Class of '41
August 2007

Greetings Gusties, Class of 1941:

Well it seems that when you’re crowding “90” and you get the “flu” you take a little longer to get back to what might be called normal.

The weekend of July 4th I ended up dehydrated and in the hospital.  Three days later, after they had pumped enough water into my arm to supply Minnehaha Falls, they sent me home.  This past week I’m somewhat back to normal so I thought I’d better get this letter off.

I called Bess Hobart Chenault to see if she was in the flooded part of Austin, Texas.  She reports that she is high and dry and conducting Bible class in the assisted living home where she lives.

I talked to Clem Gruber.  He is still living in his home in Anoka, Minnesota with his very spunky 18 year-old cat.  His legs are giving out on him.  If you remember he got hit by a car years ago and so he’s using a cane to keep up with the cat on their walks.

In talking to Marian “Pinky” Swanson Johnson, she is doing fine and was telling me about the great spring and summer music festival that took place on the Gustavus campus.

This time, for your reading pleasure, I will share with you letters that I have received from Luverne Johnson Sellstrom, Blanche Isenberg Pergol and Ellie Swanson Soderquist.  Keep up the writing!

As ever,

Charlie Lusk

1941 Class Agent

Willmar, MN

May 29, 2007

Hi Charlie,

Here’s my contribution for the ’41 class letter.  To get it all on one page the print is small, but I’m no expert on figuring out making my computer do what I want it to do.  I hope it is acceptable.  I gave up on the poetry before I got to the end!

I have been going to write to you for a long time and send you a couple pictures of Earl.  I didn’t get that done, as you know, and I had hoped to enclose them now.  I think Ponnie and I had printed them at one time.  Well, they were very “curly,” so I worked on them to straighten them out, and I put them between some heavy papers to keep them flat.  Of course I can’t find them now.  One was taken when Earl had the mumps, and the other looks as though he’d been out for a night on the town.  They don’t even look like the same person!  I must send this letter off, so the pictures will have to wait until another time.

By the way, you have Gen Loff Strom’s name on the list to respond to you.  Gen is bedridden in a nursing home in Tennessee and probably has Alzheimer’s, as she doesn’t know anyone including her own daughters.  I told Pinky I would let you know about her.

I hope your health is okay now.  Old age does bring its problems, doesn’t it?  I look fine, but my insides aren’t!  Thanks for being in charge of the class letter.  We all appreciate it very much.

Luverne Johnson Sellstrom

1941 Guest Letter Writer

These 88 years have flown by fast It almost makes me dizzy;

No longer kicking up my heels, My head is in a tizzy.

Now write up my long life?  Oh, no! It sounds like an assignment.

It’s time to get my pen in hand; My brain needs re-alignment

Stillwater is my home town, Where I began my schooling;

We had a cottage on Forest Lake, And it was great―no fooling!

I went to G.A. College In St. Peter on the hill;

From there I went to teaching To pay my college bill.

I taught in Greenbush, way up north, In Lindstrom - Center City;

And then to Lamberton I went, A great place―needs no pity.

I married Palmer Sellstrom next, A Lutheran pastor, he,

In Shenandoah, Iowa, (5 years) We had our family.

Two daughters joined our happy home, Now grown, long gone are they.

We lived in western Iowa in A town called Odebolt.

And there we settled down and stayed ‘Til we began to moult!

The years spent there were thirty-two, We liked it, you can see;

Our many friends are with me still In dreams and memory.

I did rejoin the work force in 1965, Became a dental assistant, and loved it – Man alive!

The dentist left our town and so I went back into teaching.

For fifteen years again I taught While Ponnie kept on preaching.


May 2007

Throughout the years we traveled some in Europe and at home;

We saw the snow-topped mountains And the ocean’s wind-whipped foam.

One highlight of our years had been The naming of a ship;

USS Sellstrom, it was called, We saw it on a trip.

To Brooklyn Naval Yard we went – A recommissioning rite.

’Twas named for Ponnie’s brother (Bob) Killed in war he went to fight.


In 1982 we decided to retire near Spicer, MN, a fishing spot, and there we spent years of fun. Ponnie was visitation pastor at Bethel in Willmar for seven years before he passed away in 1995.  Four years later I moved to Willmar.  For years I’ve played organ for Wed. Matins, sung in the choir, played in the bell choir, directed the kids’ bell choir, played hand chime solos.  I still do all of those except the kid’s bells. 

I also work many hours in the church office.

My kids

One (Cheryl) lives in Apple Valley with her spouse (Larry Moe) and cats today.  They both do much volunteer work at Central Lutheran and at its camp, Camp Amnicon, on Lake Superior. They have three kids and all are back in Minnesota, and I hope they stay here.

Aaron is jazz professor at Normandale Jr. College.

Neota is a social worker at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale.

Annika is working on her doctorate in biology at the U of MN.  Right now she is studying fig wasps in Papua, New Guinea.

My youngest one (Bonita) moved west to Colorado.  She much prefers the mountains to lake and seashore sand.  She teaches handicapped middle school kids.  She and Jan spend leisure time at a cabin in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado.

Dear Charlie,

I see my name is on the list to write.  Graduating in the class of ’41―as of today I am 89 years young? ☺  Where has the time gone?

Here goes!  I married Angie Pergol in July of the same year.  We each had a teaching contract and seven dollars between us the day we said, “I do.”

Lester Prairie was our first stop.  Then three years in the service for Angie.  And I worked for the Southern Pacific Railway in California.  After the war, back to Minnesota, where we made the rounds―Osakis, Cloquet, Esko, Hibbing, Duluth, back to Cloquet―and finally finished in St. Cloud.

Sports, of course, were the center of our life―and ended in 1999 when Angie passed away.  Since then I spend my time between St. Cloud in the spring, summer and fall and Ft. Myers, Florida in the winter―with many trips interspersed, such as Europe, China, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, some cruises and many points of interest in our USA.

I come from a family of five Gustie graduates, so Gustavus has always been important to us.  Keep up the good works.  You were a brave soul, Charlie, taking over where Marian left off!


Blanche Isenberg Pergol

1941 Guest Letter Writer


Dear Charlie,

Your letter of April 18 requested information about me and my family.  My husband, Ray, and I have both been happy to be Civil Service employees of the United States of America most of our careers.  Our work took us mainly to Washington, DC and Denver CO.

We have three children:  Karen Elizabeth McIntosh; Margaret Lynn Strecker; and Leland Ray Soderquist, now residing at Bethphage (now known as Mosaic) at Axtell, NE.  I will attach copies of recent correspondence which interest you.

God bless you and Gustavus Adolphus College!


Ellie Swanson Soderquist

1941 Guest Letter Writer

(Ellie enclosed here a copy of her Christmas letter, which I will reprint here.)

Greetings to Friends and Family, Christmas 2006,

So much has happened this year, it’s hard to know where to begin!  Until April we were happy residents of the Regency Retirement Center here in Kearney, but then there began to be lots of changes.  The first important event was to be a concert by Dallas Brass, in which our grandson, Nat, is the featured tuba performer.  Karen and Tom took me to the concert, and it was wonderful.  I enjoyed the music and having a chance to visit with Nat a while, but sadly Ray missed this event because he was in Good Samaritan Hospital after taking a fall and having hip surgery.

That leads us to a brief listing of the events that kept us going from one bad thing to another all summer:

  • Ray had hip surgery, followed by a stay at Mother Hull Nursing Home.  He came home, but with an unknown problem, which turned out to be a dysfunctional bladder.
  • Ray had surgery for insertion of a catheter and then a stay at St. John’s Nursing Home, forcing us to move into an independent living apartment at Northridge Retirement Village.  It’s a very nice community, but changes are always hard.  
  • Then I fell and broke my pelvis.  This caused Northridge to insist that we move into assisted living, of which there was only one small apartment.  Neither Ray nor I could accomplish that move, so our wonderful daughters and their husbands took charge beautifully.  They managed to use our most precious possessions and turn it into a cozy, pretty apartment.  I have however had recurring digestive problems since then.

We haven’t tried to summarize all the events of the year, but we understand that Nat has moved back to Los Angeles, and we’re happy to hear that both Ben and Lara have good jobs in the music field in the Los Angeles area.  Both Ben and Nat are involved in music and play in LA bands when it works out right for them, and Lara is finishing her doctorate at USC.  Nat tours a lot with the Dallas Brass and with Sotto Voce (tuba quartet).

We see Leland from time to time, and he is doing well.  Evy Kuecker took us to Bethphage on October 30 to help celebrate his 57th birthday.

Margaret and Rich are still living in Jefferson City, MO, going fishing whenever they can and still working for the State, although Rich is partially retired.  Karen and Tom are probably at this moment cruising in the Bahamas.  Their plan is to be back by Thanksgiving, because Karen has many organist substitute jobs between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Tom meanwhile enjoys working in his wood shop and riding his motor scooter.

That will give you an idea of our year.  We want you to know that we are thinking of you, and we care very much what is happening in your lives.

God bless you and give you a wonderful Christmas!

Ellie and Ray Soderquist


It’s August on campus and summer activities are winding down.  This is the last week for summer camps including golf, Nordic camp and two softball camps.  Next week fall sports players will be returning to campus.  Soon to follow will be the Gustie Greeters and all the incoming freshmen.  Classes start on September 4.

Summer Construction Update

Work on the new football stadium progresses at a quick pace.  Considerable progress has been evident in the past two weeks and most major elements of the stadium are now in place.  The stadium will be ready for the opening game on Saturday, September 8 when the Gusties host Willamette, OR.  It’s really awesome and will be a great place for Gusties to gather!  Physical Plant crews are also busy constructing additional intramural and club sport fields west of the Swanson Tennis Center.  These fields will replace the fields that were previously on the stadium construction site.

Athletics Hall of Fame

Gustavus will induct new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame at a banquet on November 3.  They are:  Tim DeJarlais ’91, golf; John Erickson ’81, hockey; Dave Hultgren ’92, baseball; Craig Miller ’91, cross country; Mindy Mayerchak Oosten ’88, softball, soccer; Mike Schumacher ’91, football; Ann Sommerness Simms ’92, swimming; and Ryan Skanse ’92, tennis.

Dr. Mary Morton

Gustavus’ new provost and vice president for academic affairs, assumed her position on Monday, July 2.  In this role as chief academic officer, she oversees academic programs and strategic planning at Gustavus.

Gusties Gather! – September 30

Gusties around the world are called to gather on Sunday, September 30.  The Alumni Board is designating this day as a way for Gusties to stay connected with each other.  In research among alumni, we know that Gusties already stay in contact with many alumni, and we know that Gusties have a strong interest in staying connected with other Gusties and with the College.  If there is a gathering in your area, we hope you consider attending.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Twin Cities Breakfasts, August 15, September 19
  • Gustavus Booth at Minnesota State Fair, Education Building, August 23-September 3
  • Gusties Gather! – September 30
  • Nobel ConferenceHeating Up-The Energy Debate - October 2 & 3
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 12-14
  • A Royal AffairRazzle Dazzle, October 27
  • Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet – November 3
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – November 30-December 2