The Arthur Carlson Scholarship is open to one seminary student per year at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago who is dealing with a physical disability. Special consideration will be given to seminarians with loss of vision. This scholarship is from an endowed fund given to St. James Lutheran Church in Kansas City, MO by the many people whose life Art touched. The value of the scholarship is based on the amount available in this endowed fund, but typically will be between $500 and $1000 per year. Applications will be accepted all year but given out before fall term starts.
Art Carlson was born on July 24, 1917 in Minneapolis, MN. He was baptized by Dr. C.J. Petri at the Augustana Lutheran Church of Minneapolis. From the beginning of his life he was nurtured in true faith, in the home and through the church. He was confirmed at First Lutheran Church of St. Paul in 1932. His confirmation pastor was Dr. J.P. Milton who as Arthur said, “took the true shepherd’s interest in my soul”. Dr. Milton guided Art’s early spiritual life and continued to do so for many years.
When Art turned 13 years he became a carrier salesman for the Minneapolis Journal and later for the St. Paul Pioneer Press / Dispatch. He worked for 10 years, working 20 hour weeks, and earned enough in salary and scholarships from Pioneer Press / Dispatch to pay his way through college.
He attended the Lutheran Bible Institute of Minneapolis and then received his BA from The University of Minnesota. After working for the St. Paul Pioneer Press / Dispatch in the office, the spiritual decision was made to go Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois. The choice was very difficult for Art. He always thought of himself as being, as all men, inadequate to deal with God. As Art said: “I love people, and seek to see in them the limitless possibilities for the kingdom of God. Christianity has the answer for the world’s needs, reconciliation with God and men.”
After seminary, Art was called to St. Paul’s in Ansonia, Connecticut, Trinity Lutheran in Washington’s Depot, Connecticut, Gethsemane Lutheran in Brockton, Mass and Christ Lutheran Church in Natick, Mass. He also received his Ph.D. At Boston University during his time on the East coast.
In 1962, Art and his wife Eleanor moved to Kansas City,Missouri were he became the Chaplain of Trinity Lutheran Hospital. During his time at Trinity he served at several churches as an interim pastor including St. James Lutheran were he was a member.
In 1975, Art received a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship for an exchange lectureship in pastoral counselling at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He was preparing to leave for Helsinki when his life took a new direction. He noticed a problem occasionally when reading and went to have his eyes checked. After the examination, the doctor “got real quiet” and told him that he had a tumor in his eye and would more than likely lose the eye. They recommended that they remove the eye so the cancer didn’t spread. When Arthur left the office and went into his car he said to himself. “It isn’t somebody else. It’s you this time.” The removal of his eye caused little pain and he commented “One of the plusses of the experience: My cornea was in good condition and they placed it in the eye of a school teacher. She and I became great buddies before we left the hospital.”
Later when he was checked again, some deterioration was found in the right eye (unrelated to the other eye). They tried many treatments, including early use of laser and freezing to attach the retina to the eye, but the lining of his eye was so thin, it wouldn’t stay attached. He went to Boston for a possible transplant, but the operation was too risky and more than likely wouldn’t have saved his sight. Three weeks later, he was not seeing at all. Before he had gone to Boston, he asked the Fulbright officials to extend his grant to the autumn, “But I haven’t heard of any Fulbright’s going to blind persons,” he said.
He gave up his Fulbright and went back to being The Director of Chaplaincy Services at Trinity Lutheran Hospital. He learned how to get around the hospital on his own even after bumping into more than a few doors. And his first major concern was how not to “bop people with my cane.” He continued to work at Trinity until his retirement in 1984.
Art wouldn’t let his blindness slow him down. He would travel to the LSTC on his own. This meant getting off an airplane in Chicago, finding a cab, and trusting the driver to get him to the right location, without being taken advantage of. When asked about this, he would say, “You just got to have faith.”
Art never let his blindness get in his way of doing things. Except as he would jokingly add: Drive a car. “That would be catastrophic for those around me!” He enjoyed talking to children about being blind and welcomed any opportunity to be escorted around buildings by the little ones. He also loved to talk about his beloved University of Minnesota football team and the Minnesota State Fair. When he talked about paying for college by being a paper carrier, listeners were always amazed. The stories that he would tell were always interesting, always knowledgeable and always heartfelt.
If you had the great opportunity to know Art, you should consider yourself one of the lucky ones. This scholarship is in his honor.
In 2016 the balance of the Arthur Carlson Memorial Scholarship was transferred directly to Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC) http://www.lstc.edu/ where it still resides as a part of their overall accessible scholarships for special needs. If you know of someone attending LSTC who fits the criteria above, have them contact the Financial Aid office of LSTC directly to apply for funds.”