Class of '69
I remember writing shortly after our 25th reunion about standing in front of the mailboxes with one of my closest friends wondering about what the new graduates we were watching might be thinking. Did they have any idea how quickly 25 years would pass? I know that in the spring of l969 I couldn't have envisioned a milestone marking the progress of our college years and thereafter as the retirement and departure of Chaplain Richard Elvee. What an unusual feeling to be present for what likely will be the last time I will hear him deliver a Benediction! This has been a year of "lasts" for many of our experiences. The most notable for me was Elvee’s last Christmas in Christ Chapel. The program was built around the Book of Revelation with Elvee as Saint John. What a stunning experience!
A retirement event honoring Dick was held this past May at the Hotel Sofitel. What a diverse group gathered there, all linked together by this love for this one person! What wonderful words of thanks and praise were said! John Ahlstrom ’68, who was a junior in Saint Peter’s high school when Dick arrived at Gustavus in l962, recalled the close friendship that formed between Dick and his father. John remembered that his father, Millard Ahlstrom ’34, once promised to Dick over a cup of Canteen coffee that, "I shall find you, Richard, as acolyte to angels on the 100th anniversary of your ordination."
President Steuer noted that the Chaplain was one whose legacy will last as long as will this college. Many of those who spoke that night recalled that Dr. Carlson chose Elvee for the role of Chaplain to serve in the newly completed Christ Chapel. A former Gustavus President with us that night, John Kendall ’49, recalled that Dr. Carlson saw Elvee "as the presiding person in what was to be the centerpiece of his master plan for a new Gustavus."
Kendall continued his testimonial, asking, "So what does it come to, these 38 years? Political unrest, assassinations, the ’70s…We weren't altogether certain where we were going as a college¾ or as a nation, but somehow you carried us, caring for our center piece and our centering place."
Dennis Johnson ’60, retiring vice president for College Relations, contemplated that master plan. From Bob Jones University, Elvee's Alma Mater in the "buckle of the Bible Belt," Edgar Carlson must have seen something special about Dick¾ it would be interesting to know what that was. Nobel and Christmas in Christ Chapel¾ fancy cloaks and dancing girls¾ try to explain that to someone who has never been to Christmas in Christ Chapel. His time among us included "38 years of magic—from one who could make words dance and sing, and yearn for a Kingdom of Identity."
We recalled that a college Chaplain's life, whatever else it may be, is always more about students. We recalled some of the lives that he touched. As one of us noted, "You have helped many walk out of the shadows and into the light."
Our bittersweet time together, spent praising and celebrating our common love for this phenomenal man ended all too soon. We closed the evening with thanks to God for Elvee’s presence with us in a final prayer before his departure for retirement in Mexico. "For You have indeed blessed us in sending your servant Richard to us. We thank you for the time he spent among us." Godspeed Chaplain!
The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend marked the dedication of the Granlund sculpture honoring Cec Eckhoff ’56. It stands in a direct line between Cec's office window in the administration building and a corner of Old Main, gracing the view of the Minnesota Valley he enjoyed. Appropriately, it's a spectacular piece. At the sculpture’s core is a mobius strip recalling the numerous awards Cec earned for his efforts to build one of the strongest small college alumni programs in America.
As we gathered around the sculpture for the brief remembrance, the day's gentle drizzle prompted Elsa Eckoff to suggest that although it was not the downpour that took place on the day of his funeral, Cec must nonetheless be chuckling about the inconvenience. The praises of many who spoke made clear the significance of Cec's contribution to the college, born in the steadfast dedication and remarkable talent that he brought to his task.
Following the reunion weekend Vespers Service, which provided a fitting end to this part of the tribute, Elsa Cornell ’61 and her family invited all to stop in for one of Cec's daiquiris. I’m certain Cec was there with us¾ holding forth in the kitchen. As friends sat around the kitchen or flowed into the other rooms of that old Saint Peter home, it occurred to me that the legacy he left was not merely calling each other and asking for money on behalf of Gustavus. A machine can do that with greater persistence than can I. Perhaps what Cec did was to find another way to help us connect with and care about each other as members of an ever-expanding Gustavus community.
One way we can extend the symbolism of Paul Granlund’s sculpture, to make it a living memorial to one who worked for all of us, is to spend a few hours staying in touch with each other. An evening or two during October’s Phonorama spent connecting with others might be a fitting testimonial to what Cec offered us.
Now, on to what Cec wanted to teach us how to do¾ to keep in touch with one another. Congratulations to Ward Moberg on his retirement this spring. Ward's note was so fun¾ I'll share as much as I can. "I've taught 5th grade for 29 years in the Osceola School District and I guess by now I have proven that I can hold a job. We just negotiated a 55 clause in our contract this school year, which is my age. Kathy and I plan to stay in Osceola for at least two more years until Diane is out of college."
When Ward wrote this note his daughter, Diane, had just returned from the Gustavus Orchestra trip to England. While there she had an opportunity to play on an organ at a Cathedral in Wales. How very exciting that must have been for her! Ward is also an organ student of a former teacher of Diane's in Minneapolis. He credits this hobby with accounting for a great deal of enjoyment. "In the retirement context, it is golf and woodworking all rolled up into one. I also play for a small Lutheran parish not far from Osceola twice a month and that's just enough."
Ellen Brown Caufman is still in Le Sueur. She reported "nothing new" but continuing to really enjoy working with kids in special education in the Le Sueur schools.
I received an interesting clipping noting that Carol Johnson joined the sales associate staff of Southwest Realty, Century 21 in Marshall. Carol graduated from Marshall High School and went on for a Master’s from the University of Wisconsin at Madison after her work at Gustavus. The press release noted that Carol "is a former educator who has served in a variety of capacities ranging from teacher to principal to facilitator for the SW/WC Educational Service Cooperative in Marshall. Although real estate is a new field for her, she believes that qualities required for selling real estate are similar to those needed for the educational field¾ a commitment to serving people, enthusiasm, knowledge and the ability of solve problems creatively." Best wishes as you pursue that new endeavor, Carol.
Bill and Charlie (Linda Neuleib) Lindberg have qualified for empty nesters status when their second son went to Gustavus. Andrew is a senior majoring in communications and John a freshman interested in archeology. Bill's still farming and taking time for hunting and fishing when he can. Charlie is a media specialist at Kittson Central High School. Reflecting that rural district’s declining enrollment, Charlie describes her diverse day as including teaching geography, desktop publishing, video production, web page development, and new duties as co-president-elect of "MEMO," the Minnesota Educational Media Organization.
Anne Lundholm Leiben's youngest, son Andrew, graduated from Central High School in May. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is a second year medical student at the University of Nebraska, while her other daughter, Caroline, just graduated from Iowa State University.
Jerry Thompson is in his 22nd year of surgery in Bemidji. Son, Jeffrey, just completed his senior year at Gustavus.
Ruth E. Johnson is campaigning to return to Minnesota’s House of Representatives this November. No doubt the Fourth found her in a parade or two. Good luck, Ruth¾ we'll look forward to hearing from you in St. Paul.
Neil Fenske will continue to serve on the Executive Committee of the advisory board of the American Academy of Dermatology, having been elected to another term.
Sandra Hayes Teiken is in her seventh year of serving as lay ministries director (working with volunteers) at Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, Illinois. She now has two daughters who have graduated from college. Emily is a manager of the day program for Victor C. Newmann Mental Health in Chicago, and Carrie is beginning an internship in environmental studies with the National Park Service at Mare Island, California.
Dave and Sue (Brekke) Benson are still in Little Falls. Dave left his real estate business and returned to Agstar Farm Credit Services as senior financial services officer. He's responsible for more territory than previously and commutes to his office in St. Cloud. Congratulations to Sue on her completion of her master's in American studies at St. Cloud State.
Karen Werner Herrmann's oldest son recently moved to Hinsdale where he'll be much closer to his job as an electrical engineer at MCI. Happily, he "really likes it." Her youngest son is also finishing up in electrical engineering at Purdue and has the job search and repayment of school loans ahead of him. Karen spends half her working time in reading recovery and half in ESL. She shared that with the reading recovery program "you see progress and kids gaining so much. It makes me feed good to be a part of that. Kids come in as non-readers and then are reading chapter books by the end of the year." Her community, Plainfield, 40 miles southwest of Chicago, is changing quickly. When her sons were in school there were three elementary buildings¾ now there are seven. The community just passed a referendum for three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school addition and an administrative center. "It seems like subdivisions double every year. It's a little sad in some ways, but a boon for builders¾ they're busy year round!"
Jim and Linda (Martinson) Kuitu's oldest son graduated form Saint Thomas. He's really enjoying his job working for American Express. When I caught them they were excited about their first wedding¾ he'd just gotten engaged that week! Congratulations! Their future daughter-in-law is a Mankato grad whom he met after college. Their youngest son is a graduate of Drake University in computer development and he, too, likes his job¾ at Tekkies.Com in Edina.
When I got to visit with Carley Bjugan Watts she was in the middle of making phone tree calls to other parents with news of the safe arrival of her daughter and 40 other students from Minneapolis high schools who were beginning a two week visit in France. She and her peers would be spending five nights with a host family and then going to Paris. Carley’s daughter was just finishing her junior year and has started college shopping. Northwestern, Madison, and "the East" were very attractive when we spoke. Her interests seem to be journalism, publications, communication, and art and theatre arts.
Carley just took early retirement from Bloomington after putting in 30 years. Interestingly for her, supervision of student teachers from Mankato evolved into a new career. She's now the coordinator of a two-year cohort elementary education program at Normandale Community College. It's possible to get a four-year degree in elementary education from that location by completing general education courses for the first two years of their studies at Normamdale. Mankato provides the second two years of classes, at that location, making it possible to earn a B.A. without having to make a trip to Mankato. Part of Carley's job is to set up intensive clinical school settings for students.
It was fun to hear about Dave Swanson's daughter's recent acceptance to medical school. His son, Kevin, graduated last spring and will be going to Montana State for mechanical engineering. Dave noted "He's ready to go, and so are we. He's one of those students whose activities have kept the whole household on the go. He was captain of three sports¾ He's done it all. Wrestling went all winter with quite a few Saturdays. It's fun, but it will be nice to get a break for a while." It sounds like he'll be taking not only athletic prowess, but also time management skills to college with him. Best wishes to him.
Sue Hedenstrom Puder and I had a fun chat about the splendor of the new cafeteria digs at Gustavus. She had recently attended a catered event there that she'd found "absolutely delicious!" Her oldest son just graduated from the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota in marketing and is going to work for Target. Son, Ben, just finished his junior year at Gustavus¾ in history and geography. Their daughter just graduated from high school and is going to Gustavus in the fall. When we talked they were just starting to get housing information. Sue said they were looking forward to having two at Gustavus at once and "to being empty nesters."
Cheryl Maley Gelbman had just returned from vacation in Costa Rica when I caught her at home. They have friends who bought a villa there. She said it was fun, but "hot, hot, hot!" Her son, Mike, just finished his junior year at Concordia Moorhead where he's majoring in theatre and music. He was finalizing plans to spend the summer working at the Fargo/Moorhead Theatre. They have quite a program and "they'll pay him!" Cheryl was planning to miss having him home for the summer, but pleased with the good experience he'd gain. Their daughter, Jane, will be heading off to Hamline for journalism and political science. When we visited, Cheryl was anticipating the ice going out of Gull Lake at any time¾ quite a refreshing thought in the oppressive heat we were then experiencing so early into spring.
David Benson plans to spend one more year as a school administrator in Colorado and then retire to private consulting and private therapy practice. His oldest son is a senior at St. Olaf, majoring in education. The fall will find him student teaching. His youngest just graduated and will head for Colorado University come fall. Both of them are "major snowboarders."
The 2000-2001 academic year opened with a record enrollment of 2,510 full-time students (compared with the previous record of 2,490 set last year), including 675 first-year students. When students arrived on campus in early September they were welcomed by the newly completed Carlson International Center/Swedish House, a new outdoor track/soccer field, and a newly completed Courtyard Café in the lower level of the Jackson Campus Center. This new café offers specialty coffees, bagels, pastries, and sandwiches, and opens to an outdoor eating area on the Johns Courtyard between the Jackson Campus Center and Lund Center.
Gustavus Adolphus College is once again ranked among the best of all national liberal
arts colleges in U.S. News and World Report's 14th annual "America's Best Colleges" rankings. Gustavus is again in the top 80 of the overall quality listings for national liberal arts colleges. Ranked again in the second tier in the national liberal arts college category, Gustavus is one of only two Minnesota colleges included in the tier two listing and one of four Minnesota colleges ranked in the top 80.
Gustavus recently received the results of a comparative alumni survey that measures alumni responses to a series of questions about their college experience. The study provides comparisons to other groups of colleges including Lutheran colleges, member colleges of the Minnesota Private College Council and, most importantly, with large public universities. We will share with you results of the survey in class letters this year. A sampling of responses to remembrances of college academic life include the following:
· Alumni agree that professors often challenged them, but also personally helped them to meet the challenge. Gustavus alumni agree 78%, large public universities 38%.
· Alumni agree that a large majority of classes were taught by professors as compared to teaching assistants. Gustavus alumni agree 90%, large public universities 32%.
· Alumni remember a high quality, teaching oriented faculty. Gustavus alumni agree 61%, large public universities 25%.
· Alumni remember many small classes with fewer than twenty students. Gustavus alumni agree 50%, large public universities 9%.
Gustavus has received word from the Lilly Endowment that it was one of 20 awardees (out of a pool of 31 colleges and universities) of a $1,963,425 implementation grant. It is the largest program grant the College has ever received. The award will support a comprehensive initiative to more effectively carry out some key aspects of the College's mission statement and encourage theological reflection and moral questioning that forms character, shapes lives, and guides career choices. It will build upon the ethos and climate of Gustavus by supporting already-existing programs, adding new ones, and creating a center to coordinate and intensify those vocation-oriented activities. In doing so, it will provide students with the foundational tools necessary for a lifelong exploration of their calling and a lifetime of community leadership and service to others.
G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors), a day of community service, was held on Saturday, October 7. Numerous sites were selected in the Twin Cities and alumni in other cities around the country participated in the event.
Christmas in Christ Chapel, Heaven and Nature Sing, is December 1-3. A ticket order form was inserted in the Summer Quarterly. Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.
Thanks to all of you for sharing a little of your lives with your friends. Take care to savor what you can of the rest of this autumn.
Jane Leitzman1969 Co-Class Agent