Class of '50
April 2000

Dear Classmates and Friends of 1950,

Usually I begin with a nature report―the loons are back, for instance―or mention of a book I've recently read―Godforsaken Sea, about a sailboat race around the world―but this time I have to begin with a couple apologies. Days after I received a correction from the Alumni Office on a notice they had sent me, I received a call from Sonja de Sousa x77 in Plymouth, Connecticut, that her father Rock Lindlan is alive and now living in Connecticut. We don't know if the confusion arose when he moved from Urbandale, IL to be near his daughter or when Rock's brother Harry, class of ’51, died in October. Sonja said she also went to Gustavus, and her father still appreciates Gustavus and the important part it played in his life. You must have felt as Mark Twain did, Rock, when he read his obituary in his local paper and commented that "reports of my death are very much exaggerated." We're relieved that you're still with us.

The other correction and apology goes to Ramona Anderson H’50 who informed us of Britta Langsjoen's identity. When I called her Rosemary, I was thinking of Rosemary Schwartau Langsjoen ’51, Britta's mother, and transposed the names. My sincere regret for the error; it was more than a senior moment; it was a post-graduate moment.

Now let's see if I can keep the record straight in this letter. At the last reunion committee meeting in March, Ole Bergman brought along a picture from the Gustavian Weekly of October 5, 1948, showing the students who were participating in SPAN the summer of 1949. They were Art Monke, Bill Anderson, Annette Harrison ’54, Doris Jacobson, Ralph Langsjoen, Dallas Young, and Lloyd Bergman. The caption said that "Allen Kroehler was having coffee in the canteen." The students were going to Sweden, Austria and France. You should have a mini-reunion at our 50th and drink a toast to Bill and Annette, who are no longer with us. Remember how the idea of students studying in Europe seemed absolutely fabulous at the time? I thought you were so fortunate to have the opportunity. As far as that goes, students are still fortunate to study abroad, sometimes for an entire semester or year-or go around the world-but it's becoming much more commonplace. It still boggles my mind though.

Speaking of Al Kroehler, he sent a note to the Alumni Office, reminding us that his wife, the former Dorothy Edmund, "a member of First Lutheran Church, Ottumwa, Iowa, where we were married in 1948, was secretary to Dean Elmer Siebrecht from the fall of 1948 to spring 1950." We're so glad you plan on coming to the reunion. It will be good seeing you both again. Classmates may recall they live in Lancaster, PA.

Clair Johnson, retired religion professor at Gustavus, accepted the invitation for spouses of our deceased classmates to attend. We will miss Chris Brostrom Johnson, but I'm glad you're joining us. Their son, Christian, is a pastor in St. James, MN. I wonder if he's officiating at the interment today (Saturday) of a friend from the lake here, whose memorial service I attended yesterday at Faith Lutheran in Spicer.

The service was for H. Duane Osland, who attended Gustavus for two years and was pictured with the freshman class in the 1948 yearbook. According to a friend who spoke at the service, "Oz" had more relatives in Norway than were at the filled church service, and Oz completed his education at St. Olaf. He brought me greetings from a fellow St. Jamesian (?), Merle Vernone, after a high school reunion there last summer-or was it the year before?

Geva Lou Rodelius Severinson has been in communication with four former classmates that the Alumni Office had lost track of. We're hoping that Ruth Anderson Ah1crona of Excelsior, MN; Shirley Palmer Schleicher of Edina, MN; Gerry Nelson Booth of Buffalo, MN; and Eleanor Nelson of Bend, OR will be able to join us. Thank you, Geva Lou, for putting us in touch with them. (I hope I have those spellings right―if not, please correct me.)

A welcome letter from Ada Nelson Drache in Fargo, ND tells us she'll be at the reunion. She adds that as long as Hiram keeps writing books (he's working on three right now), she'll be busy editing for him. "That comes in between Fargo Study Club, Fine Arts Club, Questers, etc." They were going to Arizona and she was going to call Mary Jo Nelson Carlson in Scottsdale. I hope you made connections. She and Hiram celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary about a month ago. Congratulations! It will be good to see you again.

Another letter that delighted me was from Carol Jean Becker Swenson of Olympia, WA. She and Dale are coming to the reunion, too-haven't been back since our 30th-the year Mt. St. Helen’s erupted, right? She says she's written to Miriam Edward Rischmiller, telling her "to be there." That's the way to achieve a good turnout-write to your friends and tell them "to be there." I have to add a personal note here, Carol Jean mentioned that she has an uncle in Northfield who will be 99 years old this April, Lechard Idstrom, who graduated in 1924-her mother graduated in 1920. Now for the small world-Lechard Idstrom is the father of Paul Idstrom, who retired as pastor of Faith Lutheran in Spicer last May and continues to live in Spicer on the lake. He and his wife, Ruth, are very good friends of my sister, Enid (Martell) Olson ’40, and I thoroughly enjoy their company, too.

Those of you who were Thetas most likely received the information about their observing the 80th anniversary of that sorority's founding. It began as Theta Rho in 1920, changed its name to Theta Xi Gamnia in 1924, and then went inactive until an increase in the number of co-eds on campus necessitated the revival of the sorority the fall of 1939. My sister was part of that group, and I know others of you had sisters who were Thetas in the ensuing years.

Our 50th reunion will also have special meaning as Glen Johnson of Pittsburgh will be receiving a Distinguished Alumni Citation in the field of Business. He and LaVonne will be back for the occasion. I'm looking forward to seeing you both again.

A letter from Paul Gustafson informs us that he sold his home in Silver Bay―all his friends either moved away or died (except for David Gustafson) and he bought a home in White Bear Lake. He continues, "I completely recovered from a stroke in 1996; a double by-pass in 1997; prostate 1999; and recovered first rate on all. Still fit as a fiddle with no aches or pains. Thank you, Lord. Ballroom dancing three times per week (perfect partner) different town every time. Hunt and bike at cabin by Gooseberry State Park (I blasted the rock for the bridge and buildings in CCC 1939) and fish in White Bear Lake and Gunflint Kimball Lake for rainbow trout. Brought home 300 lbs. of fillet Halibut from Homer, Alaska plus 110 lbs. pink salmon fillet. Biggest was 70 lbs.-I caught one 60 lbs.-five pistol shots to subdue it. Fished from private boat 25 miles out for five days. Fun-fun! Retired in 1981 with 31 years at prison; 31 years from army in 1972 with rank of Major; paid in to social security from 1935 to 1981" He appreciates the class letters and wishes us all the best of health and happiness. Wow! Thanks for writing! Hope we'll see you in May, too.

An email arrived from Birgitt "Rita" Iverson in Bridgeport, CT. You may recall several years ago, she told us she was our Bionic Woman, with the joint replacements she'd had. She's doing fine and is in her 14th year as a pastor, now semi-retired, but still doing supply preaching and active in her home church, St. Paul's in Bridgeport. She'd been hoping to come to the reunion, but finds she won't be able to. She is still enjoying her home of 29 years and keeping up her beautiful flower garden. Good luck with the story you're writing. Let me know how it goes. I'd have enjoyed seeing you again.

A newspaper account alerted me to the fact that John and Carol (Ostgaard) Esbjornson's David ’75 will be directing two plays at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis this summer: Hedda Gabler and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? John and Carol just returned from New York where they attended opening night of The Ride Down Mount Morgan, Arthur Miller's play that Dave directed. Miller and Dave appeared on stage together after the performance, and Carol said he has been so gracious to David, making adjustments to the play that David suggested, etc. How proud you must be! Gustavus theater students do well, do they not?

It was Carol, too, who called me recently with the sad news that Dorothy Kauffman of Seattle died. She was so active with her hiking trips and all that it is difficult for me to accept her succumbing to cancer, especially when the treatment appeared to be working, if I understood Carol correctly. I'll miss hearing from her.

I referred earlier to our last reunion committee meeting. Ralph and Yvonne (Anderson) Belin had just returned from a long auto trip out East. I should have taken notes about the Air Museum that was the highlight of the trip for Ralph. We had a great attendance. Dallas Young informed us that for $10 one can become an associate member of AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) and they will match any contribution up to $100 to Gustavus, for instance. That is one good way of making our contribution to the Gustavus Fund build rapidly. Watch for information on this, which will be sent out in the next couple of weeks.

Paul Quello, Senior Development Officer and Jim Isaak, Assistant Director of the Gustavus Fund also attended our meeting. Classes often promote a very special gift for a distinctive reunion―I think the class of ’51 did it for their 40th and the class of ’49 did it for their 50th last year; raising a substantial amount like $10,000 for a scholarship or furnishing a room or the like at our alma mater. Your callers at Phonorama in March no doubt already mentioned this possibility to you. We're starting rather late to have such a sum collected by the end of May; but if other classes can do it, we should be able to. Scholarships are important with the high cost of higher education these days. When we were students, the church contributed a large percentage of the college's income. That is not the case any more. (I should have written down those figures that Dallas mentioned.) I know that even then, the tuition we paid covered only 70% or 80% of the actual cost of our education. Now it is our turn to enable other young people to receive the quality education Gustavus offers. Of course, any additional gift we give to Gustavus will be credited to our class―maybe we can come in first in our decade again if we take advantage of this one time special gift in honor of our 50th anniversary and give generously.

We also want to encourage as high a percentage of donors from our class as possible. Last year we had 159 donors from a possible 225 classmates for 62%. Remember the year we had 199 donors? My dream is to reach 200 donors, but is that an impossible dream? Some think it is. For years my favorite musical number was "The Impossible Dream" and 'I don't want to let that go. We could do it if everybody sent in something, (okay, money preferred). As we become older, our chances of reaching that goal become more remote. I suppose if we wanted the highest percentage we could wait until the year 2020 when there might be a few of us left and we/they all contributed―we'd have 100%. Frankly, I don't want to wait that long.

Campus News

International House Being Built - Ground was broken during the first week in March for the new international house. The residence hall will house Crossroads, the Swedish House, and the Office of International Education. This new facility will support the mission of bringing an international perspective to the curriculum and preparing students to communicate and compete in the new millennium. The 80-bed, 30,000 square-foot facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2000. The $5.4 million building is going up west of Olin Hall.

Reunion Weekend for the 50 Year Club (including The War Years), Class of 1950, and V-12/5 is May 26 & 27. A schedule of events and registration material will be sent in mid-April. Homecoming 2000, September 29 & 30, will feature gatherings for anniversary classes from 1955-2000. Class reunions will be in the Twin Cities Friday evening, and events will return to campus on Saturday. A schedule of events and registration material will be mailed in August.

Everyone is invited to an hors d’oeuvres supper and tribute to retiring Chaplain Richard Q. Elvee on Tuesday, May 16, 5:30 p.m. at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington. A program will begin at 7:00 p.m. The cost of the event is $25 per person. RSVP to the Alumni Office by May 12, 800-487-8437, e-mail, or in Alumni Events at

Eckhoff Memorial Sculpture – ORBISC, a Granlund sculpture in memory of Emeritus Vice President for Alumni Affairs Cecil F. Eckhoff ’56, will be dedicated on campus, Saturday, May 27, 3:30 p.m. near Hello Walk.

Forensics Team Earns International Awards ― The College speech and debate team captured two championships and six other awards at the recent International Forensics Association tournament in Paris, France. Both Gustavus debate teams compiled a 3-1win-loss record. The team's strong overall performance earned Gustavus a fourth-place Sweepstakes Award. Gustavus attends international forensic competitions every other year.

Men’s swimming and diving team completed its most successful season in Gustavus history finishing undefeated in both non-conference meets, with a record of 7-0, and conference meets, at 6-0. At the MIAC Championships, Gustavus placed first for the first time since 1960. They beat conference power St. Olaf, who had won 20 consecutive MIAC titles before this year. Earlier in the year, the Gusties also handed the Oles their first conference dual meet loss since 1981, breaking an Ole streak of 96 straight wins. Please read the Spring Quarterly for complete winter sports recaps or visit the athletics site at

Upcoming campus and Alumni Association events:

  • MAYDAY! Conference/"Vietnam: 25 Years On," April 26, Campus
  • Arbor Day Celebration, April 28, Campus
  • Chicago Chapter, May 6, Chicago Cubs baseball game and barbecue picnic
  • Tribute to Richard Q. Elvee, May 16, Hotel Sofitel, Bloomington, 5:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m. program
  • ORBISC dedication, a Granlund sculpture in memory of Cecil Eckhoff, May 27, 3:30 p.m., Campus
  • Reunion Weekend for 50-Year Club, Class of 1950, War Years, V-12/5, May 26 & 27, all events held on campus
  • Homecoming/Reunion Weekend for Anniversary Class 1955-2000, September 29 & 30, Friday night events at the Hotel Sofitel, Bloomington, Saturday events on campus
  • Gusties in Volunteer Endeavors, October 7, Twin Cities and national chapter locations

Members of the New Millenium: Knowing that we are in a technological age, we want to encourage all alumni to get involved and get online. If you have access to a computer and the Internet, we hope you will check out the Gustavus Alumni Association homepage regularly. We publish information about upcoming events, post class letters, provide information about the Alumni Office, list e-mail addresses of alumni and more. Check us out under the alumni section at

We are planning on corresponding on a regular basis with all alumni who have e-mail addresses. Please send a message to so we can get you on the list. (Also, be sure to keep us posted on any e-mail address changes.)

Speaking of long, this letter has gone on long enough for one time. Keep those notes and letters coming and I'll see that another letter is sent out before Memorial Day weekend-our big 50th! Carol Jean (Becker) Swenson said they'd be there all three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Let's make sure as many of us as possible will be there, too.

As ever,

Gloria Martell Benson

1950 Co-Class Agent