Class of ’51

May 2012

Dear Classmates and whoever reads this,

It would be so neat if you could give to the Annual Fund once (or twice more) since someone will double it till May 31!

Myrna Thorsell Wolf writes from Phoenix, AZ, “Long time no see!  Thanks for the good memories of 1947-50!  My Gustie husband has been gone for about 10 years now, but I wouldn’t have had him at all except for dear old GAC!  Always a Gustavian, Myrna.”

I’ll be looking for Carolyn Peterson Ruggles at the Commencement of her granddaughter, Chloe Radcliffe ’12.  Our granddaughter Alyssa McGinty is in the same sesquicentennial class of 2012.  Another member is Katie Eiden ʼ12, granddaughter of my brother Wendell Johnson ’53 and his wife Marilyn Brust Johnson ’55.

Dr. Jason Smerdon ’98, a scientist gave a lecture on campus.  I heard him give a homily at Chapel.  He said, “We were The Tornado Class of ’98.  We learned what it meant to share tragedy with our classmate…we seniors took a rake and hammer and started to work.  Our engagement and sense of urgency is also needed in the risks we face with global warming!  It is not too late for us!  Let’s remember the next 49 years and plan ahead!

Ashleigh Penrod ’04 is the granddaughter of Roger Larson and his widow Janet Lueddemann.  The spring Gustavus Quarterly listed Ashleigh as communications specialist at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valley.  She is also the founder of Go Yoga.  Ashleigh was a choreographer and dancer and in the last Gustavus Dance Company program, “Something like Flight”.  She received her MFA from Temple University.  This was our granddaughter, Alyssa McGinty’s ’12 last appearance with the Gustavus Dance Company.  The program was incredible!  I’ll miss seeing her in the dance concerts.

Ninety-four students traveled to Texas, Florida and Tennessee to work for Habitat for Humanity.  You can access their blogs at  David Newell who works in the Center for Servant Leadership at Gustavus was quoted in the Gustavus Weekly, “One thing I’ve been continually proud of every trip I’ve been on, the site coordinator had almost always said, this is the hardest-working group I’ve ever seen.  That’s just who Gusties are.”

JoNes VanHecke ’88, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, talked at the Gustie Breakfast.  Gustie seniors have developed higher levels of citizenship and a deep commitment to the community.  They have a deepening sense of spirituality and a commitment to religion…  Last year’s graduates:  75% went to grad school or professional school.  Forty percent are earning $70,000 or more; 69% had student loan debt with an average debt of $25,750 if eligible for federal loans.  This average debt was $28,400 for the others…  There are over 200 student groups including lots of religious organizations.  Gustavus had goals of religious growth in a safe place.”  Thanks for this informative talk.In the Spring Quarterly did you see a photo of which included John and Leanne Norman on pg. 39.  On page 43 our five generations is listed under Augustus Nelson.  They repeated this photo of our blonde granddaughter, Alyssa McGinty ’12, and two of my brother’s grandchildren, Katie ’12 and Steven Eiden ’15.  Next to that photo is one of Lenore Anderson Haber’s daughter, Tania Haber ʼ78 and her daughter Sophie ’15.  Then turn to the inside back cover for the same Sophie who is a first-year student at Gustavus, and plays violin in the orchestra.  And always check the obits at the end!

Fifty-two students with disabilities (of all kinds) graduated from Gustavus in May 2010.

One prospective student told her mom, “There are lots of good looking guys on campus!”

At a recital, I sat down next to a student who turned out to be from New York City.  It was a warm March day in the 70s, but he remembers how cold it was just last March.  He likes to go for walks in the arboretum!

In the hallway by the new Center for Servant Leadership Offices on Saturday, there was a great photo of Stan Benson’s wife, Marie (Schafer ʼ52), because she received the Covenant Award for significant contribution to the life and growth of both Gustavus and the Church.  She gave the money award to the Church Leadership for Gustavus Students.  The Award was given by the Gustavus Association of Congregations which has 550 congregations now.

We also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Christ Chapel.  Retired Chaplain Richard Elvee returned and preached, “Remembering Jesus Christ.”  He said for 38 years I was here almost every day.  It is a great mystery the forgiveness of sins…Determination to do his will…you are free to be what you were meant to be.”  Thanks, Elvee!

From the Festival Eucharist bulletin:

“Welcome to this morning’s festival Eucharist, a celebration of the Jubilee anniversary of Christ Chapel.  For fifty years, the chapel has stood at the geographical center of Gustavus campus, glowing like a jeweled crown at night and reflecting the light of the morning sun.  It stands as the great tent of meeting for the college and surrounding community, a place of holy conversation situated at the intersection of faith and learning.  Each week, the assembly celebrates liturgies around the word and table, and encounters the living God through proclamation, prayer, art, music, and the ever-changing patterns of light that dance on the Chapel walls.

Service be our sure vocation, courage be our daily bread; mercy be our destination from this day and unto death.  Alleluia, alleluia.  Rise, O Church a living faith.” –Susan Palo Cherwien, Rise, O Church, living faith.I was delighted to hear that Steve and Barb Wilkinson received a Gustavus Sesquicentennial Award−the sculpture.  They have done so much for the College.  Steve, the retired Gustavus men’s tennis coach, and his wife, Barb, still help with the tennis and life camps which is a non-profit camp under Gustavus now.  They are famous!

The Gustavus Choir did a Midwest tour and gave their wonderful home concert in April.  Prof. Greg Aune told the audience, “It is the crowning jewel of my life to work with this choir!”  The choir sang his mother’s composition, Heal Me, Hands of Christ,” so beautifully.  Please alert your choir director to this special composition.  I was excited to see they sang.  “Prepare the Way, O Zion” which was translated by my mother’s father Reverend Augustus Nelson of the (Augusta) Lutheran Church.  He came from Sweden when he was 18 and graduated from Gustavus in the first graduating class of 1890.  He translated many of the old Swedish hymns and is listed in the black hymnal.

We will miss Bob Peterson ’58 who passed away April 10.  He helped to save Gustavus by raising money.  He retired as Vice President for Development and College Relations at Gustavus in 1996.  Quote from the service, “Bob loved the college…the saints above are going to learn a lot about Gustavus!”

Dennis Lofstrom writes from Tanzania, “As a card from my aeronautical son and his family pointed out, “at your age one can expect a few squeaks and rattles, but as long as the old bus turns over in the morning, you’re set to go?  Kick the tire, light the fire.  (This is something pilots say before they start the engines).  Den and Paula gave 97 presentations in the U.S. for IHP at Nykato and covered 16,400 miles to do them.  Follow them at  They have a screened-in place to eat (called Bingo Bingo!).  One visitor from Gunderson Clinic in Wisconsin wrote about the army ants.  “It is unbelievable to see this huge parade of ants going across the road.  I have never seen anything like it!” [Author’s note:  Recently I wrote a poem about encountering those ants when I lived in Kiomboi at age seven]

One Canadian visitor wrote, “I will always cherish Tanzania and the Lofstroms.  Another visitor, David West, son of Paula Lofstrom wrote about Paula and Dennis.  “They have hearts as big as Africa…  What caring, giving people.  This place will change you in ways I can’t describe, but I can tell you your heart will grow to make room for all the love.”

Another member of the team wrote, “My favorite Swahili word, Kizungusungu, which means dizzy.  If you say it out loud it almost makes you feel dizzy.  For now, lala salama−good night.”

On Denny’s 84th birthday he said that no matter WHAT we’re only going to do this for 16 more years!

Imagine you are a high school student in the middle of China.  You go on the internet and search for liberal arts colleges in the U.S.  You choose one of the colleges that has the best balance of academics, opportunities, and social life.  You apply for scholarships and receive enough money to attend Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.  I heard a superb violin recital by a senior management major, Zicheng He’12, who told me that’s how he came to Gustavus!

Marie Norberg Bergstrom ʼ50, Vern’s widow came to St. Peter on April 23.  We heard a pre-seminary student and the flute choir in Chapel.  It was great fun for Marie and me to have dinner at Stan and Marie (Schaefer ʼ52) Benson’s home.  Of course, we asked Marie Benson questions about the upcoming meeting of Augustana Heritage Society in June since she is on the committee.  Then Marie Bergstrom went to visit Marilyn (Barnes) and Bill Robertz until her ride home arrived.

Two current Gustavus professors, Dr. John Lammert and Dr. Richard Leitch are on a list of 300 best professors in the U.S. selected by Princeton Review.  They have both already received the Edgar Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Fourteen years ago the big tornado hit Gustavus and St. Peter.  Every March we wonder whether it is coming again.  Chelsea Johnson ʼ14, a student reporter at The Gustavus Weekly, interviewed the Director of Campus Safety, Ray Thrower.  “I knew that we had about sixty students on campus because this was spring break.  I wanted to make sure no one was hurt−faculty could have been in any of the buildings if they decided to come in to work on a Sunday,” Thrower said.  Countless jobs were in order−the safety of the chemicals in Nobel had to be checked, backup generators had to be started and the campus had to be checked for gas leaks.  They also needed to account for the sixty students that needed a place to stay and a place to eat.  “We knew we were going to be on our own for a period of time, so we had to make things work.  This event really showed in the end that I had made the right choice by coming here,” Thrower said.  “This event unveiled the true Gustie spirit and how everyone could really come together.  It showed how much Gustavus really means to the outer community.”

The Home Concert of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra was superb.  Just back from their Florida tour (which was spectacular), they played a new commissioned work called, “Intrepid Promise” by Stephenson.  The campus wrote, “I was very struck by the spirit of the place-working together to overcome the absolute devastation after the tornado over 10 years ago.”  The music ended as we stood and sang “Lead in O King Eternal” with the Wind Orchestra.  They also played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Amazing Grace.”

Their traditional encore is a magnificent arrangement of “Nearer My God to Thee.”  In 1994 on tour the pastor in the Slovakian Church where they were playing asked them to play it again because it was sung at every funeral there.  Today, they played it with great reverence for the passengers who were singing it 100 years as the Titanic sank.  Professor Nimmo, “doing things that matter and are life changing…you are a great audience!”

Tim Kennedy ’82 received the Mike Augustin Award.  He said, “I have been blessed to have been associated with my beloved Gustavus..for the past 30 years!”  He is the interim vice president of marketing and communications at Gustavus.Thanks to all who have given to the Class of ’51 Music Scholarship in my name.  It can’t be awarded till the fund reaches $25,000 but we’re on the way with cash gifts and to get planned gifts.  That reminds me to get forms to direct the designated amount in our Will for Gustavus to this music scholarship.

In the Arboretum there are more than 100 species of cultivated tress introduced from other regions!  What a learning resource they are!

Professor Chad Forthergill ʼ06 teaches and is cantor at Chapel.  Quotes are from the Gustavus Weekly, Gustie of the week.  “As cantor for Christ Chapel Chad describes his role as one connected with history.  A cantor helps an assembly find its voice by playing in the church and teaching in the school.  He enjoys that he is connected as a cantor to famous composers like J.S. Bach.  I’m kind of honored to be part of this 500 year tradition [its] very humbling,” Chad said.  Chad is thankful for the opportunity that found him.  He is humbled to be part of the Gustavus faculty.  “The talents, gifts, creativity and intellect of my faculty colleagues just floors me,” Chad said, “and my students continually challenge me to be diligent in my own teaching and expressive in my playing.”  Returning to Gustavus has allowed Chad to learn how to work toward a balance of life and work.  Discovering his passion for teaching and discovering this is the type of environment where he thrives is a blessing that Chad says he wouldn’t have gained otherwise.  “There’s a part of me that never understood what it meant to be a Gustie until I came back,” he said.  “At my core, I feel very much transformed by the experience [of coming back].”

Louise Borg Bergmann, Oxnard, CA, wrote, “I’ve been subbing at our church in Oxnard…so I’m playing all of Holy Week.”  She included Kenn’s funeral bulletin.  Not counting the communion liturgy, I see five hymns including “Children of the Heavenly Father.”  I really appreciate all of your communications.  Please keep sending us your news!!

There were 742 Gustavus students that received Minnesota State Grants this academic year, which totals more than $2.6 million this past year.  25 students and staff left the campus for important meetings on scholarships and capitol on March 14.

Stan and Marie(Shaffer) Benson brought Lance Doerring, uncle of Guy Mortenson who wrote Three Cups of Tea, to a meeting of the After Chapel Book Group at the Gustavus president’s house in March.  We learned a lot about Greg Mortenson’s work with school building in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the Central Asia Institute.  Marilyn Barnes Robertz and I were also there.

Forensics Team Wins NFA National Title:  On the heels of ninth place finish at the American Forensic Association’s National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET), the Gustavus Adolphus College forensics team turned in another program-best performance at the National Forensic Association’s (NFA) National Tournament April 19-23 at Ohio University.

Despite sending only six team members of the NFA National Tournament, Gustavus won the President’s Division II national championship and also placed ninth in the Open Sweepstakes team standings.  The Gusties amassed 180 points to finish atop the President’s Division II standings, ahead of teams such as California State University-Long Beach, Tennessee State University, Texas State University, Florida State University, Truman State University and the University of Illinois.  The ninth place in the Open Sweepstakes marks the first time the program has finished in the top 10 at the NFA National Tournament.

“Our Ninth place finish is a testament to the students’ commitment to excellence and their willingness to commit to the preparation process,” said Kristofer Kracht, director of the Gustavus forensics program.  “They earned this national ranking over the past eight months.  It is an honor to coach a team that wants to be great.”

For the second straight year, senior Chloe Radcliffe ʼ12 left the AFA-NIET with an individual national championship after she placed first in the After Dinner Speaking event out of 141 competitors.  Radcliffe won the national championship in Prose last year.  In addition to the first place finish in ADS, Radcliffe advanced to the semifinals in Dramatic Duo along with first year student Brady Mueller.  Her strong performances put her in fourth place in the Individual Sweepstakes−the best finish by a Gustavus forensics team member in school history.

“By winning two national championships, Chloe cemented her legacy as one of the finest competitors in the history of the AFA-NIET,” Kracht said.  “Her legacy will be difficult to replicate, but it proves that any student from Gustavus can be a national champion.  Chloe earned this distinction, and I could not be more proud.  It has been a privilege for our staff to coach her.”

Carolyn (Peterson) and Henry ʼ52 Ruggles’ granddaughter, Chloe Raddcliffe ’12 will graduate in May.  What fun it was to hear that she is a friend of my grandchildren, Ryan ’10 and Alyssa ’12.  I sat next to Chloe at a poetry reading.

Ray Lundquist said he planned to attend the Gustavus Music Showcase at the Ted Mann Concert Hall (U of MN).  Professor Nimmo (Gustavus Wind Orchestra) said it was an outstanding concert!  I hope Ray tells us about the Gustavus Choir Concert at East Union, too.  Thanks to Ray for his letters about the Annual Fund!

It will be great to see you on Reunion Weekend at the end of May!  Please come and bring news or send it!

Sincerely Yours,

Dorothy Johnson Lutz

1951 Class President/Communications Chair

Dear Classmates and as Dorothy states, “and other readers,”

I couldn’t be more pleased with our class totals as of April 30.  They are as follows:

Annual Fund - $73,575

Dorothy’s Music Scholarship - $19,664

Other Gifts - $150,641 (which includes an array of gifts such as to the arboretum, Library Associates, other scholarships, athletic programs, memorials, etc.

Those three figures add up to $243,880 which I find quite remarkable.

A good number, including myself, have taken advantage of having our gift doubled as a result of a matching gift challenge which honors the College’s Sesquicentennial.  Several benefactors will match all gifts up to a total of $150,000.  This plan ends May 31 to coincide with Gustavus’s fiscal year.

In regard to Dorothy’s Music Scholarship, that total has to be $25,000 prior to November 1, so as to provide scholarship for the school year of 2013-14.  I feel confident that total will be reached.

Special thanks to all of you who have given to the Annual Fund since June 1, 2011.  If you haven’t given, hopefully you can give before May 31 and take advantage of the “Double Impact” if the $150,000 has not been reached.

I would like to share a personal note regarding this past March 30.  On that date, the Gustavus choir performed in a wonderful concert at my home church of East union as part of the 150th anniversary.  From 1863 to 1925, Gustavus which was known then as St. Ansgar’s Academy at East Union didn’t become Gustavus until 1826 when the school was moved to St. Peter.  The East Union Church which was built in 1868 seats only 200 so we had a standing room crowd.  It was an eventful evening to say the least.

May each of you have the best possible year.  You’re a great class and much appreciated.  Thanks again for all your gifts!

Most sincerely and best wishes,

Ray Lundquist

1951 Annual Fund Chair

Campus News

2012 Alumni Association Awards Announced

The Gustavus Alumni Board of Directors has announced its 2012 award recipients:

Greater Gustavus Award – awarded to those “who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College”:

Jon and Anita Thomsen Young ’77 ’77, Eden Prairie, MN, for their volunteer leadership, service and philanthropy to the College.

Distinguished Alumni Citations – recognizing outstanding and exceptional professional achievement that brings unusual honor to the individual in his or her field of endeavor:

Scott Dee ’81, Farwell, MN, professor of veterinary population medicine, University of Minnesota, swine consultant, and international research veterinarian and director at Pipestone Veterinary Clinic;

Mark Elfstrom ’01, Anchorage, AK, middle school math and science teacher, recipient of a 2011 Milken Educator Award and finalist for the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching;

Kurt Elling ’89, New York, NY, Grammy Award-winning vocal jazz artist.

First Decade Awards – recognizing early professional achievement in the 10th anniversary class:

Amy Brown ’02, Pittsburgh, PA, neonatology fellow at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center;

Michael Bland ’02, St. Louis, MO, postdoctoral associate, earth and planetary sciences, Washington University.

The Alumni Association will present Faculty and Administrator Service and Retirement Awards at a dinner at Gustavus on May 16; honorees will be featured in the fall issue of The Gustavus Quarterly.

National Sesquicentennial Celebrations

Throughout the coming year, Gusties are gathering across the country to reflect on Gustavus’s past, celebrate 150 academic years, and engage for the future.  You can view them all and register for an event at

Upcoming Chapter Events

June 5, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Rochester (Somerby Golf Club, Byron MN)

June 18, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - St. Cloud (St. Cloud Civic Center, St. Cloud MN)

June 19, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Willmar (The Oaks at Eagle Creek, Willmar MN)

June 20, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Fargo/Moorhead (Stokers at Hotel Donaldson)

June 25, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Sioux Falls (Minerva’s Restaurant and Bar, Sioux Falls, SD)

June 26, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Omaha (Spezia Restaurant, Omaha NE)

June 27, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Des Moines (The Wakonda Club, Des Moines IA)

July 16, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Grand Rapids (Timberlake Lodge Hotel, Grand Rapids MN)

July 17, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Celebration - Duluth (Clyde Park Restaurant, Duluth MN)