We believe Tuscarora is made up of the collective lives and stories of those who have experienced the ministry here and become a part of the Tuscarora family. Tales of Tuscarora is an attempt to collect these stories in order to paint a picture of who we are. George Akselsen, in his service to this ministry through God's grace, exemplifies the impact that comes from a life lived in faithfulness to the Lord.
George Akselsen served as a member of the board of directors for 33 years from 1981-2014. During that time he helped Tuscarora grow from a fledgling ministry to the facility of today. Our board members all possess different gifts - and George had the gift of making each and every member of the staff feel valued and cared for. George would seek out those in every role, from kitchen staff to housekeepers, from maintenance to the front desk, to see how they were doing and visit with them.
Brian Abrahamsen, our current Executive Director, shares this experience with so many others. 30 years ago when he started at Tuscarora as a dishwasher George would come find him and ask him how he was enjoying his experience on staff. This gesture at the beginning of Brian's journey into leadership was important in making him feel valued and supported in his work here.
This time spent with each person was so memorable because George possessed the gift of encouragement. Whether he was on the grounds for a board meeting or as a guest for the Midweek Retreat he would always bring humor and heart, and he was able to lighten the mood with a joke. He was also fond of walking around the dining room when he was a guest and forming new relationships with anyone he met. He would almost always find that he had a connection to someone.
He was also a valuable member of the Board for his wisdom and discernment. He was comfortable being the lone dissenting vote on an issue if that is how he felt called. However, he trusted the judgement of the group and even if they disagreed with him he would support the direction that was taken.
George wasn't just a valuable Board member, he was a loving husband, and a beloved father and grandfather. His Christian leadership to his family has left a lasting legacy. His children and grandchildren continue to serve in many areas of ministry. Most notably for the staff of Tuscarora, we get the opportunity to watch his grandchildren serve as counselors for Junior Week and Teen Week each summer. His legacy will continue into the future - and we look forward to seeing more of his grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren walk in his footsteps.
We never truly know our own impact during our time on earth - but we can say with certainty that many people have come to know Christ, or have recommitted their lives to Him through God's work through the ministry of Tuscarora - work which George dedicated his service to. Today, George is hearing from his Savior, "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:23)
Our deepest sympathies to Lois, Laura, Linda, and Ken and their families.