokenson kept a single flower from Timothy alive and well until her passing and enjoyed mentioning how long it had lasted. Besides the significant monetary award for the year, each student received a kind, generous, and inquisitive individual who loved to learn more about them and their lives outside of school. Through her kindness and graciousness the students quickly came to see her as family. Edna enjoyed correspondence with her students (sometimes sending a return letter almost faster than e-mail), as well as chatting on the phone with them. She invited students over to her home, especially when her garden (one of her passions) had erupted in a springtime kaleidoscope of color. Born in Wadena, Minnesota, she married John Hokenson in 1941. They lived in Minneapolis where she worked for the United Fund as well as the Red Cross during World War II. Dr. Hokenson received her Bachelor's degree in 1958 from Memphis State University and her Master's degree in 1960 from the University of Tennessee. The family ended up in College Park in 1962. During the 1960s, Dr. Hokenson taught at George Mason College and at Northern Virginia Community College. She volunteered for several government committees, including the Montgomery County's advisory committees for energy conservation and solid waste, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal Diseases. She liked discussing her contributions in helping to bring a waste incinerator to Maryland. Dr. Hokenson and her family enjoyed traveling overseas. She also enjoyed spirited political discussions about current events. Dr. Hokenson earned her Ph.D. degree in microbiology from the University of Maryland in the same year as her son Gus achieved his Bachelor's degree and was fond of telling the story how mother and son had graduated in the same ceremony.
Prior to her passing, Dr. Hokenson began a fellowship within the College of Chemical and Life Sciences at the University of Maryland for microbiology and immunology graduate students.
By starting both of these prestigious fellowships, Dr. Hokenson will continue to provide assistance to many graduate students for years to come. And it is through these two fellowships that the memory and spirit of Dr. Edna Hokenson and her son, Dr. Gustave Hokenson, will endure.
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