Class of '43
May 2007

Dear Classmates of ’43:

First a warm thank you to Elmer Anderson for his January class letter.  Elmer has been a great help, not only in writing the January letter but also in the Phonorama calling.  I am sure you are glad to hear from him both by phone and by letter.

This letter is coming to you about a month late.  I have no real excuse other than on Good Friday evening Marilyn, as a result of a fall in our home, broke her hip.  We were entertaining our son, Paul’s, family of five (plus Anna Maria Breban from Romania, who helps with their three-year old twin boys) over the Easter weekend, and there were to be four others for dinner Saturday evening.  The food had been prepared.  It was too late to call things off.  I told Marilyn that I was sure she would feel better Saturday morning.  We had a good time, Marilyn managed to get around the house, the meals were excellent, and she attended the Easter service.  It was not until Paul and his family had left on Monday for Chicago that Marilyn got to the St. Peter Clinic.  An x-ray indicated that a fracture had occurred and we left the clinic for Immanuel St. Joseph Hospital in Mankato.  There we met with a surgeon, who recommended a partial hip replacement, which was done Tuesday morning, April 10.  Marilyn now has a titanium ball in her left hip socket.  She was very pleased with the care she received at the hospital and came home Monday, April 16.  Four weeks have passed.  Marilyn uses a walker, but can also get along quite well without it.

I hope you will excuse the long paragraph I have written about Marilyn.  All of us have in various ways experienced what are called the infirmities of old age.  A friend has said that when old men get together, despite the fact that they may not be so interested in music, they begin with an organ recital.  As far as her work is concerned, Marilyn has recovered better than I.  In many ways, I am simply a month behind and I am not sure that I will ever catch up!

Much happens these last weeks of the spring term.  May 2 the 27th annual MayDay! Peace Conference was held.  The theme this year was Community Food Security.  The morning speaker, Janet Poppendieck from Hunter College, New York City, spoke about school food.  There are children who are hungry and come to school Mondays waiting to get in to the cafeteria, not having had enough food over the weekend.  An effort is being made to provide food with adequate fruit, vegetables, and milk products.  Other a la carte foods are often offered in competition with the government approved menu.  This tends to stigmatize the main meal, thought to be chiefly for the poor, and develops divisions and segregation among the students.  At the same time the a la carte menu contains much junk food.  Poppendieck finished with some questions:  Is school food for poor children or for all the children?  Is it an interruption or an important part of the school day?  Is it a cost or an investment?  Should school food reflect the American food system or be a means to change it?

The speaker in the afternoon was Mike Hamm from Michigan State University.  His topic was “Community Food Security and Sustainable Development.”  In view of the world population increasing from 6.3 to 7.8 billion, he warned that when we get done fighting over oil there will be fighting over water.  Tobacco, poor diet, and lack of exercise are the largest causes of premature deaths.  New development in agriculture is needed to make possible an increase from 5 to 7 servings of fruit and vegetables in the American diet.  Food should be grown locally.  The government instead of subsidizing large production should subsidize small farms.

Another important event this week was a memorial recital for Professor Ethel Pehrson (1908-2006).  A Gustavus graduate in 1930, she had been a piano teacher on the Gustavus faculty from 1950-1976, when she moved to Los Angeles.  Her mother, Ella Peterson Pehrson (Gustavus graduate 1895), taught piano 1897-1901 and 1913-1947, thus during our student years.  Some of you may remember Ella Pehrson.  Ethel provided a significant gift to assist the College in procuring Steinway pianos.  Gustavus is among 66 colleges, universities, and conservatories around the world that have earned “All Steinway” recognition, which requires that at least 90 percent of an institution’s instruments be of Steinway manufacture.  In the recital Helen and Paul Baumgartner played a Mozart sonata for four hands and Yumiko Oshima-Ryan played Fantasie-Impromptu by Frederic Chopin and A Maiden’s Prayer by Tekla Badarzewska.  What was especially interesting was the tribute by Bill Holm ’65, a poet who teaches at Southwest State University, Marshall.  He played for us as well but also told us what it meant to be Ethel’s student.  He had written to her after she moved to Los Angeles and visited her there.  I became aware of the impact a piano teacher can make on the life of a student.

The Annual Fund year of 2007 closes May 31.  As of today the College has received $8,111 from 51 donors, a total amount that is larger than last year, when 56 donors gave $7,615.  You have received a notice of the Reunion Weekend, May 25-26.  It is still true that campus housing is complimentary, though we must pay for the meals, except for the Saturday Alumni Banquet, which is complimentary.  I hope to see some of you there, though you may want to wait till 2008, which will be the 65th anniversary of our graduation in 1943.

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

Some additional news from the campus now follows:

Gustavus Forensics Team Continues to be National Leader

The Gustavus Adolphus College Forensics Team participated in the 30th American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) in April, earning a top 20 national ranking for the first time in school history.  Fourteen of the top 20 schools are Division I institutions.  The team has had a full schedule of tournaments this year, although the AFA-NIET is considered by many to be the most competitive collegiate forensics tournament in the country.

Refer a Gustie

Are there outstanding students in your church or neighborhood?  Are there sophomores or juniors in high school who are related to you or are friends of your family and whom you think could be a good fit at Gustavus?  Please send their names to the Office of Admission at Gustavus to help recruit the next generation of Gusties.

Gusties Gather!  Hosts Needed

Gusties around the world are called to gather on Sunday, September 30th.  The Alumni Board is designating this day as a day to intentionally connect with other Gusties.  In its inaugural year last August, 60 hosts planned events.  Want to do more to be connected with Gustavus?  Sign up to host a Gusties Gather! event for your neighborhood or with your friends.  Sign up by contacting Alumni Board member Dick Swenson ’62 at: or 612/824-8052.

A Royal Affair — Razzle Dazzle

Save the date!  Saturday, October 27, 2007 is Gustavus Library Associates’ biennial benefit for the Gustavus Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.  It will be held at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel in Bloomington, MN.

If you have volunteer time to offer . . .

If you have an auction item to donate, or know someone who does . . .

If you know someone who should receive an invitation . . .

If you would like to contribute financially to defray expenses . . .

We’ll welcome your call today!

Co-chairs:  Susan Engelsma Wilcox ’73, 952/944-5972 and Nacia Dahl ’92, 952/808-3212.

Rare Flower in Bloom at Gustavus

A Titan Arum or Amorphophallus titanum, otherwise known as a Corpse Flower, is now in bloom in the Department of Biology’s greenhouse.  The first known Corpse Flower to bloom in Minnesota, this rare flowering plant is found only in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.  The largest un-branched inflorescence in the world, the flower’s name comes from the repulsive scent it omits during and after its bloom period.  The plant’s cluster of flowers can grow to almost 10 feet, although the plant at Gustavus is expected to bloom slightly smaller.  “This plant is one of the wonders of the botanical world,” says Brian O’Brien, associate professor of chemistry who received and planted the seeds in 1993.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Class of 1962 - 45th Anniversary Reunion — May 25 and 26
  • Class of 1957 - 50th Anniversary Reunion — May 25 and 26
  • 50 Year Club Reunion — May 25 and 26
  • Gusties Gather! — Sept. 30