Class of '50
February 2010

60-Year Reunion ― May 29, 2010


14090 Indian Beach Road

Spicer, MN  56288

Classmates and Friends of 1950,

Gustavus Adolphus College made the news in an unusual way this past week when 21 students and two teachers were stranded along with from 2000 to 3900 tourists in the mountains of Peru.  Mud slides destroyed the only railroad from Machu Picchu.  The Gusties were in Peru, studying social issues, for January term.  All are safe at home, having been air lifted out.  What a story they will have to tell!

Remember when we had classmates studying abroad on the SPAN program, an unusual opportunity at that time for young people to study in overseas─not that long after the close of WWII.  They were Allen Kroehler, Annette Harrison ’54, Dorothy Jacobson, Art Monke, Lloyd Bergman, and Dallas Young, led by Dr. George Forell.  Al and Annette went to Austria; Art and Doris to France, and Dallas and Lloyd "Ole" to Sweden.  Dr. Forell went to Austria.  I thought their being able to go was fantastic.

That was 60 years ago‑a memorable experience, I’m sure.  One of those could well be mentioned when we celebrate our 60th reunion on May 29.  Instead of having a separate banquet on another night, some of us thought that we could ask for a separate table at the 50-Year Club luncheon and the alumni banquet.  I think we’ll want to be a part of the latter, but we want some time to reminisce and compare experiences both of our college days and now.  Some of you have traveled a great deal; others have worked in a profession or at some trade; others have kept the home fires burning.  (On a facetious note, some of you have maybe been firefighters, putting out fires.)  Another suggestion was that we concentrate on our scholarship, fulfilling that pledge.  Doing so should be a top priority, don’t you think?  Any other ideas will be greatly appreciated.  Yvonne (Anderson) and Ralph Belin did such as terrific job 10 years ago, having a well-organized committee working on that reunion.  In fact, going through a box of papers I’d saved from 2000 to 2002, I came across a letter Donna Benson Barnett had written to us.

Harold and Lois (Dickhart) Skillrud have confirmed they are coming to our 60th reunion (reservation forms will be sent out in April).  ’Twill be good to see you!  If the rest of you haven’t already done so, please contact your classmates and friends, encouraging them to attend.  At our 55th, only six or so were at the luncheon and a few more were at the banquet, but not seated together.  Some excellent talks and activities are scheduled for that Saturday, so time should not weigh heavy on your hands‑as if it ever does!

Ongoing activities on campus attract alumni.  I know Dallas and Phyllis Young and Lloyd and Bonnie (Seaberg ’51) Bergman were there.  Although I saw Tom Young ’88 at the reception desk, he didn’t mention his folks were there so I missed seeing them.

I saw Edna Spaeth Granlund three times in about a month’s time.  The first was at Kevin Kling’s ’79 performance and book signing.  Kevin is the talented story-teller, actor, humorist and writer a most unique individual who received a Distinguished Alumni Award a few years ago.  Born with physical disabilities to his left arm, he was injured in a terrible motorcycle accident that left his good, right arm paralyzed.  His love of words and deep philosophical thoughts are intermingled with a marvelous sense of humor.  I listen to him with tears in my eyes; then a minute later I’m laughing uproariously.  What a gift he has and is!

The other times I saw Edna was at two funerals.  The Gustavus family lost three long-time members:  Chester O. Johnson, 96, founder of the geology department at Gustavus passed away December 8, 2009.  Those who had him for Geology 101 remember his dry wit and his ability to reconcile science with the biblical accounts, for instance.  His wife, Marian (Swanson ’41), 89, passed away January 1, 2010.  She established the library at the St. Peter elementary schools and wrote two books on starting church libraries, among her many activities.  She was also the first woman to serve on the church council of an Augustana Synod Lutheran church, Trinity Lutheran in St. Peter.  I feel their loss deeply as they were also my neighbors on Valley View Drive; we worked together on many projects; and they were godparents for our son, Craig.

The week before Marian (the Librarian) died, Clair Emery Johnson, 84, passed away.  He was married to our classmate Christine Brostrom.  He came to Gustavus in 1958 as its first chaplain and taught in the Religion department.  In 1962 he became a full-time professor of Religion, a position he held until 1995.  He, too, was involved in several activities‑was one of Gustavus’ most avid basketball fans, held interim pastorates, chaplaincies, and was the receiver of the Gustavus Faculty Service Award for his voluntary ministry at the Nicollet County Jail.

It seems as though my file contained more obituaries than other news.  Our classmate, Marjorie Johnson Knutson, passed away on October 29, 2009, in Arlington VA.  She was born in London, England, where her father was studying tropical medicine prior to his medical missionary work in Tanganyika.  Her sister, Dorothy (Lutz ’51) and brother, Wendell ’53 were born while in Africa.  I’ve known them practically forever and thought it was so exotic when they named their birthplaces.  They made “Winthrop, Minnesota” (mine) sound terribly mundane.  Our sympathy goes out to her family and those of Dorothy and Wendell.  Marjorie’s husband, Russ ’49, was a chaplain in the army and they lived numerous places.

Two of the weekends I was in St. Peter I visited Dorothy.  One morning Marie Norberg Bergstrom and Marilyn Barnes Robertz ’51 also visited at Dorothy’s home.  Even though she and Paul have lived in their house for two years, we all participated in a house blessing.  I had not seen a service like that, complete with music, etc.  Seeing Marie and Marilyn was good, too.  Marie’s parents were also missionaries in Tanganyika, and Marie has told us a little about those who were on the ZamZam that was sunk off Dares Salaam during WWII, having a reunion a few years ago‑over there.  Marie, obviously, was one of those.

I appreciated hearing from Al Kroehler in Blacksburg, VA.  You may recall his wife, Dorothy, passed away January 2, 2009.  I also heard from Carol Becker Swenson and Dale ’49 in Olympia, WA.  Delpho Peterson in Keokuk, Iowa, and Alpha Flaaten Hann and Ralph in Twin Falls, Idaho.  I think of other classmates as well who have lost a spouse, are coping with strokes or heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, bum knees and gouty feet, failing eyesight, difficulty hearing, and lack of mobility‑you name it, many deal with the effects of various ailments.  When you say your prayers at night‑or whenever─just ask for God to bless your classmates, whatever their needs may be, and keep them in His loving care.

For a change of pace I’m including a letter I received from Tom Jerdee in North Carolina.  You recall my mentioning his visit with me this summer.  He writes:

Dear Classmates,

During the past half century as you have read Gloria Martell Benson's class letters, have you developed a mental picture of her sitting at her kitchen table piled high with notes and letters and papers, gazing out at the loons on her beloved Green Lake?  On a recent visit I found that picture to be quite accurate, although Gloria seems to be more a doer than a gazer.  In addition to writing our class letter, she does another local newsletter, lives by herself and maintains her lake property, keeps up an active family and social life, and probably does a lot more that I don’t know about.

I had only a faint recollection of Gloria from Gustavus, partly because I was a shy Norwegian bachelor who seldom frequented Rundstrom Hall, and partly because Gloria whizzed through Gustauvs in [three] years [including] a summer session.

Sometime after finishing her student days at Gustavus, Gloria was invited to a dinner at Prof. Winfield’s home and there she met Judge Henry Benson ’37.  (He became a judge years later, but that’s all right.)  In spite of a (thirteen-year) age difference, that meeting led to romance, a marriage, four children and several grandchildren, and a lovely home on Green Lake.

It’s clear that Gloria loves her Green Lake place and will stay there until the Lord or the driver’s license bureau decides otherwise.  Let’s hope she keeps on with the class letters, too.

How many laggards might read this note, folks who, like me, have greatly appreciated Gloria’s letters over the years but haven’t chipped in with information?  Hey, classmates, let’s do our part and see to it that Gloria’s kitchen table remains just a bit cluttered.

Tom Jerdee ’50

P.S. Class letters, including letters of the classes before and after ours, are posted on the alumni page on the internet.  You can easily Google your way there.

I appreciate your letter.  The main reason, however, that I included it is that with my starting one year later and graduating early, as others of you did, an entire class‑freshmen before we began‑never knew me on campus.  I remember at one of our reunions at the Holiday House, hearing classmates ask each other, "Who IS Gloria Benson?"  I don’t often write personal accounts here, so this could be a good chance to fill you in on the basics.  Many of you know them anyway.  Thanks, Tom.

The Alumni Office will no doubt add information about the college grants awarded, placement among 100 best colleges by major publications, etc.

You may receive, as I do, the Fine Arts calendar for the spring semester. if you look at the very bottom, under Theatre and Dance, a listing for (what to me is an unfortunate title) Urinetown:  A Musical.  Anyway, my grandson, Rush Benson ’13, has the lead.  Good for him and I’ll attend it, but I’ll hope it’s better than the title.

Meanwhile, take care and love to you all for St. Valentine’s Day.

Gloria Benson

1950 Class Agent

Campus News

Gustavus Announces Major Building Projects

At its Monday, Jan. 25 meeting, the Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with three major building projects.  The College will erect a new 125,000 square foot academic building.  It will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  Also, it will renovate its A.H. Anderson Social Science Building.  Construction timelines for the projects are not yet finalized, but the College expects to break ground on the new academic building late this spring.

The effort is a significant early implementation step of Commission Gustavus 150, an innovative, constituent-based strategic planning process that has engaged hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders over the past year.  “These projects will greatly enhance learning and teaching, student recruitment, and institutional advancement for many years to come,” said President Jack R. Ohle.

Alumnus, Kurt Elling ’89, Wins Grammy Award

Kurt Elling, a 1989 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, took home his first Grammy Award Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.  Elling won the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category for his album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. This year marked the ninth time Elling was nominated for a Grammy.

Elling typically performs annually at Gustavus and did so most recently on Oct. 10, 2009 in Jussi Björling Recital Hall.  He has also had the distinct honor to perform in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their 350 guests at the White House State Dinner on Nov. 24, 2009.

Wind Orchestra Tour

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra traveled through Eastern Europe from Jan. 21 to Feb. 4, 2010. They will perform a home concert on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. in Christ Chapel.

Winter Sports Update

Winter sports are well under way!  Men’s hockey is currently #1 in the MIAC and women’s hockey is #3 with 7 straight wins.  Women’s basketball is #1 and men’s basketball is #2.  Women’s gymnastics will compete at the University of Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 6, with men’s and women’s swimming and diving also competing at the University that weekend in the Minnesota Challenge.  Visit the Athletics website at for more news and information.

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Upcoming speakers:  Doug Minter ’79 Director of Student Financial Aid and Kirk Carlson ’95, Associate Director of Student Financial Aid – Feb. 17.

Upcoming Events

  • Feb. 9 – Destin, Florida brunch – Another Broken Egg Cafe
  • Feb. 17 – Twin Cities Breakfast – Gustavus Financial Officers
  • Feb. 19 – Tucson Chapter Event – Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’67 ’66 residence
  • Feb. 20 – Phoenix Chapter Event – Larry and Deone (Nordquist) Cartford ’59 ’59 residence
  • Feb. 27 – Reunion Committee Winter Retreat
  • Mar. 6 – Breakfast with the Easter Bunny
  • Mar. 14 – Naples Chapter Event