Class of '81
December 2004

Dear Classmates,

I hope this class letter finds you all healthy and happily going about the joy of celebrating the holiday season with friends and family.  Christmas (and for that matter, all the rest of the holidays) is kind of a mixed bag of blessings and woes for me.  The woe is that I spend many more long hours at the flower shop during the holiday season and am often ready to doze off by the time I get to parties and even on Christmas Eve (until I see the first niece or nephew – then I perk right up!).  This isn’t exactly the time of year for me to “take a vacation day” – if there actually were such a thing in small business owners’ vocabularies!  The blessings (which actually outweigh a few tired muscles) are that business is good – otherwise I would not be spending the long hours, and it is downright fun to come to work when most of the people I see and speak with during the day are people who are giving something to another person.  I am fortunate to have found a profession in which I interact with people in their most generous moments.  I find myself very much in the Christmas spirit working in such an environment.

I am in the midst of my Christmas shopping just like most of you – those of you who had it done in October, please just keep that information to yourselves.  I’m stressed enough!  I have tried at least a dozen different remote control vehicles and am having the darndest time figuring out which one is best.  All that I have figured out so far is that the parents of the nephew in question will appreciate the rechargeable battery option.  If any of you know which is better, remote control Hummers, boats, hovering spacecraft, monster trucks etc, PLEASE let me know!  I could also use help in the Game Boy Advanced department – there must be 100 different games available.  I have the American Girl routine figured out totally and if anyone needs help in that department, I’m here for you.

You may have noticed that you are hearing from me again despite the fact that it is actually Heimer’s turn to write.  Don’t worry; you’ll hear from him before you know it.  I asked him to let me write this letter because I was so enthused after the class agents’ meeting this fall that I really wanted to share some of the good news with all of you.  Heimer did not join me at the meeting because it was Parents’ Weekend in Iowa where his eldest was at school.

I use the past tense because I learned just this week that the young Mr. Heim has decided that he, too, is a Gustie at heart and will soon be transferring to our beloved Gustavus.  I’m thrilled for all of you, Steve and Susie (Bjorling ’83) – what fun to have another generation of Gusties for the Heims and Bjorlings.  I spent some time with an old friend of so many of ours, Steve “Leo” Sayre ’80, at the class agents meeting.  Leo is at Medtronic and seems to be happy with life.  We were joined at lunch by Katie (Brown)’80, and their son, David.  David was touring Gustavus as it was one of three schools on his list to be considered.  I have not heard yet which way David is leaning but I think that although Steve and Katie were trying their best to not influence him, they would be thrilled if he chose Gustavus.  He was also looking at St. Olaf (what?????) and Denver University – he’s a great skier so I’m certain that is tempting!  Three great schools – what a choice.  I know that many of you will also soon be going through the college choice scene with your children.  What an exciting time for a family.

One more tidbit of news from the older gang; I ran into John Hallberg ’79 at The Children’s Theater in Minneapolis.  Both he and Brian Holcomb ’79 (married to our classmate, Karen Aaze Holcomb) sit on the board of the Children’s Theater.  They are doing great work – the quality of the performances is outstanding and the plans for future expansion and new building are so exciting!  I encourage all of you (with or without young children) to attend a CTC production – I know you will find them as delightful as I have.  Thanks for all your efforts, John and Brian.

The highlight of the class agents’ meeting was hearing President Jim Peterson’s ’64 vision for the future of Gustavus.  He spoke sincerely of his welcome for more meaningful involvement of key volunteers.  He clearly values the gifts and talents of the Gustavus family – alums, faculty, staff and volunteers.  He looked into the eyes of the class agents and told us that Gustavus can survive without us, but it cannot thrive without us and all of the Gustavus family.  Very powerful words!  His focus is to move Gustavus from GOOD to GREAT.  We are solid financially, not wealthy, but funds are well managed and spending is done thoughtfully and wisely.  President Peterson has six main goals for the college:

1.  He believes that Gustavus needs to become more diverse for two reasons.  First, the college must respond to the globalization of our world and send out graduates who are ready to work in the 21st century where all countries are dependent on one another.  Secondly, from a completely pragmatic approach, he realizes that college freshmen are a more diverse population than they were when we started in 1977.  The percentage of Scandinavian Lutheran students with blonde hair and blue eyes will soon be a tiny minority of the population.  For Gustavus to remain strong, it must more closely reflect society as a whole.

2.  Stronger academic standards (it’s lucky I got that diploma when I did).  His plans include reducing class sizes, adding more endowed chairs, increasing faculty development, and encouraging more student and faculty research (which means lighter teaching loads for professors).

3.  Strengthening the college’s relationship with the Church.  Individual congregations can no longer provide large financial gifts to colleges but they do send students – and Gustavus, in return, sends graduates into congregations who provide leadership.

4.  Facilities Improvement.  In February renovations will start on Old Main.  Soon Wahlstrom will be replaced by a new residence hall.  The stadium will be moved (no more worries about stray footballs crashing into the windows at Olin) and a new Social Sciences building will be built in its place.

5.  Technology Updates.  President Peterson astutely told us that students in five years will come with expectations we can’t even guess at currently because of the speed at which technology is advancing.  Gustavus is also unique in having all new computer equipment installed five years ago (after the tornado wiped out all existing computers) – but that leaves us with the added challenge of having it all become due to be replaced at the same time.

6.  Money!  His goal is to keep the college affordable (good news for parents of prospective Gusties) by strengthening revenue sources such as summer programs or other ideas of partnerships that could provide additional dollars.  I’m certain you will agree with me that President Peterson is a visionary leader who can take Gustavus beyond what any of us dreamed it could be.  His goals are lofty but his reasoning so sound and his passion for Gustavus so intense.  I believe he will lead the college to these dreams and beyond.  His words have echoed in my ears  “Gustavus can survive without you, but it cannot thrive without you.”  Please join me in sending a gift to Gustavus this holiday season and watch with pride as our alma mater thrives. 

Dr. Peterson also shared with us that in a survey conducted last year of Gustavus alums, 82% of us remain in contact with alum friends.  That leads me to believe that you are all waiting breathlessly for class news so I’ll get on with it!

We have to start off with Dr. Diane Bergman Petersen – did you see her on the cover of the June issue of Mpls/St Paul Magazine?  I could not believe my eyes.  Diane has not aged one day since we graduated in 1981.  This youthful look may be attributed to the fact that she clearly has not sat still one minute since we last saw her.  Read the article – you’ll be amazed at how busy she keeps with her practice and all the wonderful things she is doing in women’s health.  One of the best things about doing Phonorama is that all of a sudden you have a plausible excuse for calling old friends with whom you have lost contact but would love to chat with.   I’ve thought of Diane so many times over the past years and just didn’t get to the phone.  Phonorama 2004 took care of that!  We had a wonderful conversation where I learned that she’s even busier than Mpls/St Paul Magazine revealed.  She and her husband are raising 3 children, ages 12, 12 and 14.  They often travel to Bangladesh where they volunteer their time and talents.  They are also soon to be co-presidents of an organization funded by Twin Cities Lutheran Churches whose mission it is to improve health standards in Bangladesh.  Diane is passionate about helping women better their health and their lives, both here and in countries like Bangladesh.

While we were at Gustavus, one rarely heard the name Diane Bergman without the name Amber Dobler closely associated.  It seems that their friendship has not been lost through the years or the miles.  Amber was not home when I called but Diane filled me in so that I could share some news about her with all of you.  I think we can trust the source!  Amber, her husband, Perry Dixon, their 2 year old, Dietrich and two stepchildren live on a cattle ranch in Morse, Texas.  This is not just any old cattle ranch, however.  It is also a vineyard.  Amber is now a cattle rancher and vintner!  Oh, yeah, and don’t forget she’s also an ophthalmologist in Amarillo, TX.  I can’t wait to see both of these ladies at the 2006 class reunion.  They will certainly have interesting stories to tell!

Employment

  • Debra Baker works in the legal department of Warner Bros. 
  • David Moline is senior vice president at John B. Collins Associates, one of the largest reinsurance intermediaries in the world.  He has 23 years of insurance and reinsurance experience.
  • Dawn Ebeling, Baltimore, MD, continues to be a manager in the tax department of Gross, Mendelsohn and Associates
  • Brad Schaffner assumed the duties of head of the Slavic Division at Harvard University’s Widener Library in Cambridge, Mass
  • Brent Jass, Odin, MN, is teaching motorcycle safety classes for the State of Minnesota when he isn’t busy building cabinets.  His wife, Debby (Kleinow ’82), has taught at the Mountain Lake Public Schools for 22 years.
  • Marcia Bloom Bodnar, San Diego, CA, is assistant vice president, human resources, for Marsh Risk and Insurance Services.
  • Bradley Carlson is general manager at Meritex Logistics
  • Renae Crosby, Hillsborough, NC, is a scientist at Glaxo Smith Kline, learning all about lab robots. 

 

Brad Schaffner married Elaine Matt, in May, a graduate student at the University of Kansas. 

Harlan Anderson, Litchfield, MN, entertained me with stories of his three sons – # 1 is headed to the University of Minnesota next fall, #2 is currently an AFS student studying in Italy and #3 is threatening to be a Johnnie after he graduates (he’s 13 right now).  Harlan takes responsibility for this attraction to St John’s University – apparently he’s taken the boys to Johnnie games so often that one of them decided to join the team.
Jane Breckner Pederson, Frederic, WI, is doing magic by raising triplets (7 ½ years old – 2 boys and a girl).  There’s another classmate we have to get to the reunion to entertain us with her stories of the joys of triplets.

Big news from Mary Holte Bauer, Waupaca, WI:  after being a homemaker for many years, has decided to return to school and is currently enrolled at Luther Seminary.  She is commuting from central Wisconsin to the Twin Cities.  How wonderful, Mary.  I can’t think of anyone more suited to ministry than you.  I wish you well, both in your journey of learning and growing at the seminary and in whatever work you choose upon completion.  Keep us posted!
Kris Belin Cooper continues to have the Gustie spirit – she hosted students and organized events when the Gustavus Band visited their church in St. Charles, IL.  She and Jon are hopeful their 15-year-old son will be a future Gustie.
Scott ’79 and Lisa Johnson Flom, Eden Prairie, MN, spent 2 weeks in Africa last January with their four children (ages 11, 14, 15 and 17) doing missionary work.  They did 31 magic shows in 9 days.  Their 17-year-old son will graduate this year and plans to do magic shows full-time.  Wow!  I’m still trying to perfect my one and only card trick.

Scott Dee is back in the news.  He was recently elected vice president of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.  He took office March 9th during the AASV’s 35th annual meeting in Des Moines.  Scott is an associate professor in the Swine Disease Eradication Center at the University of Minnesota.  He is an internationally recognized swine disease expert and consults in 33 states and 22 countries, is a frequent guest lecturer and speaker at veterinary and producer meetings around the globe and is the author of 17 textbook chapters and over 80 peer-reviewed publications.  His research has contributed greatly to the current knowledge in understanding, controlling and developing preventative measures for the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.  I think we can safely assume that Scott is not finding a lot of time to be playing in the old band at Whiskey River between all of that action!

By the way, I tried for days to recall the name of that band, could not do it, and finally started calling old friends to see if they could remember.  Apparently we have hit middle age.  Not a one of them, Karl Self, Sharon Bartelt Bridges, Scharmsie – even Trivia King, Boak Wiesner, could remember.  We all recall that Andy Dee ’83 and Keith Soring ’80 were also in the band and Sharon could remember the Doobie Bros songs that they used to play…but apparently 45-year-olds are starting to see signs of memory loss.  Scott, we were all big fans – but the name of the band seems to have escaped all of us!  Drop me a line sometime to remind me so I can move on to the next mental exercise.

Jo Gjertson-Fredriksen, Douglaston, NY, is currently deep into work on her dissertation for the doctoral program in Art Education at Columbia University (NYC).  She also administers and teaches in a not-for-profit arts organization that brings an integrated dance/music/arts program to underprivileged schools throughout the NCY metro area.  She was kind enough to send an e-mail to me (which we invite you to do as well, via the following e-mail address:  1981classofficers@gustavus.edu – Heimer and I love to hear from you all!) with updates.  After completing an MFA in dance at Sarah Lawrence College she went on to teach at a number of colleges across the U.S. and performed professionally.  She continues to perform in the NYC area, collaborating with various musicians and composers.  Jo loves living in New York City with daughters, Yale, 22 and Liv, 13.  Thanks for the update – I hope to be able to see you perform soon.

Writing class letters brings back so many wonderful memories from our years together – wishing you all wonderful memories of the old days and even better memories to be made during this holiday season with your friends and families.

Leslie Nielsen

1981 Co-class Agent

P.S.  In the midst of making peanut brittle last night, I had a light bulb moment – was Scott, Andy and Keith’s band called “Lonestar?”  I’ve found that not all my light bulb moments shine at the highest wattage though so I’m still not sure this is right.  This mental exercise has energized me to challenge you all to a little Gustavus game show trivia:  Which fraternity forced its pledges into trees outside the caf shooting play guns at passersby?  What meal was served every Sunday in Evelyn Young’s food service?  Which faculty member owned “the barn?”  Okay, enough trivia – it’s time to get back to 2004 and preparing for the holidays!  Merry Christmas to you all.

Campus News

143rd Academic Year Begins

Classes began Sept. 8 with 657 first-year Gustavus students and 2,500 in all.  Long-standing orientation traditions such as the Square Dance and President’s Banquet have been joined by newer traditions like Gustie Greeter Orientation Groups and the Reading in Common program.  These newer programs were created to provide a more meaningful transition and to encourage students to meet others outside their residence hall.

Nobel Conference, The Science of Aging

The 40th Anniversary of the Nobel Conference was on the Science of Aging.  The campus hosted over 6,000 guests October 5-6 to learn about the research molecular biologist are conducting on longevity, Alzheimer’s, and delaying debilitating disease and how this impacts life expectancy, the economy, and the health-care system.

New Residence Hall

Work crews have been busy this summer and fall constructing a new residence hall on campus.  The goal is to have the building enclosed before winter.  The building, located southwest of the football field will house 200 students in suites and apartments and is scheduled to open for fall 2005.

Gustie Pages

Looking for a dentist, doctor, lawyer, pastor, realtor, and much more?  Make it a Gustie!  The Gustie Pages is an online database of Gusties who have submitted information about their profession.  Use the Gustavus network to meet your needs or submit your professional information if you would like other Gusties to be your customers.

Athletics Hall of Fame

The Gustavus Adolphus College Athletics Department has chosen eight individuals for induction into its Athletics Hall of Fame.  The 2004 inductees include Lori Allen ’88 (golf), Jim Chalin ’76 (basketball), Bruce Edwards ’77 (ice hockey), Barb Jaeger ’88 (soccer), Dean Kraus ’89 (football), Pachi Lopez ’71 (soccer), Greg Peterson ’88 (golf), and Gary Reinholtz (long-time athletic trainer, benefactor).  This group was honored at the Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, which was Saturday, October 16.

Extraordinary Place

Gustavus is once again ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation in U.S. News and World Report's annual college rankings.  Gustavus is one of five Minnesota colleges in the top 100 national liberal arts colleges for overall quality (Carleton, Macalester, St. Olaf, Gustavus, St. John’s).  The ranking groups schools into categories based on a national educational classification that includes national liberal arts colleges, national doctoral universities (University of Minnesota, St. Thomas), regional master's degree-granting universities (Hamline, St. Catherine’s, Bethel, Augsburg), and comprehensive regional colleges (Concordia-St Paul).

Upcoming Events

Stockholm Sweden Chapter Event -- Dec. 12
Boston Chapter Event -- Jan. 25
New York Chapter Event -- Jan. 26
Washington, D.C. Chapter Event -- Jan. 28
Tampa Bay Chapter Event -- Feb. 2
Vero Beach Chapter Event -- Feb. 4
Marco Island Chapter Event -- Feb. 5
Tucson Chapter Event -- March 18
Phoenix Chapter Event -- March 19
Sun City Chapter Event -- March 20
Seattle Chapter Event -- April 1
Bay Area Chapter Event -- April 2

Class of 1954 and 50-Year Club Reunion – May 27-28

Class Reunions for 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 – October 7-9, 2005