Church Member Awarded with Germany’s Highest Honor

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 10 February 2015

Dr. Bernd Fisher, left, awards Charles W. Dahlquist II with Germany’s Order of Merit, First Class, at a January 29 gathering.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • Charles W. Dahlquist II labored as honorary consul for the Federal Republic of Germany in Salt Lake City for 15 years before retiring January 29.
  • For his service, he was awarded the Order of Merit, First Class, the highest tribute Germany can award individuals for service to the country.

“Charles is a wonderful ambassador for his family, for Germany, and, at the same time, for the Lord’s kingdom on earth.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

One cold evening during the hustle and bustle of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Charles W. Dahlquist II was walking through downtown Salt Lake City. While passing an outdoor Olympic medal podium he heard the opening stanzas of the German national anthem.

“I stood there all alone at attention,” he said, recalling that spontaneous observance. “I learned that you can love more than one country, and I was so grateful.”

Brother Dahlquist’s devotion to Germany began long before the Olympics in Salt Lake City. Decades earlier, he learned German serving in the Swiss Mission. He would later preside over the Germany Hamburg Mission (1992–1995) and, in 2000, became honorary consul for the Federal Republic of Germany in Salt Lake City.

He labored in that diplomatic capacity for some 15 years before retiring on January 29. His service to Germany was recognized at a recent gathering that included diplomats, foreign dignitaries, Church leaders, and many of Brother Dahlquist’s many friends and relatives.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency and a son of Germany, shared remarks at the event.

“Charles is a wonderful ambassador for his family, for Germany, and, at the same time, for the Lord’s kingdom on earth,” said President Uchtdorf.

Dr. Bernd Fischer, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, extended Brother Dahlquist an “honorary release” from his diplomatic duties. He also awarded the veteran LDS youth leader with his nation’s Order of Merit, First Class. The honor is the highest tribute that Germany can pay individuals for service to the country.

James T. Burton, an LDS attorney from Utah, replaces Brother Dahlquist as honorary consul for Germany in Salt Lake City.

President Uchtdorf called his friend Charles “a work of art in many fields of life.”

Brother Dahlquist is, indeed, something of a Renaissance man. A lawyer by profession, he was the Church’s Young Men general president (2004–2009) and is the past president of Scouting’s Great Salt Lake Council and Salt Lake City’s Rotary Club and was the chief chaplain at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. He relishes time with family, picking his five-string banjo, and trout fishing with a well-made fly rod.

From left, Charles W. Dahlquist II, Dr. Bernd Fischer, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and James T. Burton participate in Brother Dahlquist’s retirement ceremony as honorary consul of Germany. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Scouting’s most fundamental tenets—honor, service, and kindness—define Brother Dahlquist’s service to Germany, said President Uchtdorf.

“Charles is not a shallow friend, but one who is deep and caring. … He has friends all over the world.”

In his remarks, Brother Dahlquist thanked his friends and colleagues, including his associates in Utah’s consular corps. He paid special tribute to his wife, Zella, and his five daughters.

Good will, he said, is found when nations work together with the help of the Lord.

“What a wonderful thing it would be if we would all pray for the leaders of the world and that they would make decisions that would allow us to live peacefully and treat each other kindly and respectfully.”

Brother Dahlquist said his many service opportunities afforded him opportunities to be taught and blessed by others.

Dr. Fischer lauded Brother Dahlquist for his love for youth, the German language, and his commitment to fortifying ties between the United States and Germany. He noted his diplomatic efforts during the 2002 Winter Games and his annual support of German Memorial Day in Utah.

Franz Kolb, honorary consul for Austria and a regional director in Utah’s office of international trade and diplomacy, read a letter of thanks to Brother Dahlquist from Governor Gary Herbert.

Elder Erich W. Kopischke of the Seventy (and a German) attended the event, along with emeritus General Authorities Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, and Elder Richard G. Hinckley. Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, the beloved “Candy Bomber” of the Berlin Airlift, traveled from his home in Arizona to be with Brother Dahlquist.