Alumnus Charles Kandt said his time at the university “deepened and strengthened his faith”

Published by Amy Crawford 1 month ago on Wed, Jan 10, 2024 8:38 AM
Charles Kandt '71, ministers to people in Ukraine with Christian Relief International.
Charles Kandt '71, ministers to people in Ukraine with Christian Relief International.

Charles Alfred Kandt ’71 graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska (previously known as Concordia Teachers College) in May 1972, although he was actually in the class of 1971. He wanted to serve as a Lutheran school teacher, but his motivation to attend the university was sparked by both young love and glowing tales from others who had attended Concordia. 

“I attended an LCMS elementary school - Christ Lutheran School in La Mesa, California -  and in high school, I decided to be a LCMS teacher.  I chose Seward over River Forest because I was enamored with a young lady who was already going there.  This choice was supported by stories of good times and pranks about Concordia told by Nat Lucas, who was one of my favorite elementary teachers and a mentor.  One story that stands out in my mind is that of guys putting a Volkswagen Beetle inside Weller Hall one night. I do not know if that was true, but it was a story recounted to me in the 1960's about something that happened in the 1950s,” he laughed. 

Kandt received a bachelor of science degree in education from the university.  Aside from the prescribed courses required to receive his teaching certificate, he also majored in theology. He later attended Creighton University School of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 1977. 

“My experience at Concordia Teachers College was very good with many favorite memories, although it was, of course, not without challenges, academic and personal,” he said.   

His favorite memories include Dr. William Preuss' Special Friends Program, where Kandt became a 'big brother‘ to Tim Preuss, who is now provost of the university.  Kandt remembers Dr. Bill Preuss’ calming voice when counseling and mentoring, and Judy Preuss’ warm home and mothering.  Kandt also fondly remembers traveling on HUB (Help Us Build) weekends and evangelizing in Nebraska and Iowa with professor Fred Naumann.  Kandt was among the students who initiated an extra-curricular program called Impact under the guidance of Dean of Students Chuck Dull.  He also belonged to a small, remarkable, theological discussion group with Dr. Manfred Kwiran. 

“There were moments of revelation and encouragement with too many faculty members to mention, who each impacted me in a positive way,” he said. “My professors helped me grow as an individual, encouraging me as I fumbled along, or so I imagine myself in retrospect.  I was led to go into the DCE ministry while working with Chuck Dull in Impact and as one of his dorm counselors at Moffitt House.” 

In various ways, his time at Concordia prepared and strengthen his resolve in his life's journey, which included legal, political, military and retirement chapters, he said. 

“Primarily, it contributed by deepening and strengthening my faith, and teaching me more about its application in running the race,” he said. “Now, unexpectedly, I draw upon my training in education as I serve on the school board of my church's LCMS school.” 

Concordia also gave Kandt particular help in recovering from a crisis in faith.  After his sophomore year he took a year off to study, work and travel in Europe and Africa.   

“I returned with questions about how a God could allow such a corrupt and sinful world to exist,” he explained.  “Chuck Dull suggested I talk with a new theology professor, a young Dr. Manfred Kwiran.  The Holy Spirit worked on me through wrestling with such questions under Kwiran’s tutorage for more than a year, to develop a deeper faith and understanding that has sustained me through many challenges that followed.”   

Kandt and Kwiran remain in touch today, with Kandt having visited Kwiran and his wife Ute several times in Germany.  

“He still enjoys teaching me, sometimes bewildering me with a smile on his face,” said Kandt. 
Following graduation from Concordia, Kandt received a call to serve as a Director of Christian Education at Timothy Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  He was there from February 1972 until August 1973.  He enjoyed working with the youth, starting a new program, called ‘Crucial’ (following the lines of Concordia’s Impact,) and a youth paper called, ‘Balaam’s Ass.’ 

“After leaving Timothy due to a divergence of ministry visions between the pastor and myself, I obtained a position of administrative assistant in the Pottawattamie County Attorney's Office in Council Bluffs while sending resumes to churches and districts for another DCE position.  A year later I began law school at Creighton University in Omaha.  Prior to feeling called to church work, I wanted to be a lawyer.  Having received a miraculous LSAT score, I felt God's concurrence in pursuing law.” 

While in law school, he met Canda Sue Boseck on a blind date and was immediately smitten.  They were married one week before mid-term finals his senior year…not recommended timing, he said. 

Upon graduating from Creighton, he worked as an associate for a law firm in Council Bluffs, before being appointed city attorney for the city of Beatrice, Nebraska in January 1979.   

“I held that position for two years, until January 1981 when I was appointed to fill a vacancy as the Lincoln County Attorney in North Platte, Nebraska,” he said. 

In November 1982, he was elected to his first full term as Lincoln County Attorney and was re-elected in 1986.  While Lincoln County Attorney, he was active in the Association of County Officials in statewide work.  Drug cases, which he prosecuted and later argued before the Nebraska Supreme Court, established standards in drug and conspiracy law for Nebraska that remain in effect to this day.  In 1989, he was hired by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions to be an Assistant United States Attorney in Mobile, Alabama.   

“I was a prosecutor in his office for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for ten years, after which I started doing appellate cases, representing the United States before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  My children have been to more appellate court arguments than most attorneys, enough so the clerk of the court would ask about them!” he said. 

In 2003, he left the U.S. Attorney's Office in Mobile to become Assistant Inspector General for Inspections for TVA, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  He later became Assistant Inspector General for Investigations and moved to Knoxville, where he later became legal counsel to the Inspector General of TVA until his retirement in 2018.  

While serving as city attorney in Beatrice, Nebraska, he and his wife joined the Nebraska Army National Guard.  

“She was a percussionist and the vocalist for the band - she is in a band photo displayed in the band shell at the Armory in Seward - and I became a JAG Officer.  When we moved to Alabama, I transferred to the Army Reserves where I stayed another 20 years, for a total of 28 years,” he said.  "Over my military career, I was deployed to Germany in maneuvers opposite Soviet Forces, to Korea, to Egypt three times, to Kuwait and finally to Iraq for a year in Operation Iraqi Freedom.”   

Since his retirement, Kandt prioritizes spending time with his family, volunteering at his church, promoting LCMS school endowment programs, restoring his 1971 Volkswagen Beetle, traveling internationally and continuing his studies of theology and the German language. He and his wife have three adult children and three grandchildren.   

Their daughter Elizabeth Ann Powell lives with her husband Adam in Manhattan.  She has multiple degrees and works in leadership training at a large architectural firm. Son Christopher Charles is presently a computer science student at Concordia Nebraska and is married to Concordia Nebraska coed Abby Moriah Nugent.  Daughter Anna Marie Allmon, an artist and graduate from Savanna School of Art and Design, is a mom of three and lives with her husband Michael in Georgia.   

“All three of our children have full lives, already with a catalogue of adventures of their own, and all are solid in their faith and reliance on our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Kandt.  

Retirement also brought Kandt the opportunity to experience missions-focused travel. In August 2023, he traveled to Ukraine with a team from Crisis Relief International (CRI), a Christian relief organization purposed to bringing the Gospel to people in crisis.  

“When the opportunity came to be a Christian brother to those dodging missiles and bombs, and fighting for their independence, I volunteered to go and be that,” he said. “No easy task. With Crisis Relief International, you must first go through training on how to appropriately assist people in crisis, and to minister them in Christ's name, addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Few in crisis deny an offer of prayer. They seek God's help when they truly realize they are helpless in their predicament…as we all are, but which we oft forget or do not realize.”   

The group also delivered food and supplies to the villagers and soldiers. 

 “We traveled to the eastern front lines, spending nights in Slovyansk, less than ten miles from the Russian lines.  CRI team members took turns addressing gatherings of villagers, speaking with the aid of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) interpreters from Kyiv.  The group also visited soldiers at their barracks and at impromptu locations,” he added. “We also visited a military hospital, sitting with them, praying with them, listening to those who felt like talking.   Many soldiers had been patients in the hospital several times, only to return to the front line units as soon as possible.  The hospital was secluded, and surround by mine fields.  It was an experience I will never forget.” 

He said it has been good to reconnect with Concordia Nebraska while visiting his son on campus, attending Christmas at Concordia and enjoying his 50th class reunion a few years ago.   

“Concordia has a permanent place on my prayer list,” he said. 

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