Class of '48
November 2006

Dear Class of 1948:

Greetings to all my classmates at yet another school year and class letter!  I wonder how many have been written since 1973 when I agreed to be class agent?

Del and I are waiting for Minnesota’s Indian Summer.  It is our favorite time of year and we just celebrated our 80th birthdays and 55th wedding anniversary.  Probably many of you are doing likewise!  We spent several days at a most interesting B&B “Inn of the Sacred Clay” in Lanesboro, MN.  It was surrounded by bluffs, forest, trout stream and trails.  The building had post and beam construction, designed by a Japanese firm for a B&B in Japan; ordered from Canada.  The Japanese company canceled the order after it was ready for assembly and the B&B in Lanesboro bought it and had it assembled in Lanesboro by Amish workmen with porches and turrets added, and beautiful landscaping, complete with a wind generator.

Volunteer Leadership Day (formerly Class Agents’ Day) was held on campus September 9.  President Peterson ’64 informed us of the programs, goals, and aspirations of the college and we learned about college updates, new web pages, and alumni fund results.  Dr. Jeff Jeremiason, Director of Environmental Studies, shared information on Gustavus' wind generator program.  It is very expensive and has a payback of about 10 years.  St. Olaf and Carleton have it in place already.  We were impressed that the Inn in Lanesboro had their own wind generator atop their bluff.

Big news for new students is renewable awards of $2500 per year whose siblings are current Gustavus students or graduates or whose parents or grandparents are Gustavus alumni.  Scholarship recipients must have a high school grade point average of at least 3.5 or an ACT of 26 or an 1170 (critical reading and math) on the SAT.  Interestingly, beginning with class 2011 (next year high school seniors) prospective Gusties will be given the option of whether or not to submit an ACT/SAT score!

Nobel Conference was on “Medicine, Prescription for Tomorrow” and was held October 3-4.  Del and I went with our Olli group from the University of Minnesota again and enjoyed the two days immensely.  The speakers were exceptional, our lunches in a private dining room were delicious and our two Gustie grandchildren joined us which was special.  I also met two Gusties, some of you might know, Clint (Clem) Knudson ’49 (Kappa Sig) and Richard Magnuson ’51 (Eppie) and their wives.  We did not recognize each other but in conversation they said that they only attended two years at Gustavus and graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Law. 

We had just seen Jay Bakke Fosnes and Carl ’50 in Colorado and they knew Carl from Law school and Jay from Montevideo.  President and Susan (Pepin ’65) Peterson invited our busload, with leader, former First Lady, Joanne Kendall, to visit the newly renovated President’s House on campus.  The living room and kitchen had been expanded and updated to serve large groups.  What a lovely setting in the College Arboretum.

The class giving to last year’s Alumni Fund was good and not so good.  We were up one donor, participation rate 56.5%, up from 54%, but our total gift was $13,802, down from $18,292.  Whoops―how did that happen?  As the election candidates repeatedly say, “we can do better.”  However, I am pleased at how generous many of you are when I know the magnitude of worthy requests challenging us constantly.  Education is a No. 1 priority with our family because it has made our lives so incredibly good in so many ways.

Reunion weekend for the 50 Year Club was May 26-27.  The “round robin” group from our class was there including:  Helen Johnson Adler; Eunice Johnson Anderson; Lois Arndt Neubauer; Gene and Elaine Vitalis Zwicky; Len ’50 and Lael Dahl Bjella; Delores Gardner Pederson and Martin; John Sanstead and Arden (Halk ’51) Sanstead who was celebrating her 55th.  I believe Phil Knautz and wife, Marlys, were at the Friday night banquet.  We enjoyed seminars by Jim Gilbert ’62 on the arboretum, Bill Heidcamp previewing the Nobel Conference, and Ray “Padre” Johnson ’56 on “Faces of Our Global Human Family.”  Already two of those that were present at that reunion have passed on; John Sanstead and S. Martin Pederson (Delores’s husband).


Marilyn “Jim” Smith Douglass and Mac visited us from Groton Long Point, CT for lunch and shared a magazine article in American Girl (Aug. ’06) written by her granddaughter, Belle, on “My Life On The Water.”  It read, “Belle left her life in Massachusetts for a 3-year adventure on the high seas.  Her travel journal brings you aboard with her.”

Marilyn Thommen Dawson, Huntsville, AL is enjoying good health and retirement playing bridge and volunteering at the hospital.  She was a former elementary principal for 21 years.

Wes and Iva Thelander are retired and continue living in Norfolk, NE.

J. Lyman Hall and his wife, Charlotte, spent several weeks in Cardiff Wales, UK.  Congratulations Lyman, on the completion of your book entitled:  A NATIVE CARHELLS JOURNEY, Including stories of WWII and Korea.  It just arrived and it was nice to see the picture of you in your Navy uniform.  I’m anxious to read it.

Jack Nelson, 112 Lookout Circle, Hot Springs, AR  71913 has been hospitalized recently.  His son, a physician, has been close by and a great comfort to Jack.  I bet he would appreciate hearing from his classmates.

Dorothy Ekblad Lincoln, NE retired from nursing at the VA and has now again retired from her years in home nursing.  Amazing you kept up with work and participation in track and field events.  I would love to know more about this, Dorothy.

Dorothe Nelson Carlson and Alan are now living at:  5500 E. Parkview Ave., #1214, Centennial, CO  80121.  We had a wonderful visit with them in August on our way to a family reunion in Colorado.

Dan Palm and his wife, Marianne, live in Northfield, MN and are happy to have many friends and some family close by.

Ken Knutson and wife, Joanne (Tillman ’52) live in Tracy, MN and lost a son suddenly August 21.  The class of ’48 sends our sympathy in this family loss.

Roland Freeburg, Anoka, MN and wife, Carol, are fine and busy.  Carol is involved in teaching English as a second language and may be interested in a Somali Bilingual Book Project.  If so, contact Minnesota Humanities Commission, 987 Ivy Ave. E., St. Paul, MN  55106.

With heavy heart, I report the following deaths.

Perwin Knutson, Sioux Falls, SD passed away on October 28.  He is survived by his wife, Viola, and two daughters and their families.  Perwin suffered a stroke after bypass surgery.  We remember Perwin’s touching story about going back to Germany to the town and family who helped him when he parachuted during WWII.  Our sincere sympathy to his family.

John L. Sanstead, Hastings, MN passed away on September 23.  Our sincere sympathy to his wife, Arden (Halk ’51) and family.  We will surely miss John’s presence at our 50 Year Club reunions.

Delores Gardner Pederson’s husband, Martin died.  His memorial service was held September 24 in Onamia, MN.  Delores is such an enthusiastic Gustie and she and Martin attended many functions on campus despite physical problems that might have kept them closer to home.  Delores, by the way, was confirmed with Del and me in St. Paul in 1940.  Our deepest sympathy to you, Delores.

Leonard B Torkelson, Baldwin, WI passed away October 21.  He was a summa cum laude graduate of our class, a physician and surgeon in Baldwin for 34 years, and he spent seven years in semi-retirement as a nursing home physician.  We send sincere sympathy to his wife of 58 years, Elaine, and children, Todd, Judith, Joan, and Peter.  I personally appreciated Len’s volunteering on our 50th graduation reunion committee and writing a guest class letter.

Coming Events:

  • F. Melius Christiansen 135th Anniversary concert at Orchestra Hall - November 19.
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel, “An American Odyssey” - December 1-3.

A while ago, I suggested that classmates take time to write a note/paragraph giving a greeting or something personal about themselves for the class letter.  I was very pleased that several of you responded and had more to say than I timidly suggested.  That is great.  I know classmates will enjoy hearing from you and hopefully others will also take a turn.  Today I introduce Lorna Jones of Le Sueur, MN.  Her hometown was Belle Plaine, MN.  She was a member of the IB sorority, WAA, symphony band and left Gustavus with plans to teach high school math according to our yearbook.

What A Gustavus Education Has Meant to My Life

I promised Lorrie Johnson Leaf last fall that I would put this in writing sometime.  So here goes.

Before I even entered college, I was mightily influenced by two wonderful high school teachers here in Le Sueur, who were Gustavians.  They were Ellen Swanson, class of 1913 and Martha Almen Peterson, class of 1940.  Miss Swanson was my high school principal and Latin and math teacher.  Martha was my English teacher.  In grade 10 thru 12 at that time (1941-1944), we were allowed six electives.  Five of those I took from Miss Swanson:  two years of Latin and three years of math.  English was required all three years, and also social studies (mostly world and American history, and economics).  Martha and Miss Swanson were enthusiastic about their subjects, and knew them well!  It was a pleasure to be in their classes, and they gave me a solid preparation for college.  I still communicate with Martha.  Unfortunately, I never told Miss Swanson what she meant to my college preparation, and how her interest in mathematics also drove my interest in the same.  But in the past several years, I’ve gotten acquainted with her niece, Marian Swanson Johnson ’41 (Mrs. Chester), and we’ve discussed Ellen, and I’ve relayed to her my appreciation of her.  As Chester said, “Ellen was a no nonsense person!”  I told that recently to a former high school classmate of mine, and she agreed that that was the best description possible.  But you didn’t leave her classroom without understanding the lesson of the day.

After I started college and visited with former high school teachers, most thought I was surely studying to become a physical education teacher.  But it never passed my was always math.  I was always very interested in athletics, and participated in all available in high school and college at that time.  There were no intramural sports then.  Music was always a hobby, too, and I played in the high school and college bands.  In fact, I think those eight credits in band at GA meant more to me, with the exception of my credits for my major, math, that any others.  I learned to appreciate good classical music, and that has been with me all my life.  I attend Minnesota Orchestra concerts whenever possible (have had season tickets the past 25 years), and also attend many of the musical events at Gustavus.

I started college in July of 1944, during WWII.  Since I was majoring in math, many of my classes fell in the schedule of the Navy personnel in the V-12 program at GA at that time.  Yes, I was always the only civilian, and only woman, in class.  I remember my first English class.  I arrived after all the sailors were already seated.  Evelyn Anderson was our instructor.  When I walked in, she said, “Aren’t you in the wrong class?”  I gave her my card, and yes, it was the right class!!  And the next semester, when every Friday we had speech for English, with Evan Anderson instructor, the first speech I was assigned was “The difference between a battleship, cruiser and destroyer.”  But that really wasn’t a problem, because the majority of those sailors were “fresh out of high school” like I was, and knew little more of the Navy at that time.  There were a couple of “fleet men” (they’d served before that in regular Navy service), but they were kind to me, and at question time, they didn’t ask any!!!  But, of course, Prof. Anderson wouldn’t let me get by so easy.  He had a couple questions, which I was able to answer.

We hear so much these days about girls not majoring in science and math.  Well, it wasn’t so different when I was in college.  There rarely was another girl in my math classes, and then after the Navy left, there weren’t that many men, either.  I had to take a year of physics as required for a math major…no other girls there, either.  I was always treated well by the other students and instructors, although in the minority!!!

I may have one of the most peculiar degrees presented by Gustavus. I had the requirements for a BS in math, but also had the language requirement for an arts degree (Spanish).  So I have a BA with a major in math.

When I think of the requirements for degrees at GA when I attended, we got a truly great liberal arts education.  We were required to take courses in all the disciplines.  I have a grand niece getting a BA with emphasis on music this year, and she certainly does not have the great liberal arts education I received.  I was appalled to read in the Minneapolis Tribune a couple weeks ago that some high school in that area was contemplating having students in 9th grade declare a major as college students do, and not have a real liberal arts education.  To me that is what “education” means; it doesn’t mean technical training only for a job.  And when I hear that music and art are being dropped from the high school curriculums to “balance the budget,” it is very disturbing.  I can’t imagine my life without music.  (Last evening I attended a seminar at Community Education given by Dr. John McKay on the life and music of Mozart.  It was wonderful!)

When I was at GA, chapel attendance was required.  We each had assigned seats, and attendance was taken.  It didn’t matter if you were Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Buddhist…  You went to chapel.  Now I imagine that “wouldn’t be politically correct.”  My best friend I made at GA was a little Niesi girl, Toshi Nishioki.  She was not a Christian, but she attended chapel every day.  Twenty-five years ago when she was dying of cancer, she told me one day, when visiting over the telephone, how glad she was that she had to attend chapel at GA.  And a "Chris" class was required in our schedules every semester.  And I remember that first-year living in Rundstrom Hall, we’d meet one evening for about 20 minutes every week for a time of meditation.  I still think attending a small private Christian college is the best of all worlds.

After teaching high school math for a couple years, I worked in the statistics department at Green Giant for 10 years.  Then they got their first computer (1961).  So I was told to learn to program those statistical routines instead of using a calculator.  That was the beginning of a wonderful career, mostly in management science (the most mathematically oriented computer systems), ending up the last ten years at Pillsbury in Minneapolis.  Before I retired, I had designed and written computer systems for all departments of the company.  My good math background made it possible for me to learn, on the job, the math needed for those computer systems.  I did take a correspondance course in advanced statistical analysis from the University of Indiana.  During my time of designing and writing computer systems, our major training opportunities were classes taught by the computer vendors whose computer we had.  I did get to attend several outside seminars, too.  Our first computer was nothing but a big calculator!!!  Now most home computers have memories of one billion characters.  That computer had a memory of 20 THOUSAND characters.  And we had all of 80 characters of card space for input and output.  There were no hard drives, not even tape input and output.  The last couple years I worked I was going around the company teaching people how to use their personal computers.  At the time I retired (1988), I was the only person at Pillsbury who had written a computer system for a personal computer.  So after six months, I was hired back as a computer consultant, for nine months of full-time work, writing computer systems for PCs.  After that I worked as a part-time computer consultant for Pillsbury for five years, at a couple of their departments that they had in Le Sueur, where I live.

So you can see, I used that math major all my life.  And I had a wonderful job, that really wasn’t work to me.  It was just like going to the office to do puzzles all day long!!!  It really upsets me to think that most of that computer science work that I did, and many of my cohorts, is now being done in India.  Reader’s Digest had an article recently about the few USA college students majoring in computer science, and how more should.  They evidently don’t know where most of that work is done now.  And much of it done in this country is done by foreigners brought in here for six years on special HIB visas.  Recently those numbers have been anywhere from 60,000 to 120,000 per year.  Yes, it is all about money.  They can hire them for less money than our citizens want to work for.  Most of the good manufacturing jobs that made the middle class in this country are now overseas, and now our professional jobs are going the same way.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  We have laws that make it beneficial for that to happen.  Our college students should be made aware of this, and contact their congressmen to change things so they will have decent jobs upon graduation.

Besides the good education I received at Gustavus, I made most of the best friends I’ve had all my life.  So Gustavus, for all of this, THANK YOU.

Lorna Jones

Guest Letter Writer (written April 7, 2006)

Thanks Lorna, for your letter.  Our winter class letter will include a historical scene from Dick (Johnson) Melton, Glendale, OH about the southwest corner of his state and “the street where I live.”  It is an interesting story about happenings during the Civil War, “The Great Raid!”

Lutheran Colleges nationwide research projects in 1998 and 2004 trying to access their effectiveness in comparison to other sectors of higher education, showed numerous strengths including four-year graduation rate (Gustavus is 80%), small class sizes, having a sense of community, and integrating values and ethics into classroom discussions.

Bundle up for those winter winds, for some of you, enjoy going south and remember suntan lotion.  Most of all stay healthy and enjoy life to the fullest and remember to mail your alumni gift to our special college.


Lorrie Johnson Leaf

1948 Class Agent