Class of ’61

December 2011

Dear Classmates of ’61,

Six months have already passed after our biggest get-together since graduation:  the 50th reunion.  A huge deficiency in that event was time.  Maybe there should have been a class offered that would keep us on campus for a week or so!  Now the Class of 2015 has begun studies on campus, and it is the largest class in the college’s history.  The Gustavus community has moved onward into the celebration of its sesquicentennial and many of you have participated in observances related to the celebration.  One of the extraordinary events was the Sesquicentennial Dinner on Sept. 30, in Lund Arena which is featured in the Quarterly that is arriving in your homes this month.

Dr. Mary Nelson, you make us very proud!  Your classmates join the entire Gustavus community in honoring you for a lifetime of service and being named one of only five graduates to be noted at the dinner for “Making Your Life Count.”  Your efforts have been sacrificial and very effective in countering the poverty and despair within the West Garfield Park area of Chicago.  Can we clone you?

Thank you so very much to each one who contributed to the Class of 1961 scholarship prior to our reunion for caring about Gustavus’ future students.  Remember that you can send further gifts for that endowment to increase the scholarship and the money that has been donated will continue to earn interest to increase its value.  We more than doubled its value and we did reach the goal of “more than $50,000” to commemorate our 50th year.  By May 31, the amount reached $52,408; it had risen from $24,376 on June 1, 2010.  Your gift will remain as a permanent endowment for our class scholarship for a deserving student through the years.

Text Box:  The current continuing recipient of the Class of 1961 Scholarship is William Lutes ʼ13 (picture left), a junior biology major from Rapid City, SD.  He hopes to go on to medical school to train as a pediatrician.  He is also a three-season athlete in football, indoor and outdoor track.  In summer he worked at a YMCA program for kids and this January he has been accepted to go to Guatemala.  While there he is taking a class that relates to health care and humanitarian issues there and “taking a biological approach to exploring and talking to medical personnel in the clinics.”  He says, “Thank you so much for your financial help this year!  The generosity of the donors behind the scholarships I receive are very important to me and are the biggest reasons I am still at Gustavus.”

A curious and very skinny fellow named Flat Gus is searching for Gustavus graduates during this sesquicentennial year.  When he arrives in your mailbox, you should take your picture of the excitement the two of you find (families may be added) and then send him on his way quickly to another Gustie.  The picture should be e-mailed (or mailed) to Gustavus.

Class letters are slated for changes in the Commission 150 era.  News from classmates will be included only in the Quarterly and it will be written by the class correspondent.  You may send items to the Alumni Office, however, and they will forward them to me.  You may also e-mail news directly to me at srsehlin@comcast.net.  The lead time from when you send the news and when it is printed will be about two months.  Class letters will be arriving in spring and in the autumn, and they will convey the class “business news” and, probably, the correspondent’s ramblings.  Please continue to share items.  Because so many of you work in interesting volunteer efforts, it would be fun to focus on your favorite volunteer “job” in our spring class letter.

A third classmate has passed away since our reunion.  On behalf of classmates, I extend sympathy to Mary, one son and one daughter on the death of Doug Perkins on Sept. 23, in Afton, MN.  Doug was president of Oilton Remote Detection Technologies.

“Julljus” (Light from the Old World Light to the New) was the theme for this Advent’s Christmas in Christ Chapel.  It was beautiful for the ears, eyes and brains as it presented historical perspective by tracing Christianity and Lutheranism from Sweden to Gustavus.  It was very moving and related well to this year’s sesquicentennial.  Attending the Saturday performances was a great ’61 group.  We could have held a mini-’61 reunion for 50 1/2!  We saw Rev. Roger ’60 and Nita Swanson Anderson, Dr. David ’60 and Karen Westman Carlson, Sally Enstrom, Rev. Jerry ’59 and Joan Miller Hoffman, Stu and Marlys (Johnson ’58) Johnson, Jo Larson Karvonen and her 98-year-old mother (formerly a class agent), Dr. Arne and Miriam Lind Lagus, Carole Paulson Olson and her son and daughter who are both Gusties, Robert and JoAnn Schwartz, and Ralph and Marlys (Schneider ʼ63) Swenson.

Text Box:  Many of you remember fondly Dr. Arthur Glass who was a respected professor of biology and the sciences at Gustavus for 36 years.  A large article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in autumn featured the 90-year-old Dr. Glass as a hunter with his son Tracy (picture right) and son-in-law Bernie Lacher on Dog Lake, east of St. Peter on eight acres of shoreline that Dr. Glass purchased for a duck hunting camp.  He describes it, “This is a little paradise out here.”  The Glass family consists of four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  Gladys Glass is 89.  Tracy notes, “My father taught me years ago that it’s not what you bring home, it’s the time out here.”  “This will probably be my last opener,” he said later.  “But I’ve said that before.”

Our class needs officers!  Gustavus’ expanded class officer’s system is intended “to enable alums to actively advance and participate in the mission of the College.”  Terms run from one reunion to another.  Now that many of you are retired, engaging in the College will certainly be interesting and rewarding.  The Alumni Office is truly a very helpful group, too.  Stu Johnson, St. Peter MN, has agreed to serve as Annual Fund Chair.  Stu will stay in touch with our class’ efforts in a financial sense on behalf of the Gustavus Annual Fund.  He talked with many of you during our 50th year fund raising campaign and headed the demanding “calling all classmates” function.  Stu knows statistics and fund raising after a lifetime as vice president of the Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation.  In addition, we need a Class President to preside over class activities.  This person coordinates efforts and information and will “work collaboratively with the Alumni Board of Directors, the Classes Committee of the Alumni Board and the office of Alumni Relations.  A Vice President/Reunion Chair is sought who plans events for our class and assumes the duties of the President if he/she is unable to do so.  The format also calls for a Student Recruitment Chair who seeks and coordinates information about Gustavus quality high school students and recommends them to admissions officials.  This individual works with the GRN, a volunteer group dedicated to locating future Gustavus students.  Much more information is available if you contact me or the Alumni Office.

As Christmas enters your hearts and homes, you are wished love and a moving and reflective peek into the manger which holds the greatest gift we can ever receive.  On behalf of Gustavus, your class officers extend happy wishes for the holiday and huge thanks for remembering the alma mater so well.

Rich blessings to you and yours,

Virgene Grack Sehlin

1961 Communications Chair

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From the Annual Fund’s perspective, the 50th anniversary year for the Gustavus class of 1961 was a huge success.  The June 2011 class letter highlighted some facts regarding the contributions of our class.  Here are a few more facts that should make you feel happy about supporting Gustavus.

  •  Annual giving (by the class of ’61) from June 1, 2000 through May 31, 2010 reached $776,520, a nice average of $77,652 per year.
  •  Annual giving from June 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011 was $108,983!  So, we blew that average out the window.  This sum was given by 129 members, or 64%, of the class.  This is a very respectable percentage of giving.  Congratulations, class members.
  •  When Pat Ecklund Fick and I presented the “show and tell” check to President Jack Ohle, the sum of $1,509,743 included $1,400,000 + that has been pledged to Gustavus through estate planning by 18 members of our class.
  • This year’s annual fund is off to a slow start.  As of December 6, 2011, 28 class members have contributed $15,416.  I surely hope the class can contribute at least up to the 10-year average.  Give now and you will not have to worry when the call will come from Saint Peter to give to the Annual Fund.  ☺

If you have not included Gustavus in your estate planning and would like to, please give Paul Tillquist a call at:  651-486-8273 or Willy Johnson at:  866-487-3863.  These two will gladly set up what you exactly want to do or give you options at what you are able to do.  As Marli and I will attest, naming Gustavus in your estate planning brings a number of perks!  Do it and find out.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Stu Johnson

1961 Annual Fund Chair

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Dr. Paul D. Hanson, Belmont MA, wrote a moving “Reflection” at the time of our 50th reunion as a tribute to our deceased classmate, John Van Deusen.  John inspired many of us with his great attitude and with all that he could do even with a handicap.  Paul titles the tribute, “John Van Deusen, Community Developer.”

“Please do not take the title of this reflection literally.  John Van Deusen was neither CEO of a Community Development Corporation nor director of a Municipal Department.  Nevertheless, it is a title sure to resonate with all Gusties who knew John and continue to cherish memories of this remarkable man.  For wherever John was, community developed, yes, even flourished.  It is as simple as that.

I first met John in July of 1956.  I was attending a Luther League conference in Chicago and was sixteen-years old.  In the lobby of the Hilton I saw a young man my age in a wheelchair.  A sense of awkwardness overwhelmed me.  I wanted to look, yet I would be obliged to strike up a conversation with him.  I must explain, John was terribly crippled, with his head drawn into his chest, his arms misshapen, his legs unable to hold him upright.  In general it appeared that all of the muscles of his body had been drawn taut.  And in fact they had been by a chronic disease, as I later learned.  But what struck me most and what helped me overcome my fear as I walked up to greet him was this:  A huge smile lit up his face as he observed the people passing by him in the hotel lobby.

“Hi! I’m Paul Hanson,” I said.  “Aagh.  Aaa Jaan vaan Deuvv…sen.”  John’s head jerked as he worked to get the sounds out.  As one totally inexperienced in dealing with the handicapped, I again began to feel anxious.  But as soon as the tortured labor of getting the words out had been accomplished, John looked at me, and the huge smile returned.  A flash of wonder filled my soul.

A year later in the fall of 1957, our paths crossed for the second time, in the ingathering of the members of the incoming class of freshmen at Gustavus.  Then over the course of the next four years I was blessed to get to know this remarkable, courageous man as a friend.  He became the source of inspiration and object of affection for a group of twelve of us, living in neighboring off-campus houses.  For long periods of time during those years, he was in Rochester, Minnesota, undergoing surgery at the Mayo Clinic.  Ever optimistic, he would leave amidst prayers and good wishes expressing confidence that when he came back, his speech would be restored.  Though it never was, and though his condition actually became worse, the huge smile, and the affectionate, mischievous twinkle in his eyes never faded.  In our house, we were ever preparing for the next trick from our neighbors, knowing that John’s mind never rested.  One week it was the careful substitution of shaving cream for the whipped cream on the chocolate pie in our refrigerator.  The next week it was the scrambling of all of our underclothes in our closets.  Of course, we got back at John, too, in ways you might think nasty, but sent John into peals of laughter like setting him in the bathtub, and having him repent of all his tricks before we’d lift him out.

What was it about John’s presence, in playful moments and in serious ones, that brought out a deep sense of mutual caring within our group?  John summoned us to the basic qualities of life, to simple laughter, to honest prayer, to looking out for each other.  In a time before electric wheelchairs, John could get nowhere without one of us pushing him.  But those were times richly rewarding.  We were deeply honored to be John’s friends.  We would compete over the privilege of pushing that wheelchair up the hill.

After college our paths went separate ways.  Occasionally I’d receive news about John from Don or Stu, more operations, experimental drugs, a weakening physical condition.  But that was the inessential side.  The real side was completion of seminary, internship, courtship and marriage to Lisa, a lovely woman whom he met at a clinic for patients with the syndrome they shared, and a full-time job as a computer programmer for Blue Cross.

If we fast forward, we arrive in Columbia, South Carolina, where, having delivered a guest lecture, I was walking down a hallway toward the exit.  My eyes came to rest upon a man in a wheelchair, a very crippled man, but upon his face was a huge, warm smile, in his eyes a mischievous twinkle.  It was the most lovely sight I could have witnessed on this side of the Blessed Kingdom.  I ran up to John, and hugged him for a long time, my eyes overflowing.  We didn’t talk for minutes.  Indeed, I sensed John no longer could talk.  But we didn’t need to talk to communicate the affection we felt.  When I was obliged to leave to catch a plane back to Boston, I was filled with thoughts about life, and God, and community.  As before, John had brought me back to the basics.  You see, John Van Deusen is a community developer, and that last visit clarified for me like never before, the community John builds—and the present tense is intentional—is the Kingdom of God.  We love you, John!”

Campus News

National Sesquicentennial Celebrations

Throughout the coming year, Gusties are gathering across the country to reflect on Gustavus’s past, celebrate 150 academic years, and engage for the future.  In conjunction with the celebrations on campus, the College invites all alumni, parents, and friends for a celebration in an area near them.  Here is a list of some upcoming chapter events.  You can view them all and register for an event at gustavus.edu/150.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 -  Dallas: Lawry’s Prime Rib

Thursday, January, 19, 2012 -  Houston: The Remington Restaurant at St. Regis Houston

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - Naples, FL: Naples Beach Club and Hotel

Thursday, February 9, 2012 -  Tampa: Malio’s Prime

Saturday, February 18, 2012  - San Francisco: Hs Lordship

Sunday, February 19, 2012  –  Los Angeles: The Paley Center

Monday, February 20, 2012  - Palm Springs: Escena Golf Club

Tuesday, February 21, 2012  - Sun City: Briarwood Country Club

Tuesday, February 21, 2012  - Phoenix: Rita’s Kitchen

Friday, February 24, 2012  - Tucson: Warren and Donna Beck’s Residence

Friday, March 16, 2012-Seattle:  The Swedish Cultural Center

Sunday, March 18, 2012 - Denver: Three Tomatoes Steakhouse and Club at Fossil Trace

Gustie Breakfasts

Join your fellow Gusties for breakfast and to learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Gustie Breakfasts.  December’s speaker will be Dick Kenney, author of two Gustavus Sesquicentennial books and January’s speaker will be Mark Braun, Gustavus Provost.  The St. Peter Breakfasts are held in the banquet rooms on campus at 7:30 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month and the Twin Cities Breakfasts are held at the Doubletree Hotel in Minneapolis at 8 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month.  RSVP by calling 800-487-8437 or e-mail alumni@gustavus.edu.  Hope to see you bright and early!

Join Gustavus Library Associates

“Whether you went to the college library to study, do research, meet a hot date, or create (or look for) a library prank, the library was an almost daily stop during our college years.  What better way to acknowledge that important relationship than by joining the Gustavus Library Associates (GLA)?  GLA's mission is to promote literature, learning, and the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library at Gustavus Adolphus College.  All of its membership dues go directly to the annual acquisitions budget of the Library; income from the Royal Affair, Books and Bloom, and other major fundraisers goes to the Library’s endowment.

With this in mind, I encourage you all to become GLA members.  You can find the application form on the web at:  gustavus.edu/gla.  You’ll find all the news about the organization’s events and the membership forms along with a list of membership options.