Class of '50
January 2006

Dear fellow Gusties,

Some weeks ago Gloria asked me to write this January class letter, and in an unguarded moment of uncharacteristic nobleness and perhaps nostalgia I said yes.  Now that the due date for the letter has arrived (and passed), I have a better appreciation for what Gloria has undertaken all these years.  She makes it all seem so easy, but each letter represents a sizable expenditure of time, energy, and creative juices.  A good memory helps, also.  So on behalf of our classmates and myself, I want to thank you, Gloria, for the excellent job you do turning out these class letters year after year.  We feel fortunate to have someone so able and willing to fulfill this function for us, and we appreciate what you do to keep us in touch with Gustavus and each other.

We all realize that one of the purposes of these letters is to ask for your support of funds being solicited by the college for various purposes.  They are all worthy endeavors, and perhaps I am not supposed to favor one over another.  But nobody has said anything to me in that regard, so I would like to put in a special plug for the Class of 1950 Scholarship Fund.  Before our 50th class reunion, the planning committee felt our class should give some special gift to the college in honor of that occasion.  When we asked what might be a welcome gift, we were told that there is always a need for scholarships.  So that was what we chose, feeling that this would be a worthy legacy from our class.  As Ann Hogberg, Assistant Director of Stewardship and Donor Recognition, says:  “Through the establishment of this endowment, and the additions that increase it, you give the gift of Gustavus to students now and for generations to come.  Endowment gifts also provide an ongoing recognition and remembrance of those for whom the endowment is named.”  At the end of the last fiscal year there was almost $18,000 in this fund, but there needs to be at least $25,000 before any scholarship can be awarded.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could reach that amount soon so that this fund can function as it is intended?  Please keep the Class of 1950 Scholarship Fund in mind when you donate to Gustavus.  And remember, to give to this or any designated fund, you need to indicate your intention on the line in the lower left of your check entitled “memo” or “for.”  Thank you for your consideration of this worthwhile effort.

One of the perks of this job is being able to read the entire communication from classmates who send letters or are contacted by Phonorama.  I have a feeling Gloria enjoys this, too, from the warm way she responds to these people.  Don’t be shy about writing because that is the lifeblood of these class letters.  I have to take that admonition to heart, too, because I haven’t been very forthcoming in the past about writing.  Every life is a story, so keep in touch!

In reading these communications I was saddened to see that several of our classmates are dealing with serious health issues.  One is Dennis R. Johnson of Remer, MN, who writes:  “I was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer recently at the Mayo Clinic.  They have a new program with a clinical experimental drug that I am a part of.  They do not know the side effects but are optimistic as to its possibilities so I decided to become a part of it, as my symptoms are what they are looking for in the program.  Our family is still the same with our 10 children and 20 grandchildren plus 2 great grandchildren.  We have 3 grandchildren ages 5, 7, and 9 that we have total custody of and will be raising, God willing.”  Dennis has an insurance business that he plans to continue as long as he is able.  Dennis, I admire your positive attitude and join others in prayers for the restoration of your health and the granting of time to raise those precious grandchildren.

Another needing our prayers is Carl Anderson, whose wife, Eleanor, writes that Carl has Alzheimer’s.  “There is no cure.  He is in very deteriorated condition, both mentally and physically.”  We are sorry to hear of his affliction and also pray for Eleanor as his caregiver.  The Andersons live in Rock Island, IL.

News from the Bjellas in Springfield, MO.  Lael (Dahl ’48) writes:  “The last few months have been stressful since Len had two stints put in his heart arteries.  He is doing well, though still experiencing back pain—and taking more pills than he wants...Len continues to sing in his quartet, the church choir, and the Barbershoppers, and those are great fun and a blessing...We love coming back each year for the reunions.”  Isn’t it remarkable how modern medicine can patch us up and keep us going?!  Needless to say, we wish Len well in dealing with his health issues.

Marjorie Johnson Knutson lives in an assisted living facility in Alexandria, VA, near her daughter.  She writes that her whole family was together in late May at the wedding of her daughter, Becky, who married for the first time at age 50 and added a son-in-law and two teen-aged grandsons to Marjorie’s family.  It sounds as if you really enjoyed the occasion, Marjorie.

Another classmate in an assisted living facility is Delpho Peterson, who is dealing with Parkinson’s diseaseIn his Christmas letter he writes:  “I’m living in my own apartment at an assisted living center in Brooklyn Center, MN.  The center has a wonderful program of activities and chapel services.  The chaplain is excellent . . .I still enjoy company and can put the coffee pot on, so company is always welcome!  My new gadget this year is a motorized scooter, which allows me to drive all around the center.  I can get to the garage to my car and around the center to the activities.”  I can well imagine how your enhanced mobility adds to your enjoyment of life, Delpho.  Our prayers and good wishes are with you as you battle this baffling disease.

Gloria forwarded a Christmas letter from Carol Jean Becker Swenson and husband Dale ’49 in Olympia, WA.  Carol writes: ”This year has had its ups and downs.  We brought (son) Jon home July 1st and he is doing well after a year and a half in bed, he has special therapy at the hospital for his heart.  He is a great help to me with my blind eyes.  Dale, or as I call him my seeing-eye dog, does the shopping, cooking, cleaning and the list goes on.  I’m grateful to be a two and a half-year cancer survivor.”  Carol, it is good to see you have not lost your sense of humor in spite of the difficulties in your life!  Good luck to you as you deal with all these challenges.

Bob Mikelson of Naples, FL, sent the itinerary of a delightful 13-day tour “Lutherland and Beyond” that he and wife, Mitzi (Walker ’52) took in September.  They visited sites important in the life of Martin Luther and saw other famous places in Germany, Austria and Switzerland including two of mad Ludwig’s castles and the intriguing cities of Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Lucerne.  Having been in many of those places myself I can appreciate what an outstanding trip you had!  Bob included a picture taken in a church in Wittenberg of a floor tile that was engraved “1632 GUSTAV II ADOLF.”  That intrigued the reference librarian in me to research the significance of that inscription in that particular place.  Did your guide offer any explanation, Bob?  All I have established so far was that Gustavus II was killed in Germany at the battle of Lützen on 16 November 1632 (at the age of 37 years!), but my quick research has not yet turned up how close Lützen is to Wittenberg and where Gustavus II was buried.  Anybody know?

We extend our sincere sympathy to Mary Harper Schultz of South Haven, MN, whose husband, Eddie, died in early August.  Those of us who knew Eddie will miss his impish sense of humor and good cheer.   

A letter from Alpha Flaaten Hann expressed concern about the shortage of water in their part of Idaho.  Marie Norberg Bergstrom and husband, Vern ’51, of Minneapolis welcomed their first great grandchild in August.  In addition they have 6 children and 14 grandchildren.  Shirley Lund Flom of Minneapolis mentions that she is now fully retired but finds much to keep her busy.  “Life is good,” she says.  Richard Priest of Las Vegas reports that there are now over 900 pupils in the Richard C. Priest Elementary School, of which he is very proud.  Bob Pierson, who lives in Brooklyn Park, MN, enjoys ice fishing and watching football.  His wife, Marion (Peterson ’52) stayed in Wahlstrom Hall and regrets that it has been torn down.  Elly Barnes Dahlstrom of Lake Oswego, OR, volunteers at a local medical school and helps her “halt, sick, lame and blind friends.”  Her older son is a classical music announcer in Seattle, her daughter a librarian in Reno, and her younger son the manager of a truck stop and custom painter of model railroad engines.  I thought the latter was an intriguing specialty!

Gloria sent along a clipping from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that was a letter to the editor from Floyd Keller of Bayport, MN, pointing out an error in reasoning expressed in an earlier opinion piece about liberal professors rejecting certain topics.  And Gloria wanted to make public apology to Ramona Anderson of Marinette, WI, whom she called Rosemary in her October letter.  Gloria mentioned that Ramona continues to use her excellent photography on her Christmas cards.

In closing, a bit about myself.  In 2004 I sold my home of almost 39 years and moved into this senior cooperative where I now reside.  Smartest thing I have done in years!  My creaky knees appreciate that they no longer have to contend with four-level living, and I appreciate no longer having to worry about maintaining a large house and yard.  In addition I have all these wonderful new neighbors!  One of the things I do to keep out of mischief is to participate in a program offered through the University of Minnesota known as Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).  For an annual fee (currently $195) I am entitled to take two courses per quarter plus participate in other activities, open classes and travel opportunities offered through OLLI.  Approximately 50 courses are offered each session on a widely diverse range of topics and in venues all over the Twin Cities.  I have taken courses on such subjects as Willa Cather, Islam, Cuba, and Early Maps and Mapmakers; each spring I join a class that goes to listen to various pipe organs all over the Twin Cities.  There are no assignments or tests.  Gustavus is well represented in OLLI:  for example, the Executive Director, Steve Benson ’63, is a Gustavus graduate, and Joanne Kendall (former First Lady) brings a class to the Nobel Conference each fall.  If this program sounds like something you might enjoy, check it out at

If you are still with me―I have enjoyed chatting with you.  And now I will turn this over to the Office of Alumni Relations for on-campus news.

Campus News:

Former Professor Conrad Dies

Rev. Dr. Theodore Conrad ’25 died on December 29, 2005.  He was 100 years old.  Dr. Conrad first served as a pastor in Chicago and in Minnesota from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.  Then he became a professor at Gustavus where he taught courses such as Greek and Latin.  Later he taught at Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, IL, where he was Dean of Students.  Ted continued pastoral work in his retirement and even at age 100 worked tirelessly for Amnesty International by leading letter-writing campaigns for human rights.  He is survived by six children including:  Donald ’49, Dorothy Gaard ’51, Norman ’55, Paul ’63, Sharon Johnson, and Thomas.

Study Abroad Leader

Gustavus continues to be a leading institution for the number of students studying abroad, according to an annual ranking recently released by the Institute of International Education (IIE).  Consistent with its mission of giving students an education that is international in perspective, Gustavus was ranked seventh in the "Top 20 Baccalaureate Institutions" list of the institute’s "Open Doors 2005" report.  Gustavus was one of four Minnesota private colleges to make the list of 20.  The report was based on study abroad statistics from the 2003-04 academic year.  Gustavus students engage in international learning through various programs in more than 100 locations throughout the world, ranging from Australia to India and Ecuador to Sweden.  In recent years, 50 percent of Gustavus graduates have participated in at least one study-abroad experience.

New Carnegie Classification for Colleges and Universities

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released a new classification system for institutions of higher education.  Gustavus’ classification is Arts & Sciences plus Professions, indicating that 60 to 80 percent of Gustavus students complete a traditional liberal arts major, such as political science, classics, or biology.  The new classifications describe five aspects of colleges and universities: instructional programs, enrollment profile, undergraduate demographics, size, and setting.  Undergraduate instructional programs are now designated as Arts & Sciences Focus, Arts & Sciences plus Professions, Balanced Arts & Sciences and Professions, Professions plus Arts & Sciences, or Professions Focus. 

Insurance Programs

The Alumni Association, in partnership with Meyer and Associates and Liberty Mutual, offers an insurance program to alumni and their families.  Products include insurance policies for life, short-term medical, auto, home, and renters.  For life and short-term medical insurance call Meyer and Associates at 800-635-7801 or visit  For auto, home, and renters insurance call Liberty Mutual at 800-524-9400 or visit

Gustavus to Perform at Orchestra Hall

The Gustavus Music Showcase will be Sunday, March 12, at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.  The Gustavus Choir, Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, and Gustavus Wind Orchestra will perform.  This is a unique opportunity to hear three premier ensembles from Gustavus in one concert.  This showcase also allows prospective students, parents, and alumni from the area to meet and connect.  For tickets, call the Orchestra Hall box office at 800/292-4141.  Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $10 for students 18 and under.


Two big stories from the fall sports are that Hailey Harren won the national NCAA Division III cross country title and the men’s soccer team became the first MIAC school to play in the national championship game and finished second, losing 1-0 to defending national champion Messiah.  For the second consecutive year, men's soccer coach Larry Zelenz has been named Coach of the Year in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas NCAA Division III West Region.  The men's hockey team is unbeaten in conference play, outscoring their opponents 28-5 in four games.

Upcoming Music Tours

This year nearly 300 students will participate in music tours as members of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Gustavus Choir, Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, Gustavus Jazz Lab Band, and Choir of Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Wind Orchestra will tour Eastern Europe Jan. 14-30.  Performances are scheduled for Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, and Austria.  The Gustavus Choir will tour Jan. 27-Feb. 11 (see schedule below), with performances in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, Gustavus Jazz Lab Band, and Choir of Christ Chapel will tour during Spring Semester.

Gustavus Choir Tour Schedule

  • January 27 at Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, 7:30 p.m.
  • January 28 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Grand Rapids, 7:30 p.m.
  • January 29 at Zion Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids, 8:30 a.m. morning service
  • January 29 at Concordia Lutheran Church, Duluth, 3 p.m.
  • January 30 at Bemidji High School Auditorium, Bemidji, 7 p.m.
  • January 31 at First Lutheran Church, Morris, 7 p.m.
  • February 2 at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Marshfield, WI, 7:30 p.m.
  • February 3 at St. Francis Catholic Church, Brainerd, 7:30 p.m.
  • February 4 at Central Lutheran Church, Winona, 7 p.m.
  • February 5 at Faith Lutheran Church, Winona, 8 a.m. morning service
  • February 5 at First Lutheran Church, Red Wing, 2 p.m.
  • February 11 at Christ Chapel, Saint Peter, 7:30 p.m.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Tucson, AZ Gustie Gathering - February 10
  • Phoenix, AZ Gustie Gathering - February 11
  • Sun City, AZ Gustie Gathering - February 12
  • Gustavus Music Showcase at Orchestra Hall - March 12
  • Atlanta, GA Gustie Gathering - March 26

Blessings in 2006,

Donna Benson Barnett

1950 Guest Letter Writer