Class of '41
March 23, 1999
Dear ’41 Classmates,
It’s that time of year again―pussy willow time. Chet climbed up the stepladder to reach the new top growth―four feet more than last year, and there’s a bird nest tucked in the branches. It’s a saver, alive and well, in spite of a tornadic blast: furry silver pussies shedding brown coats.
With Robert Herrick (1591-1619) "I sing of brooks…of blossoms, birds and boweries: of April, May of June and July flow,ers. I sing of Maypoles…"
There will be no hepatica, though, no jack-in-the-pulpit, Virginia blue bells;
no wild ginger, columbine, no trillium―with our two big maples gone. What shall
we do beyond sodding that area, in full sun the south? We need creative energies to
develop a new bird and butterfly sanctuary on.
Our last two damaged windows are now repaired, but the chimney remains to be topped. O come, Spring!
There are things to do and say planned: *Our Trinity Lutheran Church family of faith will gather at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, for a special BYOF (Bring Your Own Flashlight) Lenten evening worship to remember the first Wednesday that we gathered to worship following the storm. *The City of St. Peter is invited to gather at First Lutheran Catholic Church on Saturday, March 27, from 1:00-3:30 p.m. for a community-wide commemoration of the tornado. The St. Peter High School concert band and choir will perform and local and state officials will be in attendance. A Wall of Remembrance will be on display to share stories. *The St. Peter Ministerium is sponsoring an Ecumenical Service of Worship at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 28, at Christ Chapel. Following the service Gustavus invites the community to a reception in the Dining Hall. *On Monday, March 29, church bells will ring at 5:25 p.m. From 4:30-6:30 p.m. our local churches will be open for private contemplation and community fellowship. During the morning the 29th passage from Twist of Fate will be read on KRBI radio.
Ray Erickson, Salem, OR, writes of another spring scene:
The St. Peter State Hospital pasture, from which your Valley View neighborhood must have been carved, was a source of endless pleasure during the 1920’s. Snow meltwater formed a shallow pond where I did my first ice-skating. In the winter, one could choose the degree of skiing difficulty and risk, the most treacherous slope being that part of the pasture nearest the hospital. Early in the spring, a rocky eminence was a favorite spot for obtaining bouquets of crocuses (pasque flowers), and along the railroad ditches we gathered the first pussy willows to bring home to appreciative parents. In the summer, the treeless landscape allowed great kite flying, and sharing 13-lined ground squirrels (so-called gophers) for temporary pets and for study, were great ways to spend one's time. We always had to be on guard for livestock because the pasture was grazed by a large Holstein dairy herd during the growing season and, at special times of the year, several huge bulls could be found among them. This fact became threateningly obvious when my greyhound, Spike, led the herd to the fence which I scaled much faster than usual.
Some of you have mentioned that you feel we are the Lost Generation as far as news from our era being reported in the Quarterly. Please be advised that you yourself have to send in "news" and/or photos to the alumni office to be included in the "Gustavus alumni by class" section. I invite you again to send to me your reminiscences to share.
Betty Lou (Pearson ’43) Gruber, Anoka, MN, passes along, via e-mail, a tidbit from her reading of A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe: "I’m not very far into the book yet, and I haven’t decided if I like it. But one of the main characters is Roger Ahlstrom White II, an African-American attorney. It mentions that his father was a pastor, and he had named his son after Sydney Ahlstrom, a noted religious historian (page 24). Interesting, Huh? I wonder how anyone as worldly as this author obviously is, would know anything about Sydney Ahlstrom." We of ’41 know of our late classmate, "Skip" Ahlstrom, and his monumental A Religious History of the American People, and others.
Earl Carlson, Brainerd, MN, joined our 80-club on February 3. "One could say we’re slowing down to 80, but it’s more like putting on the brakes, "he and his wife, Gladys (Lundborg ’42), say.
Clint Gass, Greencastle, IN, has been in Greencastle for 45 years. We shared his Balaton, MN, experience in 1941 before he left to take offered assistantships at universities in Nebraska and South Dakota. For 18 years he taught in the Department of Defense challenge program abroad, until 1995. His son, Glen, is in music at Indiana University, receiving a distinguished teaching award, having taught a course in Beatles in England!
Ellie (Swanson) and Ray Soderquist, Kearney, NE, have a son, Leland, who works with the Bethpage Home project with used stamps cut from envelopes (like our Trinity and other churches participate in). Ellie crocheted afghans for fund drives.
Margaret Lundstrom Risenweber, Kennewick, MN, remarks on what wonderful lives we’ve had―good home, good schools, college, husband, and growing up in Minnesota. "Den tiden och sorgen," she remembers while dealing with osteoporosis in knee, back and hip. Hey, where are our Swedish/Finnish stories to share?
Ruth Erickson Johnson and husband, Eddie Johnson ’39, Palm Desert, CA, have enjoyed a wonderful trip to London, then Vienna for a week; a cruise through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean for a week, then a family reunion (Ruth) to the Poconos in September.
Now it gives me great pleasure to report to you, a special advance, the good news that our long-time friends Marjorie Knudson Olson ’42 and the late Robert Olson, of Mt Pleasant, MI are this year the fifth recipients of the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations Service Award.
This award recognizes alumni who have made distinctive commitments to the service of others―volunteer work, involvement in the church, and extraordinary professional accomplishments.
Marge and Bob’s durable Gustie romance 1938-42 began during our years together with activities like Professor Fred Hilary’s symphonic band tours with Percy Grainger, and literary and editorship of the Weekly and Embers. Marge’s 47-year career was as a speech pathologist/instructor and Bob’s as professor of education (1948-80). Volunteer activities during those years included the Salvation Army, professional organizations, First United Methodist Church outreach and school, Easter Seal Society and the United Way.
After retirement in 1980, the Olsons served in the Peace Corps, Kingston, Jamaica (1983-85), volunteered at the Red Bird Mission School in the mountains of southeast Kentucky (1986-1992). International friendships and travel cultivated family traits passed by example to son, Gregory ’72, and his wife, Joanne Weaver Olson ’72 and their children Cecily (21), Nicholas (19), and Ashley (12).
The Olsons’ daughter, Shelley Olson Ziebarth ’78, died from leukemia in April 1995. She had worked as a child, adolescent and family therapist for 15 years and was employed by the Dean Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry in Madison, WI, since 1990. The center foundation dedicated to Shelley the children’s resource area in the psychiatric department. The Olson family suggested memorials to YMCA Youth Program, the Salvation Army, or American Cancer Society.
The WITH GRATITUDE plaque ready for the Olsons has Christ Chapel etched in wood and carries the words of Edgar M. Carlson: "A college is not anymore, if it ever was, a place with clearly defined boundaries. It includes more than those who teach and those who study; it includes also those who believe in what it is doing, those who accredit its work by the quality of their lives and service after they graduate, and those who provide the means which permit the work to go on."
The award will be presented at the 50-Year-Club luncheon Friday noon, May 29.
An e-mail from Marjorie Lokensgard Larson ’44 in Winter Haven, FL, is appropriately quoted here: "Was so sad about Baritone Bob’s death. He took over the L.S.H.S. band when Earl Erickson went to St. Peter. I remember when I was going to compete in the state contest with a baritone solo he had me use his horn for the contest. Mine was a Conn and good instrument, but his was better―had a better tone, he thought. His was a Bell Front and mine was an upright, which made a difference to me in my fingering. I went along with his against my wishes. The next year at Gustavus I sat next to him in the baritone section. I have since purchased a Bell Front Baritone and still enjoy playing. End of story!"
While we’re in this quality of life and college experience mode, it is gratifying to have another advance report to share with you. I refer to the preliminary results of a study to be released April 15. Underwritten by Aid Association of Lutherans ($350,000), the study was sponsored by Lutheran Education Council of North America. How the alumni of Lutheran higher education schools viewed their college and university experience was recorded. According to Pastor Craig Johnson ’69, Associate Vice President at Gustavus, the voiced responses revealed "astoundingly positive" feelings about the Lutheran experience in respect to more than a dozen categories: faculty-student connections, mentoring, values and ethics taught in class, opportunity to lead, athletics, volunteerism, sense of community on campus, safe campus, friendship in classroom, opportunity for spiritual growth, faculty modeling in faith and values, involvement in church and religious activities, appreciation of the fine arts.
Here’s a third Good News paragraph:
THE KRESGE FOUNDATION has awarded Gustavus a $1 million challenge grant toward the campus center, which is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2000. This project has received support from a variety of foundations, corporations, and individuals, as well as the state of Minnesota. To meet The Kresge Foundation challenge, Gustavus must raise approximately $4.3 million in support of the campus center, an outdoor track facility, and tree planting and campus landscaping. The Kresge Foundation has participated in other Gustavus projects, including awards of $500,000 for the renovation and expansion of Nobel Hall of Science in 1996, $250,000 to build Confer Hall in 1989, and $350,000 toward the construction of Lund Center in 1983. This new challenge grant is the ninth and largest Kresge award to Gustavus. In 1998, the Kresge Foundation funded one in three of the proposals it received. (Taken from The Yellow Sheet, campus newsletter).
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying…" Robert Herrick
Of course what follows this paragraph is what we urgently call "This is the time!" to send your gift support to help Gustavus to meet that Kresge match. Whatever $$$ you’ve pledge, or whatever you want your response to be (more than the pledge or your usual gift), send it before May 28, please. Address your envelope to The Gustavus Fund, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West College Avenue, Saint Peter, MN 56082.
It was Sara J. Schonrock, senior economics major, who made many of the GusLink Phonorama calls to you. She feels that the teamwork and togetherness learned in Gustie classes is what she is most grateful for, and why she wants to give back to the College to make it possible for us to have the best resources of any campus.
Hooray for the Hay in May!
(Is it only ’41 who knows what that means?)
Marian Swanson Johnson
Class Agent, ’41