Class of '43
April 2004

Dear Classmates of ’43:

You enjoyed, I am sure, Elmer Anderson's reminiscences in the January 2004 class letter.  The College has changed greatly since 1939-43.  I recall, however, that we were proud of our campus then.  What made it a place we came to love was the friendships we found.  There were also professors who stimulated us.  Each of us has those whom we especially remember.  One professor from our time who is still here is Chester Johnson, who taught geology.  Into his nineties by now, he has the same dry sense of humor.  His appearance as far as I can tell has not changed in the last thirty years.  Chester and Marian (Swanson ’41) attend several of the concerts, as well as other campus events.  If you have memories to share, please send them to us.  We will be glad to include them in forthcoming class letters.

This letter was begun on Good Friday.  It seems a bit odd that we call this Friday "Good."  Those who have seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ" have perhaps been troubled as I was by the prolonged emphasis on the scourging.  I recall in years past that there were three-hour services from noon to 3:00 p.m. with meditations on the seven last words of Jesus from the cross.  Such services are not so common now.  Worship practices change, though the reality to which they bear witness remains.  It is good for us to seek to answer the question, How does Jesus' death help us?

We hope that Easter was festive where you worship and that these several Sundays of Easter that we now are passing through are helping us who are Christians experience the risen Jesus' continuing living presence in our lives individually and in the congregations to which we belong.  These past weeks I have been lecturing on Dag Hammarskjŏld to two different groups in the Twin Cities and also teaching for the fourth time my University of Minnesota ElderLearning course on my "Reader's Guide to D.H.'s Waymarks."  In his journal (found and published posthumously), which I call "Waymarks," there are two haikus (seventeen syllable poems) about Jesus:  "God took human form/ in the offered one, / When he chose to be offered."  "May I be offered/ to what fled not the offering/ in the offered one."  There is also this Waymark, written on April 10, 1958, when D.H. was inducted for his second term as UN S-G:  "In that faith which is 'God's union with the soul' you are one in God and God is wholly in you, just as he for you is wholly in all that you meet.  In this faith you descend in prayer into yourself in order to meet the Other.  In the union's obedience and light, you see all stand like yourself alone before God.  Each deed is a continued act of creation―conscious, because you have a human being's responsibility, but also directed by that power beyond consciousness which created man."  Working with D.H.'s journal these days has helped me come to a deeper understanding of Easter.

This past weekend (April 15-18), when Dr. James L. Peterson ’64 was inaugurated as Gustavus' 14th president, was a time of extended celebration with the theme "Together, We Live the Promise."  On Thursday evening there was an inauguration symposium with Dr. Martin E. Marty, professor emeritus in modern church history at the University of Chicago, speaking on "The Vocation of the Intellectual."  On Friday morning Bishop Jon Anderson of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod (ELCA) preached at the chapel service, when eight faculty members received tenure.  Just before noon in Linnaeus Arboretum a tree was dedicated to James Peterson in the Presidents' Oak Grove.  Nearby lilac bushes had been planted for Susan Pepin Peterson ’65, his wife.  The Investiture was in the afternoon.  I had been invited to represent Yale University in the procession of delegates from colleges and universities.  Due to the age of Yale, I marched next to the delegate representing Harvard, Ray Reister of Mankato, who is a graduate both of Harvard's College and Law School.  I had gotten rid of my mortarboard years ago, but Yale permitted me to wear my Lund doctor's hat (a pleated top hat) together with my blue Yale robe and hood.  (You must forgive academics for enjoying the few occasions, especially in retirement, when they can march in all their finery!)  Bishop Herbert Chilstrom presided at the investiture and thereafter President Peterson gave a spirited inaugural address.  On Saturday the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations met and in the evening we heard the Gustavus Wind Orchestra give their home concert.  On Sunday there was a reception in Minneapolis, which some of you may have attended, and an inauguration concert, "The Nobel Symphony" featuring VocalEssence and the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall.

We are grateful to 59 members of our Class, who as of March 31 have given $6,752.00 to the Unrestricted Alumni Fund and $1,957.50 to various specified funds, giving us Total Dollar Credit thus far this year of $8,709.50.  While our TDC is not as large as some other classes, where very substantial gifts have been received in addition to the amount given to the UAF, our percentage of participation this year is 72.8%, which is the highest of all the classes.  Since that percentage is based on those who had given by March 31, it can still rise, as some who have pledged had not yet given by that date.  At the present time the Alumni Office lists 81 members in the Class of ’43, which is the total on the current mailing list receiving this letter.  Elmer Anderson and I completed our Phonorama calling last fall.  Since we did not reach everyone, we may be calling a few these next weeks.  If you haven't pledged or given as yet, do let us hear from you.  I recall years ago when several classes that had celebrated their 60th anniversaries reached 100% participation.  Elmer Anderson's help as co-class agent has made possible the success we have at present.  There are still some weeks that remain before the end of the College's fiscal year on May 31.  We will be announcing the final report in the fall letter.

There are two deaths to report of class members during this past year.  Dorothy Jacobson Clark of Valparaiso, IN, died June 12, 2003.  Dorothy very likely attended Gustavus only 1939-40.  Since then we have not had contact with her and we are unable to send further biographical information at this time.  Dorothy's picture, however, can be seen in the 1940-41 GUSTAVIAN on p. 53.  Berneice Johnson Schweer of Clarkfield, MN, died August 18, 2003, in Clarkfield.  Her funeral was at Central Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, which had been her home community.  Berneice was an English and music major and a member of Delta Phi Omega.  She did graduate study at Mankato State, Moorhead State, and North Dakota State Universities.  Berneice was married to Donald W. Schweer in 1944.  They had four children, Craig, Teri Marie, Brian, and Todd, all of whom survive her together with nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald.  Both she and Donald were teachers, teaching the longest period in Clarkfield.  Berneice traveled to Europe and Sweden in 1985 and to Japan in 1986.  Peace be to the memory of Dorothy Clark and Berneice Schweer!

Here are some additional news items from last falls' Phonorama:  Zola Zieske Blake and her husband, Arthur ’46, Albuquerque, NM, are looking forward to being grandparents.  Bob Freeberg, Inver Grover Heights, MN, after a year is still recovering from heart surgery.  George Gruber, Clearwater, FL, traveled to San Diego, CA, and also took a cruise that made stops in Mexico.  Marlin Hedberg, St. Paul, MN, continues to have a strong interest in history that goes back to courses taken with Dr. Conrad Peterson.  Mark Holmes, Bloomington, MN, left Gustavus for WWII and completed a B.A. at the University of Minnesota in 1949.  He and his wife, Bette Boyer Holmes, put on 25 Broadway plays at Messiah Lutheran Church, with some help from Ralf RunquistCyrus Lindgren, Pine Knoll Shores, NC, lives on a barrier island vulnerable to hurricanes.  He continues to be active in his church, at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, and delivering Meals on Wheels.  Jean Nelson Nicol, St. Paul, MN, and her husband, John, spend time at their lake cabin in Wisconsin.  They have three grandchildren.  Howard S. Olson, Sun City Center, FL, attended an Advanced Writer's Worship sponsored by the ELCA at Concordia University, River Forest, IL.  Leslie Peterson, Menomonie, WI, reports that his son-in-law, D. Peter Friberg, was recently installed as pastor of Gilman Lutheran Church, Spring Valley, WI.  Olive Peterson, St. Peter, MN, who for many years was Clerk of the District Court in St. Peter, celebrated her 90th birthday last May.  Ralf Runquist, Minneapolis, MN, was master of ceremonies at a program in celebration of the 95th anniversary of Messiah Lutheran Church.  Louise Johnson Swanson, Wayzata, MN, has four children who are Gustavus graduates, Susan ’68, David ’69, Paul ’71, and Thomas ’73.   Timothy x75 and Nancy x80 also attended Gustavus.  Louise spends her winters in Hawaii.  Bob Wettergren, St. Peter, MN, has completed 30 years of weekly programs on the local radio station and TV channel in St. Peter.  His book A Little Bit Of Heaven In St. Peter is sold out, with profits going to the St. Peter High School Music Department.

You are welcome to attend as a member of the 50 Year Club the events of the Reunion Weekend, May 28-29.  There is no cost for 50 Year Club members either for housing or for meals.  Registration forms were mailed just this week.  Marilyn and I will not be in attendance this year, since we will be in Gettysburg, PA, attending a granddaughter's confirmation on May 23 and her sister's high school graduation on June 16.  On this trip we will also be visiting members of our family in the eastern states.

We will be returning to St. Peter in time for the Augustana Heritage Association Gathering June 25-27 at Gustavus, with the theme "Unto a Good Land:  Augustana Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."  The program will include a keynote address by Dr. Nils Hasselmo, former president of the University of Minnesota, a report by a visitor from Sweden about what has happened since the year 2000, when the Church of Sweden received a new relationship with the state, about twenty Interest Group sessions, a concert by the National Lutheran Choir, sessions about the liturgy and hymns of the Augustana Synod.  If you belonged to a congregation that prior to 1962 was part of the Augustana Lutheran Church, do plan to come.  The registration fee, which includes program costs and meals, is $185 (with a $15 discount if the registration is postmarked by May 15.  On-campus housing for the conference is $50 per person.  Send your registration to Augustana Heritage Association Gathering, PO Box A-21, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West College Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082.  For further questions contact Amy Pehrson ’91 at 507-933-7169 or e-mail

Best wishes for the summer!

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

P. S.  The Alumni Office will add some other campus news here:

50th Anniversary Alumni Fund Closes May 31

The 2004 Alumni Fund will close May 31 with a goal of 50 percent alumni participation. Thanks to everyone who has already participated with a gift.  If you haven’t given, please think about sending a gift along with your news in the enclosed gold envelope. Gustavus alumni have a long tradition of strong alumni participation.  Help maintain our national ranking by participating in the 50th anniversary year of the Alumni Fund.

Winter sports summary

Women’s basketball finished third in the MIAC and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Men’s basketball won the MIAC regular season and playoff championship titles before losing to eventual national champion UW-Stevens Point in the NCAA national tournament. Men’s hockey posted a third-place finish in the regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Women’s hockey finished second in regular-season MIAC play, but won the post-season tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Men’s swimming won its third consecutive MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing ninth at the NCAA championships. Women’s swimming won the MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing 13th at the NCAA championships. Men’s Nordic skiing won its first-ever MIAC championship and finished fourth at the NCAA Central Region meet. Women’s Nordic skiing claimed their third consecutive MIAC title and completed their season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Central Region meet. Gymnastics posted a 6–1 dual meet record and a second-place finish at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) West Regional. The women’s indoor track and field team finished second and the men fifth at the MIAC championships. 

Did you know …

●Nearly 80% of Gustavus students graduate in four years, compared with 56% of students from other Minnesota private colleges; the national average is 17%.

●There are seven choral ensembles and 23 instrumental ensembles, two jazz, four woodwind and three brass ensembles.

●More than 40 percent of Gustavus students volunteer through the Gustavus community service center on a regular basis.

●For student safety, the campus is well-lit, there is 24-hour Safety and Security patrol and escort service, residence halls are locked 24 hours a day, and there are blue light emergency phones throughout campus linked directly to Safety and Security.

●And looking back -- during the college’s early years, students were awakened by a bell at 5:45 a.m. and all lights had to be out by 10:30 p.m.