Class of '52
Now I know why I majored in English. It was obviously to write a class anniversary letter fifty years later. In the interim it was useful in writing a seemingly endless stream of legal "briefs": (an oxymoron if there ever was one) in support of or in opposition to causes and claims of varying merit. I like to think that Professors Creel, Alexis, Lindeman and Erickson would note some improvement in my writing efforts; however its probably just as well that they won't be grading me again. Regardless, I am flattered to be asked to be the guest writer of the month.
First on a note of sadness.
Two recent classmate deaths were of particular sorrow to me. As previously reported, Bob Ek died in early January but very little information appeared to be known about his death. A letter I received from his widow, Siv, in response to my earlier letter, and a telephone conversation with Bob's brother enable me to provide some further information. They said Bob had gone cross-country skiing near his lake home. When he did not return when expected, Siv searched for him. When she could not find him, she got help for a broader search; he was found dead on a forest trail sometimes used by trucks, which caused it to be icy. He had fallen sideways and his head had struck a rock. It is believed he slipped on ice, but internal causes for the fall, though unlikely, given his health and the longevity of Eks, could not be discounted.
I first met Siv in New York when Bob was doing an internship there. I was just out of law school on the way to my first job at the Department of Justice in Washington. I found Bob having a more exciting life than I thought the ministry afforded. The first day he reported to his new parish his car was broken into and his clothes and other belongings stolen. Later he found this beautiful young lady in his congregation who had recently arrived from Stockholm. I don't know how he did on reforming the thieves, but he ministered to the young lady so well that she married him. They promptly moved to Canada. After they had four boys, they adopted a French-Indian family of two girls and a boy. Things were never dull. He spent his entire career in Canada where he served churches in several provinces. Despite our difference in vocations and locations our friendship endured and we were sometimes able to exchange visits.
The second recent death was that of Bengt Clemendtson of Karlsham, Sweden. He enrolled with us in the fall of 1948 but because of his credits from the Swedish gymnasium began as a junior and graduated two years ahead of us. He was a bright spirit. Some of you may remember him singing pop tunes accompanying himself on his guitar. His favorite was I'm Sending You A Big Bouquet of Roses, which he sang with a charming Swedish accent. He was also an accomplished pianist and studied Russian for fun. On his return to Sweden he studied law at Lund University. Later he became the president of an insurance cooperative in the province of Bleking. We kept in touch by letters (with commendable patience he would sometimes correct those I wrote in Swedish), telephone and occasional visits. I had the good fortune of taking him on a tour of the Gustavus campus when he visited several years ago. He was truly impressed. As most Europeans, he was interested in American Indians. Against my better judgment and own entertainment preference, I took him to the Mystic Lake Casino to give him an insight into one aspect of contemporary Indian life. The cultural shock was almost too much for him. However, he had recovered by the time I last saw him in Karlsham two years ago.
Peace to them both.
As probably many of you, at this stage of life, I approach reunions with considerable ambivalence. Each year more can't return and our youth never. Still it is enjoyable to renew memories, which are sometimes even improved or at least enlarged, and to exchange life's experiences. Of course many changes have occurred since we graduated. Many came with such haste and continue to do so at such an accelerating pace that I despair of any meaningful comprehension of many of them. Others developed so slowly that the change was almost imperceptible. Having lived through them it is difficult to get perspective and a full realization of the differences between then and now. It helps me to think of how the fifty years from 1902, which preceded our graduation, looked to us when we were seniors, on those rare occasions that we even thought about it. To this years graduating class 1952 must look just as remote and the changes, real or imagined, since then just as great, though they don't to us. In 1952 our operating assumptions on gender roles, and the use of sex, race, age, disability etc, in employment decisions and in a number of other areas, which it didn't occur to most of us needed fixing, at least not enough to do anything about, have long since changed with those of the society we live in. The mores and social customs we lived with now seem a bit quaint. Even the theological truths taught in our religion classes, with their large component of future clergymen, are the subject of reevaluation in light of the critical biblical scholarship of the last twenty or thirty years. Nevertheless, our basic ethical values remain. The difficulty is to apply and balance them. Not only for the unimagined decisions which societal changes and developments in science and medicine now require, but to the increasing intimacy, in the shrunken world, with societies whose values we neither share nor seek and whose economies we do not want to impair our own as we seek to aid them.
Enough of this musing. My appetite to engage in it, I am afraid, far exceeds yours for reading it. Perhaps it is the curse of the fine liberal arts education we received at Gustavus. For me that education was the beginning of a discipline, which has greatly enriched my life. For it I will always remain grateful.
I look forward to seeing you all.
See you at the reunion,
1952 Guest Letter Writer
P.S. Now here is the campus news as written by a current Gustavus student:
Hi! My name is Tracey Hanson. I’m a senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Business Management. I’ve worked in the Alumni Office all four years and can hardly believe that I’m now starting my final semester! Instead of taking a class (and doing homework) this J-Term, I spent my time slaving away in the Alumni Office. It was great to have the extra time to relax and do other activities that J-Term allows. Having unlimited time at home each night made for some great cooking! And getting to watch “Friends” without worrying about the homework you should be doing instead was also a plus! The start of the spring semester (thus, the start of homework) has been a sudden shock to my system!
The campus is full of life and excitement. A successful and busy J-Term just ended, and spring semester is now underway. The theme for J-Term 2002 was "Our Global Village," and the month was a celebration of cultural diversity as we grappled with social, political, economic and philosophical aspects of our ever-shrinking world neighborhood. Faculty offered 29 different classes that tied into this global theme, many of which were travel courses. Examples include Islam and Culture, and Chinese Cooking and Culture. This year, 2319 students enrolled in J-Term courses, with many who studied abroad, participated in internships, student taught or studied at other domestic institutions. I got very jealous when I read e-mails from my roommates who were studying in warm, sunny Australia. J-Term themes for the coming years include “Service-Learning” (2003) and “Undergraduate Research.” (2004).
Gustie winter sports teams are having a great year, as all are near the top in the MIAC.
Gustie music ensembles just returned from their tours. The Gustavus Band embarked on an international tour this J-Term. The band toured Sweden and Norway, presenting “Music from America.” The tour dates were January 16 through February 10. The tour concluded with a homecoming performance on Feb. 10 in Christ Chapel. The Gustavus Choir toured the Midwest during Touring Week in February, concluding with their home concert Feb. 16 in Christ Chapel. The Gustavus Orchestra toured Minnesota, the Dakotas, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa. The orchestra concluded their tour with a home performance Feb. 17 in Christ Chapel.
The Alumni Association is on the road this winter and spring connecting alumni to each other and the College. Director of the Linnaeus Arboretum and Instructor of Environmental Studies, Jim Gilbert ’62, will travel along to provide an interesting and informative program. Complete information is listed on our web site under events. If you need more information, give us a call at 800-487-8437.
April 5 Bay Area Chapter event
April 6 Seattle Chapter event – Luncheon at Buca di Beppo Restaurant
April 7 Denver Chapter event
April 11 Brainerd Lakes Area event
More information will be sent to alumni and friends in these chapter areas.
RSVP to Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or e-mail email@example.com.
As I prepare to graduate in June, I find it increasingly hard to think about leaving this place. It hardly seems possible that four years have flown by, and that in six months I, too, will be considered an alum. I will always carry with me fond memories of my four years here. GO GUSTIES!!!