Class of '43
April 2005

Dear Classmates of ’43:

We are grateful again to Co-class Agent Elmer Anderson for the January class letter.  He tells you that he enjoyed Phonorama last fall, as did I.  We are grateful that we were able to contact as many of you as we did.  Many of you have already paid your pledges.  As of March 31 the College had received $6,014 from 52 donors.  If your pledge is still outstanding, the Gustavus fiscal year ends May 31.  If your gift is in by that date, it will be counted in our class total.  Marilyn and I enjoy living near the campus.  During Lent we heard again "The Seven Last Words" by Franz Josef Haydn.  For several years, this remarkable orchestral work has been performed by the Gustavus Orchestra.  Seven string quartettes together play an introduction and a conclusion and then one after another each quartette performs what Haydn wrote for each of the seven words.

A more recent event was when three women from Jerusalem, one a Jew, one a Christian, and one a Muslim, came to tell us about the situation in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.  They were traveling together under the auspices of an organization known as "Partners for Peace" in Washington, D.C., Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois.  The chief source of the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the settlements.  Not only do they take from the Palestinians significant parcels of their land, but they are connected by a system of roads on the West Bank that use additional land and that Palestinians may not use.  The harshest criticism of this system was Nina Mayorek, a Jewish Israeli, senior biochemist in the Department of Human Nutrition and Metabolism at the Hebrew University.  What is sad is that some Christian Zionists believe that if Israel succeeds in completely displacing the Palestinians, this will hasten the second coming of Christ.  I don't recall that we were taught anything like that when we took Christianity courses from Professors Carlson and Hall!

We attend several of the chapel services.  Last week one of the homilists was Dr. Stephen Bennett, Director of the Gustavus Counseling Center.  He is a graduate of St. John's University and told us about the St. John's Bible, a seven-year project in which a team of calligraphers in Wales under the leadership of Donald Jackson are writing by hand the whole Bible, which will be published by 2007 in seven volumes.  Stephen Bennett's family has underwritten the writing of one of the Psalms.  You may have seen a description of the project on public television.  Portions of the Pentateuch, Psalms, and the Gospels and Acts can be seen at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts until July 3.  Marilyn and I attended lectures April 16 of Fr. Michael Patella, chair of the committee that selected the texts to be illuminated.  He spoke on the history and theology of the St. John's Bible project.  We returned April 19 to spend about two hours seeing "Illuminating the Word" at the Institute.  Please plan to see it if you can.  It's well worth the effort.

Some of you may be interested in the fact that an effort is under way to provide an endowment for competitive forensic activities (speech and debate) at Gustavus.  Many colleges for financial reasons have closed down this aspect of their college program.  St. Olaf no longer has debate teams, which would have been hard for us to imagine sixty years ago.  Harold Ditmanson, a debater at St. Olaf who also later taught there, was asked what the most important courses he had taken before his graduate study at Yale.  He answered that they were typing and debate.  We now know how important keyboarding is, and the research one does in preparing for debates is equally rewarding.  I am very grateful for what I learned as a debater for Prof. Evan Anderson and I would hate to see debate disappear from the Gustavus scene.

There is construction on the campus just now.  A new dormitory to the west of Olin Hall and the International Students Hall will be finished by this coming fall.  Old Main is undergoing extensive remodeling, including the installation of an elevator.  Unfortunately, Wahlstrom Hall, a dormitory built just after WWII, will not be so fortunate.  While externally it is an elegant building with Kasota stone walls, internally, we are told, there is asbestos in the insulation, the plumbing is in bad shape, and the electrical wiring is inadequate.  In addition to this, many object to the interior design of the building.  Ever since we built our home at 1412 South Washington Avenue in 1967, I have been walking by Wahlstrom Hall when I go up on campus.  Last fall I pleaded the case for the building to President James Peterson ’64, but was told that it would cost more to do what is needed internally to bring the building up to par, than it would cost to build a new dormitory.  Present plans are that Wahlstrom Hall is to be razed this summer and that a decommissioning service for the dormitory will be held Saturday, May 28, at 2:45 p.m.

May 27-29 will be Commencement Weekend.  The Class of ’43 is not celebrating any anniversary, but you can come to the weekend as a member of the 50-Year Club and receive free housing and free attendance at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday.  There will be a nominal charge for all other meals.  Marilyn and I may not be on campus, since we may be visiting our children and grandchildren in Chicago, IL; Gettysburg, PA; North Easton, MA and Albany, NY; the last weeks of May.

Very likely few of the class ever met Professor Jack Lowell Clark ’52, who taught religion and classics at Gustavus 1962-99, though some children of class members may have studied with him.  Professor Clark died March 7, 2005.  He was born in Albert Lea, MN, January 15, 1929, and after high school graduation served in the U.S. Army 1946-48 before enrolling at Gustavus, where he was graduated summa cum laude in 1952.  His graduate degrees were from Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary, B.D.; the University of Minnesota, M.A.; and Yale University, M.A., Ph.D.  Upon completing his graduate studies he came back to Gustavus, where he taught Bible in the religion department and New Testament Greek in the classics department.  He was a highly regarded scholar and teacher.  In 1974 he was named the fourth recipient of the Edgar Carlson Award for Innovative Teaching, the highest award given to Gustavus faculty remembers in recognition of teaching excellence.  A memorial service will be held in Christ Chapel May 15 at 5 p.m.

We recently received word that John "Chic" Oist, Cloquet, died April 9.  At Gustavus Chic was active in basketball, football and tennis, with physical education and biology majors.  Upon being graduated he served for three years in the U.S. Navy during WWII.  Thereafter he taught science and physical education and coached a wide variety of sports, basketball, baseball, football, swimming, track, tennis, and golf at Swanville and Cloquet, MN, and Palmdale, CA.  He completed a master's degree at UMD and continued graduate studies in California at Pasadena College.  From 1971-87 he was a PGA golf pro September to June at Desert Aire Golf Club and Antelope Valley Country Club in Palmdale, CA, and during the summer months at Big Lake Golf Club in Cloquet.  Chic was inducted into the Gustavus Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.  John is survived by his wife, Patricia, and a daughter, Linda.  Peace be to his memory!

There are these additional news items:  I begin with an old item that was unfortunately mislaid.  Elmer J. Anderson, Westbrook, received the 2003 Leaders Club Award from the Children's Miracle Network, Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls, SD.  In 1994 Elmer initiated a Walk-a-Thon for CMN through the Westbrook Kiwanis Club.  The Westbrook club raised a record amount of $10,129 in 2003, of which total Elmer raised $4,465.  Rosalie Brahee Anderson, Hillsboro, ND, still has a farm interest, growing sugar beets, corn, and soybeans.  Dean C. Engstrom, Windermere, FL, in the four hurricanes that struck Florida, lost seven trees that were uprooted and the beach near his home was eroded.

George Gruber, Clearwater, FL, this past year made two trips to Michigan, cruised to the Bahamas, and spent two weeks in Mexico.  Eleanor Hedman, Detroit, MI, still owns and operates Hedy's Book and Gift Shop.  George Lindbeck, West Burke, VT, is working on a book on ecumenism and ecclesiology.  He was one of five graduates of Yale Divinity School who received alumni awards for excellence in theological education.

Cyrus Lindgren, Pine Knoll Shores, NC, is grateful that his neighborhood escaped the ravages of the hurricanes.  Wallace M. Lornell, Delmar, NY, broke his pelvis in a bicycle accident, but has recovered.  He is enjoying driving a Toyota hybrid Prius.  On April 14 the friends of Al Mueller, New Ulm, celebrated his 50 years of law practice in New Ulm.  Elmer Anderson's son-in-law, Patrick Lowther, was part of the group that acquired Al's practice.  Al retains clients he chose and the new name of the firm, Somsen, Mueller, Lowther and Franta, P.A., includes his name.  Elmer's daughter, Michal Anderson-Lowther ’71, who attended the event, reports that an extremely gratifying evening was spent at New Ulm's Turner Hall.  Al has earned his stripes for his diligence and good service to his clients.  He has been a valuable part of the New Ulm community and congratulations are in order.

J. Robert Nordlander, Sun City Center, FL, reports that his son, David ’84 was one of four presenters on a panel at Yale University discussing present-day slavery in the world.  Howard S. Olson, Sun City, FL, tells us that six physicians helped him cope with a combination of pneumonia, high blood pressure, and a heart ailment.  He has made some revisions in the second edition of his memoirs, Footprints.  Ralf Runquist continues to appear on the stage, most recently in a Burns and Allen show.  Ralf's wife, Violet, fell down the stairs and broke her hip and wrist, but has since mended.  Walter Spidahl has sold food at the Minnesota State Fair for 32 years.  His menu includes foot long hot dogs and Norwegian fries.  He has a son, who is a Lutheran pastor in Cashton, WI.  Helen Sundholm Vikner, who several years ago moved to the Augustana Apartments and Health Care Center in Minneapolis, has moved back to St. Peter, where she is living at the St. Peter Community Health Care Center.  She is now living closer to her nephew, Terry O. Denley ’60 and his wife, Mary Lee, who in their retirement moved from Fergus Falls to St. Peter.

Best wishes for the summer!

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

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

Campus briefs

Gustavus has been known for its strong tradition of alumni participation in annual giving.  Gusties support their Alma Mater in many ways and show their pride with their gifts.  All alumni and current students have benefited from previous and current support.  Gustavus will be as strong as its alumni want it to be.  The 2005 Alumni Fund closes May 31.  Make sure you are included with many members of your class and other alumni that have chosen to keep Gustavus strong.  Three easy ways to give – send your check to the Alumni Office (by using the enclosed envelope), call 866-487-3863, or on-line at 

Alumni Awards

The Gustavus Alumni Association has announced 2005 award recipients.  The Greater Gustavus Award to George Torrey ’55 for his lifetime volunteer service and philanthropy to the College. Distinguished Alumni Citations to G. Barry Anderson ’76, Apple Valley, MN, associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court; Deanna Nelson ’64, Cary, NC, president/founder, BioLink Life Sciences, Inc.; Rick Webb ’73, Edina, MN, owner of Ciao Bella, Zelo and Bacio Restaurants; and John Wirth ’75, Pacific Palisade, CA, writer/executive producer, Paramount Studios.  First Decade Awards to Joe Gaugler ’95, Lexington, KY, assistant professor, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine; Debbie Lightly Mascaro ’95, Fargo, ND, research scientist, North Dakota State University Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.


The Gustavus women’s hockey team finished third at the NCAA national championship after winning the MIAC title, the men’s basketball team won the MIAC regular season title and conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA national tournament, the men’s swimming and diving team won the MIAC title and placed seventh at the NCAA national tournament and had seven swimmers earn All-America honors and the women’s team had four swimmers earn All-America honors.

Upcoming Events

  • Class of 1955 and 50-Year Club Reunions – May 27 & 28
  • Commencement – May 29
  • Alumni Fund closes – May 31
  • Reunions on Homecoming – October 7 & 8
  • Nurses Reunion – October 8