Class of '41
February 2001

Dear ’41 Classmates:

How can you and I remember? Every day, a new challenge, new stimulation.

Remembering Places

    The Gustavian Weekly (January 26, 2001) carried a three-page spread pictorial history of campus structures:

    Photo 1 Shows six coeds in snowsuits and wool caps on a toboggan sliding down Old Main Hill (Marjorie and Marian Swanson, Gerry Brown among them). Do you remember going all the way to Minnesota Avenue?

    Photo 2 shows a 1905 interior of the second floor of Old Main (built 1876) now home to the education department. In 1905 the College library was located here. We remember the library on the second floor of Commerce Hall, which we reached by climbing the stairs, meantime inhaling fumes of formaldehyde from vats containing biology department specimens stored in the basement.

    Photo 3. What is now Johnson Student Union once housed the gym, home to such diverse activities as swimming, basketball games, track meets and commencement exercises.

    Photo 4. Aerial view, dated 1934, shows only three buildings, which are currently part of the Gustavus scene. (On this view are South Hall, the White House, and Commerce Hall¾ all now gone!)

    Photo 5. Aerial view of the campus from the St. Peter Water Tower 1943. The same three buildings mentioned above and the Aud are now gone.

    Photo 6. The Water Tower near Uhler Hall¾ now a thing of the past.

    Photo 7. Aerial photo 1937 before Lund Center and Olin Hall were built.

    Photo 8. Old Gus looks on as the Aud, which housed administration and chapel before Christ Chapel was built, burned down January 8, 1970. Shortly after the fire the Edgar M. Carlson Administration Building was erected.

Did you know that there is a new web site for Alumni Affairs? It is:

    "It features historical Gustavus photographs, an online interactive poll, a bulletin board for alumni to read and post questions, answers, and opinions, the ability to update address and personal information including births/adoptions, weddings, employment information, and deaths, and a dynamically driven e-mail address search."

Remembering Profs.

    We had an amusing time with Arne Langsjoen ’42 who lives in Valley View now with his wife, Carol (Gaustad ’42) in the house they bought from Ross ’45 and Lavinia (Bloom ’45) Bloomquist. Arne on a contribution round for March of Dimes in our neighborhood was invited in for a slice of Chet’s carrot (birthday) cake. The conversation got around to the Weekly historical photos and who was teaching in those classrooms in our time. When my Chet came here in 1940, Skarty, for example, was the chemistry department, an avid tennis player with both students and faculty. Chet was the geology department and moved quarters from Uhler, west side, to part of the one-time cafeteria in Old Main, to the new Nobel Hall of Science. All of these abodes were located in basements. Versatile Prof. N. P. Langsjoen at one time or another taught German, Spanish and French.

Remembering Events

Another way to get your memory stimulated is to go to the Home Concert¾ after-tour of the Gustavus Band, Dr. Douglas Nimmo, conductor. They played Percy Grainger’s six-part Lincolnshire Posy. The program notes call this a bunch of "musical wildflowers" based on folk songs collected in Lincolnshire, England, mainly in 1905-06.

"In 1941, Percy Grainger visited Gustavus, touring with the Gustavus Band that same year. During the ensuing ten years he toured with the Gustavus Band on other occasions, always holding his relationship with the College in high regard. Our performance of Lincolnshire Posy is to mark the spark of that relationship begun sixty years ago."

Dr. Nimmo invited the audience to see the photo of Grainger in the gallery of Schaefer Music Hall¾ the composer standing and watching the tour bus stuck in a snowdrift.

During the intermission following, we heard Rememberings: Bob Esbjornson, St. Peter, an April 1941 concert when both Eunie Nordin and Joyce Westrom played concertos. Reason to remember: First date Bob had with Boo (Ruth Bostrom). One of Ruth’s letters home (March 1941) to her parents in Pennsylvania gives a first-hand account of what Bob shared with us.

Dear Mother and Dad:

One of the most wonderful things happened at Gustavus last night that I have ever heard. It was such a thrill to be there and to be a part of it. The Percy Grainger Festival was last night. It was a program of such variety that nothing was lacking. It was two solid hours just packed with beauty and thrills. The selections chosen made use of the choir, the band, the choral club, the organ, three pianos, and the director. There were about 150 people taking part, and about 700 (very conservative) in the audience.

Glory! I just can’t explain the sensation those of us had who were sitting there. Everybody was just lifted up way above the skies. Grainger was trying out some of his new music, using our band and choir. It had never been played in public before, and believe me! It is marvelous but very revolutionary. One is called the "marching song of democracy," and it reminds me of the perisphere at the World’s Fair. His music is rather wild and weird, but gripping to say the least. And he himself is so democratic and kind. He had been rehearsing all day since early morning with the kids and then when the concert was over, the people kept calling him back. He played one favorite selection after another as often as the people demanded. Finally, they let him quit, and I’m afraid he was very worn out. His wife was just as thrilled as we were. She’s so sweet, in spite of being a Swede! There is reason for Percy Grainger being a great musician. He is the most energetic man I know. He keeps going continually. I think anyone can become something if he is willing to work hard enough, but most of us aren’t. I shall remember last night for a long time…

(signed. Love, Ruth)

Ralph Belin ’50, Chaska, Minnesota, remembered that he, too, toured with Grainger and the band in 1950, playing the baritone. You may remember that Marge (Knudson ’42) and the late Baritone Bob Olson delivered their Gustavus tour memorabilia to the Grainger Collection in the Australian Archives.

Remembering Classmates: Notes from all over.

Don and Lois (Edstrom ’49) Anderson (Eagan, MN) recently returned from a trip to India and Nepal where they celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Christian Ashram Movement, which began at Sat Tai, India. A tour included visits to the Taj Mahal, Lukon, Jaipur, and Delhi. Leaders were Dr. E. Stanley Jones’s daughter, Eunice, and her husband, Dr. Jim Matthews.

We miss Alice Baver, with whom we enjoyed visits about books and music while she was a resident of Country Neighbors Home in LeCenter. Always glowing with fondness for Gustavus and St. Peter, she was generous and enthusiastic. She was 1941-45 English and organ instructor, Morris MN, West Central School of Agriculture (now UM, Morris). From 1952-85 Gustavus Adolphus Library, Admissions, Music offices; 1952-1985 church organist, Lake Harriet Methodist, Minneapolis; First Lutheran, St. Peter; St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran and Union Presbyterian. Retired June 1985. Alice’s obituary is at the end of this letter. A tree is planted in her honor in the Arboretum.

Louie and Ad Benson (Watertown, MN) found useful on their piano our pink class letter printing of the hymn titled "Day by Day" in three flats instead of four sharps. After a bummer summer with a health problem, a specialist and hundreds of pills, Louie writes (in verse, no less) he’s feeling "gungho."

Earl and Gladys (Lundberg ’42) Carlson's change of address to their two bedroom apartment at Woodland Good Samaritan is: 300 Buffalo Hills Lane #78, Brainerd, MN. Telephone: 218-855-1276. They celebrated 55 years of married life June 29. In September, they celebrated Paul’s 25th anniversary of ordination in Bolingbrook, IL with his New Life Lutheran Church "family". Earl was asked to preach at all four worship services that weekend.

Bessie Hobart Chenault sends along from her new address (5106 Maulding Pass, Austin, TX 78749) a wonderful letter from her son, Dale Hardin, reviewing the occasion of the funeral of Norma (Mrs. Claire Hobart). Norma, with her late husband, Claire ’35, established in 1948 a church and school for the blind in Laredo, TX and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. "The couple came into a destitute Hispanic community and reached into their lives and gave them not only hope, but the tools with which to achieve their dreams." Claire was honored at Gustavus in a special program about five years ago shortly before his death.

Bob and Jean Burggren (Red Wing, MN) added warmth and color to our Scandinavian Feast before Christmas in Christ Chapel in an elegant Christmas setting in the new banquet hall. Jeannette Anderson Eide ’42, Brooklyn Park, MN, wife of the late Oscar Eide, enjoyed the Saturday afternoon service of CCC, calling it "magnificent!"

Paul Dacklin (Warner Robins, GA) sent gigantic Georgia pecans, with regret for not being able to make a Minnesota visit to Gustavus ("dear to me"). On this day of writing¾ Groundhog Day¾ when it’s minus 27 degrees wind-chill, Paul would be better off holidaying in Atlanta and in Key Biscayne, FL.

Clem Gruber (Anoka, MN) lost his wife, Betty Lou (Pearson ’43), to acute mylogenous leukemia on October 9. She was "gracious and calm throughout her illness … her strong faith comforted her." She was able to address their Christmas cards and plan her own memorial service at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka. Two weeks after, Clem’s eldest brother, Arnold ’38, died of a heart attack while closing up the cottage on Mille Lacs. His memorial service was held at Diamond Lake Lutheran Church November 2. Our loving thoughts and prayers for all the Gruber family.

Warm greetings are returned to Arthur R. Heglund, VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI.

Lucille Westerdahl Hope (Bellevue, WA) left for her Green Valley, AZ home October 31.

Batch Johnson, (White Bear Lake, MN) invites us, the "greatest generation", in his fine January guest letter, to come to our 60th Anniversary Class Reunion the weekend of May 25-26, 2001. I’m pleased to report that the gold survey forms he sent are steadily coming in to the Alumni Office in the envelopes supplied, some with accompanying letters of greetings to be shared. Wonderful!

Dorothy Benson Klotz, (Hopkins, MN) looks forward to our May 2001 reunion. Her circle at Minnetonka Lutheran, a part of a consortium of churches that host homeless people for one week quarterly, furnishes one evening dinner that week. Attention, President Bush!

Bea Olson Lindsten, (McLean, VA) directed the plays for Christmas at her Lutheran Church of the Redeemer for the eleventh time, school and SS cast of one hundred with music.

Charles G. Lusk, (Borrego Springs, CA) says the most influential year of his education was at Gustavus. He learned how to pick friends. He retired from teaching in 1983. As a teacher, he feels he wants to give back to the community in appreciation. His recent activities include involvement with a bus company to pick up Mexican kids to take them to St. Richard’s Catholic Church for services. He drives monthly to San Diego for the Food Bank supplies for 108 families, a co-operative effort of all churches in Borrego Springs. He has been honorary mayor of Borrego and is chairman of the Water District. He and his wife, Bea, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in August 2000.

Paul Nelson, (Cleveland, OH) sings with the Vasa Voices, Swedish singing group. Harriet Stakke Noble, (South Bend, IN) warmed our subzero heart with the knowledge that she enjoys our class letter. Her church library is still her main volunteer interest.

Marjorie Knudson Olson ’42, (Mount Pleasant, MI) has been able to find stimulating life in her university-casino town since our classmate (Baritone Bob) died. Two adventures she found satisfying: 1) an eleven day train journey across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto, with an amazing ride on a snow coach on the Athabasca Glacier, even a walk on the ice; 2) two weeks of exploring on Maui, 52 miles on cliffs high above the ocean, 55 one-way bridges, and 600 spectacular curves.

Blanche Isenberg Pergol has a new address in Florida: 6777 Winkler Road, #H-200, Fort Myers, FL 33919. She, too, has been traveling with friends to Alaska; then to Italy, touring Rome, seeing the Pope in person, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Assisi, the beautiful Tuscany Valley. After attending the American Scandinavian Breakfast at Gustavus in December, Blanche wrote me about her late husband, Angie, who was voted Basketball Coach of the Century. "The plaque will be placed in the Cloquet High School. They chose twenty players from 1934 to the present, and five of Angie’s players were placed on that team. The ceremony will be between the games of the Christmas basketball tournament, December 29." Blanche has also given a significant gift in memory of Angie to the Gustavus Athletic Department to buy new banners for the gym.

There was much celebrating for Margaret Lundstrom Riesenweber (Kennewick, WA) when one son came from Auburn, WA, and her 18 and 20-year-old grandsons came from college in Texas. She has sold her car, uses her walker to accommodate her arthritis.

Two little granddaughters made a lively Christmas with all the family home for Ruthie Sealander Ruud and Russ in Moorhead, MN. Ruthie and Russ hope to be at Gustavus for our 60th Reunion.

Another new address is for Elnora Swanson Soderquist and husband, Ray: at Regency Retirement Residence, 208 East 48th Street, Apartment #130, Kearney, NE 68847. There’s a glory for them to enjoy no snow shoveling, but hard leaving their beautiful home on Cedar Hills, which "became too much for us." Their son, Leland, has a wonderful home at Bethphage Home. (The Women of Trinity, St. Peter, have for forty years supported this Home by sending cancelled stamps which are sold to dealers and the profits directed to Bethphage.)

Luverne Johnson Sellstrom (Willmar, MN) is a busy one: subbing at the church office (phone, computer, odd jobs) still in choir, hand bell choir, arranges music for the small hand bell group. Lately playing solos with her hand chimes, really enjoying that. Sub as organist for Wednesday matins, and Swedish service for St. Lucia Day.

Besides that, Luverne made headlines on page C-22 of the Tuesday, January 30, 2001 West Central Tribune: My Attraction to Lightning¾ or Vice Versa? She documents in a striking way lightning and thunder in her life¾ eight times in varied locations in Minnesota and Iowa. She begins in 1947 when her husband, Ponnie, and eight-year-old daughter drove to Forest Lake cottage; then 1960, Bethel Lutheran Church, Kiron, IA; near Ames, IA; in the 1970s Faith Lutheran, Odebolt, IA and later the parsonage; 1980, her school class room; 1982, Spicer¾ tree in the yard; 1997, a message received at camp that her home in New London had been hit and caught on fire.

Jean Hagberg Seymour (Sewickley, PA) has been retired for five years. She takes a class in sculpting (has done her grandson’s head) and exercises at the Y.

Dennis Wicker (Canyon Lake, CA) has been traveling around the states

There you have it, ’41. Tell your mirror your own remembrances of Places, Profs, Events, Classmates. Then let us hear from you.

Since this writing is near Valentine’s Day, please know I’m thinking of you all. Consider yourself "Hugged to Pieces."

Marian Swanson Johnson
1941 Class Agent

P.S. Will you help Gustavus remain strongly church related? Encourage your ELCA congregation to join the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations. There is no cost. For more information, call the Office of Church Relations at 800-726-6194 or e-mail Craig Johnson at