A tragic circumstance and a former employee are part of the story behind a Luther Collision & Glass scholarship named in his honor.
Collision & Glass employee Michael Habte of Brooklyn Park was killed in 2011 in the breakroom of a grocery store in Brooklyn Park where he also worked. According to news reports, he and a female employee of the store were murdered by another employee who was off duty. The suspect then killed himself after being pursued by police, according to news reports.
“We couldn’t even believe when we heard it,” said Rob Vovk, estimator and customer service manager at Luther Collision and Glass in Plymouth. Vovk said police reports stated that he went back to the break room to protect the woman and both were shot.
A memorable young man
“He was probably one of the most respectful young men I’ve ever met in my life, one of those kids who, when you meet him, you go ‘Wow,’” Vovk said.
The annual Michael Habte Scholarship provides $2,000 towards tuition at either of the Hennepin Technical College schools. Habte attended Hennepin Tech prior to being hired by Luther Auto.
Vovk initially heard about him while serving on an advisory board for the auto body program at North Hennepin Tech. One of the instructors had put in a recommendation for the young man.
Love for cars, and family
Habte was growing his body work knowledge and had a love for cars, Vovk explained. He was working on the body and mechanical parts of a Nissan at home with a friend. The manager said Habte also went out of his way to help his single mother. “He was a very well rounded young man, and very supportive of his family.”
Vovk said the idea to name the scholarship for Habte came from Marty Wojciechowski, who is in sales with the Plymouth location. “Just because he was such a great person. Everyone at the school who had any contact with him thought he was the greatest too,” the manager said. It also helped give merit to the scholarship at the school.
Luther employs many graduates of the Hennepin Tech system, and Vovk’s relationship with the school spans some 14 years.