Class of '43
October 2009

Dear Classmates of ’43:

Already another year has flown by, a year during which much has transpired.  Barack Obama is entering the ninth month of his presidency.  The Congress is in the midst of deliberation about how health care should be made available to all of our country’s citizens, a matter of concern especially to our age group.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with which Gustavus is related, at its Churchwide Assembly (CWA) in the Minneapolis Convention Center August 17-25, approved a Social Statement, Human Sexuality:  Gift and Trust (HSGT), which included a brief section on homosexuality.  After that action the CWA adopted four resolutions, one of them allowing persons in publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA.

Marilyn and I attended as visitors the first four days of the CWA.  On Wednesday afternoon there was a tornado which the struck the roof of the Convention Center and also the cross on a small steeple of Central Lutheran Church across the street from the Center.  During this time the voting members and the visitors were confined in the hall in which they were meeting.  Just before 6 p.m. the vote on HSGT was taken, for which a 2/3 majority was required.  The vote was 676 in favor to 338 against, precisely 2/3—666.667%.  That evening a service was held in Central Lutheran Church sponsored by Goodsoil, a coalition favoring passage of the resolutions that were later to be adopted.  The preacher was Barbara K. Lundblad, professor of homiletics at Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY.  Her text for her remarkable sermon with the title “Difficult Crossing, Faithful Journey,” was Mark 4:35-41.  She said that this was the first time she had ever preached after a tornado, but that she had no idea when the text was chosen several weeks earlier that it would be so fitting for the events of the day.

On Friday Marilyn and I left for a family reunion in New Hampshire, so we missed the drama of the next two days.  It had been decided earlier that if HSGT was adopted with a 2/3 super majority, a simple majority would be sufficient for the four resolutions that would follow.  One of them, committing the ELCA to “respect the bound consciences of all” was adopted with 77% in favor.  The resolution allowing congregations to “recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships” passed with 61%.  The resolution committing the ELCA to find ways for persons in such relationships to serve as rostered leaders passed with 55%, and the resolution spelling out the processes by which that will be done with 68%.  As the votes indicate, there is a significant minority in the ELCA troubled by the decisions that have been made.  About 1200 of those who would have wished for another outcome at the CWA and who are known as “Lutheran CORE” met this past weekend in a suburb of Indianapolis, IN.  They have decided to wait a year before taking further action.  All are agreed that the coming months must be a time of continuing teaching about this matter.

My own contribution to this discussion has thus far been small, though in 1994 I did write an article published in A Collection of Responses from ELCA Academicians and Synodical Bishops to The Church and Human Sexuality:  A Lutheran Perspective.  The collection was not widely distributed.  In my article I noted that recent research (not yet wholly conclusive) suggests that homosexual orientation is experienced as an aspect of who a person is rather than something one chooses to be, which implies that being homosexual is in some respects like being left-handed.  In the discussion in the CWA it was repeatedly pointed out that all the biblical references to homosexuality are negative.  In my article I state that the same can be said about biblical references to the charging of interest (cf. Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Neh. 5:1-13; Ps. 15:1,2,5; Ezek:22:12), with the possible exception of the statement of the master/nobleman in one of Jesus’ parables (Matt. 25:24-27, Lk. 19:20-23).

Both at Gustavus and in the St. Peter community we have been reading Enrique’s Journey, The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario.  It is an account of the repeated efforts of a teen-aged boy in Honduras, whose mother left when he was five to go to the U.S.  He travels through Mexico on the tops of trains, not succeeding until his eighth attempt.  The journalist author, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, after finding Enrique in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and rejoining him later at the end of his journey in North Carolina, spent three months retracing his trip, working her way north through Mexico, riding the tops of seven freight trains and interviewing people he had encountered.  Reading the book is a painful experience.  So many fall off the trains and are seriously injured.  One has to lay the book down and then pick it up again.  The book does give one a new understanding of “illegal immigrants.”  The urgent problem they pose is one that this nation, composed for the most part of the descendants of immigrants, must deal.

Much activity is happening on campus this next week.  Oct. 6-7 the 45th annual Nobel Conference was held.  This year the topic was “H2O Uncertain Source.”  The lecturers were Engineer-economist R. Pachauri, Geneva, Switzerland; Marine ecologist Nancy N. Rabalais, Chauvin, LA; Water chemist-environmental scientist David L. Sedlak, Berkeley, CA; Poet-playwright, Nobel Laureate in Literature 1992, Derek Walcott, University of Alberta; Environmental scientist Peter H. Gleick, Oakland, CA; Christian environmental ethicist Larry L. Rasmussen, Abiquiu, NM; Civil engineer Asit K. Biswas, Atizapan, Mexico; and Geographer William L. Graf, Columbia, SC.  On October 9 the Commission Gustavus 150 preparing for the College’s 150th anniversary will present its report.  Saturday, October 10 is Homecoming with several classes holding reunions.  It is also Family Weekend for current students.  There will be a parade, seminars, and a football game in the afternoon with Pacific Lutheran University.

In a few weeks we will be engaged again in Phonorama.  This past year $6,100 was given by 41 donors for 68.3% participation.  I am happy to announce that Ralf Runquist is joining me again as co-class agent.  About half of you can expect to hear from him.

Class News

Al Mueller (New Ulm) continues to play golf at the New Ulm Country Club.  Plans are under way to put a granite rock on the hill in the new “Coneflower Prairie” (overlooking the campus) in honor of Reuel H. Pietz (St. Cloud, 1921-2008), and all those who put themselves in harm’s way in service to their country.  This is a fitting tribute to Reuel, who served in the U. S. Marine Corps. for 12 years (3 wars), taught geography for 27 years at St. Cloud State University, and was a pioneering voice for prairie conservation.

There have been four deaths this past year.  Marjorie Brown Bakke (Mankato, MN) on June 7, 2009.  Marjorie had been a school librarian.  Her husband, Einar Bakke, predeceased her in 1987, as did also a son, Charles.  She is survived by three children, Patricia, Kathleen, and Christopher.  Elaine Bexell Palmquist (Chisago City, MN) on September 16, 2009.  Elaine was a nurse and had worked with her husband, Marvin Palmquist ‘42, in Tanzania 1945-56.  Marvin and their two children, Annette and Daniel ’82 survive her.  A son, Mark ’69, predeceased Elaine in 1991.  Eric C. Sandstrom (Colorado Springs, CO) on January 22, 2009.  After two years at Gustavus, Eric left to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps 1942-1945.  He worked in retail groceries, as a letter carrier, and at the Rocky Mountain Greyhound Park.  Eric married Ruby Ninke in 1945, who predeceased him in 1999.  He then married Patricia, who survives him together with two daughters, Janet Crosson and Patricia Durham.  Lorenz “Bud” Severson (Seattle, WA) on January 17, 2009.  At Gustavus Lorenz was known as Elwood Severson.  He left after two years to serve in the U.S. Army.  Following his discharge he studied business at the Minneapolis Business School.  A life-long career in retail lumber followed, first in Hettinger, ND, and then in Seattle.  He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Dona Ellefson.  Peace to their memories!

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

Campus News

Gustavus get High Rankings

Gustavus Adolphus College is listed as the 33rd best liberal arts college in the country according to a new set of college rankings released on Thursday, September 3, by Washington Monthly magazine.  The publication states on its website that schools were ranked based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories:  social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

Gustavus once again ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings.  Gustavus moved up eight places from last year’s rankings to 80th on the magazine’s “Best Liberal Arts College’s” list.  Gustavus is one of six Minnesota colleges that placed in the top 100 in this year’s rankings.  One of the measures used to capture the various dimensions of academic quality at each college is alumni giving percentage; therefore, participating in a giving program at Gustavus, regardless of amount given, is important to the College.

GLA Membership

All of us remember the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.  It was a place for study and, depending on your era, finding a “coffee date.”  But, in the 21st century, it has become much more.  It is a technology-rich laboratory for learning and a storehouse of culture and recorded knowledge.  It must constantly be strengthened to ensure excellence in education.  The Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) provides financial support for the library and a program of events to its members.  Join this year and immediately make a difference.  Whatever membership gift level you choose, 100% goes directly to the library’s acquisition budget.  Join today at www.gustavus.edu/GLA!!!

A Walk in the Arb

As part of Homecoming Weekend, the Linnaeus Arboretum will be hosting its annual Fall Fest on that Saturday, October 10.  Come enjoy a guided hike through the arboretum and browse its many beautiful flower gardens and tree collections.  Maple trees will be in their fall peak this weekend.  Master Gardeners and tree care experts will be available to address your questions and concerns, so bring a branch!  Bring your kids (accompanied by an adult) for a hayride through the arboretum.  Have a look at this year’s scarecrows around the Borgeson cabin!  Enjoy cookies and lemonade, purchase an arboretum t-shirt.  There will be books available for purchasing and signing by two local authors, Jan Dunlap (Birder Murder Mysteries) and Jim Gilbert (Minnesota Nature Notes).  Join Us!

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.

Upcoming speakers:

President Jack R. Ohle – Oct. 21

Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 – Nov. 18

Thomas Young ’88 – Dec. 16

Upcoming Events

  • Nobel Conference:  H²0 Uncertain Resource – October 6-7, 2009
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 9-10, 2009
  • Athletics Hall of Fame – October 17, 2009
  • Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – November 14, 2009
  • Farewell for Steve and Barb Wilkinson, Minneapolis Hyatt - December 12

royal affiar