Class of '69

December 2012

Dear Classmates,

It’s not that I haven’t been in the presence of real royalty before.  In fact, I’ve assisted royalty on many occasions.  As proof, I own an embroidered tee-shirt proclaiming me to be a “royal parent.”  It’s just that the royals in my experience have been reigning over homecoming celebrations, Chamber of Commerce parades, and various small town festivals.  I have quite a bit of experience with these kinds of royal appearances, but the recent visit to Gustavus by the king and queen of Sweden afforded me the opportunity to see the “real thing” at close range.

The pictures in the recent Quarterly offer a glimpse of this exciting day.  The weather was clear and we could say “crisp” instead of going straight to “cold.”  Sitting comfortably in the chapel awaiting their majesties’ arrival, I had some sympathy for the many Saint Peter school children who walked up the hill to stand along Eckman Mall so they might warmly greet the king and queen as they walked from their motorcade to the chapel.  The brisk, clear day and the excited atmosphere recalled a similar time some years ago when the chapel’s cross was restored to the tip of the spire following the tornado.  On that day a standing-room chapel audience processed outside, singing “Hold High the Cross” as Chaplain Elvee entered in the bucket of the “cherry picker” to travel up the spire with the cross in his hands, holding it as a construction worker fastened it in place.

The arrival of the royal party was delayed for some time, providing ample opportunities for reflection on the day and place, an impromptu performance by the choir, comments from the Chaplain, and still more time for meditation.  We carefully read and read again our lavishly reproduced booklets describing the visit, the pending chapel service, the royal lineage of King Gustav, the events of the day, and the curious story of an alter cloth that had been embroidered by the King Gustav’s grandfather.  A shuffle of feet and a gust of wind cued the organist and announced the royal couple’s arrival with the beginning of the brief service.  Our opening hymn was made memorable by a piercing note produced by a defect in the organ’s mechanism.  Everyone’s attention was held until someone crawled into the organ chamber to cut off the air to the offending pipe.  The king and queen remained gracious throughout this unplanned disruption, assuring a splendid morning.

The king’s visit was also the occasion for the dedication of that lovely altar cloth made by his great-grandfather who, we read, enjoyed needle point as a method of relaxation.  The altar cloth found its way from Sweden to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in New York, a church which long welcomed the many Swedish immigrants who found their way through its doors after leaving Ellis Island and settling in that city.  Elsa Cornell’s (ʼ61) father served the church as one of its pastors in the 1940s.  Faced with dwindling membership and growing expenses, Bethlehem will soon be closed.  Elsa, Cec Eckoff’s (ʼ56) wife, was one of the people responsible for the altar cloth’s journey to a new home in Christ Chapel.  Aside from its historic value, the cloth is a beautifully fashioned testament to the artistry of its creator.  Take the time to see it when you are next on campus.

Following the service and a brief lunch at the local co-op downtown, I was walking through the campus center when I noticed one of the many security guards recruited for the royal visit.  Standing outside the room where the king and queen were lunching with faculty members, he didn’t appear much younger than me.  Thinking about my aging knees, I thanked him for accepting his role, commenting as well on the difficulty of standing still for so long in such a small space.  He agreed that a six foot entry didn’t allow for much pacing as he noted that in 27 minutes he would be relieved, “Not that I’m counting or anything.”

I attended the queen’s seminar held in the chapel later that afternoon.  One of her chief causes is organizing resources in Sweden and throughout Europe to end child-exploitation.  She joined faculty, students, and experts on the topic to discuss their shared interests and ways in which nations might join Sweden to end this practice.  With the conclusion of her seminar as well as one honoring the king for his work on environmental issues, their Majesties left Gustavus and Saint Peter to continue their royal visit in Minneapolis and then off to Stockholm.

In late August a meeting of the college’s alumni board and class officers at the American Swedish Institute provided an opportunity to visit the mansion on Park Avenue that serves as a historical and cultural center for Swedish immigrants in America.  Our meeting was one of the events that would inaugurate a substantial addition to the old building.  White walls are trimmed with light wood while floor-to-ceiling windows open the building to light from a courtyard.  The Café Stugga is still in its cozy space in the old mansion, but Fika, a new, larger restaurant supplanting it, is a wonderful spot for kaffe, cardamom buns, and a variety of luncheon treats.  Gustavus will be making significant use of this space for its Twin Cities events, as the complex includes a large office for the college as well as rooms designed for meetings and classes.  I walked by a classroom of young children learning Swedish.  What fun!

The events of August and September seem more recent than digging out from under 14 inches of weekend snow would otherwise suggest.  The pageant of Saint Lucia and the five performances of Christmas in Christ Chapel are now behind us as we enter the third week of Advent.  I had the opportunity to attend a dinner on campus held on the Friday evening before the first “C in CC” performance.  Begun during our college years as an Oxford-inspired Service of Lessons and Carols, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Christmas in Christ Chapel as well as the 50th anniversary of the chapel itself.  Among the guests was the chapel’s designer, Harry Gerrish.  Chaplain Rod Anderson explained that for this 40th Yuletide service, things would have a more local focus.  “We decided to stay home in Minnesota.”  Music included a commissioned carol written by a Minnesota composer.  The centerpiece of the service was the hand-painted illuminations that illustrate the calligraphic text of the Bible commissioned by the monks of Saint John’s Abbey and University.  Chapel decorations included trees over the entries and simple wreathes hung from the ceiling to supplement the two large screens that projected images from the Saint John’s Bible during the service.  While always taking the form of a religious service, this year’s performance found new ways to join together music and Word.  Jerry Prouty, visiting from Bismarck where he teaches art in an alternative high school and a veteran of the Gustavus Concert Choir, summarized my thoughts when he concluded, “This is so good!”

This was also our daughter, Karla’s last of four Christ Chapel Christmas services.  As with many seniors who have sung or played in the event during their college years, their final performance heralds the first of many “last times” that will mark their transition from life on “the hill” to an exciting, but as yet undetermined future.  In November she texted, “This afternoon they passed out the music for Oh, Come All Ye Faithful.  I was the one balling in the corner.”  A month later, during rehearsal, she wrote “Tonight we started working on Oh Come All Ye Faithful.  You can just feel the seniors swell together.”

This year we were able to attend the Saturday afternoon service.  Our friend Eileen Holz ’71 noted that Karla seemed to be among those choir members who felt the end of their artistic investment in what has been a large part of their fall semesters for the past four years.  I suspect that “C in CC” might be the most keenly felt “last” for many.

If you haven’t attended “Christmas in Christ Chapel” in the past, I urge you to consider doing so next year.  Those Oles seem happy to end their Christmas concerts with a reverent setting of Beautiful Savior, but they don’t have anything on us when it comes time to stand and sing “Yea, Lord we greet thee, Born this happy morning!” joined by trumpets and choral descant.

Now, to class news shared by some of us since my last note.

The Sixty Chicks reunited to celebrate their 65th birthdays in Park City, Utah.  The celebrating group included Cathy Carlson Jacobson, Chris Pearson Floss, Darlene Gustavson Nielsen, Karen Alrick Jafvert, Dianne Johnson, Chris Frommelt Nelson, and Judy Matalamaki Theim.  Best wishes for a very happy birthday to each of you and to all the other “seniors” in our class.

When did we find time for 65 years to pass?  While attending the funeral for the father of a high school friend, another of our mutual friends seated next to me commented that she never would have recognized our bereaved friend’s brother had he not been introduced before he eulogized their father.  I would not have recognized him either, as we had not seen each other in forty-two years!  At that moment I realized that I spoke just as my grandparents when, as a child, it seemed inconceivable to me that anything could be recalled from so long in the distant past.

Cheryl Lee Forrest retired in June.  Congratulations on joining the fun group, Cheryl.  I’m not counting days yet, but after the rush of December ends I’ll have only five months before I turn in my red pen and grade book.

Becky Lund Otterness joined the Gustavus Orchestra Companion Tour on its journey to South Africa last January.  I’ve had a little chance to hear about what sounded like a wonderful trip.  Becky is continuing to work half-time as a labor and delivery nurse since the passing of her spouse, David.

Anne Larson Fritsche lives in Rochester and has three grandchildren.

The recent publication of Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson’s new book, Bully:  The Big Book on Bullies and the Bullied, provided her with an opportunity to explore her previous work with poetry as a healing tool.  An article in a local Tulsa, Oklahoma, magazine noted that she wrote a chapter for a recently published book, Expressive Therapies for Sexual Issues:  A Social Work Perspective, which outlines techniques for using poetry to help others.

Therapists every day work to help those traumatized by events like a sexual assault.  But where to start when the pain runs deep?  Poetry might be one way to begin the healing process.  We all have such different personalities, but a piece of paper is not scary.  And persons can be scary, because in those persons, you see judgment on their faces, even if they don’t say word.”  Gustavson said she hopes to turn poetry into a more common used tool for therapists.  With the textbook chapter, “I’ve actually made my own model for them to use, no matter if they have ever written a poem. 

For Cheryl, poetry has been almost a lifelong comfort.  “My father died when I was 13.  And I remember writing a poem for my mother because I didn’t know what else to do; I just absolutely did not know what to do with my feelings.”  Even at that young age, she said she had already developed a love for the form, “because I loved the sound,” describing her early appreciation for the “music in the words” by noting that her father was a musician.”

Poetry therapy has deep roots but still struggles for greater visibility.  The National Association for Poetry Therapy traces the movement’s roots in America to Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence while serving as a leading physician known as the “Father of American Psychiatry.”  Rush called for patients in mental hospitals to receive a steady dose of music and literature, and to have their poems published in a patient newspaper.

Congratulations to Cindy on significant contributions to an important field.

Before today, 10 December, we’ve had no more than mere suggestions of snow.  Indeed, I only gave in to the temptation to wear a coat to school this past week.  Now, however, the phrase, “winter storm warning” has re-entered our vocabulary.  We’re again growing accustomed to our weather radio’s siren call to action, silent since the last thunderstorm of summer menaced Loons’ Rest, our little encampment on the shores of Schmid Lake.

In the final few minutes of daylight I will try to add a few more strings of lights to our outdoor trees in hope of supplementing dead bulbs from years’ past.  I’ll leave you with a note from Jan Ledin Michaletz ʼ74 offered when she was president of the Gustavus Library Associates.  “We’re given a finite number of Decembers for our lives; may we savor each one to its fullest.”

May each of you celebrate your December with a lovely Christmas and a rewarding 2013.

Peace,

Jane Norman Leitzman

1969 Communications Chair

Campus News

Hall of Fame

On September 29, the Gustavus Athletics Department inducted nine new individuals into its Athletics Hall of Fame.  The 2012 class of inductees included:  Rhonda Gorseth Alberts ’93 (Gymnastics), Brian Brekke ’95 (Football), Kara Bloomquist Drekonja ’96 (Cross Country), Brett Gross ’96 (Track & Field), Brock Guettler ’92 (Basketball), Mark Kruger ’86 (Tennis), Jason Lesteberg ’96 (Hockey), Scott Stoneking ’96 (Soccer), and Donald Swanson ’55 (Benefactor).

Alumni Travel Opportunities

2013 Friends of Music Salzburg Choral Tour

Gustavus Friends of Music has arranged for a Gustavus Alumni choir tour to Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague June 23 – July 5, 2013.  Singers and non-singers alike are welcome.  Once in Salzburg, the singers will join the Mozart International Choral Festival and perform Mozart’s Coronation Mass in the Salzburg Cathedral on June 29.  Not a singer?  There is space available for non-performers as well.  For more information contact Jackie Neeck Peterson ’77 at jpeters9@gustavus.edu or 800-726-6192.

2013 Pearls of Central Europe

Experience Central Europe with Gustavus professor emeritus of history Dr. Tom Emmert from September 10—21, 2013.  This 12-day Gustavus study tour combines learning, exploring, leisure, lecture, food, and arts with special touches, all led by a faculty expert.  The journey is focused around three showpiece cities of Central Europe:  Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.  For more information, contact Tom Emmert at tomo@gustavus.edu.

Gustie Breakfasts - Twin Cities – New time and place

Engage with other alumni and learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Twin Cities Gustavus alumni breakfast.  Please join us at the American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis), on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 a.m.  Cost is $10.  Gustie breakfasts are also being held on campus the second Wednesday of each month.

December 19 – Terry Morrow – Minnesota Vikings stadium

January 16 – Kathy Lund Dean – Distinguished chair of Leadership and Ethics

February 20 – Philip Brunelle – Artistic Director, VocalEssence

Upcoming Chapter Gatherings

National Chapter events for alumni, parents and friends are scheduled for the 2012-13 academic year and will focus on the College’s pillar of “Teaching and Learning.”  Please save the date for the event in your area.  Time and location details will be forthcoming

Jan. 29 – Phoenix

Jan. 31 – Tucson

Feb. 3 – Los Angeles

Feb. 4 - Palm Springs

Feb 13 – Tampa

Feb. 15 – Naples

Feb. 28 – Seattle

Mar. 2 – San Francisco

Mar. 9 – Madison

Mar. 12 – Denver

Mar. 14 – Chicago

Apr. 4 – Atlanta