Class of '41
May 2002

Letter from Bob Esbjornson

May 2, 2002

In my October letter I struck a sad note when I reflected on our experiences that as we age, it seems more bad things happen than good; and that I believe we have wisdom to share what comes from the bad experiences, as well as from the good.

That note may have been fitting for when life fades and dies, when winter comes, but is wrong for this time.

These may express the mood of spring.  :-


Ambiguous April

Is a time of struggle between life and death.

Dying is shedding all protecting layers

of dirty clothes.

Death is being naked, with all revealed,

Body, bent and bruised, exposed.



is shedding the shroud

and stepping out of a gloomy tomb

into the bright light of a new world

free to dance garment-free

­for all the world to see. 

The scars of death appear

for doubting ones to touch

as they draw near, in fear,

wondering if this new life is here.


Merry May

Hurray for a day in May,

time for a roll in the hay!

Merry Max and his retinue

burst into the Aud audience and

changed the ambience

into a dance tune

for a day in June

what so rare as a care free

romance and other stuff.


Time to end this crazy poem!  That was for the fun of it.


May is a busy month of recitals, concerts, plays, banquets, games. Some how Gusties make time, not to do but to be Lying in the sun, not expecting to get any work done.

I can't keep up with all that goes on.  I doubt anyone can, except maybe the public relations staff. That's its job!

But I can give you a front row view of the stage, where all the action is and men and women are merely actors.

Dennis Johnson ’60 the anointed interim president, said for the press that he is "excited" to be such.  I know Dennis well.  He was a tenant in our house for a semester, our pastor, my "boss" when he was into church relations and I was doing a gig as retreat center director.  We "mentor" each other from time to time.  When I first heard about his selection I sent him an email, "I'm glad you got it.  I didn't want it anyway."  True.  He's the best pick, knows the college well, and the church too.

Arbor Day, April 26

Dedication of the new wetlands in the Arboretum.

A beautiful spring day…Chapel service, conversation and treats on the Eckman Mall, luncheon in Alumni Hall, elegant food, toasts, recognitions (Loreli Steuer introduced what must have been a third of the people).  Jim Gilbert ’62 in his best form―he would be a formidable candidate for election, you should see him working the crowd with interesting facts, contagious enthusiasm, and hand shaking.  The dedication ritual took place on the banks of the wetland‑a slough, really‑already a habitat for frogs singing and ducks swimming.  I see and watch this at dusk when I go for a walk.

May 1

MayDay! Peace Conference XXII

The topic, Sanctions and Beyond:  What is the Human Price?, continued the tradition of choosing timely topics and attracted an audience of many students, staff and others.

The first conference was in 1981 on Arms control "MAY DAY! MAY DAY!"  The conference is designed as a complement to the Nobel Conference as an emphasis on peace in a warring world.

It is funded by an annual grant ftom the Ray and Florence Sponberg Endowment

It is an annual gathering of peace activists, and thus a time for reunion and renewal.

May Day is an ancient Roman feast in honor of Flora, the goddess of flowers, Maia, the goddess of increase and a traditional spring festival, celebrated by dancing around a May Pole and merry-making.  The Svea Society celebrated around a May Pole in the Triangle and crowning of the May Queen.  Students in Sweden make merry too.

MAY DAY!  MAY DAY! is the international signal for help, used by ships and aircraft in distress, and an international labor holiday observed by demonstrations and parades.  The color Red!

The tradition of girls leaving May Day baskets of flowers is being revived on campus.  The Delta Sorority gave a lily to each participant who came to the May Day chapel service.

The interment of Dr. George Hall's remains will take place on May 30 at 10 a.m. at Resurrection Cemetery in St. Peter, in the family plot where his wife and four children are buried.  It will not be a public event, but family members have invited former students and colleagues to join them.

Chester Johnson received the Covenant Award for service to college and church at the convention of the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations, April 20.

Marian (Swanson) and Chet Johnson will receive the Greater Gustavus Award at the Alumni Banquet during Reunion weekend.

This is enough of Robert's Ramblings ‑ more than enough.

You will be begging all the powers that be for merciful relief and return to Marian's style.

Editor's note:  Our thanks to Esby for writing a guest class letter and as always, special appreciation to Marian Swanson Johnson for her continued longterm support as class agent.  We also congratulate Marian and her husband, Chester, on being named recipients of the Greater Gustavus Award, the highest award given by the Alumni Association to "those who have notibaly advanced and aided Gustavus."  The Johnson's will receive their award at the Alumni Banquet on Reunion/Commencement Weekend, Saturday, June 1, 5:30 p.m.  All members of the 50 Year Club are guests of the Alumni Association.  Please call 800-487-8437 for reservations.

Also, Marian would want us to remind you of the May 31 closing date of the 2002 Alumni Fund.  Increased participation is our major goal this year and we all would appreciate counting you in as a participant from the Class of 1941.