Class of '50
Dear Friends and Classmates of 1950,
What a difference a month makes! Mid-December I was tempted to go in swimming December 13; 27 boats were out fishing on Green Lake; we basked in the glow of unseasonably warm 50 degrees and an occasional 60 degrees. The lake didn't freeze over until December 22, the latest on record, apparently—in fact there was still some open water that night. In January, however; the notorious Alberta clippers moved in and we've had cold, -20◦ a few mornings, and snow―a couple inches every day―it's over a foot deep on my deck benches right now. Those of you in the Southland, except for coping with your cold snaps and ice, which I know some of you have had, will well remember what it was like on days like this and may be grateful you have green grass and flowers.
Your Christmas notes and letters were so very welcome. They will supplement the news sent me by the alumni office, at least some of them will. I may save some for next time. Now that the alumni office adds college news, I'm not always sure how long to make these letters.
According to a newsy letter from Lord Buckingham Orland & Arlene (Johnson) Johnson’s dog in Red Wing, MN, the Johnsons had fun traveling last year―to Arizona and California in February and east in June to visit Howard ’49 and Hilde Linnee Holcomb in D.C. They were also going to Bainbridge Island for Christmas. They are still enthusiastic gardeners and held their annual "Paint Out" Studio Show in October. What do you two do in your spare time? Sounds like a great life!
Marjorie Johnson Knutson, who lives in the D.C. area, keeps busy at her living complex and church. She visited family and friends in Minnesota in August, stopping in St. Peter to see the damage left by the tornado. She and her sister, Dorothy, and brother, Wendell, had their picture taken at that time and included that and one taken 60 years ago in her greeting. That was fun to see. Having your children and their families live nearby so you can see them often is good.
Alpha Flaaten Hann and husband, Ralph, lead busy lives in Twin Falls, ID. Gatherings of American Legion, Lions, and the Lutheran Women's Missionary League absorbed some of their time and energy. I'm sure several of you can relate to that.
News of David Esbjornson ’75, son of John and Carol (Ostgaard) Esbjornson in Willmar, MN came from John's brother, Bob, in his Christmas letter. David won the 1998 OBIE award for direction of Theresa Raguin, an adaptation of Emile Zola's novel. The OBIE, of course, is the top honor for outstanding achievement in off-Broadway theatre. He served for the last seven years as artistic director for New York's Classic Stage Company, which features adaptations of such classics. He was also director for Arthur Miller's new play, The Ride Down Mount Morgan, which just finished its run at Joseph Page Public Theatre in New York, in the course of which he worked with Arthur Miller. John and Carol had mentioned some of this to me before, but I didn't have it down in black and white so I could remember the details. And David got his start in good old Gustavus’ theatre―well, maybe in high school under his dad's able direction.
John Pierson of Kenai, AK, writes: "No fishing or hunting this year, had knee surgery in May and July. Our daughter and husband moved from Alaska to California. We miss our two granddaughters. They are coming here for Christmas." I hope the knee (knees?) are well recovered by now. Everyone tells me that recovery takes longer than hip replacement, so I was lucky. I hope you had a good Christmas, too, with your family―I can see why you hope they might move back to Alaska.
Merle Vernone sent me a long, chatty letter, but I'll condense it for now with his note to the alumni office. He heard about the St. Peter tornado in March on CNN while in Tiberias along the Sea of Galilee. "Incidentally, that trip has to rank as one of the most memorable we have ever taken." He hoped to get to Minnesota in July and stop by the campus while here. I agree that that Holy Land trip is memorable. 'Twould be fun to compare notes with you some day.
Lewis Peterson is a retired educator, serving 19 years as assistant principal at Coon Rapids High School, MN. He's also active in Kiwanis, began the city's recycling center 10 years ago, is a master gardener―maintaining several garden sites for the city of Coon Rapids, is a member of the Sons of Norway and edits their newsletter, sings in the church choir and is a bell choir player, and serves as an election judge. I didn't get word as to whether he won the city council seat he was running for. Our new governor sort of captured most of the election headlines!
Charles & Betty Ann (Pearson x53) Pelzl of Pine River, MN, have made it back from eight months in Australia. "It's a great country (second best?) and has a lot of wonderful places to see. " You must have told Denny ’51 and Paula Lofstrom about it at great length because they are spending quite of a bit time there on their way home from Antarctica―three weeks in New Zealand and it looks like at least a month in Australia. Glad you are home safe and sound.
Ed & Bev Wetherill are retired in St. Peter, MN, but he spends a great deal of time at the Nicollet County Historical Society. He has been responsible for an Indian encampment that they host there for the past several years and it has been a great success. I hope to see them at the annual meeting this next Sunday and hear about their trip to Italy.
Ray Bingea spoke with Glenn G. C. Olson of Excelsior during Phonorama the end of October and learned that he is represented in the Twin Cities and about by three offspring: Elizabeth, a pediatric nurse practitoner at the University Clinic and the Phillips Clinic and two at the Chamber Press. Mary, of the Hudson Chamber and David, of the Minnesota Chamber. He has spent four years on the Minneapolis City Council, five years on the Minnetonka school board and six months on the Greenwood City Council.
Ray also talked to Doris Jacobson Speckeen of Singer Island, FL, and adds the note "Retired from an Iowa distributorship of grain drying and handling equipment." I hope you’re far enough south so you missed some of that cold snap I referred to earlier. They also tell us that they have two children and two grandchildren. Their daughter, Stephanie Speckeen Campbell x77, collects and sets down state laws in reference books for West Publishing. Son, Jay, runs a two-airplane sky diving operation called Paradise Diving. We appreciate hearing from you.
Then Ray talked with Art & Jytte (Petersen ’51) Monke in Brunswick, ME. (See all the interesting people you talk to in all these interesting places when you call on Phonorama? More of you should try it.) Their daughter, Kirsten, is a violinist with the Santa Barbara symphony. Their son, Eric, teaches agricultural economics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Art is a retired librarian at Bowdoin College.
Clifford Lofgren is retired in Gainesville, FL.
Allen and Dorothy Kroehler of Lancaster, PA celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a family reunion in Ottumwa and Henderson, IA and in Richfield, WI. Congratulations on that landmark occasion! We most likely have more of those among our classmates―and coming up in the next couple years. At Phonorama time, Allen’s project was working on a training program for lay people to support people leaving welfare. Apparently you are still teaching at the Lancaster Theological Seminary, Allen, and Dorothy is at Head Start/Day Care. Good for both of you! A bit farther east, we find Wallace Wang in Olean, NY. His daughter, Beverly, is an elementary teacher at Mary Immaculate Star of the Sea (isn't that a fascinating name for a school?) He has two sons: Wally, an auto mechanic who worked at McDonell-Douglas in California until recent cut backs. And Bruce, a machinist apprecentice working to become a journeyman. Both sons are military veterans.
We know as we become older, we encounter more classmates with ill health, but we don't always learn of them. James Pengra in Mankato suffered a stroke a year ago. He had been a principal at Jackson High School. We hope you are making a good recovery, Jim.
A note from Lila Lynne of Black River Falls, WI, accompanied a memorial gift for her husband Richard Lynne, who "passed away Sept. 26, 1998, after a long bout with cancer." You have our sympathy, Lila, and we thank you for that memorial.
You most likely saw the notice in the last Quarterly about Harold Gunderson's death on September 22, 1998. He had been a junior high counselor in St. James and returned to Winnebago as a high school counselor and athletic director until his retirement in 1984. He was a member of a long list of organizations many of them associated with education. A St. Peter native he visited the community and college often. He will be missed.
If I didn't mention your Christmas greeting or last note to Gustavus, don't be alarmed. I haven't forgotten you. I just wanted to make sure I have notes for the next letter. Those of you who haven't dropped the college a note in awhile―or even if you have― please do so; and I can include your greetings and whereabouts later. You are important to us.
Some news from campus:
Students and staff are in the midst of January Term and the campus landscape is covered with a beautiful blanket of snow. Once again, many students are taking advantage of
J-Term opportunities with 127 on internships, 308 on study abroad programs, and 86 students studying at other domestic institutions. Despite the cold weather, progress is being made on construction of the new Campus Center due to be open in the fall of 1999. After a week and a half of classroom preparation covering the history and culture of South Africa, the Gustavus Choir will participate in a concert tour of the country January 14-February 2. The Gustavus Band will travel to South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Iowa for their concert tour during touring week, January 30-February 6. Athletic teams are in full swing with all teams looking to be competitive in MIAC play. Over Christmas break many teams traveled for non-conference games including men’s basketball winning a tournament in California, men’s hockey playing in Italy, and the swim teams competing in Bermuda.
Gustavus is once again in the news, making some national rankings. Gustavus ranked 12th among the top 22 leading small colleges in the nation providing active Peace Corps volunteers. Gustavus is ranked 15th in the listing of top 20 bachelor’s institutions that sent the most students overseas for international study during the 1996-97 academic year. Gustavus is ranked 18th of national liberal arts colleges in the number of National Merits with 17 students. Mark Anderson ’66, Dean of Admission, reports that applications for admission for the fall of 1999 are running 20 percent ahead of last year. The Admission Office instituted several new campus visit days in the summer and fall to account for the fact that few students could visit last spring. Alumni are reminded of the Alumni Scholarship Program ($10,000 over four years for children and grandchildren of alumni) available to qualified applicants. Call the Admission Office at 1-800-GUSTAVU(S) for applications.
Gloria Martell Benson
1950 Co-class Agent