Class of '50
February 2009

Dear Friends and Classmates of 1950,

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to you and yours!  May the love of family and friends who surround us embody God’s love that never leaves us, whether we are surrounded by joy or sadness.

The Christmas season brought a handful of greetings from classmates—not so many as in other years, but then I didn’t send out as many either.  One of the first I heard from is Delpho Peterson, who has moved from the Cities to an assisted living facility in Keokuk, Iowa, to be near a daughter.  The next letter came from Ralph and Alpha (Flaaten) Hann in Twin Falls, Idaho.  Alpha still has her neat handwriting (as opposed to my illegible writing) and writes of their unusually short growing season for their garden last summer.  From snow on June 10 to a light frost in September to snow on October 11 and 12, they felt fortunate to have tomatoes, berries and fruit at all.  They had a visit from a relative from Oslo, a bright spot in their routine.

A letter arrived from Dale ’49 and Carol (Becker) Swenson in Olympia, Washington.  They really enjoy calls and visits from their children and grandchildren, as “with Carol’s sight failing she has lost the ability to read regular print, so calls and large print from computers help greatly.”  Dale takes care of the details around the house, still volunteers at the E.R. at the local hospital, finding it “most interesting” and getting “good exercise chasing around getting patients ready or getting things.”  Good for you, Dale.  I can imagine a bit of what you’re going through, Carol, as my sister has macular degeneration and can barely see, reading mostly headlines and watching PBS programs, sitting close to the TV screen.  I read longer articles and letters to her.

The only class notes that had accumulated in the 1950 file were obituaries.  You may recall that in the last class letter I mentioned that Jack Thommen of Edina had been inducted into the United States Tennis Association Northern Section Hall of Fame, as well as the Gustavus Adolphus Hall of Fame.  On October 26, a special tribute was mentioned in the Star Tribune with his obituary.  As a “believer in the power of tennis” he was a founder of the Urban Tennis Program for children, a joint project of Minneapolis parks and Minneapolis schools.  “He helped lead the group for at least 20 years and would personally pay for promising young players to attend a tennis summer camp” at Gustavus.  Steve Wilkinson, Gustavus tennis coach, said that Jack “strongly believed that mind and body went together, and he was interested in their education and their sports.”  Those of you who remember our college days may recall that Jack took the 1949 singles championship.  Jack passed away from melanoma, and we extend our sympathy, not only to his immediate family, but to his sisters, including our classmate, Jodie Thommen Pieschel of Springfield, MN.

Beginning Gustavus with our class was Allan Eitzen from Mountain Lake.  He then moved to Scottdale, PA, to work as an illustrator for Herald Press.  At the publishing company he met a young woman, Ruth Carter, who a month later went to Europe for four years to work for the Mennonite Central Committee, developing educational materials.  They kept in contact by mail, and on her return were married in 1954.  Meanwhile, he had earned a degree in illustration from the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts).  They moved to a country home in Barto, PA and had five children.  He continued as a freelance illustrator for children’s books, magazines, and textbooks, later devoting his time to printmaking.  He kept up the latter almost to the time of his death, August 31, 2008.  Our condolences go to his survivors, his five children.

Another obituary I received was for Robert W. Johnson of Burnsville, MN who passed away August 17, 2008.  I thought I would have received those notices for the September class letter but apparently not.  The obit was a brief one from the Star Tribune (how did I miss that!?) and mentions he is survived by his wife, Mona, and four children, 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.  I may be going out on a limb here, but I think he was in the FBI for many years.  After that service, he did security work for various agencies and I’d see him occasionally.  I remember most vividly the time I was going to meet my husband in the Cities at the Minnesota Alumni Club at the top of the IDS tower after we’d finished our separate errands.  I walked in to the small sitting area and plunked myself down with my purse and several shopping bags.  Two men in suits and ties sat on a nearby couch and just stared at me, looking at me and then at each other but saying nothing to me.  Then Bob Johnson walked in, and I got up and greeted him heartily, saying how nice it was to see him.  He told me that former vice-president Walter Mondale was speaking at a luncheon in another room—those were secret service men on the couch, making sure nothing was going to happen to Mondale.  It was fun watching those two men heave a sigh of relief, realizing I was no threat to any of them.  I’ll never forget that.  (I hope I haven’t told you that story recently—excuse the repetition if I did.)

Two notes came directly to me recently.  Allen Kroehler of Blacksburg, VA wrote informing me that his wife, Dorothy, died on January 2, 2009.  When Allen was studying at Gustavus, Dorothy was secretary to the Dean.  Was that Dean Siebrecht?  I looked in our annual and saw he taught psychology at that time, but he also must have been the dean—I didn’t find anyone else listed in that office.  Dorothy held many responsible secretarial positions and graduated in 1950 from the University of Minnesota with a BA. in psychology; then she studied at the graduate level at Eden Theological Seminary, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maryland.  She was also considered a pioneer in early childhood education, serving as the director of the Lancaster County, PA, Full Day, Full Year Head Start program from its inception in 1967 and later training both staff and parents through her retirement in 2001.  She and a friend were honored through the dedication of a Head Start facility in Lancaster called the Kroehler-Jacobus Head Start Center.  Of their four children, only one daughter, Carolyn Joy, and her husband also live in Blacksburg, VA.  What a vital person Dorothy was—our deep sympathy goes to you, Allen, and yours.  Thank you for letting us know more about her and her life.

The other note for our class letter arrived from Richard Priest of Las Vegas, NV informing us that on January 8, 2009, the library at Richard C. Priest Elementary School in North Las Vegas was officially dedicated to his wife, Pearl, who passed away on March 3, 2008.  “The school is now five years old and is attended by 950 students whose ethnic backgrounds include origins from around the world who attend the school in complete harmony.”  What a lovely tribute to her memory—and in your honor, Richard.  Thank you for your information.

On a different note, I should mention that seated beside me at the President’s Dinner prior to Christmas in Christ Chapel was Vice President for Advancement, Thomas Young ’88, son of our classmate Dallas Young.  We were a lively table with former first lady, Joanne Kendall; my guest William Harvey, his being my guest has become a tradition at that event—so many alumni know him from his 32 years as the ninth grade English teacher at St. Peter High School; and a couple who were on the Adventure! Club trip I took to Tanzania in 1976.  I hope that you either have a computer or access to one, as the final verse with fanfare for “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” from C in CC is on the Gustavus website, and I still get goose bumps, listening to it.

Before I close this portion of the letter with a verse that Allen sent along with Dorothy’s obituary, I want to remind you to send in your class notes for the next class letter.  I know you are busy and perhaps don’t do as much traveling as you used to, or have your time filled with care-giving or care-receiving, but let us know how you are.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And now for the description of Faith that Allen sent:

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know

And are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,

Faith is knowing one of two things will happen:

You will find something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”


Gloria Martell Benson

1950 Class Agent

Campus News

Haugen Named Head Football Coach

Peter Haugen was named the new head football coach in mid-December.  Haugen posted a 111-44 record in 15 years at Washburn High School.  He is the 17th head coach in the 93-year history of Gustavus football and started his new position the second week of January.  A Twin Cities reception to meet Coach Haugen will be held on Thursday, Feb. 12 at the Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Please reserve by calling the Alumni Office at 800-487-8437.

President Ohle is on the Road!

Please join President Ohle, his wife Kris, and other Gustavus staff at a chapter dessert reception near you.  President Ohle will be visiting 11 cities around the country in the coming months and all alumni, parents, and friends of the College are invited to attend a reception.  Dates are listed below or check out the Alumni website to find out more details.

Mustaphi Named Michelle Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary

Semonti Mustaphi ’03 was recently named Deputy Press Secretary for First Lady Michelle Obama.  Mustaphi worked on the Obama campaign, and has also held communications positions for three senators.  Mustaphi graduated with a political science and communication studies double major, danced in the Gustavus Dance Company, and was an Anderson Scholar.

Gustie Breakfasts

Join us for the “Come on You Gustie” Breakfasts.  The breakfasts are held the third Wednesday of each month at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy 394 and Hwy 100).  The breakfast runs from 8-9:30 and is $10 per person.  Reserve a spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at (763) 533-9083.  February’s speaker will be Kris Kracht, communications; forensics head coach.


Mark your calendars now for Homecoming 2009!  The Gustavus football team will face off against Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Oct. 10.  Watch for more information about tons of fun events the weekend of Oct. 9 and 10.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • 100th Anniversary of Gustavus Men's Basketball - Feb. 7
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Kris Kracht, communications; forensics head coach - Feb. 18
  • Tucson Chapter Gathering - Feb. 19, Westward Look Resort
  • Phoenix Chapter Gathering - Feb. 20, Millennium Resort, Scottsdale
  • Los Angeles Chapter Gathering - Feb. 28, Art Director's Guild, Studio City
  • Boston Chapter Gathering - March 14, Hyatt Regency Cambridge
  • New York Chapter Gathering - March 16, New York Marriott East Side
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Ken Westphal, vice president for finance - March 18
  • Seattle Chapter Gathering - March 21, Trinity Lutheran Church, Freeland, WA
  • San Francisco Chapter Gathering - March 23, Hotel Vitale
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Steve Wilkinson, retiring men's tennis coach - April 15