Class of ’75
March 2010

35-Year Reunion ― September 25, 2010

Dear Classmates,

It wasn’t until my daughter was completing her application to Gustavus that I really thought about being a Gustavus family.  One of the questions asked whether any other family members had attended Gustavus.  Sure, I replied:  my sister, my aunt, my husband’s first wife (deceased), his big sister and her husband, his little sister.  Hmmm.  I had always had a sort of personal, private hold on Gustavus.  Now my daughter was considering my school (I was secretly thrilled) and I wondered why it was that we women─and one husband─all went to Gustavus, how it shaped us and our families, and what kind of legacy my own daughter might inherit there.

Selecting a school is a mysterious process.  I considered three schools and then applied only to Gustavus.  Why?  It seemed like there was room for me; the architecture was eclectic, the art building brand new, the prairie opened to the west, the river below hinted at adventure, and the artery to the Twin Cities was seductive, but safely out of my pedestrian reach.  In other words, Macalester was just a bit too edgy and St. Olaf too stiff.  Or maybe the Swede in me finally overcame the Norwegian, I don’t know.

We moved to the east coast when my daughter entered high school.  We knew nothing about schools out here.  The kids used some web site to select criteria about their ideal school.  I remember Erin telling me what was important to her:  a small, liberal arts school, church-related, in a rural or small town setting where the emphasis was not on sororities and fraternities.  Who knew?  During college tours we parents just followed with open jaws as college counselors told us “you just sit here while I talk with Erin” and “this is our chapel but we don’t use it for chapel” and “we don’t have merit scholarships.”  I laughed out loud at a college night when the financial planner told wide-eyed parents that we would never qualify for financial assistance.  Just what were we supposed to eat for six years running, peanut butter?

“Our” college search took us to Minnesota, but Gustavus was not on the list.  Resistance to following mom’s footsteps was strong.  You can imagine which other four schools were on the list.  We were enroute to Sioux Falls and I simply insisted that we go through St. Peter and that we might as well stop at Gustavus.  Little sister was along for the ride.  I could not stop smiling.  Before we were out of the student union, little sister said, “I love it here.  I want to go here.”  “You do not get to have an opinion,” I hissed, not wanting to jinx the junket.  I could not believe the memories that flooded my being as we trekked through buildings I didn’t even remember having a class in.  I wanted to go to Gustavus again!

As we left campus, Erin told me it was good, but she didn’t think she’d be applying.  When we reached Sioux Falls three hours later, she told grandma, “I think I’ll probably go there.”  And she did.  Gustavus was the only school she applied to.

Why does Gustavus draw people like us?  What do we, as alumni, want to offer kids going off to college who emerge four years later as fine young adults?  Some of us can offer mentorships, internships, and jobs; most of us can more easily offer financial support.  After the way Gustavus treated my two daughters (more stories to come) I wish I could write really huge checks in thanks and gratitude.  My financial contributions seem paltry in comparison to what I want to give.  Maybe someday I will be in a better position.  Today I will write the check I can afford.  How about you?

Barbara Day

1975 Guest Letter Writer

Reunion Committee News:

The reunion committee met in February and is excited to keep moving plans forward for the reunion in September.  Check out our web page http://gustavus.edu/alumni/class/1975/ for current information, but here are a few things that were confirmed:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.   Class Social – Hospitality Tent by the football field

5:30 p.m.                       Class BBQ in the Dive on campus (cash bar with beer and wine)

After the BBQ we have reserved a meeting room at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson in Mankato to hang out into the wee hours of the night.  A block of rooms has been reserved for us to stay the night, so if you are interested, go to http://www.countryinns.com/gustavusalumni or call 507-388-8555 to make your reservation.

As we mentioned in our last class letter, we established the “1975 Class Endowed Scholarship.”  Something everyone can be proud of, this scholarship will live on forever in our name providing financial support to future Gusties.  The endowed scholarship works like this:  After it reaches $25,000 it will spin off around 4% of its value, so when it reaches $25,000 for example, it will give approximately $1,000 to a student with financial need in scholarship form.  As it grows, so does the scholarship.  The student will see that this scholarship comes from the class of 1975!

We would love to reach 50% of our class participating with a gift to Gustavus this year– so please consider giving something in honor of our reunion year at:  www.gustavus.edu/give/1975.

We hope you’ll join us!

1975 Reunion Committee


Cynthia Durbahn Bower

Barbara Day

Steve Griffith

Paul Heckt

Betsy Bloomquist Lundgren

Terry Tesarek Narr

Kristin Peterson

Phil Richardson

Karen Sundal

Gail Matthius Wirth

Class News

I just found out that Dr. Neil Jeddeloh is the cousin of my family doctor.  The last time we checked, Neil was a physician with Family Practice Physicians in Robbinsdale, MN.  Our classmate and Neil’s wife, Anne (Park) was the hand bell choir director at Wayzata Community Church.

Lynn Kopesky Schurrer works for Washington County.  They take cases referred to them by the courts, usually misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, and then work out, with citizen input, an appropriate sentence which involves community service in lieu of hard time in jail.  They handle lots of domestic abuse cases.

Sue Busch Leaf reports that she and husband, Tom Leaf, only have one teenager left at home.  So far, they have one child who graduated from Gustavus, two who are there now, and one left at home who isn’t sure whether she will attend Gustavus.  Sue is enjoying her new career as a writer.  She has already published one book, entitled “Potato City,” has another in the incubation stage, awaiting a publisher, and a third in the “embryonic” stage.  (Once a biology major, always biology major.)  Husband, Tom, is a physician at the North Branch Clinic.  Sue is planning on returning to teaching after the youngest flies out of the nest, although she admits being spoiled by being able to work at home, without a boss.

Tim Bechtold reports that our classmate and his wife, Anne (Taylor) continues to love art.  The Bechtold’s still live in Robbinsdale, on the south end of Twin Lake.  Their daughter, Halley, age 20, is a senior at the University of Denver, majoring in hotel and hospitality management.  Tim is still working as a manager for Ameriprise Financial, the same company he started with as an actuary right after graduation from Gustavus, although the company name has changed a few times.

Nancy Anderson Milleville reports that, as with law, the ministry can be a jealous mistress when it comes to your time.  She has been the pastor at Ascension Lutheran in Amherst, NY, near Buffalo, for over 16 years now, and invites Gusties to check out her website at:  www.AscensionAmherst.org.  When last we corresponded, her church was in the middle of a four church consolidation.  Lutheran churches out east are considered big if they have 100 members.  In Minnesota, they close them if they only have 100 members.  Her new church will have 300 members, which is huge out there.

Nancy’s oldest son got out of the Army after serving for almost four years.  He’s now a junior at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.  Her youngest son is a salad chef at a five star restaurant in the Buffalo, NY area.  Her husband is the pastor of one of the east’s larger churches─Zion in Clarence Center, NY.  Their “foster” daughter from Liberia is living in the Philadelphia area and teaching at a university there.  They have two adorable “foster” granddaughters because of her.

Jan (Windland) and Tim Butorac report that they are “riding the shirttails” of their son, Eric, who graduated from Gustavus in 2003 and is now on the pro tennis tour.  He’s a doubles specialist and made it into the top ATP group with a ranking of 32 in the world and 3 in the US, at least as of a couple years ago.  The Butoracs were able to watch him in Memphis, Wimbledon, Indianapolis and the US Open.  It has been just an amazing experience, for Tim in particular, to have access to the player’s lounge, locker rooms and cafeterias and be right there with Federer, Nadal, Roddick.

The Butorac’s other son, Jeff, graduated from Saint John’s University a couple years ago, is an assistant coach at UW Eau Claire, and is loving it.  Tim still plays tournaments and competes in some of the national tourneys for 50’s and up.  Jan helps run the club and keeps her fingers in nursing by working at Seasons Hospice House in Rochester, MN.

Skip Pohtilla confesses that, yes, it is true that his real name is William.  He also claims to be one of the few Gusties who remembered that my real name is “Paul,” and not “Hecktor.”  We had a good time reminiscing about the infamous OK-TM canoe trip.  The TMT’s included Anne Mueller, who constantly heard bears roaming around at night, Mary “Crazy Kach” Kachel Miller, who I have a great picture of standing next to a port-a-potty, Jane “the Pain” Vujovich ’76 and Kathy Bush (Larson now) ’77, who was too sweet to have a nickname.  The OK’s included Greg and Skip Pohtilla, John “Scuba” Sandstrom ’74, Bruce “Mac” McKenzie, Rick “Clarissa” Larson ’74, Dave “Doosh” Anderson, Brian “Chumley” Klammer ’74, a/k/a “the Great Voyageur”, Chuck “Coop the Droop” Cooper ’76, and Dave “Ole OK” Olson ’77.  Yes, the same Ole who walked into the wrong house after a night at the Flame.  See Timmerman, infra.  On the last day, Chumley apparently had had enough of me complaining about having to portage his 3 tackle boxes and 5 fishing poles, and of me asking him if he thought we were the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Unbeknownst to me, Chumley had developed a plan to get even with Hecktor and his ilk.  By way of background, our fearless leader, John Risa Sandstrom ’74, a/k/a “Scuba,” of Ely, MN was not into paddling or other forms of manual labor.  So Scuba put a motor on the lead canoe and towed the other 6 canoes.  Unfortunately, my canoe and Skip’s canoe were the last two in line.  You guessed it, as we were making our way home, near sunset; Chumley cut the rope and stranded us.

We paddled like crazy to try and catch them, but to no avail.  Skip and his brother Greg, being from the Lake Minnetonka region, even rigged up a sail to pick up more speed.  Needless to say, Chumley didn’t wait around to see if we made it safely back to the landing.  We were out of food and it was almost pitch black when we landed, so none of us were in a particularly good mood.  Plus, the rope was a ski tow rope that I had borrowed, probably from Ken Rholl ’76, so I had to buy a new one.  Years later, I decided to bury the hatchet and forgive Chumley.  I was flying a small plane up to Bemidji to try an implied consent case for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.  I called Chumley, and he agreed to pick me up at the airport and give me a ride into town.  I tried the case and then asked Chumley for a ride back to the airport.  He refused to give me a ride until I agreed to pay a $25 membership fee to join the Bemidji Jaycees.  It was pure extortion!  Needless to say, I have not been back to Bemidji since.  Ten years later, I was still receiving newsletters and solicitations from the Bemidji Jaycees.  I’m sure they are a good outfit, but my first impression of their fundraising tactics was not particularly positive.  Of course, that could just have been Chumley, trying to hose me one more time for “hassling” him about the 3 tackle boxes and 5 fishing poles.

Back to Skip Pohtilla.  Skip retired from the Navy back in October 1994.  He once bumped into our classmate Paul Skoog in 1980 when he, wife, KC, and their three kids stopped by the Officers Club at Clark Air Force base in the Philippines.  As they sat waiting to be served, who walked by but Paul “Odin” Skoog.  Odin was heading out to a squadron assignment and Skip was heading to the States for training as a launch and recovery officer on USS Midway, which was based out of Yokosuka, Japan.  That job entailed working on the flight deck and being in charge of the men and equipment used to launch and recover the aircraft on an aircraft carrier.

From there, Skip and family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where his youngest son, William Shea Pohtilla, was born.  For that assignment, Skip was the training department head for the pilot training program for the Navy.  From there he had a tour flying the A-6 Intruder again, this time with, VA-145, flying off of the USS Ranger.  His next tour was a five-year stint with NATO in Naples, Italy, where he worked on coordinating NATO, UN and allied force activity in the Bosnian Civil War.  Skip’s final job involved designing and testing the early warning network and structure for the NATO Southern region during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

After the Navy, Skip and his family lived in Park City, Utah for three years and then moved to Oak Harbor, Washington, where they now reside.  He worked as a project coordinator for a land developer for five years or so, until the developer retired.

Skip’s daughter, Kelli, is married to a Navy Chief Warrant Officer, named Shawn Pearcy and they have two children.  Son, Sean, graduated from the Naples, Italy branch of the University of Maryland before they left Italy and is working for Microsoft.  Skip’s youngest daughter, Morgan, was born in the Philippines and is now married and living in Oak Harbor.

Skip’s youngest son, Shea, just recently graduated from Chapman University with his B.A. and is now working on his master of arts in human resources.  He is also a third degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been a national champion each year he has competed as a Black Belt (roughly six years).  Skip’s wife, K.C., is a photojournalist and shoots most of the events that happen in Oak Harbor.  She has been taking photos of each of the squadrons returning from their six-plus month deployments ever since the squadrons have been returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  She has missed maybe four flights since; this includes all of the airlifts even if they came in at 2 or 4 a.m.  Good for you, KC!

Randy and Lola Rieke report that Lola is still teaching kindergarten for GFW. (Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.)  Randy is the GM/CEO of the Farmers Co-op of Hanska/New Ulm.  The Riekes live in New Ulm, right above the Schells Brewery!

Anne Mueller is alive and well in Edina, and still working in the yearbook industry.  About five years ago, she moved into the management area for Taylor Publishing Company.  Although she resides in Edina, she says she spends about half of her life on airplanes.  Her current territory extends from Detroit to Seattle

Janet Skaalen Gensler worked at General Mills for about 20 years, but has now retired and lives in New River, AZ with her husband, Hal Gensler.  Jan was planning to run her 57th marathon in June 2008, at Grandma’s Marathon.  She and her husband were in the process of building a cabin in northern Minnesota when last we checked, so it looks like she is joining the Snowbird Crowd.

On the home front, I run two businesses.  First, I practice law in Bloomington, focusing mostly on estate planning and starting new businesses.  Because both my sister and daughter have developmental disabilities, I specialize in drafting supplemental needs trusts.  Without them, if a child with a disability receives over $3,000 in an inheritance, they lose all of their medical assistance benefits.  With a supplemental needs trust, parents can give that child’s share to a trustee to pay for vacations, movies, ball games, computers, you know, all the fun stuff that the state doesn’t pay for, and still protect their child’s right to receive governmental benefits.  While I enjoy this area the most, I still do the normal wills and trusts work, plus medical assistance planning for seniors.  I also started an insurance business, Special Planning, LLC, to continue to serve all of the health and insurance customers I developed when I was in the life and health insurance industry.  Since many of my clients are seniors, I also sell Medicare supplement policies and Medicare Part D drug plans.

Later gang!

Paul “Hecktor” Heckt

1975 Class Agent

Campus News

Gustavus Announces Major Building Projects

At its Monday, Jan. 25 meeting, the Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with three major building projects.  The College will erect a new 125,000 square foot academic building with a large 3-story atrium at the center providing natural light to many of the spaces.  It will qualify for a “gold LEED” qualification as a green building.  This will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  It will house the largest departments on campus (economics and management, psychology, and communications).  Also, plans are under way to renovate A. H. Anderson Social Science Building.  Construction timelines for the projects are not yet finalized, but the College expects to break ground on the new academic building late this spring.

The effort is a significant early implementation step of Commission Gustavus 150, an innovative, constituent-based strategic planning process that has engaged hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders over the past year.  “These projects will greatly enhance learning and teaching, student recruitment, and institutional advancement for many years to come,” said President Jack R. Ohle.

Alumnus, Kurt Elling ’89, Wins Grammy Award

Kurt Elling, a 1989 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, took home his first Grammy Award Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.  Elling won the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category for his album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. This year marked the ninth time Elling was nominated for a Grammy.

Elling typically performs annually at Gustavus and did so most recently on Oct. 10, 2009 in Jussi Björling Recital Hall.  He has also had the distinct honor to perform in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their 350 guests at the White House State Dinner on Nov. 24, 2009.

Wind Orchestra Tour

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra, under the direction of Conductor Douglas Nimmo, has returned from a 15-day concert tour through Germany, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Austria.  The Choir of Christ Chapel will be traveling to the Phoenix/Tucson area during spring break.  On April 15 they will be at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, April 16 at All Saints Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Phoenix, and on April 17 at Lord of Grace Lutheran Church in Tucson.  For other campus news please check the website at www.Gustavus.edu.

Admission News

Applications for next year are ahead of where they were last year at this time which makes Mark Anderson ’66, the director of admission, very happy.  We graduated two very large classes in the last two years so we need to have somewhat larger classes in order to maintain our enrollment at about 2,500.  Mark Anderson will retire at the end of the academic year so a search is going on to replace him.  Gustavus has had only three directors of admission since 1950 (Howard Holcomb ’49, Owen Sammelson ’58, and Mark Anderson ’66) which is quite an amazing track record.

Attend a Chapter Event Near You!

There will be Gustavus alumni chapter events in the following cities:  Naples, March 14; Seattle, March 19; San Francisco, March 20; Los Angeles, March 21; New Orleans, March 30; New York, April 22; and Boston, April 25.  President Ohle will be attending most of those events so we hope that you will make an attempt to attend and hear what he has to say.  He is providing outstanding leadership!

Health Insurance Available through Alumni Association

During this time of economic uncertainty, many of our alumni, new graduates, and their family members are in need of health insurance.  Short-term and permanent health insurance options are available through the alumni insurance program.  The program is typically promoted to new grads just before and after graduation, but in response to the rising unemployment rate and in an effort to help all of those in need, we’re spreading the word more broadly this year.  This is also perfect for children of alums who are graduating (even if they did not attend Gustavus Adolphus College) and aren’t yet covered under an employer’s health plan.  For more information, individuals can contact the alumni office or contact the program manager directly or 800-635-7801.

New “Make Your Life Count” Website and Facebook Page

Gustavus has created a new “Make Your Life Count” website that includes a variety of feature stories exemplifying the College’s new brand position launched last month.  The stories celebrate Gustavus students, alumni, faculty, staff, programs, events, and organizations.  The website may be accessed from the Gustavus homepage by clicking on the “Make Your Life Count” brandline (in the upper right hand corner) or by visiting makeyourlifecount.blog.gustavus.edu.  The “Make Your Life Count” stories are also posted on a new Facebook page.  Become a fan and share your own Gustavus story.  When new feature stories are published, they will be communicated on the Gustavus News Twitter, and you may also subscribe (on the Make Your Life Count website) to receive e-mail updates.  To submit a “Make Your Life Count” story suggestion, click on the “Submit your story” link or e-mail the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at marketing@gustavus.edu.

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Upcoming speaker:  Amanda Nienow, assistant professor of chemistry will speak of her January term class “Chemistry & Crime:  Examination of CSI-type TV Shows & Real Life Forensic Science.”

Upcoming Events

  • Mar. 14 – Naples Chapter Event – Naples Grande Beach Resort
  • Mar. 17 – Gustie Breakfast – Amanda Nienow, assistant professor of chemistry
  • Mar. 19 – Seattle Chapter Event – Bellevue Club
  • Mar. 20 – San Francisco Chapter Event
  • Mar. 21 – Los Angeles Chapter Event – Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Mar. 30 – New Orleans Chapter Event – Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
  • Apr. 22 – New York Chapter Event – The Core Club
  • Apr. 25 – Boston Chapter Event - Bay Back Hotel