Class of '69
April 2003

So Friends,

You were supposed to have gotten this class letter in January.  No problem, I said.  January was only a few weeks ago, right? 

Well, it may feel like three weeks ago, but I’m constantly being bombarded by not very subtle reminders that I’ve lost two months somewhere along the way.  The cross-country skis still stand hopefully in the garage, but it’s doubtful they’ll see the trails again this year.  The lakes are starting to show open water as another ice age recedes.  Our mornings are now announced by returning birds.  Spring is here.

I know that each year passes by more quickly, but the rate of acceleration is way out of proportion.  It was just October and the Girl Scouts were volunteering at a senior citizens’ dinner, and now the cookies are delivered, the coupons collected, and we’ve just returned from an outing made possible by all those boxes of cookies I bought, “Midnight at the Museum.” 

We drove to Saint Paul in the midst of a minor return to winter for an overnight at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Along with the films and exhibits, each group of Girl Scout participated in a science exploratory.  Our group slipped in with others to learn more about archeology in Minnesota.  Our guide offered a fascinating description of her recent “dig” in northern Minnesota.  Even without lost gold and evil curses, her experiences encouraged the girls to begin a study of archeology.

She described a small lakeside village located along a narrow peninsula that became an island following erosion and an increasing water level.  When a gentleman out for Muskies hooked a skull from the town’s inundated cemetery, those remaining in the community knew they had a problem.  The projected cost to move the graves to the “mainland” was $45,000 per descendent.  Their solution was to invite graduate students to conduct an archeological exploration that would reduce the cost to free if they could research and write papers on the persons they “unearthed.”

Using local records and the memories of residents, the team was able to find a death certificate for each individual known to have been buried in the flooded cemetery.  They also had Aunt Myrtle, who knew everyone in town and most of the people in the cemetery.

We were all fascinated by our guide’s explanation of the technical details of her dig.  A grave shaft, we learned, is almost always identified by the difference in soil composition caused by removing and returning earth.  This proved helpful, because in many cases lilac bushes were planted in lieu of headstones.

One of the slides shown depicted the skeleton of a young woman with a long braid wound around her head.  Our presenter recalled the painstaking process of cleaning the hair and numbering all bones found with it for reburial.  To help confirm the woman’s identity, the team used a computer to suggest what the woman might have looked like during her life.  Aunt Myrtle immediately recognized her, providing details about her and her family.

The skull assigned to our presenter to document as her “project” rattled when she first picked it up.  She found that it contained a bullet.  The deceased, once a boxer in Chicago, had been shot during his career in that city.  While the bullet that lodged behind his eye did not kill him, during his recovery from that wound he fell victim to Tuberculosis.  The village’s records revealed that he made the trip to northern Minnesota in the hope that the cold, clean air would encourage his recovery.  He may also have infected many of the town’s residents who became TB victims and died with him.

After that personal introduction to Minnesota archeology and a full night of exploring the Museum’s exhibits, we stretched out our sleeping bags on the cold, hard floor among the wonders of DNA and physics in our everyday lives.  It was a quite fun event, even the sleeping on the floor part.

And now, “the rest of the story…”

During fall Phonorama last October I found Paul J. Anderson at home in Downer’s Grove, Illinois.  At that time Paul reported that he was working with Ecolab and had nothing exciting to report.

Bill Bergeson, who was with us for three years, but took his degree from the University of Minnesota, is retired from Kodak and has traded working with copiers for driving tractors on his 150 acre Texas hobby farm near Austin.  With his son nearing the end of medical training and his daughter serving as a corporate comptroller, Bill says he’s ready to count his chickens as they hatch.

Shirley Johnson Blichfeldt continues to teach mathematics in one of the Orlando area’s largest high schools.  She describes her 5,000-student school as one of the more culturally diverse in that area.

Tim Bloomquist and spouse, Sandy (Leasure’70), live in Cambridge and are expecting their fourth grandchild in February.  Tim continues to serve as a judge in the tenth judicial district.

Toni Dangelo Boie is getting ready to help plan her daughter’s spring wedding while looking for a “good paying, part-time position.”  She served Davis-Frost as its customer service manager until that firm recently closed its Minnesota operations.

Elementary school children in Montevideo, Minnesota continue to learn from Merideth Anderson Brown.  Her spouse, Jay ’70, teaches elementary level special education.

The Reverend Lispeth Patrick Buettner, who has served several parishes in the Chicago area in recent years as an interim pastor, is seeking a permanent call.

Karen Hagge Diercks ’70 answered my Phonorama call, revealing that spouse Dick was recently recognized by the Minnesota Dental Association for his outstanding service to that organization as its executive director.  Karen and Dick, making peace with advancing maturity, were then planning a move to a home in a newly built “over 55” development.

Kathy Mayerle Edwards is in her third year as a first grade teacher with Monument Academy in Colorado Springs.  Kathy enjoys teaching in this “core knowledge” K-9 charter school where modest sized classes and strong parental involvement encourage students’ high performance.  Spouse, Jerry, is beginning a new career in investments.

There is no new news to report from Gracia Lokensgard Erickson; she finds that her life continues to be as rewarding as it is surprising.

While I did not reach Barb Seeley Devlin during my Phonorama experience, husband John, confirmed that in his experience a parent will often be seen as “dumber by the day” by one’s 11 year old daughter.  He thought that this condition might not change until the end of adolescence but for a few brief moments when she is confronted by the wisdom of the aged (i.e. knowing when the Civil War was fought, by whom, and with what outcome).

Mike Dobbs, after many years of serving as a staff respiratory and physical therapist in a hospital “profit center,” now provides direct care to patients living throughout the greater Saint Louis area.  He reported that the transition from his role as a staff member to an “independent” professional delivering patient came without paid holidays or vacation but much more job satisfaction from the quality of care he was able to directly provide those five or six patients who seek his help each day.  Wife, Mary, perhaps to mark her own transition, has returned to a youthful calling as a musician by founding “Hot Flash,” a band of area women.

I reached Peter J. Anderson on his 29th anniversary with 3M, where he now serves in that firm’s medical division.  That corporate connection brought him as a volunteer to this summer’s 3M sponsored Pro-Am Golf Tournament where he handed promotional merchandize to stars of the game.

While we could not make as many calls as we would have liked during the fall, we were able to find the time to launch our own “mini-Phonorama” this March.  Pastor S. Anita Stauffer, having left the ministry on disability, recently completed an entry she was asked to write on baptismal fonts for the New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, published this year by Westminster John Knox Press of Louisville, Kentucky.  Anita lives in Oak Park, Illinois, a pleasant community in which she says she feels comfortably at home.  She works as a freelance editor and would welcome opportunities to do more editorial work.

Jane found Dave Dombrock at home in Moline, Illinois during our March mini-phono.  Dave’s married son, Jeremy, who has lived in Indiana until recently, has returned to the Quad Cities to perform construction layout and coordination for a custom “post and beam” construction firm.  His wife Abby’s college major was corporate communications and she’s looking for a part-time job while working at River Center.

Cheryl Lee Forrest is among those of us early baby boomers that are still filing lesson plans for her 9th and 11th grade English classes at Sibley High.  Her husband just made a job switch to the district office.  Son, Sean, is in Witchita where he had been with Boeing prior to that firm’s recession-related layoffs.  Daughter, Megan, works with Outward Bound in Ely during the summer in a position that includes leading canoe trips and rock climbing expeditions.  That makes a good fit with her biology major.  Home base is in Ely, and her winters are spent in Texas.

Cindy Hall is a full time foster care provider for two “behaviorally challenged” adults who live with her on her 10-acre hobby farm outside Cokato.  Although she left Gustavus prepared to teach physical education, Cindy has served those with special needs since 1972.

One of my email appeals for timely news caught Terry Danger’s attention.  Terry remains as pastor of Saint John’s Lutheran in Hollywood, Florida.  Aside from being one of the very few pastors who can still claim to have physically as well as spiritually built their parish, Terry also experiences life with teenagers.  He notes that while he has a telephone, “…it is practically useless as we have two teenagers who use it constantly.”  Both Jana (Soeldner ’71) and I are home so little that I think it is a waste to make the house payment.  Tane, our son, graduates this spring and has been accepted at Gustavus, but is still awaiting letters from several other colleges before he decides for sure on where he might be going.  Tawna, the tall blond freshman, is having far too much fun in her first year in high school; so far she has made varsity soccer, varsity softball and regrets being able to only be on JV volleyball.  Fortunately, her grades are also excellent.  Jana is still writing her weekly column in the Miami Herald plus writing for a public relations firm in Boca Ratan and for a construction company in Minneapolis.  We go to so many gala events for Jana’s column that I wore out my tux and had to buy another.”

Paul Bohlig is enjoying retirement even though he doesn’t acknowledge that Minnesota isn’t exactly your basic ideal retirement land.  More free time has enabled him to give time to Habitat for Humanity.  His group just had a dedication and people moved into a house they built on South 37th by the freeway in Minneapolis a week ago.  He’s also appreciating the opportunity to give time and effort to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen.   Son, Nathan, is a 1996 Gustavus graduate living in Seattle.  He works doing computer/tech support for Massachusetts Financial Group.  He likes Seattle in spite of that fact that it “rains all the time.”

Martha Peterson Bevan lives in Avon, Colorado.  Her husband, Bill, has been an emergency room physician for a number of years, after switching to that area from family practice.  They have three sons who are all “avid hockey players.”  Their oldest works for Enterprise and recently moved out to Carlsbad, California near Los Angeles.  Middle son is graduating from Colgate this spring and the youngest is a high school junior who just finished his hockey season.

Ellen Ann Brown Caufman is in her 34th—and final—year of teaching in LeSueur!  Congratulations Ellen—I know it will be fun to watch the weeks tick down.  She’ll miss the kids, but will be looking forward to a trip to Alaska that she and her husband will be taking early in the summer.  Friends and neighbors have been talking about the trip for some time and Ellen reports that there are “34 of us going.”  No doubt that will be a fun group.  Their daughter, Mele is, a 1997 Gustavus grad. and she’s an employment action counselor for the welfare to work program in Minneapolis.  Their son graduated from St. Cloud in 1998 and he works as a graphic designer for a Minnetonka firm.  Ellen noted “It’s nice to have them both close by.”

Bill and Judy (Johnson) Fletcher’s oldest daughter is planning a summer marriage in Connecticut.  She works for Leo Burnett in Chicago.  Middle daughter, Kari, works as a counselor at the VA hospital in Minneapolis and lives in St. Paul.  Their youngest daughter recently came back from Japan where she taught English for two years.  She now teaches Japanese at River Falls and commutes from St. Paul where she lives with Kari.  Among notations from the small world department—she took over for Karen James Klink, our classmate, when she retired.  Bill is a self-employed consultant and we ended our conversation talking about looking forward to getting together at the 35th reunion next year.  How can that be—we were just at the 30th a year ago?!

When I talked to Tim Haut he had spring enthusiasm for the coming of the crocuses.  He was getting ready to plant beans—which is a last week of March tradition.  He has all varieties of vegetables awaiting the garden in the basement and said it provided quite a display for the cable repairman.  He and spouse, Phyllis, are enjoying babysitting their nine month old granddaughter two days a week—she’s an incredible joy though Tim noted he’s surprised at the level of fatigue she’s capable of producing at such a young age.  When I shared that our Karlie had just started the clarinet and we were suffering through those first months of squeaks and missed notes and delighting that it’s starting to be music.  (We’re grateful for the balance provided by piano practice since she’s in her fourth year of that.)  Tim said that he’d also played the clarinet, perhaps because his parents had one stashed away in the attic.  With a chuckle he recalled being one of the few people asked not to continue.  He thought the clarinet was safely tucked away, but reported that when visiting his younger sister in California last summer she related a similar story of the clarinet in the attic.  We both talked about retirement “starting to peek over the horizon” and starting to think about the pieces.  Tim, too, had a fun small world anecdote to share.  His church governing body that we Lutherans know as the synod is a conference.  His equivalent of our bishop, resigned and Tim was asked to serve on the search committee.  The interim denominational executive pastor turned out to be Lark Hapke—two years behind us at Gustavus!

Elaine Huse Hokanson wrote an “e note” that included news of Paul’s retirement from teaching at the close of this year.  “He is ready to go out, but I think that overall he has enjoyed his 34 years of teaching at Owatonna High School.  I will continue to work as a RN in the cardiac intensive care unit at St. Mary’s in Rochester.  I enjoy my job, especially caring for the congenital heart pediatric patients.  I will reduce from .9 to .8 allowing more time for our cabin in Canada and traveling to see our two daughters (Kirstin and Alan Doud in Bellingham, WA and Gabrielle in Richmond, VA).  Gabrielle will graduate in May from UNC with a pharmacy degree.  She will be doing a two year residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.”

Congratulations to Noell Nelson on her recent marriage to Joel Reed.

Congratulations as well to one retirement for Jack Bergman--he relinquished command of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing on September 28 at the Naval Air Stations in New Orleans.

For several years Ron Hobart has been “living” an important part of Minnesota’s history.  A recent brochure Ron sent along described his recreation of the La Salle Expedition in song and story, including a slide show of his 1876 recreation of La Salle’s 3,300 voyage and a chance to ride in a 36 foot birch bark canoe.  Ron will perform portions of his show on the last weekend of April at Midwest Mountaineering, located near the University of Minnesota’s west bank campus.  Contact Ron at his email address for more information (voyageur@cheqnet.net).

Sheila Holmberg Helleson is in her 11th year of K-12 ESL in Tracy, MN.  I was interested in what drew people to Tracy.  Sheila reminded me that it’s a bedroom community for Marshall.  Most of their ESL population, at 75-80%, is Hmong with the rest primarily Hispanics from Belize, Mexico, and Honduras.  There was some concern about employment for the families she works with, with the recent closing of a turkey processing plant, but many have found work at Schwans, on area farms, and with Marshall’s small businesses.  Sheila's husband is getting close to retirement, but since she was home with her children she has a ways to go.  Their daughter is a national advertising executive for the Des Moines Register.  This is her sixth year in Des Moines and she and her husband like it there quite well.  Their son-in-law is a regional manager for The Buckle (similar to The Gap, I’m told.  There’s a Buckle at the Mall of America but we haven’t yet made it past Aeropostle) and has charge of 14 stores in Iowa and Pennsylvania.  Sheila’s son is a third grade teacher in Sioux Falls.  Their granddaughter, Cadence, just celebrated her second birthday “hopping, singing, and dancing.”  I love the story of her name―both Sheila’s son and daughter-in-law played the drums and she was born in March.

Lyle Holmberg reported being anxious to get out on the golf course and having the previous evening’s late March snow causing an unwelcome delay.  His 9th grade daughter just finished basketball season and is starting to get ready for the lacrosse season.

The past 15 years of Paula Nelson-Marten’s career as a professor of nursing at the University of Colorado have been concentrated in the area of cancer nursing.  Paula’s been working in the end of life area and was recently awarded a National Cancer Institute grant for working with people in acute care and nursing homes.  Paula is also involved in working with her church’s parish nurse program.  With a congregation of 4,000 that has to be a serious time commitment.  Her 8th grade son plays hockey so free time must be at quite a premium at their house.

When I contacted Judy Del Pino Henderson I found her busily correcting papers.  Through a switch in position this year she has 68 high school students in Advanced Placement history.  Her usual assignment has been two sections instead of this year’s three, a demanding change.  She’s also busy with a young people’s choir at church and starting to think retirement in three years.  Her husband, Mel, will retire in July from being dean at Metro State.  Then he’ll teach part time there and other line colleges.  He’s eagerly thinking about golf three times a week.  Daughter, Melanie, is a pharmaceutical rep for Glasco Welcome and lives in Oakdale.  Carrie is a pharmaceutical rep for Johnson & Johnson and she lives in Cincinnati.  Judy reports she really likes it―and it’s a great place to visit.  She noted the coincidence of having two of her daughters in the same field by saying, “I always say I have two drug dealers with benefits.”  Natalie is director of compensation for the St. Paul Companies and likes that.  Judy said she likes, too, having two of the three so close by.

And so, friends, once again we’re at the end of another class letter.  I can’t end, however, without including “the ask” as the fund-raisers call it, especially since Spring Phonorama will soon be here.  We hope to have a chance to visit with a few more of you during that annual event.  We’ll be calling from Sunday, 27 April, through Thursday, 1 May, at the Radisson Hotel South (I-494 and 100).  We’d love to see you there if you have the time to join us in dialing for dollars.

These are difficult times, of course.  Our help is needed in so many places.  Every day we get new appeals from worthy organizations that seek our help in new ways.  Even Saint Olaf sent us an appeal the other day just before announcing the successful conclusion of their capital campaign!

As you think about where to share what you have to offer, please heed the call to support our Gustavus as generously as you can.  We’re nearing the end of the college’s capital campaign, but we still have a fair distance to paddle before we can celebrate our arrival at the campaign’s $100,000,000 goal (all those zeros; one hundred million dollars!).

If we work together, each giving what we can, we can reach that great goal!  With your financial support we can help restore Old Main for another century of service, endow Christ Chapel’s future at the center of the college community, make a Gustavus education reality for many more students, and provide a strong faculty to nurture the development of those students as we were once nurtured.  It’s a noble goal that deserves our support.  Claim your share of that goal, giving what you can before 31 May.

May the glorious message of the Resurrection bring you renewed hope in our tumultuous world.

Jane Leitzman

1969 Co-class Agent

Campus News:

Dr. James Peterson Named 14th Gustavus President

James Peterson ’64, president and CEO of the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, was selected as the next Gustavus president.  Peterson is married to Rev. M. Susan Pepin Peterson ’65, senior pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul.  They have two married children including Erika Peterson Eklund ’94.  Jim will start his official responsibilities at Gustavus in July 2003.

Alumni Fund Closes May 31 – 1000 new donors needed

The Alumni Fund closes May 31.  Gustavus alumni are trying to again be the best Lutheran college in percentage of alumni annual giving.  The goal is to reach 45% participation this year.  If you have already given, THANK YOU!  If you have given in the past and not yet this year, Gustavus students need your support again.  If you have missed giving, Gustavus needs only 1,000 new donors to reach the goal.  Give online at <gustavus.edu> or call 800/487-8437.

Campus Focuses on Peace

Three annual conferences this spring discuss peace.  Conflict Resolution: International, National, and Local was the theme of the annual student-run “Building Bridges” Conference in March featuring Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica. The Association of Congregations Meeting will feature Protestant leader Lyle Schaller to talk about the future of the church and the changing role of laity and church staff. And the annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference in April is titled, “World Religions: Waging War or Promoting Peace?” featuring keynote speaker Krister Stendahl, emeritus professor of divinity, Harvard University, and former bishop of Stockholm, Sweden.

Gustavus Band 125 Year Celebration

What started as 13 silver instruments in 1878 has evolved into the Gustavus Band, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary in May.  Highlights for the weekend will include the performance of the 100+ member alumni band and the commissioned work, Of Wind and Wood, by composer Steve Heitzeg ’82 which will be premiered by the current Gustavus Band.

Men’s Basketball Team National Runner-up

The men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker in the NCAA Division III championship game 67-65 to Williams, on two game-winning free throws in the final seconds of play.  Gustavus was the first MIAC team to ever make it to the championship game.

Celebration of Community Service

The Community Service Center at Gustavus is ten years old.  Since its creation, students participating in community service and service learning in the class room has dramatically increased.  Currently 60% of the student population participates in some sort of community service program while at Gustavus.  The annual G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors) day of community service will be a time for alumni and students in Minnesota to gather at Gustavus to celebrate and serve, while alumni in other cities will also be doing service projects in their own communities.

Upcoming Events

  • Association of Congregations Meeting – April 26
  • Phonorama – April 27-30, May 1
  • 125th Anniversary of the Gustavus Band – May 3 & 4
  • G.I.V.E. Day and 10th Anniversary of the Community Service Center – May 10
  • 1953 and 50 Year Club Reunion – May 30 & 31
  • Alumni Fund Fiscal Year Closes – May 31
  • Commencement – June 1