Class of '50
April 2003

Dear Friends and Classmates of 1950,

Last time I wrote we'd had an ice-quake that shivered our timbers.  Now Green Lake is over half free of ice, reflecting the cloud-free, azure sky.  The spring migration is in full force, with robins galore, geese and swans winging their way north, great blue herons and egrets standing in the open waters; and I heard a loon a couple weeks ago.  Those who listen to Jim Gilbert ’62, naturalist who teaches at Gustavus, may have heard him mention that one Sunday morning on WCCO radio.

The big news at Gustavus is that the statue of Gustavus Adolphus (I bet you thought I was going to talk about the new president, didn't you?) that was toppled as a result of the tornado five years ago and remounted facing west instead of his usual east (they left him that way to watch for more tornadoes and to supervise the reconstruction of all the damage) has now been replaced in the position he had held since 1932, facing the valley and the future with great aplomb.  I'll be able to visit campus now without becoming discombobulated by his facing the "wrong" way.  After all, I grew up with that statue as little kid and all the years thereafter, and the change was disconcerting.

Gustavus's 14th president is Dr. James L. “Jim” Peterson, who was graduated from Gustavus in 1964, majoring in biology.  He received his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1972.  He has been president and CEO of the acclaimed Science Museum of Minnesota at St. Paul.  He began his career as a high school science teacher.  More information can be obtained from the Gustavus web site, for those of you with a computer.  His background is most impressive.  I have never met him, but I like to recount my experience with his wife, Susan (Pepin ’65).  Henry and I attended former governor, Harold LeVander's ’32, funeral at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul.  All we knew was that the pastor was Susan Peterson.  She uttered three words from the pulpit, projecting clearly with a hint of drama, and I said to myself, “Oh, my word, she's one of Evelyn Anderson's girls.”  It turned out that she was Susan Pepin at Gustavus and, yes, a theater student.  I wonder what her plans are now.

I visited campus in March with a friend who wanted to see "A Community of Artists:  The Collection of the Provincetown [MA] Art Association and Museum" at the Hillstrom Museum of Art.  Beth and her family spend some time on Cape Cod in the summer and she was familiar with many of the sites pictured.  She had not seen the campus since the tornado, so I was glad so much reconstruction and new construction had taken place.  Going downtown to visit the Bjorling's Swedish Kontour Shop, we also stopped in a delightful shop next door, and whom should I see but Lorraine Pedersen [Vic ’50] who used to work at the Book Mark.  In fact, it was she who told me who had been named the new college president that morning.

Now I better get to the few items of class news I received.  A couple seem to be repeats of news in the January letter, but maybe I'm in error.  Not many of you are writing, though, so that makes these letters more difficult to write.

Pete Lokkesmoe of Elgin, IL, wrote:  “I have been retired these past five years.  I was formerly employed by the Boy Scouts of America and have served councils in Mankato and St. Paul, Minnesota; in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and finally in St. Charles, Illinois for thirty-one years.  I dropped out of Scouting for a six-year period and at that time was director of lay activities for the Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI.  I have one daughter, Barbara, who married David Pool, and currently she is a supervisor of night nurses at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL.  I have two granddaughters:  Kelsey, age 8 and Amy, age 4 and they are the light of my life!  I also have a 9-year-old Maltese named Snowflake.  My wife, Evelyn of 40 wonderful years of married life, died six years ago from cancer.  I live 30 miles west of Chicago just off Interstate 94.  I welcome fellow classmates any time.  Do drop in.”  Thank you for the update, Pete.  Have fun with those granddaughters‑and Snowflake.

Charles R. Kiecker retired from the Alliance Bank in New Ulm, MN after 48 years in banking.  That's a good long record.  Enjoy your retirement, fully, Charles.

Another retiree is Dorothy Orn Olson of St. Peter.  She said there wasn't any news except that she is retired and does as she pleases.  She adds an emphatic “Ha!" to that last bit.  One would think that one of these times I'm in St. Peter that our paths would cross, but they haven't.  Are you still playing golf, Dorothy?  Of course, I haven't for years, so that wouldn't help any, and I'm not there often on Sundays, so I don't see you at Trinity.  Dorothy was our organist for several years there.

I discovered I included the news note from Bob Pierson and that of Elly Barnes Dahlstrom, and the phone messages from Lois Herdliska Sandberg and Mary Harper Schultz last time.

I had a nice letter from Richard Priest in Las Vegas, NE who became seriously ill on a trip in Arizona, but he is recovering.  He is still being included in the plans for the school that will be named after him‑‑a signal honor for a teacher.

As far as I know, Gale Skold is continuing to improve from his auto accident on October.  He practically had to start from square one in learning how to do common, ordinary every day things.  The best news to me was that he started to play the piano again.  Music is good therapy, and for a musician, it must be tantamount to a sheer necessity.

The note from Delpho Peterson of Keokuk, IA, wasn't as encouraging.  Some time ago he wrote:  We're spending a few months in Florida, which we have done for the past eleven years.  Our health this year is not as good―Phyllis has been struggling with pancreatic cancer and is in the end stages.  We live day by day and are always thankful for God's grace and the years he's given us.  God's blessings―Sincerely, Delpho and Phyllis”

I am so sorry you are both going through this struggle.  Our good wishes and prayers are with you both.

Two of our classmates have passed away since last I wrote:  Beulah Carlson of Mahtowa, MN on January 10, 2003, and Thomas Mitchell of St. Paul, MN on February 20, 2003.  Our sympathy goes to their families.  I don't have any other details.  Then Gleva Hanson, whose husband, Grant, was librarian at Gustavus when we were students, passed away on January 20 this year.  She also taught English at the college from 1946 to 1947.  Some of you may have had her as a teacher.  You may recall how many part time teachers were employed in English and Christianity during those post-war years when all you GI's came back to college.

Another death to report is that of Dr. John Roslansky ’48, Woods Hole, MA on April 5, 2003.  John was editor in chief of the published proceedings for the Nobel Conferences at Gustavus from its start in 1965 through 1975.  You may remember him as the calm and very helpful lab assistant for the zoology classes we took as students.

This letter also serves as a reminder that the Gustavus Alumni Fund closes May 31, 2003.  If you have made a pledge, please pay it now, send in a second contribution or send one in even if you weren't called on Phonorarna and made a pledge.  The good news is that this year's fund is running about 3% ahead of last year’s, but the number of donors is significantly down.  Even a modest gift to Gustavus is deeply appreciated, so please help our class improve our percentage of giving to our alma mater.

This letter is too late to tell you to listen to Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion” being broadcast from Gustavus April 12, but I hope many of you heard it.  I'm really looking forward to hearing it tomorrow night.

Phonorama is coming up the end of April, so please respond to the callers with messages and pledges.  It's a good chance to hear from a classmate again.

How could I forget?!  Gustavus' men's basketball team came in second in the NCAA Division III Men's Final Four, losing by only two points in the championship game.  I have a feeling that the Alumni Office will add more details on that game at the end of this letter.  A good number of fans went to Salem VA for that final game.

Unless something spectacular happens in the next couple months, you most likely won't receive another class letter until September.  Unless more news notes are forthcoming, I may ask for a replacement as class agent.  I can't remember how long I've been doing this, but it may be time for someone with a fresh approach.  A sincere thank you to all of you who have written or emailed me.  The response has been heartwarming.

God bless you all,

Gloria Martell Benson

1950 Co-class Agent

Campus News:

Alumni Fund Closes May 31 – 1000 New Donors Needed

The Alumni Fund closes May 31.  Gustavus alumni are trying to again be the best Lutheran college in percentage of alumni annual giving.  The goal is to reach 45% participation this year.  If you have already given, THANK YOU!  If you have given in the past and not yet this year, Gustavus students need your support again.  If you have missed giving, Gustavus needs only 1,000 new donors to reach the goal.  Give online at <gustavus.edu> or call 800/487-8437.

Campus Focuses on Peace

Three annual conferences this spring discuss peace.  Conflict Resolution: International, National, and Local was the theme of the annual student-run “Building Bridges” Conference in March featuring Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica. The Association of Congregations Meeting will feature Protestant leader Lyle Schaller to talk about the future of the church and the changing role of laity and church staff. And the annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference in April is titled, “World Religions: Waging War or Promoting Peace?” featuring keynote speaker Krister Stendahl, emeritus professor of divinity, Harvard University, and former bishop of Stockholm, Sweden.

Gustavus Band 125 Year Celebration

What started as 13 silver instruments in 1878 has evolved into the Gustavus Band, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary in May.  Highlights for the weekend will include the performance of the 100+ member alumni band and the commissioned work, Of Wind and Wood, by composer Steve Heitzeg ’82 which will be premiered by the current Gustavus Band.

Men’s Basketball Team National Runner-up

The men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker in the NCAA Division III championship game 67-65 to Williams, on two game-winning free throws in the final seconds of play.  Gustavus was the first MIAC team to ever make it to the championship game.

Celebration of Community Service

The Community Service Center at Gustavus is ten years old.  Since its creation, students participating in community service and service learning in the class room has dramatically increased.  Currently 60% of the student population participates in some sort of community service program while at Gustavus.  The annual G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors) day of community service will be a time for alumni and students in Minnesota to gather at Gustavus to celebrate and serve, while alumni in other cities will also be doing service projects in their own communities.

Upcoming Events

  • Association of Congregations Meeting – April 26
  • Phonorama – April 27-30, May 1
  • 125th Anniversary of the Gustavus Band – May 3 & 4
  • G.I.V.E. Day and 10th Anniversary of the Community Service Center – May 10
  • 1953 and 50 Year Club Reunion – May 30 & 31
  • Alumni Fund Fiscal Year Closes – May 31
  • Commencement – June 1