Class of '43
April 2009

Dear Classmates of ’43:

Thanks to Co-Class Agent Ralf Runquist for assisting me with last fall’s Phonorama and for his January class letter!  As you could tell from his letter, he had gotten many news items from his conversations with you.  I’m very happy that he was willing to help me.  As we are nearing the end of the 66th year following our graduation in 1943, there are not many left who could be called upon to become co-class agents.  Ralf suggests that I twisted his arm to the point that he became willing to call and write.  I prefer to believe that I successfully used the art of persuasion, which I had learned at Gustavus from Professor Evan Anderson.  As a result of the years I, together with some others in our class, spent in debate, I became a member of Pi Kappa Delta.  Those three Greek letters come from the words peitho kalos kai dikaios, which mean “the art of persuasion beautiful and just.”  I am very grateful that Ralf was willing to be persuaded to join me as co-class agent and I am sure you are grateful as well.

This last Saturday the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations held its 22nd annual convention on campus.  The GACAC was organized in 1987 when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was formed.  At that time the colleges of the ELCA had to determine how they were to be related to the Church.  Some, such as St. Olaf, Wartburg, and Dana, chose to be related through the biennial churchwide assembly.  That assembly, which meets August 17-23 this year in Minneapolis, sets apart a brief period in its agenda to hear reports from some ELCA colleges and to elect persons to serve on their governing boards.  Another option was to be related to synods of the ELCA.  Gustavus had been related to the Minnesota and the Red River Valley synods during the years of the Lutheran Church in America.  When the ELCA was formed, instead of one Minnesota Synod there were now six synods in Minnesota.  President John S. Kendall ’49 persuaded those leading the college to choose to be related to an association of congregations.  We learned on Saturday that there are now 540 congregations in that association.  They do not all send delegates to this annual convention, but Christ Chapel was well filled Saturday by the delegates and guests who had come.  Congregations may, of course, be related to more than one college if they so choose.

I recall some years ago while attending the GACAC convention luncheon that I heard two persons across the table speaking what sounded like Swedish.  I introduced myself to them and found that they had come from Den Norske Lutherske Mindekirke (The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church).  Through the GACAC Gustavus is able to relate to a large variety of congregations, not only in Minnesota and adjoining states, but throughout the country.  One of those attending the convention was Åke Bonnier, Dean of Stockholm’s Domkyrkoförsamling, who is a member of the Gustavus Board of Trustees.  I do not know whether his congregation is also a member of the GACAC.  We heard an excellent keynote address on “Implications of a God in Relationship” by Professor Terence E. Fretheim, who teaches Old Testament at Luther Seminary.  What was of special interest to me during the lunch hour was this year’s Covenant Award given to the Rev. Gary F. Anderson ’63, who had been one of my advisees.  We also heard two senior students tell us of their faith development at Gustavus.

There have been other lectures of note these past days.  On April 22 at the Linnaeus Symposium we heard Meg Lowman, a tropical rainforest canopy biologist; tell us that half of the great varieties of biological species in the world live in the tops of the trees of the rainforest.  To make it easier to study them, walkways have been built through the tops of these trees.  It is important that these trees be spared from those who would cut them down to sell the timber, and also to use the ground for crops.  Unfortunately those who hope to till that ground find that, while it supports the trees, once the trees are gone that soil does not support for very long the crops sown on it.  On April 23 we heard Shane Claiborne, author, activist and one of the founders and partners of The Simple Way, a faith community in North Philadelphia, who has spent time with Mother Teresa in India and who has traveled to Iraq, tell us that another world than the one we are taking for granted is possible.  Wednesday, April 29, the 29th Annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference will be held.  The theme this year is “Tiananmen + 20 Years.”  Speakers will be Andrew Nathan, Chinese affairs specialist, and Yang Jianti, human rights activist.

You are all invited to attend the 2009 50-Year Club Reunion on Saturday, May 30.  Two members of the Class of ’59, that is celebrating its 50th anniversary will speak at seminars in the morning, Bruce M. Carlson, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan on what goes on beneath the surface of a fisherman’s lake, and Charles Lower, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia on the influence of notable Gustavus teachers through the years.  There will be book signing by Gustavus authors.  I recommend that you purchase Dan Johnson’s ’64 biography of Richard Reusch (1891-1975), who taught at Gustavus 1947-48 and 1954-63 after 25 years of service as a missionary in what is now Tanzania.  In the afternoon Jim Gilbert ’62, naturalist for WCCO Radio and at Gustavus, will speak about a half hour and then lead a walking tour.  You will have to pay for the Reunion Luncheon and the Alumni Banquet, but the coffee during the day will be free.

You may already have given your gift to this year’s Annual Fund.  If you haven’t the 2009 fund year closes May 31.  We hope we hear from as many of you as possible.

There was one death in our class list that has not been thus far reported.  Sigfred Carl Johnson (13635 E. Bates Ave. #304, Aurora, CO 80014) died November 21, 2008.  He is survived by his wife, Jo; sons, Steve and Paul, as well as a stepson, Steve.

Class News

Here are news items from last fall’s phonorama:

Genevieve Jensen Deggendorf (1103 S. Schumaker Dr., #206, Salisbury, MD  21804) is grateful to her son, Steven, who took her to Paris, London, and Martha’s Vineyard.  Ardene (Claude) and Warren Friest (2929 Sunnyside Dr., Unit 370D, Rockford, IL  61114-4500) are enjoying good health and have visited Denmark three times.  Viola Holmes Gustafson (975 Corbin Ave., #38, New Britain, CT  06052) lost her husband, Alvar ’42, through accidental death a year ago.  Two of her children, Alvar ’68 and Marci ’70 are Gustavus graduates.

Donna May Gillett Johnson (1283 N. Alpine Rd, Stockton, CA  95215) collects walnuts and in the fall admires the colorful trees.  There were no fires in the Stockton area last fall.  Howard F. Johnson (28440 Eagle Dr., Chisago City, MN  55013) played 65 rounds of golf last summer.  He remembers the Gustavus golf team that won the MIAC championship in 1940 and 1941.  Albert D. Lestor (3847 28th Ave., Rock Island, IL 6120l) is thinking of having his second knee replaced.  Unfortunately no such surgery will help his hearing.

George Lindbeck (3159 Newark Pond Road, West Burke, VT  05871-9651) lives in a rural setting with landscape like what surrounds Norwegian fjords.  Neighbors are a quarter of a mile away.  He has a dog and a cat, also two horses and a donkey, which are sent away part of the year for stabling.  Alvin R. Mueller (306 Monument St., New Ulm, MN  56073) goes to Mazatlan, Mexico, in the winter, an area which he finds not so congested.  Gordon S. Nelson (39 Apollo Dr., West Barnstable, MA 02668-1310) and his wife, Carolyn, are involved in helping solve the homeless problem on Cape Cod.  The cartoon character he developed while at the seminary, “Smedley the theological student,” still appears now and then to help promote some cause.

Howard S. Olson (1925 Grand Cypress Lane, Sun City Center, FL  33573), in addition to Footprints (his memoirs) 2001, 2005, has self-published Selected Cross-Cultural Essays 2005, Reference Companion to Set Free 2002 (Set Free was first published in 1993), A Grain of Mustard Seed 2002, Et Cetera 2003, Et Cetera Continued 2005, Rimi Folktales 2006, and The Immortal Word 2007 (sermons).  Leslie Peterson’s (N8137 State Road 25, Menomonie, WI  54751) wife, Ruth, died February 15, 2009.  A great many missionaries attended the large funeral February 21.  Paul C. Peterson (1301 Richmond Rd, West Milford, NJ  07480), who worked at Country Club Markets in Minneapolis, moved to New Jersey to be near his son and daughter.  Robert Wettergren (1807 Sunrise Dr. #126, St. Peter, MN), who, because of his writing about his hometown, is known as “Mr. St. Peter,” lives at Pheasants Ridge, a new assisted living facility.

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling

1943 Co-Class Agent

Some additional news from the campus now follows:

Campus News

Update on Commission Gustavus 150

Recently posted to the Commission website is a summary of the common issues and “big ideas” discussed at the first nine National Summit meetings regarding the College’s five core values (Excellence, Faith, Justice, Service, and Community).  The participants were asked how the College might ensure that the core values would be lived out in the lives of alumni, faculty, staff, and students.  The summary is being shared with all members of the eight task forces of Commission Gustavus 150.  The common issues and big ideas will help shape the recommendations made by the Task Forces to the Gustavus Board of Trustees and ultimately form the basis for the College’s long-range strategic plan.

Congratulations to the Gustavus Adolphus College Forensics Team, which won its second straight Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Championship on Sunday, Feb. 22.  Gustavus finished with 446 points to beat out Minnesota State University, Mankato (408 points) and Concordia College, Moorhead (213 points).  Gustavus placed first in 6 of 13 events and placed four individuals in the top seven of the individual sweepstakes standings.  First-year student, Chloe Radcliffe, placed first in the individual sweepstakes and senior, Tasha Carlson, will represent Minnesota at the 2009 Interstate Oratorical Association National Contest―the oldest speaking competition in the country―on April 25 in Oxford, Mississippi.

Hockey Finals

The men’s hockey team made its first appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship game at Herb Brooks Ice Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday, March 21.  They lost a great game to Neumann College, 4-1.  The women’s hockey team lost 2-1 to UW-River Falls in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.

 “Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Join us for a cup of coffee, breakfast, and great conversation.  Our featured presenter for May will be Kathi Tunheim, assistant professor for economics and management.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, Wednesday, May 20, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Reserve your spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763-533-9083.royal affair