Class of '41
October 2004

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be

Dear Classmates ’41

Can you believe it?

Bombarded by the press―and TV ads―our vocabularies have exploded with surcease for osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s diseases, peripheral neuropathy, macular degeneration and cataracts, heart bypass, esophageal reflux, breast and prostate cancer, emphysema, asthma…ad infinitum.  I hear these words from you, too.

Plagued by phone calls of voting surveys, debates, “I approve of this ad…,” dire reports for Iraq…  There is no fun or satisfaction in thoughts like those, which pester us, accuse us, and shake us up.

Some of us seek understanding in routes like the “Science of Aging,” Nobel Conference at Gustavus earlier this month; or the services of seminars by ISJ Hospital, Mankato.  Or churches and community reading/discussion groups or causes like American Lung Assn., Habitat for Humanity, Nature Conservancy…The mailbox is full of crying needs.

Let’s think about something else.

I read over and over again my letter dated March 22, 1989, from Harry Fredricksen, Florence Myrum Fredricksen’s late love.  He advises:  “Don’t become old, Pinky.  It is a nuisance.”

Our release may be ameliorated by the “gave back” response.  We read about or have a confronting reaction to what others have found.  The Gustavus Quarterly is full of personal revelations of new ways to respond!

You read about Eddie ’42 and Peg (Akerson ’42) Johnson and their charitable gift annuity (p. 34 of Fall 2004 Gustavus Quarterly).

I am delighted to tell you about what Earl Carlson of Brainerd, MN, who, with his wife Gladys (Lundberg ’42)“give back” in the form of a scholarship based on need.  Their story of Mr. Treasurer Sjostrand and Gladys on the college costs struggle is so heart-warming.  We look forward to their own account telling how it works.  They were at Elderberry Camp at Green Lake on October 22-23.

This is one of the ways Gustavus Heritage Partnership makes possible for more Gusties to make it through college.

Others who have discovered this route to “give back” to Gustavus (580 current partners plus 200 on the memorial Honor Roll) are eight from the Class of ’41:  Paul Dacklin, Robert and Ruth (Bostrom) Esbjornson, Lucille Westerdahl Hope, Chester and Marian (Swanson) Johnson and family, Angelo and Blanche (Isenberg) Pergol, Elnora (Swanson) and Ray Soderquist.

The Planned Gift Maturities from 20 Gustavus Heritage Partners’ gifts matured during this past fiscal year, equaling a total gift of $1,478,784.  Fantastic!

“Gustavus Heritage Partnership members carry forward the high standards and tradition of the past.  They help ensure the future of Gustavus, its faculty, its students and its educational opportunities.  This partnership includes donors who have made planned gifts to Gustavus in one or more of the following ways:

  • Bequests
  • Charitable gift annuities
  • Gifts of retirement plan assets
  • Living and testamentary trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Charitable lead trusts
  • Gifts of real estate
  • Life insurance
  • A named endowed scholarship or fund

You can give investments away to Gustavus but retain income at a higher rate of interest for your lifetime.  How do you go about it?

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Write the Office of Gift Planning or phone 800/726-6192 or 507/933-7512 or you can go on-line at:  gustavus.edu.

Good, Let’s move on ―”the best is yet to be” ― better believe it!  Take a look again at the contents on the pages of the Quarterly Fall 2004.  There’s a superb view of Gustavus now from the Prairie Overlook and Boulder Circle, the golden prairie grasses, white Christ Chapel spire, handsome science halls, and extensive lawn greenery…two students studying.  That’s the scene we found last Friday, as we were leaf strolling in “The Arb.”  A student sitting on a boulder was facing west monitoring the sunset as he was sketching its many moods―for a science project.  Environmental studies?

What I want to review with you, too, is page 34 in the Legacy section with the great photo of C. Eddie and Peggy (Akerson) Johnson ’42 ’42.  Their gift of appreciated stock created a charitable gift annuity, which will create an endowed scholarship to help speech and theatre students who need financial assistance to attend Gustavus.

These Johnsons are among those who are “Heritage Partners,” a distinguished and recognized group of alumni who believe in the mission and vision of the now and in the near future―one that ensures that generations to come will be able to have such rewarding and memorable experiences at Gustavus to carry on the tradition of guiding students in lives of responsible leadership and service.

In addition, we find ’41 Class members “Securing Old Main’s future.” Because of the gifts to date, plans are being made to renovate Old Main beginning in February 2005.  Participation by members of the Class of ’41 include:  Edsel ’42 and Mignon Carter Johnson and Carter family members (Coral Carter Nordstrom) honoring their mother Augusta Johnson Carter ’13.

And from Hartley ’44 and Ruth Nordin and Eunice Nordin Gordon, Gordon Family Trust, who made their pledge in honor of their father Emil Nels Nordin.

Let’s say it another way!  When you give a pledge to Gustavus on Phonorama, you’re giving the gift of Gustavus Adolphus College to students for years to come.  Eighty percent of current students are dependent on financial need.

My Phonorama calling was really slow this season.  You folks must be travelling―or have moved.  I called some characters seven times.  It was worth it.

Sammy (Lucille Samuelson Agard) in Ames, IA has 26 kids in her family―6 children, 12 grandchildren, 4 greats.  Can anybody top that?  Because of her hyped acute hearing, arthritic fingers and failing eyes I felt Sammy has limited activity, but she had her usual gracious acceptance of a caller’s visit.

Don and Lois (Edstrom ’49) Anderson (Eagan, MN) listened to the debate between Bush and Kerry. 

Louie Benson (Watertown, MN) and Adeline noted their 60th wedding anniversary last year on November 4―same day as we, in 2004.  What can we learn from that?

Bob Burggren (Red Wing, MN) tells an interesting tale of his renovation of his great grandfather’s Sears and Roebuck table (1850’s).  He lives in a townhouse full of antiques and has a special technique with “funny money” to have his family members “bid” on chosen heirlooms.  We’d like to hear more about the road recycler (patents pending).

Maynard Carlson (Peoria, IL) asked about Clint Gass (Greencastle, IN), the latter who is scanning slides, digitizing 5000.  Maynard has sold their Whitefish cabin in Minnesota, but goes fishing in Alaska.

Bessie Hobart Chenault (Austin, TX) lives in a wheelchair.  She has outside help, four sons on Saturdays and a daughter-in-law who washes windows.  Her credo:  One day at a time.  Her second husband died a year ago.

Paul Dacklin (Warner Robins, GA) is feeling fine, goes to Macon three times a week for “heart work” and camaraderie (seven years at it).  There were 38 from U.S. at their family reunion near Stockholm in Sweden.

Ray Erickson (Salem, OR) and wife, Grace, still travel.  1) China, 2001 - jade and silk, tapestries; 2) New Zealand, 2002 – Sydney, Great Coral Reef, and 3) Alaska, 2003 – 100 halibut (better than salmon) in their freezer, Grace did most of the catching.

harvest

Bob Esbjornson (St. Peter, MN) brightens our days by bringing over his Mankato Free Press, in spite of the knee difficulties going up our long front steps.  Always stimulating conversation re the past we shared or books we’ve read or written, Happy Hours!

Eunice Nordin Gordon’s new address is 16925 Hierba Drive, #323, San Diego, CA  92128.  I am sorry to report that Eunice’s brother Hartley ’44 fell on steps at a Minnesota resort and died on October 4 following brain surgery.  (His obituary is at the end of this letter).

Clem Gruber (Anoka, MN) has been retired for 23 years.  Happy 85, November 1, Clem.  He’s been all alone four years.  There are many Gruber Gusties.  Good!

New to our class roll list is Ed Janovsky (LeCenter, MN) who remembers the Myrum bus accident―the bus driver was his roommate.  He is helping two grandsons at Mankato State.

Thorkil Jensen (Overland Park, KS) has a reunion in Kansas City this fall for the 8th Air Force.  He was in England before the invasion, and then Berlin, etc.  He has great memories of his “old home” in Stillwater, MN.  He goes to Scandinavia every 4-5 years, as he has relatives in Denmark, the family the only ones who came to America.

Mignon Carter Johnson (Lindstrom, MN) keeps busy with the Historical Museum, golf and a visit to Dianne and Gene in Park City, Utah, for skiing, winter in Sun City, AZ.

Robert R. Johnson (Duluth, MN) will be 86 years old on May 24.  He asks about Batch.  His wife Pearl is an all-day golfer, 3-4 times a week with a group of gals.

acorn

Philip Hovander (Hopkins, MN) has been retired 20 years.  At 85 he drives only to his daughter’s.  A bad back, shoulders, neck keeps him from golf now.  Reads mystery and history books.

Dorothy Benson Klotz (Hopkins, MN) is in an apartment where she’s lived for 30 years.  She spent last November – February in Hopkins Care Center after a fall at St. Thomas College resulting in hairline fractures in her lower pelvic bones.  Cheers for the courageous patient who has learned to walk again without help!

Beatrice Olson Lindsten (McLean, VA) has lived 45 years in the same house (brand new).  She can’t drive anymore because of macular degeneration, does crossword puzzles instead.  She is again doing her Christmas play that she directed 35 years at the school where she taught―but this time in Lutheran Church of the Redeemer with a confirmation class.

Wondrous news:  Bea has saved all of her Class of ’41 class letters.  And offered to send them to me.  I’ll bet no one else has done that!  Tusen tack!  She’ll be 85 in November.

Margaret Lundstrom Riesenweber (Kennewick, WA).  I finally reached her through relatives after phone tries during many months.  She finally called me, a gladsome occasion, talking of her fall from a walker to bath, breaking her hip.  She cannot walk; is in a wheelchair, in rehabilitation in a retirement home following surgery.  What a gal!  Courage.

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Charles Lusk (Borrego Springs, CA) tells his own diverting story (at my request)―

Borrego Springs, CA

September 2-4, 2004

Just thought I would get a quick letter off to you and let you know the kind of summer we had.  We left Borrego the middle of July and headed East going up to Las Vegas and then heading up to Yellowstone Park.  We had a great time in the park and were heading up to Cody, WY when we hit a roadblock.  They had a big rainstorm the night before that caused a land slide about three blocks long according to the Ranger that was closing the gate to the highway.  He gave us a map going up to the north end of the Park.

On the way over the pass at the north end of the park we were heading down the grade and there is no one behind me.  About five minutes later I notice a black car gaining on us at a pretty good clip.  Pulling the trailer I try and let cars pass as soon as possible so I look down the road and see a pullout about a quarter mile ahead and pull over about the time it catches up to me.  As he comes alongside he rolls down his window and informs me that I had lost my bikes and rack from the back of the trailer, at the top of the pass.  I thanked him and he said that he had stopped and put them on the side of the ditch.

We are on a two-lane narrow highway that makes it impossible to turn around.  Down the road about another 1/4 mile is a large turn around.  I went down to the turn and six miles back up the pass there are the two bikes and the rack lying in the ditch on the left side of the roadAbout 100 ft beyond them is a pullout big enough for the car and trailer to get off the road.  I pulled in and went back to look at them and decided that they were not badly damaged.  As I was trying to figure out how to get them in the trailer I noticed a parking area for a hiking trail large enough so that could park off the road and be closer than I was.  I turned the car and trailer around and went down into the parking area.  I got my tools out of the trailer storage area and went back up to the bikes and proceeded to take the bikes off the rack.

The first one had a bent crank and the handle bar was bent down a little.  I headed to the trailer and put the bike inside.  Then I realized that getting the two bikes and the rack into the trailer was going to be a tight fit, (the trailer is only 19 feet long and was not intend for storage in the aisle).  I went back to get the other bike and as I'm headed back to the trailer a young man in his early 20's walked toward me saying "Your wife told me you lost your rack and bikes as you were coming down the pass.”  I agreed with him as he looked at the bike and said that it is a pretty good bike, but you have a bent crank that is cast out of aluminum and you’re going to have trouble straightening it.  You are going to have to heat it first and not get it so hot that you melt the aluminum.  I asked if he knew how to do it and he said that he repaired bikes.  I told him I had paid $5 for the bike at a garage sale the year before and that if he wanted, he could have it for $5.  He smiled and said it was a deal.  He went to his car, parked in the lot, and came back with the five and I gave him the bike and put the bike rack on the trailer, shut the door and got back in the car and pulled out on the road.  As I started out I noticed I had not closed the storage door on the trailer.  I glanced back up the road, no cars in sight but no shoulder to pull off on.  I pulled off as much as I could and ran back to the trailer, shut the storage door and locked it.  I also locked the trailer door, put the keys in my pocket and got back in the car and headed back down the road.

It is about 11:30 a.m. so I figure we can drive for another half hour before we stop for lunch.  At noon we come to a turnout with a view and pull out to have lunch in the trailer.  We go back to the trailer and I reach for my keys (I do not have the car keys on my regular key ring, because the weight of the extra keys on the ignition switch is not good).  No keys.  I look at Bea and she says, “I saw you in the rearview mirror put the keys in your pocket.”  I guess that in the rush I missed my pocket.  On my regular key ring I have all the household keys, post office box, etc, etc.  Nothing to do but go back and get them.  Half an hour later we pull into the Pullout that I had first stopped at to pick up the bikes.  I get out and head down to the area where I had stopped and as I approach the lot, a man is getting out of his car and sees me walking toward the area and asks if I'm in trouble and need a ride.  I told him I didn't need a ride but that I was in trouble and explained what had happened.  He smiled and said that he and his wife would help me look for the keys.  So I took the high side, he took the middle and his wife took the bottom of the ditch.  As we head up the road I saw a piece of paper that was next to the door of the trailer when I had stopped, I told him so and he said, “and here are your keys!”  I thanked them with a big hand-shake and we turned around and headed back up the road.  Two hundred, sixty-five miles later we pulled into Cody.  It was an interesting drive that we had not taken before so it was not a total waste of time.  Spent a day going through the museum in Cody.  If you ever go through Cody be sure to plan at least two days to see the museum.  They now have five large buildings that are connected by a hall that runs from each of the buildings so that you are inside the whole time.  It’s a western museum that covers the west from the time of the Indians living in the area up to the present time.  It is definitely a must-see place.

From there we headed to Minnesota and had just a great August and September visiting friends and relatives.  We went on to Washington state where we helped Joyce and Phil (my younger sister) enjoy their 50th wedding anniversary.

Over the years, I've gotten the reputation of having at least one flat tire on our summer travels.  Well this year was no exception.  We are heading back to Joyce and Phil’s home in Glacier, WA at the base of Mt. Hood.  We are on an eight-lane freeway with just the normal right hand shoulder.  There is a pull off-road that runs with the highway about two blocks.  Phil said, “Charlie, that lady is pointing at the trailer.”  Well you know what that means; the trailer has a flat tire.  (When you’re pulling a trailer with two axels you do not feel a flat on the trailer).  I look ahead of me and for some unknown reason the right hand shoulder is becoming an 18' turnout, about 150' long.  I pull off onto the shoulder and get out to see how bad the flat is.  I had evidently been traveling quite a way because the tire was pretty much in shreds.

Phil and I proceeded to change the tire with enough room to hold a dance.  We get back in the car and head on back to Glacier none the worse for wear.  The next weekend we head down the coast of Washington to Portland, OR to visit more friends and relatives.  The middle of September we head to Elk Grove, CA where my older sister, Gloria Lusk Kambak ’48, is getting married to Al Kieserg, on the 18th of September.  They had each lost their spouses a couple of years before and had known each other through their church for some time.  It was interesting to see a couple of seniors acting like 19-year-old teenagers.

scarecrowOn Monday we headed south on Hwy. 99 and pulled into Borrego that evening at 9:15―567 miles later but glad to be home.

As always, Charlie Lusk

P.S.  We had an unusually cool trip―no days over 80 degrees for two months from the time we left Las Vegas.  (I think I got all of the Chuckisms out?  Ha.  Ha.)

Harriet Stakke Noble (South Bend, IN) is one of the most positive thinkers I encounter.  And an awesome rememberer of people, times and places.  Still busy as librarian at Grace United Methodist Church (since 1981) and an active creative chaplain of DAR.  Good to talk to someone who knows and does all the right things, like walk two miles a day.

Coral Carter Nordstrom (Sun City West, AZ) needs our prayers.  Two weeks ago before our Phonorama call (9/29/04) she had two major surgeries:  knee replacement and cancer of the lung.  She is completely confined with oxygen.  Bless you.

Blanche Isenberg Pergol (St. Cloud, MN) had to cancel a cruise because of illness, but enjoyed a Norwegian Fest in Minot, ND, with brother, Bob ’51, and his wife, Onie of St. Peter.

Ruth Sealander Ruud has moved from Moorhead, MN to Detroit Lakes, her old hometown where her sister, Marjorie, is now living.  (Address:  1051 Washington Avenue, Apt. 204, Detroit Lakes, MN  56501.)  The latest communication from her to me was a mysterious postal mailing tube which held two of her (Ruthie) sketches from her Gustavus days; classes from Lorena Hall.  One was a 2x2 pencil sketch of my roommate, Gen Loff Stroff.  The other in bright water-paint colors was of me, to which this note was attached:  “I thought these great works of art which have been covered up in my basement stairwell for 50 years should again see the light (preferably dim!).  The sketch of Gen faded by comparison to your more vivid coloring, which could be even brighter if placed in your fireplace and lit with a match, while you sing―”Gustavus Adolphus remember thy past.  May such words as these be borne on the blast―”

September 16, 2004.  The pencil sketch of Genevieve Loff Strom brought back our past so vividly.  Gen and I were roommates all four years; the first in Johnson Hall, then three years in South Hall.  We shared the oatmeal/raisin cookies that were in my laundry case when Mom sent it back all clean.  I was envious of Gen’s nice new clothes when she came back from Roseau, MN after Easter vacation.  (I had to make do with duds made of my aunts’ hand-me-downs by neighbor lady in Dunnell, even what she called my “pajamas.”)  Gen had to listen to me cry myself to sleep pressured by Florence Myrum Fredricksen, News Bureau director, to write “Hometown Specials” for every member of the Gustavus choir―by tomorrow (at .25¢/hr.)  I watched (jealous) her budding romance with Bob Strom ’40, handsome blonde, straight and tall.  The past really does catch up with you.

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October 12, 2004.  The Valley View from my kitchen window is awesome autumnal.  Framed by the window, Esbj’s (now Alvarez/Stevens) birch is pure gold, sustained by the four-part cluster of white bark―high, higher, perhaps the highest tree in town…there was frost on our brown garage roof this morning viewed from the organic oatmeal breakfast, but blue jays came for an early meal, chasing away the finches and starlings.  Green paisley and white flowers both made it through one more coolish night.

Lucille “Westy” Westerdahl Hope (152 Paseo de Golf, Green Valley, AZ  85614) spends November – May warm in Arizona then summers next door to her daughter in Bellevue, WA:  She was on campus for graduation and alumni reunion with Ralph ’38 Bomgrens, Thoreens two daughters.

My eight tries didn’t succeed in reaching Alice Papke Moratzka (Roswell, NM).

Luverne Johnson Sellstrom (Willmar, MN) has 20-20 vision in both eyes following cataract surgery, and a repaired right hand.  She still helps in the church office and gets to Bethel friend’s wedding in Christ Chapel.  Luvvy says Ruthie Sealander Ruud sent her 8”x11” sketches years ago of Lew, Marian and Ruthie sketched from our graduation pictures.

Ellie Swanson Soderquist (Kearney, NE) and husband, Ray, have deposited their families’ generational stories in Gustavus’ Archives.  Swanson Place and Three Boys from Salem (Kansas).  Great idea!

Florence Forsyth Torkelson’s (St. James, MN) son, Paul’s ’74, daughter Annika ’08 is interested in music and is at Gustavus now.  Mother, Cynthia “Cindy” (Gustafson) is a ’78 graduate.

Bernice Roesnick Webb (Fulda, MN).  Her oldest son retired and has been with her to help since April 2002 at the sudden death of her husband.  Karen Bengtson Lair, Bernice’s Gustavus roommate, came from Canby for the funeral.

Dennis Wicker has a new address:  5001 West Florida Avenue, #670, Hemet, CA  92545.  He attended his Air Force reunion at Omaha.  At the foot of the mountains, he enjoys golf, an Olympic-sized pool, and world-class shuffleboard.

I’ve been writing this Fall 2004 class letter by fits and starts a month before it was due in the Alumni Office.

cornucopiaSeptember 18 – I reported the harvest:  once more time the sun is rising gloriously over the valley.  We’ve picked the Concord grapes and the cherry tomatoes, enough to share with the neighbors.  Big Bluestem in the prairie garden is waving above our heads, graceful and elegantly rusty, beckoning.  The finches have come for their morning dip and a mix of sunflower suet.

fruitAlready the sundial records it is 8:00 a.m., and the bronze message still reminds us “Grow old along with me.”  Rosy and pink geraniums in redwood pots exuberantly respond to the four plus inches of rain the last nights.

Surely goodness and loving kindness has followed us all our days.  Thanks be to God.  Fifty-five years of views in Valley View.  Almost sixty since we said, “I do,” in Dunnell on November 4.

And 40 years of class agenting for Gustavus.  Others have taken their turns.  Remember another “Pinky” (Roy Bomgren), was our first class agent 1954-45; Wendell Holmquist, 1956-62; this “Pinky” (Marian Ruth Swanson Johnson), 1963-69; Bob and Ruth (Bostrom) Esbjornson, 1970-71; and again Marian Ruth “Pinky” Johnson Swanson, 1972-todate. 

October 19, 2004.  I wrote Dear you, here I am showing my age, soaking my feet in warm soapy water preparatory to the luxurious regular session in the Foot Clinic in the Traverse des Sioux Room of St. Peter’s wonderful new Community Center.

My companion is Ruth Snyder Larson ’33, class agent for her class of 8 members.  She’s 91, the same as my Chet, and she doesn’t call on Phonorama anymore.

We agreed that the September 18 Class Agents’ Day was a real winner, a warm up.  Our new President Jim Peterson ’64 got a standing ovation.  His remarks reflecting the good feeling in the room included, “The College is in very good shape and well managed, well controlled.”  There is an all-staff commitment of members who care about this place, community of values, faith, justice, service, and mission.  Needs to be worked on:  diversity; strengthening the academic program (“community of learners”); strengthening the relationship with the church, congregations; facilities?  In five years:  finish Old Main renovation, new residence halls (one under construction near west road); move the stadium (athletic field); a new social science hall in that space; practice fields; technological progress.

Money―we’re under-endowed.  That’s where class agents and all classes come in.  That’s what we’ve been talking about―ways to go, you and I.

It’s rewarding to identify with Gustavus’ amazing growth and success to embrace the many channels through which to “give back:”  GLA, Linnaeus Arboretum, endowed scholarships, Old Main restoration, Heritage Partners, sports…

Here you and I are 1941 in 2004, remembering, ♫ “Gustavus belongs to you.” ♪  We maintain, sustain all these―we do as best we can to help.  Alumni of every decade gave $917,151 (unrestricted dollars) from 7,853 donors last round.

The first words are my last words in this long, long letter:

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made.

Our times are in His hand.

~Rabbi Ben Ezra (1864) st.1

Robert Browning

1812-1889

Peace!

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Marian Swanson Johnson

1941 Class Agent

P. S.  With special thanks and admiration to Philly Kauffmann, administration assistant in the Alumni Office who makes all things possible. 

Fifty years the Class Agent program at Gustavus―five ’41 class members have been Class Agents.  For 40 years it has been my privilege to serve in this way.  Here’s an opportunity for you to go and do thou likewise.  Fill out this bottom portion and send it to me or the Alumni Office:

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  • I remember a lot of ’41 Classmates and I would enjoy sharing thoughts with them on Phonorama.
  • I want to “give back” to Gustavus in a special way.
  • I like perks like early tickets to Nobel Conference or Christmas in Christ Chapel, Christmas Feast, St. Lucia Day.
  • I would like to unload my thoughts in the Guest Letter in January 2005.