Class of '41
February 2002

Dear Hearts and Gentle People,

            It’s that sweet time again for flowers and chocolates.  Continuing the lavish gifts collected in a California Christmas (Lindt, Tobler, Mrs. Field’s Decadent, See’s, Guylian, Ghirardelli, DeBos – to name a few) we are failing to resist temptation as our family birthday months, of January and February unfold.

            Spring has sprung with the opening of our refrigerated bulbs (just in time for Chet’s February 1 birthday).  First, the tall golden Dutch Masters narcissus potted in September; followed by the petite yellow Tete a Tete, miniature daffodils.  Then there are grape hyacinths, the dainty-blue of the sky, and finally, purple/blue hyacinths, tall and fragrant.

            How do you provide for the extra bodily inches and pounds?  Well, you thoughtfully collect a no-chocolate Trappestine caramel (a new birthday gift) from the nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey.  Then you make yourself get on the Schwinn Exercycle.  As you push hard, you can read Chocolate, the Consuming Passion, written, illustrated, and over-researched by Sandra Boynton.  Good for laughs and then some.

Two things just arrived:  a giant cookie (11” x 12”) with a decorated, frosted Valentine from a Tracy, Minnesota bakery visited by our neighbors, Bob and Judy Douglas who have studied the Hmong community there.  And 14 pounds of Indian River Honeybells from our Swedberg neighbors, wintering in Florida.  Get out the bibs.

Some Notes From Near and Far

From the Gustavian Weekly, January 25, 2002.  “PRESIDENT STEUER RESIGNS"

“After 11 years, receiving many awards, quadrupling Gustavus’s endowment and leading the campus through the rebuilding after the tornado of 1998, Gustavus President Axel Steuer (58) has decided to resign effective in June.  Steuer will stay on to assist with fundraising efforts until May 2003.”

Word has come that interment for George Hall, our Christianty prof. and class advisor, is being planned for Gustavus/St.Peter on Thursday, May 30.  His wife, Lorena, is buried in Resurrection Cemetery west of town in the family plot as well as Terry, Peter, Camilla and Nan.  Bob Esbjornson is the contact person for this ceremony.  His telephone number is 507-934-6464.  Invitations are extended to all who would like to share memories of Dr. Hall and his family.

Lucille Samuelson Agard, Ames, IA, has sent a real gift – a handwritten letter, two pages long, with a number of inspirational clippings and a lovely picture of Sammy and her husband, Kenneth, taken on their 60th anniversary, 1/18/02.  Another photo is “Grieving for Egbert” – South Hall gals paying their respects to Egbert, the mouse.  Harriet Stakke Noble is holding the deceased by the tail.  Sammy sent along a medical pamphlet explaining a collapsed tolerance to sound – Hyperacusis – from which she suffers and for which there is no cure as yet.

            Paul Dacklin writes from Warner Robins, GA:  “ My recent visit to Gustavus was wonderful – great weather, good food and fellowship at the Heritage Luncheon, interesting lectures at the Nobel Conference.  Being with good friends was best of all.  Keep up the good work.”

            Ray C. Erickson, Salem, OR, has news:  His marriage to Grace M. Hayes on May 2, 2001.  They met at a church potluck.  They attended our 1941 Alumni Reunion (our 60th) at Gustavus last spring.  Their lawn borders a golf course.  Ray is taking golf lessons.

            Bernice Roesnick Webb, Fulda, MN, who broke her right wrist last summer, admired St. Peter’s gorgeous trees in the fall.

            Charles and Bea Lusk, Borrego Springs, CA, survived Bea’s cancer treatment and in July took off for an exciting trip to Yellowstone and Redwoods National Parks.  They also saw the fugitives involved in the robbing of a filling station.  Chuck is still busy as president of the Water District Board, on the Board for the County Bus System.  Helps with local Share Program, getting the food once a month with the truck and utilities trailer.  He is still making toy wagons with blocks in them for the grand nieces and grand nephews.

            Alice Papke Moratzka, Roswell NM, has resigned from being the Director of Music at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.  Her husband, Martin, died December 20, 1999 after 51 golden years.

            H.G. Johanson, Wausau, WI, says he is a couch potato at 84, was dancing at 81, but now has a walker.  Appreciates letters and calls.  I wonder whether Shirley Robeck Hall, Burnsville, MN, went to Florida.  I still think of her as a gatherer of morel mushrooms in the woods around St. Peter.

I’m sorry to report we’ve lost another classmate.  Cordelia Nelson Olman died in Duluth on Saturday, October 27, 2001.  Her obituary is at the end of this letter.  I can supply the obituaries of some other friends some of you have asked about, who are not of the Class of ’41.  Verl “Jiggs” Westergard ’42, Seguin, TX, October 4, 2001; Lorraine Telander, ’36, Minneapolis, December 8, 2001; LaVerne Johnson Lofgren ’42, died on Christmas Day 2001 at home in Minneapolis after a glorious Christmas Eve with the family; and Doris Nygren Montague, ’36, our Valley View neighbor, died on Sunday, January 27, 2002.

            Bob Esbjornson, new resident of Heritage Meadows at the north edge of St. Peter, hosted A Svenska Sallskapet.  This was his final fling at entertaining, and the event took place in the dining room of Heritage Meadows on January 9, at 3:00 p.m.  Guests included his new friends, the residents, as well as his longtime friends in Valley View.

            It was Bob who was our guest writer for the January 2002 letter with its challenges and its ideas regarding alternative ways of meeting the problems that face us seniors.  It was also Bob who helped with Phonorama.  We are grateful for all.

            Paul A. Nelson, Shaker Heights, OH, sings with a group called Vasa Voices, both men’s and women’s voices.  Ruth Sealander Ruud, Moorhead, MN, reports that her husband, Russ, now has a pacemaker and is doing well.  Poet Louis Benson, Watertown, MN, and his wife, Ad, took in the Gustavus Christmas concert – “big crowd, good program, delicious dinner.”  Even lutefisk.  Out in Chula Vista, CA, Russell Buckley is in the Gustavus Hall of Fame, like Louie Benson.  Russ says he’s 85 years old with no golf anymore.

            Bessie Hobart Chenault, Austin, TX, says she has a hearing problem, making her correspondence her big hobby now, Clem Gruber, Anoka, MN, sold his cottage on Lake Andrew, no fishin’ anymore.  Lucille Westerdahl Hope, Bellevue, WA, and Green Valley, AZ.  Question:  Where’s Westy?  Boyd Ingman, Spring Park, MN, was going out to take his wife for a birthday dinner (10/13).  Thorkil Jensen, Overland Park, KS, wants to visit Minnesota, especially Stillwater – has had a good year, good fortune.

            Brave Bea Olson Lindsten, McLean, VA.  In August she took her six rollicking grandchildren to New York, and to New Hampshire, a party of ten – two daughters, seven children.  Harriet Stakke Noble, South Bend, IN, walked two miles after a bone density test.  Her PEO Chapter celebrates members’ 80 year birthdays.  Hers?  We enjoy our exchange of talk about books for church libraries.  Arthur Stone, New Ulm, MN, husband of the late Lorraine Chalin, moved into assisted living at 85.  Granddaughter, Heidi, Greg’s girl, was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Peter, on October 28.

            Lorraine Falk Whittier, Chula Vista, CA, went East after our 60th reunion and then spent July and August at their Grand Rapids, Minnesota cabin.  She thought our 60th reunion very nice and special, enjoyed it all.  She may give up her tax work.

            Legally blind and with a talking computer, Ellie Swanson Soderquist, Kearney, NE, has the courage to confront “like everybody our age, we have lost dear friends and family members, which leaves a sad and empty space in our lives.  We thank God that we still have each other.  Each day is precious…May God be with us all, and this whole troubled world He holds in His hands.”

            The Soderquists enjoy cultural events in their town, Kearney Community Concert Association and Kearney Dinner Theatre, the Golden Ages for Bible study, short trips – and on the committee at Bethphage Mission, where their son Leland lives and works.

            Dennis Wicker, Canyon Lake, CA, went to Nashville, TN for a national Air Force reunion.  Arthur R. Heglund, Milwaukee, WI, gets his exercise stretching, watches weather news, and "America Speaks Out."  Robert Burggren, Red Wing, MN, as of 10/18 says he and his wife, Jean, are staying home and not traveling at all.  Don and Lois (Edstrom '49) Anderson, Eagan, MN, “A lot of happy reminiscing at multitudinous affairs honoring World Mission Prayer League at Okoboji, 50th anniversary company from Montana, Michigan and South Dakota, for 80th birthday of Lois.  And a trip to Santa Monica where son, Jim, is pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church celebrating its 75th anniversary as a congregation.

            Blanche Isenberg Pergol, (3575 – Bennington Drive #48, Fort Myers, FL 33919)

“In September I went to Israel with my church group.  I had been there before, but this was different!  We were there when the terrorists were here.  The terrorists struck on a Tuesday.  We were scheduled to leave on Friday night from Tel Aviv.  We waited for a plane for four hours.  It was then decided to send us back to Jerusalem to await further notice.  At 4:30 a.m., Saturday we were awakened and told to go back to Tel Aviv in an hour.  This time we knew we were leaving because we got our boarding passes.  We had a good flight and were unloaded at JFK at 3:00 p.m.  Everything was closed – no one to meet us and all phones were dead.  What to do?  With the help of a cell phone we learned that Dulles had two planes leaving at 7:00 p.m. – one to Oregon and one to Minneapolis.  After confiscating five taxis, we made it to the airport only to learn no extra seats, but through our leader, Pastor Al and a girl who had worked for Bursch Travel thirteen tickets were obtained, and we were home free.  Funny how walking into the Minneapolis Airport made us feel so safe.  It was an experience I will never forget, but I’m glad I did it.”

            Dorothy Benson Klotz, Hopkins, MN, is still having fun studying at the University of St. Thomas.  She has been taking course there since 1983.  Arthur and (Doreen Borgstrom '42) Johnson, White Bear Lake, MN:  “The story of Christ’s birth brings a message of love and hope to all generations.”  Earl Carlsons, Brainerd, MN, sold their lake property this fall.  They went by train to California to see his wife's, (Gladys Lundberg ’42) sister and Reuben Carlson ’56 in Albuquerque.

            The Norman I. Magnusons, Springfield, MO, are probably in Florida this winter for a month or so.  He gives weekend service to a church sixty miles away.  Springfield is his wife, Veda’s hometown.  Margaret Lundstrom Riesenweber, Kennewick, WA, had a knee replacement and won’t be available for a while.  Sadie Hokanson, Clarissa, MN, didn’t do tax work in 2001.  Her sixty years at the organ at Shepherd of the Valley was honored at a party.  She had heart problems in August, but continues to live alone depending on Meals on Wheels, LifeLine.

            Jean Hagberg Seymour, Sewickley, PA, asked if anyone has information about Beverly Swanson.  Jean’s grandson at Bucknell writes letters in Latin.  Her advice to the planners in campus renovation, “Don’t change the appearance of Old Main.” 


            David L. Vikner, Evanston, IL, husband of the late Louise (Lindbeck), on September 15 with his wife, Ann, participated in a memorial service for the innocent victims of 9/11 at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany.  “In the midst of somber music and comforting words the high point came for us when the choir and congregation responsively sang the great 16th century chorale “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen” (I will not let go of God).  In sharp contrast after the service our group walked to the nearby Auerbachs Keller, made famous in Goethe’s Faust where we enjoyed the best meal of our trip.

            From Augustana Home in Minneapolis Joyce Westrom Hilary sends good news (It’s Christmas) and not so good news.  She still is wheeling and hobbling around Augustana Home.  But everybody is really very nice to her.  A good place.  Her singing friends from the Hilary Chorale came to sing a concert for her and the residents in November.  Beautiful!

            Marjorie J. Olson, Mount Pleasant, MI, recalls that her husband, Baritone Bob, ’41, had a birthday on December 7, 1941, the Sunday that Pearl Harbor was attacked.  Six months later Bob left for the Army.  “Now, sixty years later in September I was traveling with a group by motor coach and ferry in the Maritimes.  We didn’t hear of the terrorist attack on the 11th until that afternoon, the Canadians sharing our worry and concern.  We crossed the border into Maine and on to Boston.  We caught the first flight to Detroit on Northwest.”  Marge is hoping to come to her 60th class reunion at Gustavus this spring.

            Another sturdy traveler is Luverne Johnson Sellstrom, Willmar, MN.  After our 60th reunion last May she went to Arkansas with daughter, Cheryl; then to Oklahoma for a relatives visit, a week’s visit in Denver with daughter, Bonita, a Stillwater High School class reunion in September.  She is still busy at church, was on the call committee which found a fine new pastor.  Luvvy works in the office as “Jill of all trades” subbing for secretaries, doing her thing on a computer.  “I have a new computer and now can get e-mail.  I think it’s wonderful.”  She is also matins organist (again) bell choirs and choir.

            It was a great weekend in Peter Town.  On days like this we celebrate “Life is completer in St. Peter.”  This is the slogan that won in the Minnesota Territorial contest back in 1949, submitted by the head of the English Department – Eston E. Erickson (Triple E).  Saturday, February 9, was Vic Gustafson's (’42) 85th birthday.  In the afternoon we went to the new Arts Center of St. Peter on Minnesota Avenue to enjoy Gene Bassett’s political (and otherwise) cartoons.  Sunday we had been at Dick Karstad’s 70th birthday celebration at First Lutheran Church.  At 4:00 p.m. Sunday we listened in Christ Chapel to the home concert of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Douglas Nimmo, conductor.  Some eighty instrumentalists, returning from their January tour in Norway and Sweden, gave a brilliant concert.

Cordelia Nelson Olman’s obituary

Cordelia E. Olmon, 82, of Duluth died Saturday, October 27, 2001, in Minneapolis, from a brain aneurysm.  Cordelia was a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.  She taught math and geography for many years in Morgan Park and Stowe schools in Duluth, and previously taught in Olivia and Brainerd, MN.  She enjoyed spending summers at the cabin on Diamond Lake near Spicer, MN, and was an active member of Salem Lutheran Church.  Cordelia is survived by her children, David ’68 (Carol) Olmon of White Bear Lake, MN, Janice Smoot of Danville, IL, and John ’78 (Diane) Olmon of Brooklyn Park, MN; a brother, Bruno Nelson of St. James, MN; her special grandchildren, Stephanie, Kirstin, Laura, Rachel and Lindsey; a nephew, Tim Nelson; a niece, Deborah Anderson; and many dear friends.

            A gentle reminder, dear hearts.  Our giving record for the Annual Fund, which closes May 31, has 56 % of the class responding.  We're up three in the number of participants, but we still need you!  Can we make it 100%?  That would be as good as it can be.

            The following is a prayer which is mounted on a blue and silver weaving, framed and hanging above my head in bed. It was written by Valborg Gravander, sister of Sara Anliot, Swedish-American weaver, and good friend of Paul Nelson in Cleveland, OH.

Sara had a showing of her wonderful handiwork on campus at Gustavus in May of 1982 on which occasion she was crowned Queen of the May.

A Weaver’s Prayer

Oh God, the warp you gave me,

My life,

I got it tangled.

I broke some threads, I made mistakes,

I wove too bright a border.

You take the shuttle out of

My hand

And let me rest a while

And mend my threads, correct my faults

And put it all in order.

                                    Let me rest a while –

                                    Marian Swanson Johnson

                                    1941 Class Agent