Class of '69
September 2006

Dear Classmates,

As August quickly turns to September, another summer ends and another school year is about to begin.  Like my students, I always start to feel a little uncomfortable when I find the first back-to-school newspaper advertisement in June.  That feeling grows in late August as I encounter fleets of school buses on our rural roads, their drivers learning their new routes.  The letter announcing my school’s fall workshop agenda is the final, undeniable clue that my “lazy, hazy days of summer” are nearly over.  Once I conclude my annual pilgrimage to State Fair, it will be time to welcome the return of morning announcements, attendance slips, lunchroom hosting, state testing, and detention monitoring.  With those bits of administrivia will come the many unpredictable moments of grace that will sustain my continuing effort to contribute, if only in a small way, to students’ victories in their war with nouns and verbs.  I’ll treasure anew the moment when growing self-confidence finally enables a young woman to overcome her crippling fear of speaking before her peers in her speech to inform us about raising prize-winning rabbits.

With the close of my 59th installment of summer comes another sense of time’s relentless passage.  These days I’m too often reminded of portions of church services which held only abstract meaning for me as a child.  Among them Pastor Youngdahl’s recognition “that we have not here an abiding city, and that death has called from our church family. . . .”  Three chimes would follow as he sought comfort for those mourning the loss of another from their midst. 

How much more meaning those words now seem to offer us as we attend funerals, not only for one another’s parents, but also for each other.  Our small part of the greater Gustavus community has been diminished by the death of another very special individual, Noell Nelson Weber Reed, on July 12 in Mankato. 

Julie Johnson and I started the trip to Mankato for Noell’s funeral from her house in St. Peter.  A lovely tribute in the Mankato Free Press will help tell about the gift that was Noell.  Staff writer Nick Hanson offered the words of Kathy Brynaert, her long-time friend, to share with us.  “She was a leader, community activist, volunteer, role model, spark plug, mover, shaker and jokester . . . but more than anything, Noell Reed was a benevolent person with welcoming eyes and a warm smile.”

Noell’s benevolence and her impact on her community included her contributions to the organizations she served and distinctions earned during her 16 years in town.  She chaired the Mankato Area Healthy Youth Organization, was a board member of the Family Resource Center and served as a curriculum committee member of the Minnesota State University senior citizens organization.  Noell was a member of the Mankato Chamber of Commerce leadership program, Director of the Summit Center, and a member of the Mankato School Board.  Recognizing her many gifts, Noell’s formal recognitions included the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the 1998 Chamber of Commerce Hap Halligan Leadership Award.

Ms. Brynaert recalled that Noell preached and lived the virtues of stewardship.

Perhaps the most telling tale of Reed’s dedication to public service spawns from her work on the Mankato Area School Board.  Reed was elected in 2000, but resigned in 2003, a year after she was diagnosed with cancer.  Still, she vigilantly watched every meeting on television during her recovery from chemotherapy.  She responded surprisingly well to treatments and by fall 2005 was feeling well enough to run for a seat again.  She won and faithfully served until a couple months ago when her cancer fought back, forcing her to bow out of the public eye for good.

Many appreciated her return to the school board.  “We were so pleased when she was able to get her health back and be reelected,’ said Ed Waltman, Mankato’s Superintendent of Schools.

We are so pleased to have had her for the time we did.  She has served in an outstanding way.  She made good decisions and cared about students.  She had no agenda; she just wanted to help the kids.  She was one of those people who just wanted to help people.

In January of this year Noell was interviewed by the Mankato Free Press.  Asked about her zealous commitment to public service, the author concluded that service to others was “the key to her character and moral well being—without it life wasn’t complete.”  Speaking about that commitment, Noell said, “It’s almost like you kind of find where things are centered—where you feel things are right.  When you are in that place, you get extra energy and good things happen.”

The article ended in a fitting tribute, “More than likely, Mankato will remember those good things for many years to come.”

Noell and I first met when we were sixth grade Girl Scouts living next door to each other in the cabins on Chipmunk Hill at Camp Cassaway.  It was fun to recall that summer when we met years later as freshmen at Gustavus.  Many more years than we cared to count found us in Mankato at a table in Stoney’s restaurant.  After downing our shares of a liter of red wine we rendered the campfire songs of Cassaway.  While the other diners didn’t complain about the disturbance, we were not aware of people getting up and leaving.

Four years ago Julie, Ruth Johnson, Eileen Holz ’71, and I got together at Neighbors’ Restaurant in Mankato to celebrate Noell’s marriage to Joel Reed.  It was a lovely summer evening and Neighbors was a new discovery.  We found Joel to be a delightfully caring individual as we enjoyed a gloriously happy time.  It was much too soon after that that we learned of Noell’s ovarian cancer.  What a courageous battle she fought!  I remember writing in a note last Christmas of having received the gift of yet another year with Noell for St. Lucia.  This tough lady prevailed over the cruel disease for four years―now many will have to face the task of prevailing over her absence from their lives.

Noell’s funeral was an appropriate tribute.  Julie and I were visiting with Jean Hagen Reardon in the church’s gathering area when Ellis Jones ’52 came to join us.  Julie introduced him to me as our ensuing conversation recalled his retirement and the presence of his first grade teacher—who’s still living!  Professor Jones and Jean recalled many memories they shared in common from him having been their advisor.

Since their friendship began during their high school years, I asked Jean to share her recollections of Noell.

“I met Noell in high school.  She was always a school leader; president of our class from 9th through 11th grade.  While she was a class officer our senior year of high school, I believe she let her boyfriend be class president that year.  Throughout high school, everyone―all the students and teachers―loved Noell.

We didn’t really begin to know each other well until one spring day during our senior year when we took our first drive to Gustavus to meet with our advisor.  It seemed we were going to share the same major and, therefore, the same advisor—Professor Ellis Jones.  On that trip we discussed how much we had in common and how much our parents didn’t know about anything.

College was much like high school in that everyone still loved Noell; I have so many memories.  How many experiences we shared!  We laughed together, we cried together and in the process we grew up together.

Dr. Jones told someone at Noell’s funeral that what one of us didn’t think of, the other did; they called us the “Bobsey Twins.”  That distinction followed us out of college.  When Noell married in 1970 I was her maid of honor.  Since she was moving to North Carolina right after she got married, I was pretty sure my socializing life was over.  As it turned out my life went on and eventually Noell returned to the Minneapolis area.  When I married in 1972, Noell was my matron of honor.  We had our first children one week apart to the day.

In 1972 Noell moved to Fresno, California, where she lived for about two years. Noell then moved to France in 1974 and spent two and one-half years there, an experience she loved.

When she and her husband returned to the states in 1977 they settled in Owatonna.  She called me one day in 1980 and asked, “Guess who’s pregnant?”  Since our first children were then about 7 years old, I replied, “No clue; who?”  She said, “Me!”  I couldn’t help but ask if that happened because she quit smoking.

Having been divorced in 1981, it was a surprise when Noell decided to elope four years ago this past July.  Always thinking of others, Noell eloped because her daughter, Carol, was to be married in October of the same year and she didn’t want to steal her daughter’s limelight.

She was not feeling well at her daughter’s wedding.  She would soon discover that she had stage four ovarian cancer.  Noell fought the good fight—as she had in everything she ever did—and survived much longer than anyone thought she could.

A few months ago Noell learned that her son, Andrew, and his wife were expecting a baby.  She was very excited about the prospect of having her first grandchild.

Sometimes, now, a thought will cross my mind and I will want to reach for the phone to call Noell.  They say the good die young.  In Noell’s case, that is certainly true. I will miss her.  What a trip!”

When we left the church in Mankato after the service, Julie suggested a stop at the Happy Chef on our way back to St. Peter.  Happily, the waitress was able to provide one of the Chef’s lawn mower-sized cinnamon rolls to fuel our late afternoon recollections of the many good times we spent with Noell.

Coincidentally during that same week I discovered Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Barbara Raddish, a book I found helpful as I thought about the travel through time encouraged by the friendships we form and choose to sustain.

I have again discovered that my personal time machine is still running in high gear—each summer passes more quickly than the last.  It was June a moment ago.  Looking at the field of soybeans next to the school that turn more golden each day, I discover that autumn is here!

Filled with the spirit of the new school year, I determined that this year I would successfully clean the blinds in my classroom to welcome my students to the first day of school.  When I sprayed them with the Windex substitute provided by our custodians, I found that 15 years of sun-baked dust and bugs quickly formed a sticky, black mud resistant to my initial efforts.  More spraying and scrubbing with our school’s delightfully useless brown paper towels made from recycled straw and egg cartons had little effect.  Where is Heloise when you need her?  Do today’s new teachers learn to deal with these challenges?

For David (Leitzman) the summer has not gone by quite so quickly.  After spending last summer preparing for successful national accreditation of Saint Benedict’s and Saint John’s teacher education program, this summer he’s found another way to spend days and nights as he prepares for state review of the department’s teacher licensure programs.  He’s facing the October 1 deadline with stoic Norwegian optimism as he “clicks and links” via computer the documents describing what prospective teachers are to learn integrated with the standards of content knowledge and teaching skills that Minnesota expects them to possess.  Some nights he grumbles about the prof who “doesn’t do computing” but provided pages of hand-written notes on a yellow legal pad describing the care he takes with his students as he leads them toward understanding of mathematics.

This summer Karlie found her way into the St. Cloud All City Jazz Band.  She and a student from Albany were the only “foreigners” from schools beyond Saint Cloud.  While we still have the folding padded stadium seats we used to find some comfort during the years of sitting on bleacher seats to observe her “Just For Kix” dance recitals, this child-centered activity allowed us to use more comfortable folding canvas chairs carried in shoulder bags to concert sites in area parks.  We had them in time to use for a Sunday evening concert in Staples’ city park on a hot July evening.  The park was a lovely setting that drew a sizeable crowd ready to enjoy big band music and local delicacies provided by the Lions Club and the town’s coffee shop.  It was a Norman Rockwell moment.

This event followed a summer Girl Scout trip to New York that I helped plan and lead with another troop leader.  When we began to put the trip together last October, using the services of a guide who organizes school band and choir trips to such exotic locations, our scout office liaison was not encouraging.  She thought we might not get the 50 girls and adults we would need for one bus.  Two months later we turned away interested girls as we had 200 reservations for the four buses that could make the trip!

As we arrived for our first day in the Big Apple, one of the girls asked how we could avoid looking like tourists.  Our tourist status was hard to avoid as we left our four twelve-foot tall red buses each morning to follow a woman with an open umbrella down the streets of New York.

What an exciting time it was to be a tourist!  On the boat to the Statue of Liberty a girl who was in my seventh grade English class sat down next to me to report that this trip was her first time away from home—quite a start!  We got to Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the CBS Morning Show (where we were in front and shared our television debut with a group of Sumo wrestlers), Central Park, Time Square, Rockfeller Plaza, and attended the Phantom of the Opera, chosen by many of the girls as their favorite event of the trip.

We experienced only a few amusing moments and, fortunately, no tragedies.  During a tour of the UN we stood in the General Assembly room where the guide encouraged us to put on the headsets to get a sense of what the nations’ representatives experienced during their meetings.  One woman was surprised that she heard nothing.  My co-leader and fellow planner whispered to me that silence was the same in all languages; the translation booths were all empty since no meetings were going on, which is why we could be standing in the General Assembly’s chamber.

On their tour of Radio City Music Hall the girls met a Rockette who wore a vintage costume designed by film director and choreographer Vincent Minelli.  They learned that the dancers must perform several times a day during the season and that they dance in rehearsals six hours each day.  Rockettes eat a daily quota of doughnuts so their costumes will not become too large from the effects of their vigorous work—helping avoid time consuming alterations.  One of the adults in our group asked the Rockette if she saw her role as a job or a hobby.  The young woman smiled and replied that this was how she kept her rent paid (look like tourists?).

Some of the girls found their way to China Town and the many street merchants offering “knock-off” hand bags.  As some were negotiating a price in one of the shops they were hastily ushered outside—“You go now!  Have nice day!  Hurry now!  You go!”  The NYPD were about to arrive to raid shops selling copies of trademarked goods.

Karlie and I avoided that scene by walking the few blocks to Little Italy where we happily found a hundred year-old restaurant for lunch.  Later the girls walked along Fifth Avenue to stare in shop windows of the rich and famous purveyors of jewelry and clothing.  How considerate of the city planners to include a Gap store on that famous street so our girls could purchase a skirt they could afford on Fifth Avenue.

I was intrigued to watch the tour guide work with the bus drivers when they needed to find alternate routes to our city destinations.  In Minneapolis most things can be solved in a comparatively short time—quite different where maps need to be consulted and forty minutes might be required.  I really marveled at their skills in finding a way for us to get to all our sights.  As we arrived back in Saint Cloud, we all agreed that this was a great way to start our summer.

The other end of our summer was an August weekend “theater camp” sponsored by the Guthrie Theater for high school students and teachers.  Five of us enjoyed workshops and productions at the new Guthrie, the result of grilling and selling countless brats during last spring’s home track meets.  The event included three nights in the Sheraton at Ridgedale, five meals, two days of classes taught by Guthrie actors, a tour of the new theater, and two plays—“The Great Gatsby” on the thrust stage and “The Real Thing” on the new proscenium stage.  We all found the production of Gatsby to be as stunning as promised.  It’s a great production in a great theatrical space.

Earlier this spring we were fortunate to see the final production of Hamlet in the old Guthrie.  An actor who played a part in the first production of Hamlet during that theater’s first season so many years ago now played the ghost of young Hamlet’s father in this spring’s final offering at Vineland Place, a fitting conclusion to the old house’s tenure.  While I’m still uncomfortable with the regrettable destruction of the old Guthrie, the new theater is incredible!  The upper floors go abruptly into walls of glass that look down on the river. Embedded in the floor on one end is a sheet of Plexiglas that spans the four-story drop.  Our tour guide noted that the space was planned to symbolize “risk,” appropriate for the design of an experimental theater. 

Finally, after boring all with a Christmas letter-like rendition of how I spent my summer, I must share real news of others in our class.  We’ve not been able to participate in a Phonorama gathering for so very long that all I have to offer is the news included in notes to the Alumni Office.  Keep that stream of news coming!

Kathy Anderson Isensee lives in Plymouth where she works for Edina Realty.  Her husband, Gerald, is part of the management team for The Foursome clothing store in Wayzata.

Christine Frommelt Nelson lives in Minneapolis and works at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Lynda White Larson lives in Sheboygan and is now a retired second grade teacher.  Hopefully, new and exciting endeavors are ahead—congratulations on earning the rewards of retirement, Lynda.  No longer will you have to respond to cries for help with boots and snow suits when winter comes to Sheboygan.

Another who has joined the ranks of the retired is Rick Frykman.  He’s left behind science teaching and test tube cleaning for others in New Prague.

Sandra Decker Bernard and her husband are also both retired.  No doubt they’re enjoying being grandparents with a grandson born October 28 and a granddaughter born December 27 last year.  First birthday parties are approaching!

Bruce W. M. Johnson lives in Richardson Texas where he owns and operates Bruce Johnson & Associates, a firm offering hardwood and ceramic floors.  His wife, Victoria, is a yoga teacher and massage therapist.  He noted that his first daughter was soon to be married, an event worthy of congratulations and good wishes!

Included in the envelope I received from Gustavus was a note from Linda Lucker Tomblin.

“I was so sorry to hear of Evelyn Young’s (’33) death.  My very first ‘real’ job was working at Gus’ and Evelyn’s bowling alley in Edina the summer when I was 16 years old.  Then I met her again at Gustavus.  I don’t know if she remembered me, but she was unforgettable.  One friend, John Wolff, is another loss.  I was in the theatre with his roommate, Kirk Metzger ’70, at the time when I got to know him.

On a happier note, I’m still happily involved with Systems Technologies (http://www.systemstechnologiesusa.com/index.html) as its President and CEO.  We are now shipping the Wireless Nurse Call systems we manufacture to our international and U.S. customers.  I’m still actively sailing with boats on two lakes, Hayden, where I live, and Pend Oreille which is so wild and beautiful that I keep a boat there just to enjoy the surroundings (and the yacht club).

I haven’t been back to Minnesota since the death of my mother two years ago – loss seems to be a continuing theme at this age – so I don’t anticipate seeing any classmates any time soon, but my best wishes for health and happiness to all of you.”

Thank you for the nice note Linda—good wishes to you as well.  For anyone who would like to get in touch with Linda, please contact the Alumni Office for her address.

And now, our commercial break.  Thanks to all of you for your continuing support of Gustavus.  I regret that because of work, the demands of the child, and old age, both David and I were unable to call many of you during last year’s Phono sessions.  We are discovering that we need to be 15 years younger to keep up with the demands of a 15 year-old!  We’ll try to do better this year.

Despite our lack of effort during Phonorama (perhaps because of it!), many of our classmates were able to contribute dollars and time to support Gustavus.  More than one-third of our class (139; 37%) contributed more than $40,000 to help the Alumni Fund reach its goal of $4,926,771, a goal shared by 7,257 donors (32% of the possible donors), who together gave $1,420,583 more than in 2005.

Since college rankings prepared by U.S. News and World Report and other publications include support from graduates as a measure of a college’s viability, every one who contributes is as important to our college’s reputation as every dollar offered in support of Gustavus.

When you receive this note we will be well on our way into another academic year, with a new class of first year Gusties challenged by learning to live more independently as they try to fit in the demands of classes, labs, homework, activities and new friends.  With September and Labor Day just around the corner, this year’s new class may take our place in dorms and classrooms, but they will never hear Grieg’s Spring drifting out of the “Aud” third floor windows on a warm September Day as they run past Johnson Hall along Hello Walk.  They won’t be greeted by our campus cops, Harley and Barney, as they come in from their first dates.  They won’t hear Elvee’s poetic homage to God’s autumn beauty beckoning us through the windows of Christ Chapel. 

They’ll find the paths to their own traditions, their own special times and places, their own heroes and heartbreaks.  They will make their way in the Gustavus tradition of living and learning in which we all share.  I hope we can all help them travel along that path in the years ahead.

Best Wishes!

Jane Norman Leitzman

1969 Co-class Agent

CAMPUS NEWS

Test-Optional Admission Policy

Continuing their tradition of innovative and competitive admission policies and practices, the Gustavus Admission Office announced this spring that applicants for the Class of 2011 can choose whether or not to submit their standardized test scores for consideration in the admission process.  Gustavus’ high admission standards have not changed; this policy emphasizes that the College’s application-review process focuses on the abilities and experiences of the whole person, not just one number.  As the first MIAC college and Phi Beta Kappa institution in Minnesota to allow this option, Gustavus is receiving very positive feedback from prospective students and has received excellent coverage in local and national media. 

Gustavus Legacy Award

New Gusties enrolling next fall have a new financial aid opportunity.  Awards of $2,500 are given to students whose siblings are current Gustavus students or graduates or whose parents or grandparents are Gustavus alumni.  Scholarship recipients must have a grade point average of at least 3.5, or an ACT of 26, or an 1170 on the SAT.  The Gustavus Legacy Award expands upon the previous Alumni Scholarship by recognizing and awarding students who have Gustie siblings.  By applying for admission, students are automatically considered for this scholarship and awarded if they qualify.

Summer Reading

Each summer, incoming Gustavus students are asked to complete a “Reading in Common” that will be discussed during New Student Orientation and, for some students, during their First Term Seminar course.  The Reading in Common selection for 2006-07 is Honky by Dalton Conley.  This intensely personal and engaging memoir is the coming-of-age story of a white boy growing up in a neighborhood of predominantly African American and Latino housing projects on New York’s Lower East Side.  Dalton Conley will give a campus lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Christ Chapel.  Feel free to join in this common Gustavus experience.

Extraordinary Athletics

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the United States Sports Academy have announced the final totals for the 2005-06 Directors’ Cup and Gustavus finished 10th out of 435 competing NCAA Division III institutions.  The Directors’ Cup, which is the only all-sports competition in intercollegiate athletics, is awarded to four-year institutions in the NCAA and NAIA with the best overall athletic programs.  In Division III, standings are based on national tournament finishes in 25 sports with points awarded based on the number of teams participating in each specific national championship.  Gustavus is one of only seven institutions in Division III to have posted top 10 finishes in four of the past five years and is the only school from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to place in the top 20 this year.

Upcoming Events:

  • Nobel Conference: “Medicine: Prescription for Tomorrow” - October 3 - 4
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend - October 7 - 8