Class of '53
October 2003

Dear Classmates,

By the time this class letter gets to you the Nobel Conference at Gustavus dealing with "The Story of Life" will have concluded and likely added new insights to the great debate between the "evolutionists," the "intelligent designers" and the "creationists."  You might want to check out the Gustavus web site and purchase the tapes and reports of the Nobel proceedings so you can astound and amaze your friends with your insights at your next coffee klatch.

Now that we have passed our 50th college reunion it is harder to impress our friends that we are still just middle-aged folks.  I notice that people's eyes roll to the top of their head when I mention that I attended my 50th college reunion.  They seem not that interested in the details and instead usually ask how my health is and if I need assistance getting to the top of the stairs.

As new members of the 50-Year Club we are invited back to next year's graduation/reunion weekend as guests of the college.  If the weekend is clear of other commitments, it is not a bad way to spend a couple of days listening to informative seminars, wandering the campus, eating banquet food, and finding coffee at kiosks around every sculpture and flower garden.

In a break with past tradition of class letters that concentrated on brief (and often fictional) information about classmates, I would like to concentrate on a few classmates' stories that have informative insights from the past and present.  The stories all have an interesting way of connecting to each other.

First you need some background…

In the late 1940's and 1950's, Lloyd Hollingsworth '36, head coach, and Lee Krough, assistant coach, built Gustavus into a football powerhouse.  They had convinced a number of returning WWII GI's to come to GA on the GI Bill and play football (and to attend classes and graduate with a degree, we might note).  He used these GI's, some with military football experience, many of them married, to add to a strong cadre of recent high school graduates to become a dominate MIAC champion.  In fact, at one time a Minneapolis Tribune reporter suggested that Gustavus might play the University of Minnesota to determine who had the best football team in the state.

Another part of that era was the vet housing which was located in what is now the parking lot outside the Lund Center.  Vet housing was a collection of inexpensive trailers located next to the Myrum Field House where married veterans could live on campus.  As I recall, the trailers disappeared at the end of our junior year and there has never been married housing on campus since that time.  Our first story comes from Red Nelson, class of '53:

"I won't be able to make the reunion, but I told Bobby Krig I had a couple of important stories to tell--one is to belatedly thank Charlie Hardt for one of the most important events of my life.  My wife decided to have our son on the night of the worst snowstorm in many a year on November 15, 1951.  My car was snowed in and we had no electricity or phones and the hospital was in Mankato.  Charlie and Krueger, I think, took Marie, one on each side, and carried her from the vet's camp all the way to a car that was available and we followed in a truck to the hospital.  They carried her up the hill as I was following behind with the suitcase.  Scott was born in a few hours and without those two, I don't know what would have happened.

"The other is for Marv Gunderson.  Before our championship game in 51, Coach (Lee) Krough took us to Mankato to stay in a hotel, to keep us focused I guess.  Well the rooms had double beds and when Gundy saw that he said, "No way am I sleeping with a married man," and took the blankets and pillow and slept on the floor.  I don't know about him, but I got a good nights sleep.

"Congratulations to all our classmates and have a great time.  It was a great school and I had many friends and teammates that I would have liked to have seen this weekend."                                    Red

At our 25th reunion, about 70 of us were packed into Cec Ekhoff's house on Minnesota Avenue on a Saturday night following the Alumni Banquet.  We were all pretty mellow, drinking from a fine collection of Minnesota brews and California wines.  About midnight someone asked Miriam Zimmerman if she had her violin and if so, would she play a couple of pieces.  She did and she agreed.  I was standing next to Marv Gunderson, ex-Red, ex-ball player, and ex-room mate of Red Nelson for one night.  Marv leaned over to me and said, "Tom, who would have believed it 25 years ago that you and I would be standing together listening to classical violin music and enjoying it?"   Amazing things happened as we aged.

Well, I have this note from Miriam Zimmerman written on May 26, 2003:

"To My Friends and Classmates.

"It is an unhappy task to send my regrets that I cannot be part of the class of '53 reunion.  It looks wonderful and will be a time of joy for all to share.  My warmest thanks to the many who worked so hard to plan the reunion.  Communication has been strong with this class always and the Golden Anniversary Book is incredible and fantastic!  I seldom get to Minnesota, but the Anniversary Book reminded me that Gustavus (and our class of '53) embraces the best the human race has to offer:  past, present and future!  St. Peter was my father's hometown and part of my heart will always be there.  You are all in my memory and thoughts.  Love, Miriam Zimmerman. 

And then she enclosed this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child or a garden patch . . . to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded."

Keeping with our football connections is a news release from the Minneapolis Star Tribune of April 25, 2003 and concerns Cal Roberts.  Cal was an outstanding football lineman in the days when most players played both offense and defense.  Note that Cal made All-American honors as both an offensive and defensive tackle.

"A former Gustavus Adolphus grid star who will be enshrined in the college football Hall of Fame was the father of Sibley County Assessor Cal Roberts.  Cal Roberts Sr., a member of the Golden Gustie teams of the late 40's and early 50's, will be among nine players and coaches entering the Hall in ceremonies in August.  Roberts, who died in 1966, earned small college All-America honors as an offensive tackle in 1950 and as a defensive tackle in 1952.  His Gustie teams were MIAC champions three consecutive years.  Roberts attended Nicollet and St. Peter High Schools and served four years in the Marine Corps before entering Gustavus.  He was drafted by the New York Giants after graduation in 1953 and played two seasons with the pro team before retiring.  He then joined the Augsburg College coaching staff and was a physical education teacher in St. Louis Park."

Dick Engwall picks up his story with references to Gustavus coaching great George Myrum who was killed in a bus crash returning from a game.  Myrum Field House, that great dome shaped building that housed basketball games, wrestling matches, convocations, and that we graduated in, was named in his honor.

"Have enjoyed "Gustie" exposure since birth.  Met Coach Myrum at St. John's football game the week before he was killed.  Have been a Gustie fan since.  Remember the Gustavus choir tour including First Lutheran in Parkers Prairie in the late 30's.  Tuddie Lindenberg was my dad's classmate so we got to visit the teams in the locker room while early teen-agers.  Continued opportunity to return to campus for many events over the years has been great.  Serving on the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association and in recent years, the Board of Directors of the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations are highlights to be treasured.  Most recently, sitting on the (Reunion) Planning Committee meetings has rekindled fond memories.  Gustie spirit reigns!

I close with this short but cogent note from Ethel Alderman Haugen:  "This has been a very difficult year for us.  Our son, Douglas (x80), was killed in a plane crash on January 12, 2002."  I know something of the depth of their pain and sorrow in losing a child.  Our deepest sympathy to Ethel and her family.

So ends some insights into the lives of our classmates.  Life continues to change and challenge us and we move on.

Hold your old alma mater in your hearts.  Think kindly of your maturing classmates.  Save a few dollars to send along to the Gustavus Fund so we maintain our amazing class record for percent of alumni giving.  And do send in some insightful observations and remembrances to help fill out the next class letter.

Tom Boman, Editor and Co-class agent along with Bobby Krig

Campus News:

College opens 142nd Academic Year -- More than 700 new students, including transfer students and international students, joined the Gustavus community this fall, keeping the total student population around 2,515. The retention rate of students from the first to second year remains at 90 percent. These students will be taught by 198 full-time and 55 part-time faculty. Gustavus was again ranked in the top third of the 214 national liberal arts colleges by the U.S. News and World Report.

The Alumni Fund Turns 50 -- On June 30, 1954, the first Alumni Fund officially closed with 1,204 donors (32 percent) and $26,013, under the direction of the executive committee of Dr. Hobart Johnson '21, Dr. Edgar Carlson '31, The Rev. J. Millard Ahlstrom '34, and Ren Anderson '34.  Dollars and donors continued to grow and, under the leadership of Cec Eckhoff '56, alumni participation continually exceeded 50% each year, making Gustavus a national leader recognized with 17 national awards. Alumni contacting alumni has been the hallmark of success; we depend on Phonorama volunteers to make the difference. Help the alumni fund again reach over 50% participation by contributing before May 31, 2004, or by volunteering to make calls during Phonorama, October 12-16 and 19-23.  Do your best to participate in the Alumni Fund to continue the Gustavus tradition of strong alumni support and return the College to national recognition.

Sculptor Paul Granlund '52 dies -- Paul Granlund died on September 15, 2003, the same day his exhibit Retrospective opened as scheduled in the Hillstrom Museum of Art on the Gustavus campus.  He was sculptor-in-residence at Gustavus from 1971-1996.  His figurative bronze sculptures are found in private collections and public installations nationally and internationally, including 30 bronze works on the Gustavus campus.  Retrospective will be displayed until November 9.

Alumni Board members selected -- Seven alumni have been selected to serve a three-year term on the Alumni Board.  They are Liesl Batz '90, Minneapolis, senior vice president and director of marketing, Lakeside Investment Partners; Jan Eiffert Hoomani '62, Raleigh, NC, Realtor, JB Realty; Jim Malmquist '53, Scandia, MN, retired athletics director, Gustavus; Jan Ledin Michaletz '74, Edina, volunteer/homemaker.  Incumbents to serve a second term include Vivian Foyou '02, Mankato, graduate student, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Jason Sawyer '93, Plymouth, vice president, Cronin & Co.; and Dan Currell '94, Alexandria, VA, director of corporate leadership council, Corporate Executive Board.

2003 Hall of Fame inductees -- Nine individuals were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on September 27. Inductees were Val Flom Ashland '87 (volleyball), Wendy Ericksen Bachman '87 (soccer), Karen Ahlstrom Bishop '86 (gymnastics), Jay Coatta '87 (basketball and golf), Marv Gunderson '53 (football), Jim Hearn '81 (tennis), Dave Najarian '82 (football), Betty Wannarka Ringeisen '84 (basketball and track and field), and Larry Shelhamer '76 (soccer).

Gustavus Finishes sixth in Director's Cup -- Gustavus finished sixth out of 395 Division III institutions for the 2002-03 Director's Cup announced recently by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The only all-sports competition in intercollegiate athletics, the award honors four-year institutions with the best overall athletic programs.  Last year Gustavus placed 10th.

Chapel Program -- The Gustavus Chapel program is one of the strongest in higher education averaging 350 students attending Daily Chapel.  In addition, there are many student-led programs including: Apprentice - students who are interested in being part of ministry and open to see where the Spirit might be leading; Christ Chapel Volunteers - assist in the ministry of Christ Chapel by ushering, carrying the cross and candles, reading lessons, writing and/or reading prayers, and serving as assisting ministers; Community Service Center Programs - one-time and on-going service programs; Fellowship of Christian Athletes - athlete or not, time for fellowship, worship, speakers, service projects and mission trips; Gustavus Youth Outreach - committed to sharing the Gospel and providing opportunities to serve by participating in off-campus youth ministry; Habitat For Humanity/Spring Break Work Trips - Habitat works locally and Spring Break Work Trip nationally to fundraise for and build affordable housing; Jewish Organization of Gustavus - for students, faculty and staff who were either Jewish or interested in the Jewish faith; Newman Center - dedicated to building a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith; Prepare - build a new generation of believers through mentors, mission trips, Bible study, prayer and worship; Proclaim - Bible-based contemporary worship and teaching; Taizé - a contemplative worship service of music, prayer, readings and silence; Wednesday Friends -- visits St. Peter Regional Treatment Center residents weekly.

Don't miss A Royal Affair . . . pa rum pum pum pum - Gustavus Library Associates is presenting their biennial benefit for our College's Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library on Saturday, November 15, at the Radisson Hotel South in Bloomington, Minnesota. If you have names for invitations (reservations are due by October 31), an auction item to donate (no later than October 15 please), volunteer time to offer, or if you wish to contribute financially to help defray expenses, we welcome your call today; Marty Penkhus, 507/388.5474 and Susan Wilcox, 952/944.5972, Co-Chairs.

Upcoming Events -- call the Alumni Office at 800/487-8437

  • Charlotte, NC, Gustavus Gathering - October 18
  • Phonorama -- October 12-16 and 19-23, Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington
  • Our Story Conference, The Growing Gender Gap in the African American Community -- October 24-25, Campus
  • Reformation Festival featuring the Gustavus Choir, Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis -- October 25
  • JFK Assassination 40 Years Later, presented by David Jones '83 and Political Science Professor Chris Gilbert at Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington-- November 4
  • A Royal Affair, benefit sponsored by Gustavus Library Associates in the Twin Cities -- November 15