My portrait of 100 year old Ralph Hauenstein on the occasion of his “Ultra Secret” birthday celebration at Van Andel Institute.
There are many nights where I feel really lucky to do what I do…and it was an incredible honor for me to take Mr. Hauenstein’s formal portrait. To say he has lived an amazing life would be an understatement…it’s downright Forrest Gump-ian.
During the Second World War, Mr. Hauenstein rose to the rank of colonel and served under General Dwight D. Eisenhower as chief of the Intelligence Branch in the Army’s European theater of operations. He was one of very few people who had the highest classification of “Ultra Secret” document clearance (several levels higher than “Top Secret”) and was privy to all military intelligence pertaining to the European theater.
After the war, Mr. Hauenstein became very successful in international trade and has spent much of the last three decades giving generously to many Grand Rapids institutions and non-profits.
On top of that he’s still one heckuva dancer and has a love for Finlandia vodka…he was still going strong on the dance floor after 11 pm the night of his party.