Linnea Torkelsen is a name synonymous with Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) in Spangle, Wash. She has worked with a number of principals and business managers to assist in miracle after miracle enabling students to attend UCA — an area she will no doubt continue on a personal level.
“She has an incredible gift for relationships and connections with others,” says Florence Lacey, UCA registrar. “If you’ve ever received her ‘hello, friend’ phone calls, you know she genuinely means it.”
During her 23 years at UCA, Torkelsen coordinated HOPE projects and Prayer PATCH ministry and raised countless dollars for tuition assistance and campus beautification in her role as alumni and development director.
“UCA students, staff, alumni and constituents have been richly blessed by the God-given talents of Linnea Torkelsen,” says Larry Marsh, Upper Columbia Conference education superintendent. “Her willingness to be used by God has touched the lives of so many alumni and current students, and yes, her influence will continue in years to come to shape the lives of future attendees and graduates of Upper Columbia Academy.”
Most recently in her role as development director, Torkelsen completed a capital campaign for the new Wallace Dining Commons. It was a special project for her in more ways than one, considering she met her husband, Max, in a cafeteria. She always said a cafeteria is more than just a place to eat — memories are made there. That obviously includes relationships.
“During the alumni weekend this past October, we honored Linnea for her years of service at UCA,” says John Winslow, UCA principal. “While we acknowledged the $12 million she raised during her tenure to benefit the school and its students, words or gifts cannot express the appreciation for what she has done to connect our Yakima Valley Academy and Upper Columbia Academy families. This school was built with a miracle, and we continue to see those miracles today because of the prayers of Linnea and our students, staff, alumni and constituents.”
When asked about her time at UCA, her greatest delight is thinking about all the kids who have received or are receiving a superb Adventist education, who wouldn’t have had it otherwise.
“I am so grateful to have witnessed firsthand God working in and through generous hearts to provide for our school’s needs,” Torkelsen says. “Once in a while, He answered our prayers early on or before we prayed, but more often it was an exhilarating, exactly-when-we-need-it, last-minute answer. My faith has grown here by leaps and bounds.”
Eric Johnson, the new vice principal for development and alumni relations, looks forward to experiencing those answered prayers. He coordinates his first alumni weekend Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and is anxious to meet the many alumni and friends of UCA.
Johnson and his wife, Trish, have two children: Brianna, 18, and Blake, 15. Brianna will be a freshman at Walla Walla University, and Blake is a sophomore at UCA.
The Johnsons moved from the Fresno, Calif., area, where Eric was principal of Fresno Adventist Academy. Highlights of his resume include being Palau Mission Academy principal, Atlanta Adventist Academy development director and owner of a real estate development company in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The UCA “Alumni Echoes” summer 2016 newsletter shares more information about Torkelsen, Johnson and the original land purchase for UCA. You can view it online under the Alumni tab and find out more information about alumni weekend at www.ucaa.org/alumni.
Tamara Michalenko Terry
Upper Columbia Academy communication coordinator
Tamara Terry has also written for the Gleaner as a freelance writer in Spokane, Wash.