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Carl Elving - Key Man Behind Expansion of Mission Hospital in Quito, Ecuador,Dies at 92

September 30, 2011

Carl Elving - Key Man Behind Expansion of Mission Hospital in Quito, Ecuador,Dies at 92

September 30, 2011

(Sept. 30, 2011 - by Harold Goerzen) Carl Elving was never one to draw attention to himself. An accomplished mechanical and electrical engineer, he never batted an eye when given a menial job as a retiree volunteering at Hospital Vozandes-Shell in 1984. His job was to install hundreds of faceplates on electrical outlets and rewire various devices throughout HCJB Global Hands' new jungle hospital in Shell, Ecuador.

Carl Elving (left) with Gary Gardeen.

"At the end of the two weeks Carl came back up to Quito, visited my office and said, 'I've really been impressed with the ministry and I'd like to get more involved,'" recounted Roger Reimer who then directed the mission's Healthcare Division.

"I tried to be diplomatic about how he could help us out and asked where he could help," Reimer said of the man before him, an "old, white-haired, mild-mannered man." Elving had been recruited by electrician Johan Otterlei, and his wife, Jenny, retirees already acquainted with the ministry in Ecuador.

"Then he reached down, pulled out a portfolio, laid it on my desk and opened it up," continued Reimer. Before him lay the designs of Elving, longtime co-owner of Horty Elving and Associates, a Minneapolis design firm specializing in healthcare projects.

"Here was a company that had built more than 150 hospitals across the northern U.S.! Then he told me, 'I am the co-owner of this business,'" said Reimer, remembering his dumbfounded state and the question within him, "Why were we having him put on faceplates when he could have done so much more for us?"

Dedication of Hospital Vozandes-Quito, then
known as Rimmer Memorial Hospital, on
Oct. 12, 1955.

"In his gracious humility, he then offered his company's services to us," Reimer concluded. Unbeknownst to Elving, the mission was gearing up to launch Project Life, a 10-year, $4-million expansion of Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ) to transform it into a modern, 76-bed, full-service medical facility.

"I think Carl was God's answer to our need at a crucial time in the history of Project Life," said Gary Gardeen, then the HVQ administrator. He now serves as executive director of Covenant Village of Golden Valley where Carl lived on two different occasions and a facility that his company designed. It is part of Covenant Retirement Communities based in Skokie, Ill.
Hospital Vozandes-Quito as it looks today.

"He came along just as we were losing the option to purchase a property adjacent to the hospital for expansion," Gardeen explained. "After hearing our concern and studying the plans we had at that time, he suggested we could do something on the property we already had, and offered that he would be willing to help define what that could be. That was a whole new way of thinking for us, and it offered hope at a critical point in the project."

Reimer's younger brother, Doug, was then a recent architecture graduate. He had agreed to design the expansion so Elving offered him free access to the company's experienced healthcare architects and high-tech software. "At one point we needed a structural engineer to come to Quito to do some civil engineering, and Carl paid for that-a $50,000 value," the elder Reimer added. "Carl became the first major donor to Project Life and his generosity helped see it through to completion." 
Elving and Doug Reimer received
commemorative plates at the dedication
of Project Life in 1996.

"I was straight out of school, naïve and ready to change the world," Doug recalled. "Carl was retiring from a very successful career of hospital design, but not in any way tired. Even though he had designed hundreds of hospitals and I had designed exactly zero, he treated me like a professional with respect and as a friend. Only now after 25 years of experience in the profession, can I understand the passion that Carl had to give so much to a project that he believed in."

"Carl gave in every way he could," Doug added. "He put passion into the project with his expertise, hard work and wallet. He said that God provides-through the checkbooks of godly people. After hundreds of successful projects, this one was different. It had more meaning and had more of an impact on people who otherwise didn't have access to healthcare and God's care. I'm sure that Carl's heart was full as he thought about what he was able to give to the hospital."

Elving remained a staunch supporter of HCJB Global throughout his life. "I recall one time when we were promoting the Carapungo Clinic in Quito, and we held a pie social in the basement of Edina Covenant Church," Roger told of the event that drew nearly 200 people and raised $25,000 for HVQ's largest satellite clinic.

"Carl is an example of somebody who in his retirement years found significant involvement in a missions project with his particular skills and abilities," Roger Reimer said. "It wasn't just a one-time shot. He found involvement that was fulfilling for him and very significant for us."

When Roger thinks of Elving, words come to mind such as gracious, quiet, humble statesman, godly and generous. "He never asked for any accolades," Gardeen agreed, describing Elving as a "devoted churchman- biblically grounded and theologically informed-always growing in matters of Christian faith. Carl was skilled and dedicated to his profession while carrying a lifelong desire to serve in Christian missions. All of his many fine attributes were melded together with his willing spirit for the blessing and benefit of many people."

Elving served on numerous boards and committees in his home church and denomination as well as Covenant Retirement Communities and HVQ's Project Life, among others. "Carl was an encourager at all times; he was a delightful friend and he used his God-given capabilities to help a lot of people through a lot of different entities," Gardeen added.

Carl David Elving was born in Minneapolis on July 23, 1919. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he graduated from the University of Minnesota in engineering and became a partner with Horty Elving. He was a longtime member of the Edina and Salem Covenant Churches. During the last few years of his life he struggled with Alzheimer's disease, living at Colonial Acres Health Care Center in Golden Valley, Minn., until he died on Sept. 21 at the age of 92.

He was preceded in death by first wife, Gladys. Survivors include his wife, Marjorie; two daughters, Beverly Kvamme and Patricia Sandberg; a son, Jim Elving; 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Sources: HCJB Global, The Star Tribune