Class of '88
August 2002

Dear Classmates,

As many of you may already know, our classmate Julie Schmidt Calhoon died unexpectedly on June 24, 2002 of a heart condition.  She was well known and loved by many and we would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to her husband, Chris, and their family.

This article appeared in the Twin Cities’ Sun Newspaper on July 10, 2002.  The Calhoon family would like to share it with you.  It is reprinted with the permission of the author and the newspaper.

Community leader, teacher Julie Calhoon dies at 36


It was a warm, infectious and energetic smile that drew people to Julie Calhoon.

Calhoon's smile would bring more light to a room and made people more willing to help and be helped by her, said those who knew her best.

A Lakeville resident and math teacher at Apple Valley High School, Calhoon, 36, died in her home June 25 of an irregular heartbeat.  She is survived by her husband, Chris, and three children, Anna, 8, Thomas, 5‑1/2, and Emily, 2‑1/2, as well as other family members, students and friends.

In the days following Julie's death, Chris Calhoon has read hundreds of cards and listened to many people offer kind words about his wife of 13 years.

When talking about Julie, he said, most people always come back to her smile.

"She was so warm and people were just drawn to her because of that smile," said Kristen Babcock, a friend of the Calhoon family for many years. Babcock also co-chaired this year's Miss Lakeville Pageant with Julie.

Chris met Julie while both attended Gustavus Adolphus College.  The two were married on Sept. 29, 1989.  They moved to Lakeville 11 years ago and have attended Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville.

Julie was born Oct. 30, 1965, in St. Paul.  She grew up in Roseville and, in 1984, graduated from Kellogg High School, where she was active in cheerleading, athletics and music.  When she was 16, Julie was named Miss Minnesota Teen Broadway.

Reading, writing and math were favorite subjects.

Julie loved teaching, Chris said, and she taught at Valley Middle School in School District 196 for eight years.  She then moved to Apple Valley High School and taught math for four years.  This past school year, she stopped teaching so she could be home with her children.  She had planned to take off at least four more years.

Chris also teaches in District 196, at Falcon Ridge Middle School.  They often had the same students and when Chris would call Julie directly in her classroom, she would have the class say "Hi Mr. Calhoon" aloud.

It wasn't uncommon for him and Julie to have a conversation with 32 high school students listening.

When describing Julie, Chris talks about a woman full of life, a wonderful mother and wife, and someone willing to do almost anything for a friend.

"She was absolutely loving and compassionate and friendly and willing to do anything for anybody at any time," Chris said.  "She sacrificed a lot of herself to give to others."

While working on the Miss Lakeville Pageant this spring, Babcock saw firsthand Julie's apparently boundless enthusiasm.

"She definitely had a contagious energy," Babcock said.  "When she was excited about something, it made you get excited."

The little things in life, such as taking the children to school and being home for them, were important to Julie and Chris.  When deciding whether or not to have Julie quit working, they needed strength from an outside source and relied on their faith.

Chris has no regrets about the life he and Julie had together.  Open communication in the Calhoon family is crucial, and they never believed that they had spent too much time working and not enough time with their children.  They honored each other, their family, and God.

Love for her family spilled into Julie's teaching career, Chris said.  She would stop a teaching lesson to share a story about her children or would use her family to help explain a math problem.

Julie had the ability to teach people of all ages and help them feel empowered, Chris said.  Making the transition from teaching middle school students to high school isn't easy, and she pulled it off.

"She had such a skill at breaking difficult things down and explaining them to anybody in a way that made them get it," Chris said.  "She helped kids find their ability to be successful."

Students and coworkers were constantly asking Julie when she would be returning to school, Chris said.  She started a tutoring business to teach in some capacity and was helping many former students struggling with math.

"It didn't matter what age she taught, she knew how to say the right thing or have the right kind of energy to get them excited about what they learned," Chris said.

Many years ago, Julie was diagnosed with a heart murmur, Chris said.  It was believed the situation was fine.

After she and Chris went to bed June 25, she had a heart attack in her sleep.

"She was alive, energetic, bubbly and fired up about life right up until we went to bed that night," Chris said.

Life has been difficult since Julie's passing, Chris said, but the outpouring of support from family, friends, coworkers and complete strangers has been overwhelming.

Julie never asked for any attention and would have been amazed at the number of lives she's touched with her death, Chris said.

Chris thanks everyone who has sent a card, flowers or said a prayer for Julie and her family.

A lesson people can take from Julie's death, Chris said, is that people are fragile and life shouldn't be taken for granted.  Julie's life was going well and in an instant, it was gone.

"Her life was on an upswing. She's always had a good life, but she was in such a good place.  Things were going so well for Julie and us as a family," Chris said.  "That's why it's such a shock to people."

A camper sits adjacent to the Calhoon house.  Julie loved to camp and she and the family had hoped to go camping this summer.  Gardening also was a hobby, and a new garden Julie planned to work on waits on the other side of the house.  She also was considering entering the Mrs. Minnesota Pageant next year.

Other passions Julie had were teaching, dancing and reading, Chris said.  A favorite thing to do was to cuddle up in bed with a snack and read.

Her main source of pleasure, though, was Chris and their three young children.

"She just loved spending time with her children," Chris said.

A trust fund has been established for the college education of Anna, Thomas and Emily.  People interested in donating can call Hosanna! At 952-435-3332.


~JOBS~

  • Jon and Jana (Krzyzaniak ’87) Swenson have been called as the co-pastors to Our Redeemer Church in St, Paul, MN and have moved to Maplewood.  They are the parents of Christina and Kaitlyn.
  • Mark Wojahn is the accountant for Marquette Financial Group in St. Louis Park.  Heidi Dahlberg Wojahn is a stay-at-home mom (due soon with child #2) and works part time as the General Manager of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra.
  • Elizabeth Peasley Janssen is an educational aide at Hutterite Colony School in rural South Dakota.
  • Karen Potter Rova is working for Carlson Marketing Group.  She and her husband live in St. Michael, MN.
  • Shelby Young Picciano is an account manager for Dell Computer in Minnetonka.
  • Casandra Loggins‑Mitchell is a human resource manager for Metro Correctional Center in Chicago, IL.  She and her husband, Curtis, have six children.
  • Jamin Johnson - Schneider is the community relations coordinator for West Central Industries.  She's expecting baby #3 in late December.

~BABIES AND TODDLERS~

  • Jeffrey Matz and his wife, Tami, had a boy, Chet Jeffrey.  Jeffrey works for Allstate Corporation as a Senior Staff Fraud Investigator.
  • Bill and Terri (Rotert ’91) Goebel have a one year old named Hunter William.
  • Crescent (Lawrence) Hoffman has a toddler named Bryn Lauren.  She's an accountant in St. Cloud.
  • Heidi (Mittelstadt) Bednarchuk has a toddler named Cullen.  They live in Redwood Falls.
  • Doreen (Grack) Schultz had Danielle Nicole, back in 2000.  She works at St. Cloud Hospital.
  • Sue (Koch) Myers has "Hank"―James Henry―and as of spring, was due with baby #2.  She works for Saturn in Colorado Springs, CO.
  • Joni (Keelin) Bush and her husband, James, had Kelli Keelin Bush in 2001.  They live in Forest Lake, MN. 
  • Sean Bradley and his wife have one son, Quinn, and are expecting again.  They live in Duluth.
  • Martha (Klein) Conway and her husband have a son, Daniel Patrick.

~OTHER NEWS~

  • Penny Noeska Johnson's husband was in Bosnia this past year.  We don't know if he's back but send good wishes their way!
  • Mary Schoenfelder Lee and her family have been hosting an exchange student from Finland in their Maynard, MN home.
  • Maryann Anderson Nelson has built a new veterinary clinic in Le Sueur, MN‑stop by with Fluffy or Barney today!
  • Luther Hagen and his family hosted a little summer Hagen Calhoon Schneider get together on his new deck in Apple Valley.  Seven kids, no bugs and no rain‑‑they had a good time.
  • Mary Jane Blenkush Konnad opened a gallery and gift shop in Lakeville called, "The Prickly Pear."  She and her husband have a three year old.

~NEWS FROM CAMPUS~

Former Gustavus President John Kendall Dies

John S. Kendall ’49 died July 26, 2002; he had been fighting Leukemia for several years.  He was the 12th president of Gustavus serving from 1981-1991.  He was a longtime beloved and respected president and psychology professor.

Nature vs. Nurture Conversation

Is it genetics or environment that has the greatest impact on who you are?  Nature and Nurture will be explored during this years Nobel Conference.  Join conference director and psychology professor, Tim Robinson during August and September for a preview of this fascinating topic at <http://hellowalk.gustavus.edu>.

Interviewers Needed

The Career Center and Senior Class Gift Committee will host Mock Interview Night for Gustavus students with alumni on campus, Thursday October 3 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.  Alumni are invited to campus to conduct mock interviews with students preparing for internship, employment and graduate/professional school interviews.  Sample questions will be provided.  If you are able to participate or if you have questions about how to assist the students through the Career Center in other ways, please contact the Career Center at career-center@gustavus.edu.

Sports

On Homecoming, Saturday, September 21, Gustavus will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Gustavus Intercollegiate Athletics.  Events will include an all athletes reunion and the induction of the following people into the Athletic Hall of Fame:  Jack Colvard ’56 (basketball), Linn Erickson Ahrendt ’87 (basketball), Cameron Foster ’85 (track and field), Amy LeClaire-Sach ’86 (volleyball), Willie Lindquist (benefactor), Shaun Miller ’82 (tennis), Kurt Ploeger ’85 (football), Leah Ross Holmes ’82 (track and field).  For more information on the Hall of Fame induction or the 125th Anniversary of Gustavus Intercollegiate Athletics go to <gustavus.edu/alumni/events/events.cfm>.

Upcoming Events

  • September 20 - Class Reunions for 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997
  • September 21 - Homecoming and Class Reunions, 100th Anniversary of Gustavus Athletics, Hall of Fame Induction Banquet
  • October 1 & 2 - Nobel Conference
  • December 6, 7 & 8 – Christmas in Christ Chapel

In Friendship,

Jamin Johnson-Schneider

1988 Co-class Agent