Class of '50
October 2000

Dear Classmates and Friends of 1950,

Greetings and salutations! After a beautiful day at Gustavus a couple of weeks ago for the class agents' meeting, I should be inspired to send out the official first letter of the year. Obviously, I've already accomplished that, so this will be my second letter to you lovely people. Even more inspirational are the notes and e-mails I receive from you. I also have some class notes that weren't included last time.

For those who remember that I was about to leave for Alaska, it was a good trip. The first day as we flew into Anchorage and shortly thereafter to Fairbanks, we could see Denali in all its splendor. I turned to the person next to me and exclaimed, "I can go home now. I've seen Denali." The rest of the trip was a bonus! One of the best events was talking to Joanne Lind Hoogland in Seward. Her friend in a gift store looked up her home and the family trucking business phone numbers for me, but didn't offer me the use of her phone, so we went a few doors down the street, stopped in a bar, of all places, and made the call from there. I wish we'd had occasion to visit face to face. For security reasons, cruise ships no longer allow guests on board; it would have been fun to sit and talk for a couple hours. My short-sighted concern was finding the shuttle bus back to the ship. New city, new ship, new almost everything-I'm sorry I wasn't more relaxed, Joanne.

Some classmates sent their regrets on not being able to attend the reunion last May. Dorothy Busness Dahl of Schaumburg, IL was working at the Meadows Child Care Center where she's been employed for 14 years. She extends her greetings to you all. We missed you, Duffy.

Joel Hoff of St. Augustine, FL expected to be back in Minnesota in September and was going to try to visit Gustavus then. Did you make it, Joel? It would have been fun if you'd happened to be there the day of our class agents' meeting and Hamline football game. Would I have recognized you if I'd seen you walking across campus?

Miles and Joyce Rydell Johnson of Sun City West, AZ celebrated Joyce's birthday on a ten-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. What a treat! Did they sing "Happy Birthday" in the dining room and put balloons by your cabin door? I hope the singers were more in key than the ones who performed a similar service on the Dawn Princess.

Also in Arizona, is Dave Larson, pastor of Lord of Grace Lutheran Church in Tucson. His wife, Wanda (Wolla ’53) is retired. Dave, I saw your brother Douglas ’40 during our reunion weekend. He was in my sister's class, celebrating their 60th reunion, and I remembered him from the time I visited one of her classes and he was very kind and talked with me, though I was just a kid. Perhaps this is repetition of previous information-if so, forgive me.

A brief note informs us that Paul and Dorothy Sederberg Olson live in New Brighton, MN, where he is a pastor. Let us hear more from you, please.

Hilde Linnee Holcomb of Rockville, MD e-mailed exactly a month ago: "What a small world! Last week I got a call from Marlys Peterson. She was in Leisure World of Maryland to get her 90+-year-old aunt and move her to Minnesota. She sat at her aunt's desk and noticed my business card. (I am her aunt's real estate agent.) Marlys was very busy while she was here organizing 90+ years of accumulation. What fun it is to get calls from classmates!"

Birgitt (Rita) Ivarson of Fairfield, CT was involved in an auto accident the Sunday afternoon of our reunion weekend, but fortunately she and her friend were not seriously hurt. It still takes time to cope with the aftermath of such an occurrence, and we hope things are going well. During the summer, Birgitt conducted a funeral for her 92-year-old cousin in Cape Cod and has done several supply services. She expects to continue in this service through fall and do some visitations. In the meantime, she is doing some writing that has been in her mind for a long time, "enjoying the process of building and patterning the characters and action." Good luck. I'll be thinking of you. Keep me posted as to its progress.

Another e-mail, this time from Harold Skillrud in Atlanta, GA, read: "Last month, on Sunday morning, August 27, Lois (Dickhart), Gloria Martell Benson and I flew to Minneapolis and arrived just in time to join Vern '51 and Marie Norberg Bergstrom '50 for worship at Mount Olivet and then to their daughter's lovely home in Edina for the celebration of their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Lois was one of the bridesmaids and I was Vern's best man on August 26, 1950. We saw lots of Gusties from the Twin Cities, as well as the Bill Robertz's who drove up from St. Peter and the Esbjornsons who drove up from Willmar. It was a bright and sunny day and lots of sharing of memories. Lois and I shall celebrate our 50th June 8, 2001, Deo Volente." Thank you for that e-mail, Harold. Fun to receive that kind of news.

Speaking of Vern and Marie Norberg Bergstrom, they were at our reunion, and Vern had copies of his Home Folks II--and More which he offered for sale and autographing near the Book Mark. I really learned a great deal about Isanti County in those columns he wrote for the Cambridge and Isanti papers among others, although he and Marie live in Minneapolis. They winter in Ft. Myers, FL, and some of the writing appeared there. Actually, I learned to know Vern much better through those writings, too. One of my favorite items was Marie's recipe for Chicken Soup. I could have used some of that to alleviate the cold I picked up on the trip! In a phone call last night, Donna Benson Barnett mentioned also being at your anniversary and that she'd seen you on Channel 5, discussing your anti-gambling stance-in your natty royal blue suit. Wish I'd seen it.

Among the e-mails were a couple from Allen Kroehler in Lancaster, PA. I'm going to include the first as I received it, and save the second for the next class letter. That one is a fascinating compilation of where our classmates now reside in this wide world of ours. The first is a good lead-in to writing of this year's Alumni/Gustavus Fund. For many of us, Gustavus and family news is so closely interwoven that separating them is difficult. In fact, Gustavus is family for many alumni.

Newspaper Notes Gustavus Adolphus College Wins Academic Excellence and Cost Management Award.

"The Herald" of St. Peter, Minn., reports that Gustavus Adolphus College was among six institutions selected for a national academic excellence and cost management award. The award program is sponsored by the American Council on Education and the USA Group Foundation to recognize, reward, and give greater visibility to innovative strategies at colleges and universities that strengthen academic quality while containing costs. ("Gustavus Adolphus Wins Award for National Academic Excellence," "The Herald," St. Peter, Minn., June 22, 2000)

Jonathan Kroehler, our youngest of four children, has, until the very recent sale of USA Funds, been a senior vice president with USA Funds (headquarters in Indianapolis, IN). There is little clarity so far about his role in the new company, other than that he expects to be related to the Foundation (mentioned in the article). He doesn't say that he had any connection with GA's selection for the award. He just wanted me to know about it. Let me know if you are interested in knowing more.

Hope you've had a good summer. We have had some celebrations since returning from Minnesota around the graduation of our oldest granddaughter from high school (with about 100 other home schooled young people from central Pennsylvania) and the 25th wedding anniversary of her parents, our oldest daughter, Brynn, and her husband Randal Schmitt. And, a week ago today, we had a chance to visit with cousins of mine while they were attending a retreat in northeastern Pennsylvannia: Lois Kroehler, who has been a Presbyterian missionary (in music, including composing and writing hymns, and Christian education) in Cuba since 1949, and her brother, Bill, who, with his wife, has been a United Church of Christ missionary (in education) in Japan, near Tokyo.

That's an appropriate introduction to the fact that Gustavus Phonorama takes place October 16, 17, 19 and October 23, 24, 26. Ralph and Yvonne (Anderson) Belin welcome all the help they can get for those calls. Those and these letters are still the best, personal contact we have with each other, and those contacts become more meaningful as time goes by.

Our class has a special impetus for giving this year. We are going to raise at least $25,000 for a scholarship in honor of the Class of 50. This will be in addition to our usual contributions. Considering that 68% of our Gustavus students are on financial aid; and many of us benefited from scholarships and work programs to pay our way through college, it behooves us to enable other deserving students to have the Gustavus experience. (One doesn't use that word "behooves" very often, but it seemed to fit.) On our pledge cards, be sure to designate which funds are for the class gift. We can do it; I know.

Last spring Dallas Young of Baxter, MN told us about enrolling as associate members of Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL). For a mere $10 fee one is entitled to matching funds up to $100 to the Gustavus Fund. So if there are two of you, for $10 your $200 gift to Gustavus will amount to $400. Can't beat that! Such matching gifts cannot be designated for a specific purpose, such as the scholarship, but the undesignated gifts which the college really needs certainly benefit. I would like to send out the application blanks along with the class letter, but they are included in a booklet and I suppose that wouldn't be practical. One just has to be a Lutheran and member of a Lutheran church, or a Lutheran and not currently a member of a Lutheran congregation, but not a member of a non-Lutheran congregation either; or be a spouse of a Lutheran, etc. Please look into that possibility. It's well worth it.

Speaking of the Alumni/Gustavus Fund-since the program has been restructured; decade awards for class agents have been discontinued. Thanks to the excellent work of our reunion committee, however, including "six class letters (five promotional letters and one post-reunion letter during the summer) and personal contacts throughout the year and during Phonorama, the team of Benson, Belin and Belin led a well-attended 50th anniversary reunion and strong class gift. The Class of 1950 led all classes in total dollars with $1,449,946, class participation rate was 72.8 percent and increased the number of donors by 10 (4%) over 1998-99." In recognition thereof, Ralph, Yvonne and I were awarded Class Agents of the Year. We really appreciate the effort of all of you who helped us achieve that award. It was the second for the Belins but my first-and I thought I'd never make it! Actually, other years we also had the highest totals as a class were 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1985, 1994, and 1998. We should feel really good about that, even though we must not rest on our laurels.

Again, we are reminded that we have not here an abiding city, as the announcement of a death in the congregation used to be worded in the Augustana service that many of us grew up with. On July 22, 2000, Paul Steen ’33 died. Many of us had him for sociology 101 and other classes-remember that huge class that met in the chapel the only room big enough for us all? He and Dorice (Swenson ’33) were often gracious in having me to dinner at their home on Seventh Street just below Rundstrom. They'd known my sister several years before that. Paul was very active in AARP statewide the last several years.

On August 8, 2000, Floyd Johnson of Odin, MN passed away. Gene Kreidler of Apple Valley, MN died July 7, 2000. Marlen "Ole" Mork of St. Peter died September 8, 2000. He operated Mork Plumbing and Heating for many years-had been a member of Trinity Lutheran since 1939. Another classmate who'd attended Gustavus with us was Charles "Chuck" Fladeboe of rural Spicer. Mutual friends had had Henry and me, and Chuck and Bonnie out on their pontoon on Green Lake one time, and I'd see him occasionally in town. Chuck died August 31, 2000. He'd been a sales representative for Hanson Silo Company for many years and a 50-year member of the American Legion and member of the Lake Henderson Association.

A note from classmate Richard E. Musgjerd of Bloomington, MN informs us that his wife, Harriet Lou Gaupman Musgjerd '51, died December 15, 1998. Richard and their two children, Todd '79, and Jane survive her. Our sympathy goes to all those families. You continue to be important to us.

Our follow-up letter this summer made it into the manual for class agents-we must be doing something right! Thanks to all of you who contribute time and energy, correspondence and finances to Gustavus. Certainly the college and we as class agents couldn't accomplish what we do without you. Keep those notes and letters coming!

Sincerely,
 

Gloria Martell Benson

1950 Co-Class Agent