Class of '51
January 2010

Dear Classmates,

Ray Lundquist suggested to Dorothy Johnson Lutz that this month’s letter should be written by Stan Benson.  Now that should work through his ghost writer of 53 years, but you already heard about his celebrating 50 years in the ministry in Dorothy’s letter of last November.  So we will give you more details of Stan’s journey overseas from the year of graduation in 1951 when he with classmate, Clarence Budke set out for British North Borneo to be teachers.  They really wanted to go to Tanganyika but there was a crisis need for teachers in Borneo so off they went.  Two years later they were released to transfer to Tanganyika where another classmate, Stewart Carlson (now deceased), was headmaster at the First Lutheran Secondary School located at Ilboru outside of Arusha.  When the Carlsons went on furlough Clarence was made headmaster at Ilboru while Stan joined his step uncle and aunt, Richard and Elveda Reusch, to begin work among the Maasai tribe.  Soon they had retired and Stan’s function was to help settle missionary families in three outposts among the Maasai.  By the time Stan had that accomplished he was due for furlough after his first 4.5 year term.

He headed to U.S. with the intent to marry Marie (Schafer ’52) (ghost writer) and seek ordination by attending Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois, for three years.  That soon brought him and his family to the 50 year ago event about which Dorothy had info in November─the event for celebration during 2009.  From there on it was 33 years of work in what soon became the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.  (Tanzania was the new name for Tanganyika) Stan was always related to the Maasai tribe but had many other avenues of service.  They went with son, John ’80, who had his first birthday en route to Africa on a freighter and Todd ’83 and Jeff were born in 1960 and 1965 in Arusha─always home base for the Bensons.  Currently their three sons reside on three continents:  John '80 is a professor at MSU-Moorhead, Todd works in Kampala, Uganda, but his beat includes several other African countries as he deals with food security in the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Jeff works in Seoul, South Korea, for an engineering company, CH2M Hill, serving the U.S. military and the government of South Korea as they move the military establishment from downtown Seoul to the countryside.

So the 33 years in Tanzania and 17 in retirement in St. Peter add up to a blessed life.  Stan has dealt with total hip replacement in 2008 which led to a leukemia diagnosis.  However, chemotherapy he had last fall has resulted in no need for blood transfusions for the past six months.

That is more than you wanted to know about this member of the class so we owe you info about other members of the class of 1951.  First colleague in missions, Clarence Budke, resides in retirement with his wife, Ruth (Larson ’52) in Waynesville, North Carolina, after being a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod clergyman in eastern U.S. following their being missionaries in Papua New Guinea.

The Budkes reside relatively near another classmate, Betty Correll, who was in Tanganyika with us 1956-1972, as she relocated from her Connecticut home base for retirement to a Christian community at Black Mountain, North Carolina.  She has been volunteering for the "Angel Food Boxes Program" through her church.

We met Don and Rhoda Smith Nelson at the annual Augustana service held each September at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina.  For some years in retirement they have been spending their winters in Hawaii and their summers at their Owl Hollow cabin at Hayward, Wisconsin.  However, their final paragraph of their Christmas letter from Hawaii read:  Because of rising apartment rent and all other prices, with declining income due to the recession, we can no longer afford to live in Hawaii.  We expect to leave here in May, living initially at our cabin, waiting for an apartment at Presbyterian Homes Continuing Care Retirement Center in Bloomington, MN.  Rhoda claims she is the youngest member of the class of 1951 as she will not have her 80th birthday until May of 2011.  Rhoda was also one of the first women to be admitted to medical school as she graduated from Gustavus but she did not take up that opportunity as she became the wife of Don Nelson, long term clergyman retired now, graduate of sister college Bethany in Lindsborg, KS.   By the way, the Nelsons were also missionaries to Borneo following the Benson and Budke duo by several years.

We enjoy good reunions with Jack and Leanne Norman whenever we meet here at the college.  That usually happens at alumni weekend and at Nobel Conference.  They live in Buffalo, MN, and their family surrounds them in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities.  Their recent Christmas letter recorded, “The highlight of our year was the weekend of January 17 when we celebrated Jack’s 80th birthday at Faith’s Lodge in Danbury, Wisconsin, with all of our family.”

Bill and Marilyn Barnes Robertz continue their long residence here in St.Peter.  They share the same birth day which usually falls during Nobel Conference.  This past year Bill was 80 and Marilyn was 82 on October 3.  There is much octogenarian activity in the class of ’51.

Farther afield is classmate Dr. Dennis Lofstrom who with his wife, Paula, spend much of the year near Mwanza, Tanzania, building a Lutheran hospital at Nyakato.  They return to U.S. for the Nobel Conference and then fund raise all over the country before returning early each new year to their mission of building Nyakato.  This time they are on a major detour as on December 28 Dennis had major surgery on his back at Mayo Clinic.  They plan to return to Tanzania in February, but it remains to be seen whether they will catch that plane.

December was full of wonders here in St. Peter related to the events of the month.  There were the wonders of Christmas in Christ Chapel to start the month, St. Lucia Festival the following week with Neal and Leandra providing entertainment for the program, and the Scandinavian Yuletide breakfast with program by Roland Thorstensson and the students who journeyed with him for several months early in 2009 in Sweden.  The season was punctuated by the deaths of three veteran Gustavus professors.  Chet Johnson and Marian (Swanson ’41) Johnson who originated the Yuletide breakfast.  Chet died on December 8, six hours following a massive heart attack and Marian joined him as the new year began January 1.  The morning of Christmas Eve Pastor Clair Johnson died.  Chet began the geology department at Gustavus, Clair was the first chaplain of the college but segued into the religion department, and Marian taught library science to several now retired librarians.

Carol Gaustad Langsjoen ’42, wife of Arnie ’42, died last September.  Arnie continues in his home in Valley View where so many professors built their homes in the 1950s.  Most of those couples have moved on to glory now.  Your classmates, the Lutzes, the Bensons, and the Robertzes, all contend that this is the best retirement place in the world, right at the edge of the alma mater, Gustavus Adolphus College.  Webster says alma mater is Latin for nourishing mother.  Appropriate, eh?

Stan and Marie (Schafer) Benson ’51 ’52

Guest/Ghost Letter Writers

Campus News

Gustavus gets 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.

New “Make Your Life Count” Website and Facebook Page

Gustavus has created a new “Make Your Life Count” website that includes a variety of feature stories exemplifying the College’s new brand position launched last month.  The stories celebrate Gustavus students, alumni, faculty, staff, programs, events, and organizations.  The website may be accessed from the Gustavus homepage by clicking on the “Make Your Life Count” brand line (in the upper right hand corner) or by visiting makeyourlifecount.blog.gustavus.edu.  The “Make Your Life Count” stories are also posted on a new Facebook page.  Become a fan and share your own Gustavus story.  When new feature stories are published, they will be communicated on the Gustavus News Twitter, and you may also subscribe (on the Make Your Life Count website) to receive e-mail updates.  To submit a “Make Your Life Count” story suggestion, click on the “Submit your story” link or e-mail the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at marketing@gustavus.edu

Gustavus Wind Orchestra

This year the Gustavus Wind Orchestra will be touring in Eastern Europe the week of January 21 –February 3.  Stops include Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Germany.   They will perform at various churches, theaters and even exchange with a local music school.  Their home concert will take place in Christ Chapel on Saturday, February 13, at 2:00 p.m.

“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:  Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives – Jan. 20; Doug Minter ’79 Director of Student Financial Aid and Kirk Carlson ’95, Associate Director of Student Financial Aid – Feb. 17.

Upcoming Events

  • Jan. 26 – Job Transition Workshop – Transfiguration Lutheran Church
  • Feb. 9 – Destin, Florida brunch – Another Broken Egg Café
  • Feb. 13 – Gustavus Wind Orchestra Home Concert – Christ Chapel, 2:00 p.m.
  • Feb. 17 – Twin Cities Breakfast – Gustavus Financial Officers
  • Feb. 19 – Tucson Chapter Event – Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’67 ’66 residence
  • Feb. 20 – Phoenix Chapter Event – Larry and Deone (Nordquist) Cartford ’59 ’59 residence