Class of '41
September 1998

UNPREDICTABILITY, Dear Classmates ’41 –

That was the word for our times left with us by Dr. Peter Wallenberg of the distinguished Swedish family whom Gustavus honored with an honorary doctorate the opening week of classes, September 11.

Unpredictability. I’m still thinking of that as I sit in Chapel today at 10:00 a.m. for my favorite service (Gather, Morning Praise). I wore my "Rebuilding a Greater Gustavus" T-shirt for the occasion, seeking some inspiration to talk to you. This is my favorite Chapel service.

Wednesday mornings. I know I’ve referred to it to you before. The Psalm 63:2:9. "In the shadow of your wings, I will sing for joy, I will sing for joy."

    The morning hymn (David Haas, 1987)
          Light our way, O God of the living,
          May we learn to see with new eyes!
          Jesus the Lord, our power and promise;
          Light for the blind, and food for the hungry;
          God is alive! Alleluia!
    How do you learn to see with new eyes when you’ve had your three-score years and ten?
    The concluding prayers:
          God of love, you know our frailties and failings.
          Give us your grace to overcome them;
          keep us from those things that harm us;
          and guide us in the way of salvation;
          through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  The sky is flawless blue, the new copper cupola of Old Main blazes with glory in the sunshine, giant-size Fraser firs are being put in cone-shaped holes in the South Mall as we watch. Christ Chapel spire is scheduled for restoring to its rightful place October 18. The new $ 18.6 million Student Center of 51,000 square feet will get its cornerstone dedicated October 19 with its Evelyn Sponberg Young Dining Room. Arbor View Apartments (formerly Winchester Estates west of us where Bob Esby was living) are ready now for college students, owned and rebuilt by the college. Twenty-eight new Steinway pianos are ready for gifted hands in the Music Department. (Wouldn’t the late Fran Palm Holmquist have loved these?)

Class agents and chapter agents heard all about these things at our annual Class Agents’ Day held on Saturday, September 12.. We saw the evidence of last year’s funds. 1941 is now in the 6th decade. Our record:

        75 class members, 66 total donors, 88.0% participation
        $9,304 unrestricted dollars $22,598.50 total dollars
    Here are some other record setters in our decade:
    1945 for greatest percent of participation 93.2% Elder Jackson, agent
    1942 with highest unrestricted dollars $13,372.781942 C. Eddie Johnson, agent
    1943 Highest overall dollars $118,555.56 S. Bernhard Erling, agent
        I’m proud of you! As I check name by name for the year’s gift and years-to-date record, I’m moved to tears by what I know of each one’s circumstances and what $$$ have been given post-tornado in addition to what had been pledged. For this generosity, and more than that, for your prayers, I do thank you. Your words of encouragement and faith sent heavenward and/or in your notes have made it possible to come to this day with reassurance that Gustavus is in the good hands of its alums.

And what a class! We have eight Distinguished Alumni Citation awardees and the rest of us basking in their glory! (No other class has as many!) And loyalty and generosity that made me Class Agent of the Year in 1966, 1981, and 1991, our Golden Anniversary Year.

Moving forward with new personnel and new approaches, we will all benefit from new ways of doing things. You will have a Gus Link (student calling program) brochure introducing this system soon, already pictured in the Fall Quarterly. You will likely hear, this year, from one of the 30 student Gustie workers, trained and experienced in calling. You will likely hear in January from a guest writer (Chet’s prexy’s desk* letter was included in our portfolio of ideas). If you would like to express yourself via this means, just let me know.

Incidentally Prexy’s Desk continues to be Chet’s desk in his office on the third floor of the Folke Bernadotte Library where he works mornings, Monday through Friday. (e-mail address: The tornado refurbishing made great improvements over the facilities he had had¾ more shelving space, new computer, Bible collection given public display space, and dollars for a new microfilm reader in the Heritage Room.

Looking forward

Saturday, October 3 - G.I.V.E. (Gusties in Volunteer Endeavors) A day of community service.
October 6 and 7 - Nobel Conference XXXIV "Virus: The Human Connection."
December 4, 5 & 6 - Christmas in Christ Chapel "The Holy Family."
December 10 - Festival of St. Lucia, Christmas luncheon, community bake sale.

Sorry to report we are missing two more good friends - Bob Ludwig of Stillwater who died June 11, 1998, and Frances Palm Holmquist of Minnetonka August 27, 1998. Their obituaries follow.


At home at 754 Valley View, things are at a new slow. In our master bedroom, tornado damaged, we emptied all our drawers, chest, desks, and closet over the weekend, expecting the new carpet layers. Didn’t come. Of course, we can’t find anything to wear, but what the heck. A side benefit of course, loading up boxes of stuff we should have given or thrown away years ago.

The City of St. Peter is three weeks behind the plan to level and sod the places where our cherished gold maple trees and shade flower garden have been for 40 years. The July 100-mph wind took down another 1800 trees in St. Peter, including an arbor vitae near our raised beds, and our TV antenna again. So our dream lives on for bird-attracting Viburnums in that site which will have to wait till spring.

Another big plus for sentimental reasons is the grapevine which Chet rescued for a holiday wreath and picked the grapes ripening near the ground in that area out of which I made a batch of Martin County Fair Blue Ribbon jam (with skins) following my mother’s inimitable recipe.


But let me rhapsodize about across the street from us in Linnaeus Arboretum where Jim Gilbert ’62, new director has his usual enthusiasm and exciting plans.

Jim, who was in my English class when I taught here in 1958, is now teaching English himself with the environmental studies class of Professor Schlesse. An addition to the Melva Lind Interpretive Center is nearing completion, classrooms for the environmental studies program, which has approximately 60 majors.

Jim walked me to the new site for the tornado-destroyed pioneer cabin which will be reassembled, and will provide opportunity in other academic programs, like Dr. Roland Thorstensson’s Scandinavian studies classes for the Moberg Centennial discussions¾ or for Jan Sammelson’s grade-school classes reading Little House on the Prairie.

Over 30 years of teaching high school classes (and with Gustie sons of his own) makes Jim the inspiring leader for this time and place.

One of my conversations with Jim took place on the spot where our Class of ’41 sugar maple stood BT (before tornado). I have photos of us taken when we planted it on our 45th anniversary in May 1986. Remember? It was HOT! This is south of the Interpretive Center and is now Evelyn Gardens (In the more than a decade, plantings have shifted.) I would like to see a Class of ’41 tree there again. Would any of you have interest in extra $$$ to support this for next spring’s planting?

Johnson Hall dorm room 1910 Yes, Ellie in Kearney, Johnson Hall is gone. I have a picture from our time there (1937-38?). It is of the room which my Mom shared (Class of ’11). I’m sure we had the same furniture Gen Loff Strom from Roseau, and I. Reproducing this shot is not easy, but we’ll try. The felt pennant on the wall by the dresser says DUNNELL, MINN., believe it or not. And the scarves on the desk and the dresser have the Greek key design (symbol of eternity). Studying in the biffy after 10:00 p.m. lights out, cookies from Mom that came in the clean laundry case, Helga rattling keys for late comers’ reprimands. Oh dear. Those were the days.

Your cards, letters, calls visits all summer were wonderful. Keep’m rolling. We need such diversions: Marv and Jean Henrickson, Arlington Heights, IL, told of their new $ 450,000 tracker organ in their church. Paul Dacklin of Warner Robbins, GA, supplied sunfish fresh from Lake Washington ready for the pan. Charlie Lusk, Borrego Springs, CA, had wonderful Washington state travels and was chosen as Borrego’s 21st honorary mayor, active in elderhostel programs and in the local Rotary chapter as president. I hope that Thorkil Jensen (Overland Park, KS) got his pictures of the tornado. A video is available from the Office of Public Affairs for $ 10. You can call them at 507/933-7520.

We need all the help we can get. Like generations before us, we try to live one day at a time. We remember the words "Let go, let God

And finally, the bottom line from Harry E. Fredricksen, (Florence Myrum’s husband) a closing admonition, "Don’t become old, Pinky, it is a nuisance." (March 18, 1989).

Shalom for Rosh Hashanah! "A time for prayer, a time for contemplation, a time for renewed hope…"

Marian Swanson Johnson

Class Agent, 1941