Grand Rapids, MI – The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is opening a brand new, GRPM curated exhibition on July 21, titled Ralph W. Hauenstein: A Life of Leadership based on the extraordinary life of Grand Rapidian Ralph W. Hauenstein.

COL Hauenstein was a leader in the West Michigan community, remembered for his role as a journalist, his military and intelligence service, his dedication to the Catholic faith, his entrepreneurship, and his philanthropy in Grand Rapids. Hauenstein left a lasting legacy in the United States and around the world.

The exhibition will highlight Ralph’s extraordinary life, his contributions to our nation and community, and his legacy of leadership. Interactives will allow visitors to test out writing a headline for the newspaper on an antique typewriter and try their hand at cracking a secret code. Photography from around the world bring visitors face-to-face with Ralph’s impact globally.

Ralph W. Hauenstein: A Life of Leadership will be included with general admission to the Museum, and will be located on the Museum’s third floor. The exhibit runs July 21, 2018 through January 2019.

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of: The Hauenstein Family and The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. Images and objects on loan courtesy of Brian Hauenstein unless otherwise stated. The images in this exhibition were first digitized for public display by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University. Thank you also to the National Cryptologic Museum, NSA, Washington D.C.

Ralph W. Hauenstein

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1912, Ralph’s family moved to Grand Rapids when he was 12 years old, where he graduated from Central High School in 1931. He was a public servant from his early years starting as a boy scout. Ralph was curious, inquisitive, and an exceptional storyteller, which led him to his first job as a police reporter for the Grand Rapids Press and later as a city editor with the Grand Rapids Herald. 

Ralph joined the U.S. Army in 1935, serving first with the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1941 he began working as an intelligence officer in Iceland and rose to the rank of colonel. During World War II, he was promoted to Chief of Intelligence for the European Theater of Operations under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. An important part of his experience was the liberation of the German concentration camp at Dachau. His WWII experiences opened his eyes to the need for ethical, effective world leaders.

Ralph saw first-hand that many countries face food shortages. After the war he returned to Grand Rapids and became an entrepreneur in international trade and food equipment manufacturing, designing equipment to make Goldfish Crackers. His success in business allowed for substantial philanthropic contributions in Grand Rapids. He gave generously to many local causes and established the Grace Hauenstein Library at Aquinas College, Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is an invaluable, publicly-owned institution that is home to more than 250,000 unique artifacts that tell the history of Kent County and beyond, houses the only planetarium in the region, and is responsible for protecting the Norton Indian Mounds, a national historic landmark. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, with its main location in downtown Grand Rapids, MI at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For additional information including hours of operation, admission fees and exhibit/event listings, please visit