Class of '41
October 2001

Dear Classmates:

            On the wall in our Heritage Room bath near the orange hot tub hangs a green-framed calendar from my childhood.  It is hallmarked Linder & Swanson, General Merchandise & Hardware, Dunnell, Minnesota.  A fresh-green, serene picture of a meadow brook and birches, curling smoke from a home chimney.  Contentment.

            The calendar pages begin January 1929.

            The message:  “Whichever way the wind doth blow.  Some heart is glad to have it so.  So blow it east or blow it west.  The wind that blows, that wind is best.”

            My Dad’s store is photographed in the brown frame below.  The Glass Block - Callerstrom Building, clerks out front, horse-drawn buggy hitched off to one side.

            I had reason to remember in detail these sights and remember the days they elicited.  This summer’s Dunnell (pop. 187) centennial was the achievement of generations of friends, neighbors and relatives who worked hard for several years to plan and expedite this Homecoming.  However friendly the interchange of rememberings, the sense of the passing and loss of a way of life hangs over each day’s walk.

            Let’s go back once again to Morning Praise in Christ Chapel – this misty, moisty morning when cloudy is the weather.  It is Wednesday, September 19, 2001.

            I have quoted to you before the lines from the In the Shadow of Your Wings song in the Gather book (GIA) the words which are so meaningful in trying times.  Today the Chapel Choir conducted by Patricia Kazarow sang This is my Father’s World arr. by Paul Christiansen.  The closing words #554 (LBW) “Oh let me not forget, though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the victor yet.”  In closing the service the Taize plea lingers in the air:  “Stay with me.  Watch and pray.  Stay with me.  Watch and pray.”

            Our new chaplain, Rachel Larson, presided today, and David Fienan was at the organ for a postlude of Fugue in F major (Handel).

            On my misty, moisty walk home I stopped by Jim Gilbert’s office in the Arboretum to deliver the last two issues of our Nature Conservancy magazine.  This gave me an excuse to check on our maple tree (Acer saccharum) given by our class at our 45th Anniversary in 1986.  It’s just beginning to turn color.  I had counted on our Reunion visit last May that we would enjoy other ’41 gifts.  But it rained!

            A week later on September 26 we had October’s bright blue weather.  The goldenrod brushes over the garden steps, Big Blue Stem grasses bronze in the warm sunshine in our tiny prairie garden.  We’ve given away half a dozen bags of our Concord grapes after making our own jelly.  Prunings from the vines have been woven into wreaths by my creative husband.  Chet has planted a hundred bulbs – tulips, narcissi, grape hyacinth and others.  And we tucked away in Martin’s dorm “fridge” bulbs for forcing.  Bittersweet orange is the color of our own red maple in the front yard.  Our Red Splendor Crabtree has loads of tiny apples for the birds.  An orange snow fence on the west of our garden is in place where the tornado destroyed our protective grove of fifty years.

The Gustavian Weekly headline for September 21 “Gustavus Stands Strong” cites the candlelight vigil and a teach-in that united the community.  The back page is a full-color American flag and the motto “UNITED WE STAND.“  There is, of course, daily chapel.  Wednesday, September 26, Morning Praise service bulletin gave the schedule for the Taize retreat October 12-14 at Gustavus – “an autumn weekend of reflection and renewal of challenge and support.  “There are ecumenical sponsors by more than seventeen Minnesota groups and denominations.  Led by Brother John and Brother Pedro from Taize, France, here is a call to community, to peace, and reconciliation.

            Chapel at Homecoming, September 22, included a memorial service for a hundred and ten Gusties, including some members of our class which we remembered at our May Reunion – Alice Baver and Stan Swanson.  A recent addition was Walter L. Swanson, Duluth, Minnesota, May 3, 2001.  He is survived by his wife Dee, two sons, Dale Swanson, Yourba Linda, CA, and Donald Swanson, Elk River, MN.  Walter was a retired accountant for the Duluth, Mesabi and Iron Range Railroad.

            Luverne Johnson Sellstrom, Spicer, MN, is making headlines for her personal, good-humored way of telling her experiences.  This time she tells of confusion with other Gustie names like hers:  LaVerne "Batch" Johnson, and LaVerne Johnson Lofgren ’42, (West Central Tribune, Willmar, MN July 31, 2001).

            Joyce (Westrom) and the late Fred Hilary are remembered for the starring team ministry they brought to Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis 1954-1978:  Joyce as organist and Fred as choir director.  Their team ministry resulted in innovative Christmas programs and in a number of “firsts” for Central Lutheran Church choirs.  (“Calling Forth the Glory of Music” by Helen Klanderud, in Grand Central at the Heart of the City – February 2001).

            Charles Lusk, Borrego Springs, CA, called September 15 to greet us as they visited his aunt who celebrated her 92nd  birthday in Minneapolis.  Among activities still absorbing Charles and wife, Bea, are Meals on Wheels and Noon Senior Center meals.

            Just back from three weeks in Europe, Blanche Isenberg Pergol, St. Cloud, MN, left for Israel September 4.  How did she get home after September 11?  We are awaiting an account of her adventures.

            Paul Dacklin, Warner Robins, GA, wonders whether any Gusties were involved in the New York-Washington tragedies.  The Airforce base where he lives is buttoned down, tight security, concrete barriers.  Paul was at Gustavus for the Heritage Partners luncheon September 29 and for Nobel on October 2 and 3.

Families of four generations of distinguished Gusties provided interesting heritage stories as the Eckman Mall was celebrated September 22.  On the same day the Johns Family Courtyard outside the west entry to the Jackson Campus Center was also dedicated.  These wonderful, inviting green spaces of flowers and trees provide relaxation and a gracious invitation to dine or rest.

            Eight new tennis courts in front of the Swanson Center are now named as the Brown Outdoor Tennis Complex.  This is the gift of Wayne and Sandra Brown, loyal supporters of Gustavus tennis programs since their son, Greg ’87, came to Gustavus.  While at Gustavus, Greg, was a varsity tennis player.  His wife, Judy (Gniffke) Brown is also a member of the class of ’87.  Pictured in the dedication program in the Gallery of Champions of coaches and players from 1920 to 1970 are faces familiar to us:  P.M.“Skartie” Skartvedt, Rube Waltman ’40, Gary Lawson ’62 and others.  Gary is of special interest to us at 754 Valley View because he trapped pocket gophers in our garden back in his high school days.  Now retired, Gary has been honored by having a gym named after him in the Albuquerque, NM, school system where he taught for 33 years.  He is the son of Rud and Del Lawson.  Rud was vice president for finance and treasurer of the College for many years prior to his retirement in 1976.  During much of that time Del was the secretary in the athletic department.

            Thursday, September 29 - Second Wind.  Chet just called me out of the kitchen sink to come and see the full moon rising above the valley – the perfect end to a perfect day.  In the morning we were visited by four very helpful Gustie seniors – a G.I.V.E. team (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors).  They were assigned to us from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Their job was to assist us in fall cleanup work.  We gave them an assignment list of eighteen separate chores – window washing, tree pruning, weeding and much else.  The girls were Nicole Barondeau ’02, Washburn, ND, Amelia Greiner ’02, Omaha, NE, Alison Jones ’02, Colton, SD, Shari Kiehnbaum ’02, Shoreview, MN.

            This noon we ate a delicious lunch in Banquet Room B of the Jackson Center where the College, hosting the Heritage Partners, recognized thirty-five new members of the Partnership.  At our table sat one new member, Paul H. Dacklin of Warner Robins, GA, who is remaining in St. Peter for the Nobel Conference October 2-3.  Also at our table were Ruth and Hartley Nordin ’44 who live in Minneapolis.  Hartley told me about his sister, Eunice Nordin Gordon’s, husband Stuart’s death in May (Poway, CA).  We send our concern and sympathy to Eunie.  Other members of our class who are Heritage Partners include:  Robert G. and Ruth Bostrom Esbjornson, St. Peter, MN; Lucille Westerdahl Hope, Bellevue, WA; Coral Carter Nordstrom, Sun City West, AZ; Blanche A. and Angelo F. Pergol, St. cloud, MN; Elnora and Ray Soderquist, Kearney, NE.  On the memorial list of 163 members are Alice Baver and Ruth Erickson (Mrs. Ed) Johnson.  Gustavus recognizes the members of the Gustavus Heritage Partners for including the College as a beneficiary in a will, trust, insurance policy, or annuity, or for establishing a designated endowment fund at Gustavus.

            Monday, October 1.  Another dedication, meaningfully done, was that of the Barbro Osher Svenska Huset, College home of Swedish students and American students interested in Scandinavian studies.  Mrs. Osher is the Honorary Swedish Consul in San Francisco.  She works tirelessly to strengthen cultural and educational ties between Sweden and the United States.  The Swedish House adjoins the Carlson International Center.  Anita Graffman, Swedish artist who came over for the dedication, crafted the dramatic tapestries for the House.  Professor Roland Thorstensson, of the Scandinavian Studies Department, called on Swedish majors of ’76,’88 and ’99 to respond.  They shared memories of their days in the Swedish House.  The latest resident recalled being in the house when it was destroyed by the tornado of 1998.

            Our campus walks sometimes take us to Old Main, to rest a moment on one of the benches (1967).  There is gold lichen for adornment.  The old Mill Stone needs attention, and Old Main does, too, in spite of its imposing grandeur, dedicated October 31, 1876.  I’m glad to find that its clock keeps good time, binging or bonging as needed.  Hello Walk is a wonderful place to be in the Fall of 2001.

The Nobel Conference was held here this past week with an estimated attendance of 6,000 visitors.  Five provocative Nobel Prize winners participated; four on campus and one via live TV.  The general topic:  “What is left to be discovered?” was one, which stretched your mind.  This is an experience in the fast lane―with opportunities to question the visiting speakers.  It was a pleasure to visit between lectures with A. Harold and Grace (Palmer ’38) Peterson, Chisago City, MN.

            I wish you were all here to view and participate as Gustavus activities occur.  There are always many good things on the campus―exhibitions in the Richard Hillstrom Museum of Art in the Jackson Campus Center, the extension of the Arboretum where trees are being planted in a new addition to the Arb, activities relating to Parents Weekend right now which included three concerts by band, orchestra and massed choirs in Christ Chapel this afternoon.

            Recent welcome additions to our larder are Georgia pecans from Paul Dacklin and freshly prepared horseradish from Louie Benson, Watertown, MN.  We look forward to seeing Louie again when he returns for the Gustavus Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet where for years he has been a member in good standing.

It’s time to sign off like Garrison Keillor: “Be well.  Do good work.  And keep in touch.”

            It’s time to be thinking about your annual gift to the Gustavus Alumni Fund.  Phonorama has started – October 15 through 25.  Help!  Help!  Here is the calling information:

  • October 15, 16 and 18, Hilton Garden Inn, 1050 Gramsie Road, Shoreview, MN
  • October 22, 23 and 25, Radisson Hotel South, 7800 Normandale Boulevard, Minneapolis
  • October 17 and 24, Banquet Room, Jackson Campus Center, Gustavus Adolphus College

Hors d’ oeuvres are served from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m., calling is from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. with a Gustie social hour following the calling.  Call toll-free 866-487-3863 or send an email to alumni@gustavus.edu to register for Phonorama.

Or volunteer to be Guest Writer for the next class letter, target date January 15, 2002.  When Chet did the ‘Prexy’s Desk’ guest letter we got more responses from you than from any letter before that.  You can see in the last Gustavus Quarterly that the desk is well and strong still.  Some things still endure.  Some people do too.  Thank God for that.

            Paul Granlund’s Saint Francis stands on the chapel lawn gazing up at the sun.  Let us close this letter with his blessing:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;

And where there is darkness, joy.

O, divine Master; grant that I may not so much

Seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to

Understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Attributed to Saint Francis (c 1181-1226)

Till we meet again, ’41

Marian Swanson Johnson

1941 Class Agent