Class of 1943

May 2011

Dear Classmates of ʼ43:

By now you should have received the Gustavus Reunion Weekend brochure.  Should you want to attend the reunion there is no charge for campus housing, though you will need to pay for your meals.  If you plan to arrive on Friday, you will easily be able to attend the 9 a.m. Seminar on Saturday when Dr. Michael Blaese ’61, who was senior scientist for 33 years at the National Institutes of Health, will discuss “Genes as Medicines, New Tools in the Fight Against Disease.”  At 10 a.m. President Jack R. Ohle will present “College Update and Sesquicentennial Preview,” which begins this fall with the 2011-2012 academic year.  At noon on Saturday there is the Alumni Luncheon for the 50 Year Club and the Class of 1961, but also for other returning alumni, some of whom may be known to you.  Marilyn and I will plan to be there.

On Tuesday, Marilyn and I attended the funeral at Norseland Lutheran Church, St. Peter, of Olive May Luella Peterson, the oldest member of the Class of ’43, born May 29, 1913.  Hardly anyone in our Class knew her.  She was a 1930 graduate of St. Peter High School.  After a year of Teachers Normal Training she taught in rural schools in Nicollet and Blue Earth counties from 1931 until 1939.  In 1939 she began working at the Nicollet County Courthouse as Deputy Clerk of District Court.  During the two semesters of the academic year 1939-40 she took typing courses at Gustavus and the Registrar placed her in the Class of ’43.  Later in 1957-58 she also took courses in mathematics and sociology.  In 1948 she was appointed Clerk of District Court and was elected, re-elected, serving in that position until she retired in 1973.  As Class Agent I remember that she was a consistent contributor to the Gustavus Annual Fund.  She enjoyed traveling and oil painting.  She displayed her paintings for ten years at the Town and Country Show on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota.

At the funeral I noticed that the text for Pastor Craig Ferkenstad’s sermon was 1 Cor. 10:13 (“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it”).  I thought that was a somewhat strange text for a funeral sermon until Pastor Ferkenstad explained that the text had been given to Olive Peterson when she was confirmed in 1927 at Norseland Lutheran Church.  When I came home I looked into my confirmation Bible and noticed that last April 5 had been the 75th anniversary of my confirmation.  The verses my father, Pastor S. A. Erling, had given me were 1 Cor. 2:12-13 and 1 Peter 1:18-19.  If you still have your confirmation Bible, you might check what your verse/verses were.

Reference was made above to the forthcoming Gustavus Sesquicentennial, when we will celebrate 150 years of the College’s history.  Consistent giving by alumni and other friends of the College has made its survival, growth, and strength possible.  Some Lutheran colleges have not survived.  Upsala College, East Orange, NJ, where I taught for one year, was closed shortly after it reached its centennial in 1993.  More recently Dana College, Blair, NE, Danish in background, also about a century old, was closed last summer.  My wife, Marilyn, nee Siersbeck, attended Dana for two years.  Her father, Pastor Lawrence Siersbeck, was president of Dana during WW II.  Dana had sought without success to reorganize as a for-profit collegiate institution.  What has happened has been very painful for those with ties to Dana College.  We can be grateful that Gustavus does not face such problems at the present time.  Your gifts of whatever size to the Annual Fund contribute each year to the financial health of the College.  So far as of April 26 there have been 25 donors from our Class giving $4,220, which represents 51% participation.  The College’s fiscal year ends May 31.  In the coming weeks we hope to hear from the other half of our Class.

I have already expressed gratitude for the help I have received these past three years from Ralf Runquist.  Since he is unable to continue, I am seeking someone to replace him.  If there is anyone who would be willing to share in Phonorama calling of classmates and writing a New Year’s letter, please let me know.

Here are some news notes.  Theda Benson Olson (#602-3590 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3K 2J1, Canada) sent an impressive list of her family (parents, uncles, a sister, her husband and son, and cousins) who attended Gustavus.  Theda’s mother, Edith Knock Benson ’13 was librarian at Gustavus.  While Theda was a student at Gustavus she found cards in the library catalog that had been written by her.

A year ago I wrote a few lines to Sylvia Rule Sheldon (P.O. Box 12038, Chartwell Square, Hamilton 3248, New Zealand).  Sylvia sent a reply that was cited in the Fall 2010 Quarterly but she also had this to say about her husband and son:  “Bayard has been gone three years but I have not a single complaint as we had 62 years of an exciting and interesting life and he left this world with everything in good order to make my life a breeze.  Best of all Dunny ’75 is here to take care of any sticky wickets and add joy.”  This past year there was an earthquake in New Zealand.  It struck the southern island, though Hamilton, where Sylvia lives, is on the northern island of New Zealand.

Luverne C. Tengbom (789 N. Cambridge Ave., Claremont, CA 91711-4258) is very satisfied with where he and his wife live.  He writes, “Millie and I continue to enjoy living at Pilgrim Place, a retirement community with independent to full care and especially for retired missionaries and other church workers.”

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

Campus News

Alumni Association Awards Announced

The Greater Gustavus Award is the highest award given to those, who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College.  Walter Youngquist ’42, Eugene, OR, chair emeritus, Department of Geology, University of Oregon, and consulting geologist, was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Greater Gustavus Award.  Youngquist has established five different endowed funds at the College and is the recipient of a Gustavus Distinguished Alumni Citation in the field of geology in 2002.  Walter’s father, Walter Youngquist ’16, received the Greater Gustavus Award in 1953.

Distinguished Alumni Citations recognize outstanding and exceptional professional achievement, such as unusual honor accorded to the individual in his or her field of endeavor.  Named as 2011 recipients are John “Jack” Bergman ’69, St. Francisville, LA, lieutenant general, retired, United States Marine Corp., in the field of military service; Robert Brown ’83, Rochester, MN, John T. and Lillian Matthews Professor of Neuroscience, Chair of Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, in the field of medicine; and Mark Thomsen ’78, Henderson, NV, professional operatic tenor, in the field of music.

The First Decade Award recognizes early professional achievement to one female and one male in the 10th Anniversary Class.  Selected were Kirsten Cullen Sharma ’01, New York, NY, clinical assistant professor, New York University Child Study Center, New York University Langone Medical Center, and Jonathan Poole ’01, Washington, DC, special agent, violent crime branch, Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of State.  The Awards will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 28.

Sesquicentennial Award

In 2011–2012, Gustavus will celebrate its 150th academic year.  The Board of Trustees has established an award in honor of this Sesquicentennial anniversary to recognize individuals who have made a significant difference in the life of the College.  The award, called “The Sesquicentennial Award,” will acknowledge and pay tribute to living alumni, parents, friends, and retired faculty and staff who:

  • Through actions in their personal or professional lives, have advanced the status of Gustavus as a premier liberal arts college;
  • Have set a new precedent in the ways they supported and advanced the mission of the College as an institution dedicated to preparing students “for fulfilling lives of leadership and service in society”; and/or
  • Have brought particular dignity or honor to the College.

Please submit nominations online at Gustavus.edu/150 .  For more information about the Sesquicentennial Awards, visit https://gustavus.edu/forms/sesquicentennial-award .

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfasts

Engage with other alumni and learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Gustie breakfasts.  The speaker for May will be Carolyn O’Grady, international education and for June it is Grady St. Dennis, director of church relations.  The Minneapolis breakfast is Wednesday, May 18, 8–9:30 a.m., at the Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Blvd. Cost is $10 at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@gustavus.edu or by calling 800-487-8437.

The St. Peter breakfast will be Wednesday, May 11, 7:30–9 a.m. in a campus banquet room in the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center.  Cost is $8 per person, or $15 for two, payable at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing gustiebreakfast@gustavus.edu or by calling 507-933-7512.

Chapter Gatherings

This year President and Kris Ohle have traveled to many parts of the country and made 15 stops in various cities, in order to reach out to all of our alumni and bring them an update from the College.  Summer will bring another round of picnic gatherings – so please mark your calendar if you live near one of these locations:


Mankato, MN – May 31

Rochester, MN – June 1

Sioux Falls, SD – June 6

Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN – June 7

St. Cloud, MN – June 8

Apple Valley, MN – July 12

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – July 13

Long Lake, MN – July 14

Duluth, MN – July 26

Grand Rapids, MN – July 27

Brainerd, MN - July 28

Class of 2016 The Admission Department has already received deposits for over 750 new students next fall.  This is way up from previous years when only 50 – 100 deposits would have been received by this time.  Looks like the secret is out about Gustavus!

Women’s Tennis Defeats St. Olaf 9-0, Secures 20th Straight MIAC Title - The Gustavus women’s tennis team brought the regular season to a close with a 9-0 win over St. Olaf on Tuesday afternoon in St. Peter.  With the victory, Gustavus locks up its 20th straight MIAC regular season title, improving to 17-9 overall and 10-0 in the MIAC.

Nobel Conference 47 - The Brain and Being Human - Oct. 4 & 5, 2011

In recent years, novel collaborations between neuroscientists and researchers in seemingly disparate fields have forged new ideas and new questions about the working of the brain.  Aspects of daily human life are now incorporated into the scientific arena in a new synthesis to understand the human experience and what it means to be human.  The braiding of neuroscience with the humanities, arts, social sciences, theology, and engineering has empowered explanations of the motivations and operations of our daily activities.  This insight engenders uncertainty in terms of how to best apply this knowledge responsibly and ethically, and perhaps is even challenging the distinctiveness of our own species.