Museum Namesake Rev. Richard Hillstrom ’38 (1915-2014)

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by

A photo of Rev. Richard Hillstrom, taken at Thrivent Financial by Stan Waldhauser ’71.

A photo of Rev. Richard Hillstrom, taken at Thrivent Financial by Stan Waldhauser ’71.

The Rev. Richard Hillstrom ’38, a generous benefactor of the College and the namesake of the College’s Hillstrom Museum of Art, passed away in the morning hours of Tuesday, Dec. 16 at the age of 99.

Hillstrom majored in English and history at Gustavus and went on to graduate from Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Ill., in 1942. He took a pastoral position in Gary, Ind., and worked there for five years before returning to Minnesota in 1947 to accept a position at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Hillstrom spent a majority of his pastoral career—a 30-year stint—as the chaplain at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul before retiring in 1982.

Upon retiring from ministry, Hillstrom turned to his other passion: art. He became the art acquisitions curator at Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial) in Minneapolis and went on compile a large religious art collection that at one time was named by Art & Auction magazine as one of the best 101 corporate art collections in America.

Hillstrom also had a large personal collection of art and over the years donated more than 250 paintings, drawings, and prints that make up the permanent collection of the Hillstrom Museum of Art. In addition to donating many works of art, Hillstrom also made significant monetary donations to create an endowment for the Museum, providing funds that allow the Museum to acquire additional artworks. In May of 2012, Hillstrom received the College’s Sesquicentennial Award in recognition of his support for the Hillstrom Museum of Art.

“Rick was remarkably generous, and many institutions benefitted from his donations including the Minnesota Institute of Art, the Weisman, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the American Swedish Institute, the Minnesota Historical Society and others,” said Don Myers, Director of the Hillstrom Museum of Art. “I admired Rick greatly, both for his deep and self-taught knowledge of art and the works and artists in his collection, and also for his supportive friendship.”

A funeral service for Hillstrom will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20 at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church. More details will be posted as they become available.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas


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