Class of '95
February 2009

Dear Class of 1995,

We hope this letter finds you well and, for those of you in Minnesota and the greater Midwest, we hope this letter finds you keeping warm!

We are happy to announce that Greta Johnson Petrich agreed to be a guest-writer for this letter―and, as a professional reporter, she wrote a great letter.  Thanks, Greta!

As always, please keep your news coming―we look forward to reporting more updates on our classmates in our spring letter!  Go Gusties!

Your class agents,

Sara Tollefson Currell and Amy Seidel

1995classofficers@gustavus@edu  (email us with any news you’d like to share!)

LETTER FROM GRETA JOHNSON PETRICH:

Do you remember that first shirt you bought freshman year at Gustavus?

Mine was a GUSTAVUS XL sweatshirt.  Still giddy at the thought of being a Gustie, I never imagined that sweatshirt would turn out to be the best networking tool I could ever buy.

Wearing it got me added to the patient list for a doctor―and Gustavus alum―who wasn’t taking new patients; it helped me get a promotion at my first job after someone in the engineering department saw it on the seat of my car―he went to Gustavus for almost two years before the administration assured him there was more to the school than partying; it resulted in a man (who was also wearing a Gustavus shirt) offering to give my tired children his seat on a packed Disney World shuttle bus; and it even earned me free admission to an Alexandria, Minnesota Cardinal basketball game after the ticket lady asked if I went to school with Mark Domschot ’94.

While my Gustavus sweatshirt has nothing to do with the story I’m about to tell you, it does.  Every time I wear a Gustavus shirt, I meet someone who went to Gustavus.  Each time this happens I’m amazed at the kindness of people and the connections that we would never see, if it weren’t for a simple shirt.

As a reporter, I’m often running to the scene of an accident to take photos.  That’s why, just like always, the report of an accident on Lake Osakis January 27, 2006, sent me straight to the scene.  The following Monday morning I turned in my photos and made the appropriate phone calls searching for information on the accident victim.  Rodrigo Morales, age 51, had rolled his four-wheeler on the ice.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet and was in critical condition with severe head injuries at the St. Cloud, MN hospital.  I typed up the story, gave it to my editor and headed home, hoping to take a nap before picking up the kids.

The ringing phone woke me from my afternoon slumber.  It was my sister calling to report a possible dry run, dad was on his way to the Twin Cities.  We discussed the chances on him actually getting a lung―he’d been waiting for a transplant for three years―and decided not to get our hopes up.

Fast forward eight hours and I was racing to Minneapolis to see my dad one last time before his surgery.  Doctors at Fairview Medical Center removed my dad’s damaged lungs and replaced them with a healthy set of lungs during the night of January 30.  They were also able to repair what could have been a fatal heart defect, undetectable until they opened up his chest and saw it.

We talked many times throughout the night wondering where the lungs had come from and were only told that the doctor had flown somewhere to perform the surgery.  I considered checking newspaper web sites in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin to see if there was news of a fatal accident, but didn’t get around to it.  Organ donation is completely confidential so there was no way we’d get any specific information.  Our only way to say thank you was to write anonymous letters that would be forwarded to the family through the transplant center.

Fast forward to the next Christmas.  My now healthy father kept hounding me to write a thank you note that he could send to the transplant center.  I was sure I was too busy, except he kept bugging me to do it before Christmas.  When I finally sat down to write my letter I thought of a family, much like my own, getting ready for Christmas.  But instead of arguing over when to go to which parents’ house, they were silent, wondering how they’d make it through their first Christmas without a member of their family.

According to my dad, Mary Jo Morales was so happy when she got his holiday letter she called everyone she knew, elated that her husband had saved a life.  She said it was the most marvelous gift she had ever gotten.  Morales?  That name sounded familiar.  As I heard the story a vivid picture came to my mind and I stopped listening because I already knew.

Rodrigo Morales, the man who rolled his four-wheeler on Lake Osakis, was also the man who saved my dad’s life.  Each year, my family celebrates January 30, the anniversary of dad’s lung transplant.  And each year, we take the time to send a thank you to the Morales family.

So many are caught in the grief of the loss of their loved one, the thought of donating their organs isn’t even a consideration.  Yet all of those who find a way to share these beautiful gifts are actually letting their loved one live on in the most precious way.

I’m always thrilled by the kindness and relationships so easily found when I encounter a fellow Gustie donning their Gustavus attire.  Then I think of my new friend Mary Jo and wish there was a shirt for her and people like her, so they could too, share in the joy of such an amazing connection.

Please, please, please check the donor box on your driver’s license; then tell your family your wishes so if they ever need to―they will have the strength to let you give one last gift.  Because you never know what kind of sweatshirt is hanging in a person’s closet.

Greta Johnson Petrich ’95 is the editor of the Osakis Review newspaper and an aspiring freelance writer.  She lives in Osakis, MN with her husband, three children and three dogs.

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Class News

Tresja Denysenko is a disaster operations specialist for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.  Tresja and her husband, Nicholas, live in Annapolis, Maryland.

Jennifer Bevis Svatos is a communications assistant for the Blandin Foundation.

Matthew Cadwell is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

Shannon Rafftery Treichel and her husband, David, had a baby girl, Delaney Beth, on December 17, 2007.

Campus News

Haugen Named Head Football Coach

Peter Haugen was named the new head football coach in mid-December.  Haugen posted an 111-44 record in 15 years at Washburn High School.  He is the 17th head coach in the 93-year history of Gustavus football.  Haugen started the second week of January.

President Ohle is on the Road!

Please join President Ohle, his wife Kris, and other Gustavus staff at a chapter dessert reception near you.  President Ohle will be visiting 11 cities around the country in the coming months and all alumni, parents, and friends of the College are invited to attend a reception.  Dates are listed below or check out the Alumni website to find out more details.

Mustaphi Named Michelle Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary

Semonti Mustaphi ’03 was recently named Deputy Press Secretary for First Lady Michelle Obama.  Mustaphi worked on the Obama campaign, and has also held communications positions for three senators.  Mustaphi graduated with a political science and communication studies double major, danced in the Gustavus Dance Company, and was an Anderson Scholar.

Gustie Breakfasts

Join us for the “Come on You Gustie” Breakfasts.  The breakfasts are held the third Wednesday of each month at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy 394 and Hwy 100).  The breakfast runs from 8-9:30 and is $10 per person.  Reserve a spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at (763) 533-9083.  February’s speaker will be Kris Kracht, communications; forensics head coach.

Gustie Pages

Want to support Gustie professionals?  In need of a doctor, pastor, or financial adviser?  Look in the Gustie Pages, 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 become your customers.  Go to the Gustie Pages at the alumni website, www.gustavus.edu/alumni.

Homecoming

Mark your calendars now for Homecoming 2009!  The Gustavus football team will face off against Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Oct. 10.Watch for more information about tons of fun events the weekend of Oct. 9 and 10.

Music Ensemble Tours

Both the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and the Gustavus String Orchestra will be touring at the end of January and beginning of February.  The Wind Orchestra will tour mainly in the Denver area, but will also make two appearances in South Dakota.  The String Orchestra will travel from Stillwater through Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • 100th Anniversary of Gustavus Men's Basketball - Feb. 7
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Kris Kracht, communications; forensics head coach - Feb. 18
  • Tucson Chapter Gathering - Feb. 19, Westward Look Resort
  • Phoenix Chapter Gathering - Feb. 20, Millennium Resort, Scottsdale
  • Los Angeles Chapter Gathering - Feb. 28, Art Director's Guild, Studio City
  • Boston Chapter Gathering - March 14, Hyatt Regency Cambridge
  • New York Chapter Gathering - March 16, New York Marriott East Side
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Ken Westphal, vice president for finance - March 18
  • Seattle Chapter Gathering - March 21, Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland, WA
  • San Francisco Chapter Gathering - March 23, Hotel Vitale
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Steve Wilkinson, men's tennis coach - April 15

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