Class of '41
May 2006

65-Year Reunion

Reunion dates ― May 26 & 27, 2006

Dear Classymates:

I wish we had taken time to repeat a survey of “How It Feels to be in the 60s in the ’80s.”  Classmates revealed not only how they felt, but also what they were thinking about.  Now would have been the time to admit wonderment about final time:

  • My Will (where is it?) estate
  • Plans (who gets what?) administrator (legal advisor?)
  • My Living Will (update with my doctors).

A 2006 survey of ’41 classmates now could reveal, “How It Feels to be 80s in a New Century!”

1941My current interest is in what should I do with all of our beautiful dishes, silver, linens, furnishings, family treasures, and keepsake milestone gifts?

What should I do with my greeting card collection (my mother’s and my own)?  What should I do with our family generational records:  family tree, Trinity Church, St. Peter/Nicollet local history files and Valley View.  What should I do with the class letters I’ve written for 40 years as class agent and collectible memories of Gustavus Adolphus College 1937-2006?

How can I cultivate renewed interest in unusual foods and recipes that contain vitamins, low fats, little sugar, no salt, and high fiber?

How can I learn how to look for the best when used by expiration date on prescription drugs and over-the-counter lotions and potions?  And on bottled and/or canned fruit, vegetables, meats, frozen foods?  Ingredients (no garlic, hot spices) organically raised?  Not in Mexico, polluted waters, toxic soils…

Feeling that I have been given time for the amendment of life (in years numbering greater than my genealogical inheritance), I need to seek out ways to express my gratitude to a good and gracious Lord who sustains me every minute with blessings.

So I’m writing a class letter one more time thanking my classymates for responding as partners in the enterprise of support for our Alma Mater by keeping our phalanx strong.

Of the total number of 1941 classmates, 114 have given and pledged at some time to the Alumni Fund.  The total dollars given by our class members since the inception of the Fund in 1954:  $177,308.05.  (Giving records prior to 1984 aren’t detailed enough to give just the Alumni Fund giving since August 1984).

There is another opportunity for alumni, parents and friends who believe in the mission and vision of Gustavus Adolphus College now and in the future.  Today there are nearly 700 members of the Gustavus Heritage Partnership established in 1988 to recognize those individuals who have thoughtfully and generously included a gift to Gustavus Adolphus College in their estate and gift plans.

The Roll of Honor of the Gustavus Heritage Partnership includes 10 members of the Class of 1941:

  • Alice Baver┼
  • Earl and Gladys (Lundberg ’42) Carlson
  • Paul Dacklin┼
  • Robert and Ruth┼ (Bostrom) Esbjornson
  • Lucille Westerdahl Hope
  • Chester and Marian (Swanson) Johnson and family
  • Ed ’39 and Ruth┼  (Erickson) Johnson
  • Coral Carter Nordstrom
  • Angelo┼ and Blanche (Isenberg) Pergol
  • Ray and Elnora (Swanson) Soderquist
  • Ed ’39and Ruth┼  (Erickson) Johnson

denotes those that are deceased

Gustavus Heritage Partnership members carry forward the high standards and traditions of the past.  They help ensure the future of Gustavus Adolphus College, its faculty, its students, and its educational opportunities.


These donors who have made planned gifts to Gustavus Adolphus College have chosen one or more of the following ways:

  • Bequests
  • Charitable gift annuities
  • Gifts of retirement plan assets
  • Living and testamentary trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Charitable lead trusts
  • Gifts of real estate
  • Life insurance
  • A named endowed scholarship or fund

I have asked Steve Hogberg ’69 of the Office of Gift Planning to supply for this May class letter mailing the Gustavus Heritage Partnership brochure which explains the ways such gifts may be made for specific purposes, such as scholarships, faculty chairs, capital projects, or class reunion endowments.  They may also be left unrestricted to give the College flexibility in meeting future goals.

This brochure I requested for you will include a letter of intent for your 65th class reunion gift at the time of our 65th class reunion milestone, May 26-27, 2006.


You have done so well all these 65 years breaking tough gifting records by other competing classes!  That’s why I address you dear classymates in my thank you (bread ’n butter) letter.

You made it possible for me to be recognized as Class Agent of the Year three times:

In 1966:  “Marian Johnson ’41 was the decade winner in all categories.  Sixty-seven percent increase in number of donors and 130% increase in gift total over a three-year period.”

In 1981:  “Marian Johnson and the Class of 1941 set new class records in all categories with 89 donors, $10,404 and 87.3% participation.  Increase over the previous year included 59% in the dollar total, 27% in number of donors, and 20% in participation percentage.”

In 1991:  “Marion Johnson was awarded for exceptional promotion of 50th anniversary reunion.  Eleven class letters and organization of displays/reception/tours resulted in 57 classmates returning for the reunion, and 86 (91.5%) contributing $25,705 to the Alumni Fund.  The dollar total doubled the previous ’41 class record.

This is only one of three reasons you are being sent a thank you, thank you, thank you letter from me on the eve of our 65th anniversary reunion, May 26-27,2006.

$                      $                      $                      $                      $                      $                   $

To quote these class letters of mine that are housed in Hollinger boxes in our own Heritage Room (lower level) at 754 Valley View Road takes a bit of time.  They cover years 1956, 1963-69, 1970-1 and 1972-2006

I haven’t counted them yet (more than the three or four in a regular year, up to 11 for our 50th reunion year (1991), but I’ve been very interested in the contents which report our songs of triumph, our deeds ’round our names.  Some letters are printed on 8½” x11” or 8½” x 14” paper on a rainbow of colored paper, seasonal illustrations, choice quotations which reflect life and times, the common everyday thoughts we share.

Only one letter was not complimentary, included threats and frustrations with our relationships.  I wrote:  “If you don’t respond, I’ll make up the news about you, such as ‘spent overnight in jail for speeding…’”

I have addressed you by myriad salutations reflecting my mood―or seasonal situations―or fond campus “lingo” or maybe impertinent familiarity.  “Dear Survivors,” I began in December 1990.  The first paragraph recalls the Armistice Day blizzard 50 years ago when we went down to edit the Gustivian Weekly as usual that Monday and didn’t make it back up the hill.  Mina Mae Flint’s ’43 father, a linotypist, took me home with him for overnight.


As I perused with a great deal of pleasure the Weekly issues of 50 years ago, I was struck by the parallels to 1990, the very beginnings of programs and planning which now flourish, and how WE, in our own way, contributed and made the difference.  As I highlight a few of the headlines which tell what we were about in the holiday season, I am poignantly reminded of the scene in my favorite Tillie Olsen story/video “Tell Me a Riddle,” when the very ill grandmother shows her San Francisco granddaughter her photo album of her Russian emigrant family, assuring her, “These sustain me, and they will sustain you, too.”

This “thank you” note from your pink-haired class agent is going to 46 of the ’41 classmates who are dear survivors of the vicissitudes of living long enough to be invited to our 65th class of ’41 reunion, May 26-27, 2006.


We are the ones who could relate plenty about “How It Feels to be in the 80s”…in a second turbulent century.  It perhaps could be a subsequent documentary to the survey we did in 1985 when we set to discover “How It Feels To Be In The 60s In The ’80s.”  A survey developed by Marian “Pinky” Swanson Johnson, class agent.  Truth Tellers:  52 of 75 survivors of Gustavus class of 1941.  Survey analyst – Arthur “Batch” Johnson, Class President.  Survey support―Alumni Office, Gustavus Adolphus College, May 30, 1986.

Life is like an ice-cream cone:  You have to learn to lick it!!!

That route could reveal how it feels to be 80 right now!

First letter by Marian Johnson, Class Agent for the Class of 1941, is dated:

July 1956.  It is a roll call―fifteen years later.

This directory includes those who started with the class in 1937, but did not graduate and others who joined the ranks along the way.

(*)Indicates no response to requests for information during the planning for the 15th class reunion in 1956 (130 did not reply).

(R) Indicates attendance at the June 2 reunion (18 attended the reunion).  One hundred sixty-five names on list (order from 1938-39 and 1940-41 Gustavian annual.)  Information was sent by 18 members, five were deceased.

February 15, 1963


Quote:  “A Letter is a Gift.”  Letters give life a rich dimension.

March 4, 1963

In Like a Lion….  Here you are, like I said.  Let’s see…the blackmail department.  Didn’t hear from:  Batch Johnson, who lost the race for alderman, third ward; Norm Edwards, one of those who keeps the Christmas seals, but throws the contribution envelope in the waste basket; Marian Swanson Johnson, behind just a little for the third year on her church pledge; Ruth Sealander Ruud, still writing letters to the editor, complaining about personal property taxes.



February 24, 1969―Ash Wednesday, Phonorama Report

May 7, 1969―Hooray for the Hay in May, remember?  Earl Madsen, Mankato, named Distinguished Alumni Citation in business.





June 24, 1969―Letter before Chet and I left for our leave to the University of Chicago.  Thanks for being so responsive to me and my impudent epistle:  Ruth (Bostrom) and Bob Esbjornson taking over as class agents 1969-71.

November 24, 1969―Hi!  Here we go again.  The 1965 Annual Fund is rolling.  We’re being asked to double our pledges.  Fifty percent participation is the goal.  Boy, do we have to hustle! 

June 9, 1968―Dear Abby, I have a serious problem; my desk is NEVER clear.  My trouble is piles―pile of unanswered letter, pile of coupons and contest entry blanks, pile of tempting books, pile of alumni notes.  I’m being smothered by paper.  What should I do?  Signed, Smothered.  Dear Smothered, One pile at a time is a good motto.  Write to your classmates and get rid of that pile.  Tell them you enjoyed hosting Clint and Myrtle Gass at commencement weekend, when he received a Distinguished Alumni Citation for his work in education.  Now chairman of the department of mathematics at the DePauw University, Greencastle Indiana, he is going to Germany this summer again to be a consultant in curriculum.

1976 (35th reunion)― Carries Chet’s retirement speech.  Carlson Award for Innovative Teaching to Bob Esbjornson.

1981 (40th reunion)―Remember Songs.  Out of ivory palace―Bea and Ruthie.

“Now I don’t know if I can tell you the exact history of “Remember,” or not.  During my high school and college days I spent many happy weeks at C.F.G. Camp and the A.Y.F. camp in Michigan (leadership training).  Both camps used the sweet sentimental song “Remember,” you perhaps sing nearly the same words:  Remember the times we’ve had here, Remember when you’re away, Remember the friends you’ve made here and don’t 1941forget to come back some day.  Remember the hills and woodlands, The skies of heavenly blue, for you belong to (Minivania Ojibeta) and (Minivania Ojibeta) belongs to you.  Are those the approximately the words you use now?  Have people done variations on the tune?  If so, call me up and I’ll sing it to you―you lucky kid!  No, I’d be glad to at least write the melody on a sheet of music.”  ~Fern Fosnes Bomgren


1986 (45th reunion)

Tree planting near observatory.  Dedication of Esbj Grove of Ironwood Trees 20 questions with signatures for statements about current interest and activities identifying each person there―golf, diet, etc.  Memory lane speeches.



1991  (50th reunion – Class picture)

 January 12, 1994―Dear Hearts and Gentle People of ’41.  Here I reprinted Harriet Skakke Nobel’s delightful enclosure sent to me of Bea Olson Lindsten’s poetry for our South Hall mice.


Since the night we met

In my roomy closet

I owe you a might debt

For the love I treasure yet!

Egbert, Egbert, light of my life

In spite of any little strife

Still I’d gladly meet your wife

(If I had a butcher knife!)

Now we place you in the grave

With sobs and sighs we all rave:

Thank you for the joys you gave

Now our last farewell we wave!



Another friend has bit the dust


The brother of our Egbert

It seems he felt he simply must

Join Eggie in the black dirt.

Yes, Algernon has left our midst

To rest beneath this dorm

And certainly he will be missed

--this manly little form!

Life is sad for us these days,

And all our hearts are broke

’Coz our mouse in his coffin lays

With bitter tears we choke…

But, memories, they never die

And so they’ll live forever

In our heart of hearts you’ll lie

Algernon and Egbert

             -by Bea Olson

April 1994

Dear Silver Thread Among the Gold

June 4, 1994

To:  You From My Garden of Thoughts.  The color of my thought is appropriately pink, one more time.

1996 (55th reunion)  A letter is a gift.  “Letters give life a rich dimension.  They can be saved, savored, re-read and treasured for hundreds of years.  These class letters ‘an uninhibited view of everyday life…an intimate cover, satin between friends…a record of immediate circumstances, events, news, gossips and feelings.  They act like a zoom lens…chapel, flower beds…”

Guest Writers―

January 1998  Dear Members of the Class of ’41 and Friends…Chet’s letter on Prexy’s desk―



1941In every attic…can we enumerate the most enduring invaluable, inheritance of dear and loving parents and grandparents?

My mother’s letter used in the class letter.  (written February 27, 1973).

April 15, 1998

Dear Classmates, Significant Others, and Anyone Else Who Happens Up this Insiders Documentary of the March 29, 1998 tornado experience.

October 2000

Dear Living Legends, (with Dennis the Menace cartoons by Hank Ketchem)  The Living Legend. 



January 2001

Socialist Batch Johnson evaluating survey forms probing the diversity of views and experiences of class members (“The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokow)―for our 60th anniversary.  (Favorite prof, books, pets, beverages..??)

January 2002

Class letters by guests (not ghost) writer Bob EsbjornsonOn calling 911 when something happens to us that we can’t handle―on 911 experiences in our personal lives.  Quote Eric, who forewarned some years ago, that there is a change during our 80s to a less active and able living style than in our retirement years.  “Experiences of loss and challenges common to people at our age, traumatic enough to see them as 911 experiences…”

Bob who celebrated his 88th birthday at a party in the Wilds of Sand Prairie (an assisted living facility in St. Peter), where he has been living since needing assisted care at this time.  We were invited by his son Carl Daniel, here from Bozeman, MT to celebrate with him and long-time friends.  “Danny,” to us as next-door neighbors growing in Valley View we think of as the “way-out” kid with many unusual talents (artistic painting) Ph.D. in?  Adventures like wearing gorilla hides…  Now his father says he’s a gifted professional writer with a computer business in accounting―and writes (all the time) so well he had him read his writings brought here in order to read to his Dad every night by the latest technology of his own desk top computer.

So here we are, 65 years after, looking at ourselves, evaluating our experiences, coping with physical changes focusing on hopes and dreams, responding to needs and causes.

A time of perpetual growth and expansion of dear old Alma Mater when it is reevaluating its mission statement―charting a course to improve its facilities (a new stadium) carve runes of its glory…deeds ’round they name.

Gustavus Adolphus, remember thy past―bits and pieces of what our lives have brought surface to haunt―or delight us.

How does it feel to be 80+ in a second turbulent century?

Grow old along with me.  Keep growing.  The last of life, for which the first was planned.  Our times are in thy hand.  O’ God we wish them there.  Our faith, our hopes, our dreams―entirely to thy care.  Thanks be to God.  The best is yet to be; the last of life for which the first was planned.  Thanks be to God.


I look not back!  Always,

Marian Swanson Johnson

P. S.  The Spring Quarterly listed the death of alumnus, George Gruber ’43.  In the listed obituary it said, “he is survived by three children and a brother, Paul ’47.”  The Alumni Office was not aware, at that time, that George had four sibling and that they all attended Gustavus.  Among them is, Clemens J. Gruber of our class, who is alive and well and living in Anoka, MN.  Clemens notified the Alumni Office of the omission and they have set the record straight.

There are many Grubers that have followed the original five.  They are:

Arnold ’38 and Vivian (Henjum ’40) Gruber

            4 children (all Gusties) Karen ’67, Linda ’71, John ’74 and Diane ’78

Ruth (Gruber ’39) and Carl Peterson

            4 children (all non-Gusties)

Clemens ’41 and Elizabeth (Pearson ’43) Gruber

            2 children (both Gusties) Kristin ’71 and Rolf ’74

George ’43 and Hazel (Johnson ’44) Gruber

            3 children (all non-Gusties)

Paul ’47 and Audrae Gruber

            5 children (all non-Gusties)

We won’t try to list all the grandchildren that our Gusties, for fear of missing someone.