Class of '52
April 2004

Dear Gustie friends,

It's spring in Minnesota today.  It really arrived about ten days ago.  Something else significant happened last week too.  Our new Gustavus President, Jim Peterson ’64, was inaugurated on Friday, April 16 in the chapel.  The investiture was memorable and meaningful.  I was fortunate enough to walk robed in the official procession.  It was awesome, and so is he!  His motto, "Together, we live the promise," was the theme for the entire weekend and a river, the symbol.  President Jim has spent his lifetime near and on water, studying it, watching it, connecting with it, especially in the form of a river.  He spent his growing up years in Red Wing, an old river town; the new Science Museum in St. Paul, which was built during his watch, sits on the hillside overlooking the Minnesota River, and the town of St. Peter, as you may well remember, was built on the banks of the Minnesota River farther south.  Gustavus overlooks the entire river valley.  As Jim would say, "The course of a river, like life, is never straight, but the current is strong, its destination defined.  At any point you may enter the river, but it is never the same, always changing."  I think this is a powerful metaphor for Gustavus, and I think President Jim Peterson is an empowering leader who, with our help, will keep his promises.  The weekend culminated with a reception at the Hilton in Minneapolis followed by a presentation of the Nobel Symphony written by a Gustie, Steve Heitzeg ’82, accompanied by the Gustavus choir.  Magnificent!

"Remembering the past and using it to make connections into the future is the best kind of journey."  I cannot name the person who said this, but Bob Holmen, class of ’59, sent it to me.  It fits the Gustavus vision as we move into the future.

Ruth Gustafson Jette writes to me, and I love it.  In her Christmas letter she wove the theme of "feet" into her message.  The poem, "Foot Prints," talks about how Jesus carries us when we are too weak to walk.  A favorite hymn includes, "Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for Thee."  And this little poem is one you may recall from Sunday school days.  I did.

                        Be careful, little feet, where you go.

                        Be careful, little feet, where you go.

                        For the Father up above

                        Is looking down in love.

                        So be careful, little feet, where you go.

Gustavus will journey into the future rooted in its past, guided by strong leadership, and determined to embrace and implement its core values, service, justice, faith, community, excellence.  We need the interest, prayers, and financial support from all of you!   Please give by May 31!

First, I have some sad new to pass along, Esther Strege Clark died on April 18, 2004.  No other details are available at this time.  Our sympathy to Jack ’52 and their families.

News from Phonorama last fall.  Patricia Larson Lind had three knee surgeries in the past two years.  She's doing fine now.  Wow!  That takes courage!  Ona Lee Wittman Iverson served as a volunteer at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City, Iowa.  I wonder if you had available to your guests, the fantastic Imax film production of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  If anyone living near the Twin Cities hasn't seen it, be sure to go.  It's still showing at the Science Museum in St. Paul.  Last May Velma Carlson traveled to Germany to visit friends and to Ashland, Oregon, to the Shakespeare Festival.  I have always yearned to visit that festival.  Enjoying golf, eight grandchildren, and traveling brings joy and fulfillment to David Kenyon's days in retirement.  Sounds like the perfect recipe.  Another 50-year anniversary, Bruce and Hermie Dahlman Touse.

Congratulations!  After a tornado in Crooks, SD, last summer Gerald and Shirley Potratz counted 60 trees downed in their yard!  What an awful experience and clean-up proposition!  What I wonder is how did the house survive, and you?  Barb and Marv Granath went to Sweden again last summer.  I think they both speak the language quite well.  George and Shirley (Lister ’55) Wolfe celebrated their 50th, too, by taking a sentimental journey through Minnesota, gifted and accompanied by their children, visiting Gustavus, Red Wing, Minneapolis, and Duluth.  While in St. Peter, they ate lunch in the new Evelyn Young Dining Room with George's four-year roommate, Ellis Jones.  Janet (Hanson ’54) too, I presume.  Eight grandchildren to boot!  Bill Erickson is still into airplanes, building his third, and participating in aerobatic flying in a stunt/air show every year.  Did living on the hills in Duluth create these urges in you, Bill?

Take care!  John ’51 and Arlene Hansen Bloom met 300 of his Swedish relatives for the 150th anniversary of their coming to Minnesota.  I hope you had nametags!  Evidently a few Norwegians crept in too!  Doris and Harlis Hanson spend their summers at Flathead Lake in Montana.  Must be a beautiful area.  Don ’51 and Norma Johnson Carlson are enjoying life at Covenant Village.  I visited someone there―lovely spot.  I enjoyed my phone visit with Eunie Trapp Mackenthun last fall.  In February 2003, they spent two weeks in Costa Rica, and then in August she suffered a stroke.  She has been recovering from that but also had a P70 inserted in a hole in her heart last November.  She writes now that she's doing well.  Oh, Eunie, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  Barb Ringstrom Corley writes from Windsor, CA, that she swims, walks, travels, and plays bridge.  She is also a Food Bank volunteer and a church deacon.  I feel lucky to have reconnected with her.  She writes that her special memory is "living with 11 other gals in Wahlstrom Hall."  That's mine too.  I was one of the eleven!

Travel is an obsession with Pat and John Mielke.  I think it's wonderful!  In 2003 they visited Portland, took an Alaskan and a Disney cruise, stayed a month on St. George Island, FL, and finally a trip to Minnesota for his mom's funeral. I'm sorry.  Now they're looking forward to a trip to Spain.  I never realized that when Roger Rotvig and I were in Sunday school together at Holy Trinity in Duluth that someday he would have such a prestigious position at a golf course.  He has worked for five years at Cape Arundel Golf Club where both Presidents Bush are members.  He writes, "It's enjoyable serving them.  George, Sr. and Barbara play twice a week for four months.  Many distinguished pro golfers join them from time to time."  Amazing!  Bobby is sooo envious!  Roger, can't you assert a little influence over the younger one.  Sorry!  I'm letting my prejudices show!

Wally Drotts is a golfer too!  In December he and Jean enjoyed a golf holiday in Kauai (my sp.?)  "My golf is not as beautiful as the island. " I love that.  He retired from full-time pastoral ministry and now has retired for the third time from part-time ministry.  "The 'call' remains."  I see Art Jaeger occasionally.  He lives nearby in Plymouth.  He has been retired from dentistry for seven years now and they spend their winters in Arizona, most of the summer at Middle Cullen Lake, Nisswa, MN.  Heard from Donald Johnson, Bloomington, and Donna Swenson Smith, River Falls, Wisconsin, but no news from either one.  Thanks for checking and giving!  1hleen Nelson Gunderson must be busy packing for her trip to Norway with her adult choir group from First Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD.  A large number are going including family and friends.  Have a wonderful time, Nelly!  She also substitute teaches as I do, is active in a genealogical society, book clubs, and an investment group.  She and Bob both feel good!  Keep it up!  I see Tony Almen and Marilyn often.  In fact they were at the Association of Congregations gathering at Gustavus last Saturday, another part of the Inauguration celebration.  Tony looks great!  They traveled to Iceland, Norway, and Sweden last May for three weeks.  "Cool but beautiful!"

Jerry Emholtz and Jean (Kirkvold ’54) still live in the country near River Falls.  Annually they migrate to Destin, FL, and stay in the Destin RV Park there.  He's helping his son, Chris, in a small fireplace store.

Time for a little break!  I liked this.  Ever wonder about the abbreviation A.S.A.P.?  Generally, we think of it in terms of even more hurry and stress in our lives.  Maybe if we think of this abbreviation in a different manner, we will begin to find a new way to deal with those rough days along the way.

There's work to do, deadlines to meet;

You've got no time to spare,

But as you hurry and scurry ‑


In the midst of family chaos,

"Quality time" is rare.

Do your best; let God do the rest―


John Schmillen and Nadine have lived in Nisswa for 14 years.  Wonderful area!  They travel occasionally, too.  Last fall Paul Swedberg traveled to India to present a seminar for Lutheran pastors.  His son is marrying a girl from the Philippines whom he met on a mission trip three years ago, he had just returned from visiting his twin granddaughters in Norway.  I hope I have all that straight.  That's real globalization, Paul and Carole!  Margaret Olson Reishus and husband, Marlin, winter in Florida but live in Naperville, IL the rest of the year.  I think Bobby and I have driven through that town many times on our way south.  Is that possible?  Gladys and Russ Peterson's granddaughter is a student at Gustavus studying piano performance.  Maybe she'll be in concert there someday or has she been already?  James Nelson and Suzanne remain in Palm Harbor, FL.  Jim has taken up flying and is a private pilot as well as an interim pastor.  Either way maybe you're in limbo!

Manhattan, KS is the home of Carol and Milt Olson, where he assists congregations with fund raising and maybe even beyond those borders.  Every church needs help in that area, a worthy vocation.  Jeanette (Fetchenhier ’54) and Bob Jensen are close to their 51st year of marriage; last June they celebrated their 50th!  More congratulations in order!  Howard ’49, and Doris Larson Fehr travel all over the country to visit their six children and grandchildren.  Howard still works 30 hours a week at St. John's Lutheran.  Amazing and admirable!  "We wish we were living closer to Gustavus," they write.  So do I!  I'd recruit you for Phonorama calling.  Joanne (Runez ’53), and Paul Lindau spent three weeks in Germany last year, Luther, cradle to grave tour.  It sounds wonderful!  Paul visited his roommate from seminary at the University of Munster.  Have I got that straight?  I hope that Marion Peterson Pierson has recovered from her back surgery.  No more of that stuff, Marion.  She and Bob ’50, are still winter fishing.  Do we call that ice fishing in Excelsior?  Ginny Lunstead Ahlstrom certainly earned bragging rights when her daughter, Karen ’86, was inducted into the Gustavus Athletic Hall of Fame for gymnastics last year.  Wow!  That's fabulous.  Mom was on campus, of course, for the big event.  She writes, "Attended Homecoming at Gustavus in September and it was so cold!  Now I know why I live in Arizona!"  Dexter Linman plays a lot of golf and is still walking 18 holes.  Good for you!  His wife, Clare, however, is in poor health.  I'm sorry!  He's the chairperson of his DFL caucus.  You're probably busier this year!  Roger Sifford and Janet returned from Sweden before Phonorama last fall.  Always a great place to visit, isn't it?

Washington State is the Eugene Henry's favorite spot, they write.  You enjoy your retirement so I'm assuming you spend some time there.  Nancy Sanzenbach Newman and husband, Ritch, are adventuresome kayakers!  Their son has written a book on the subject and last time I heard he was at REI giving advice, teaching there.  They are also avid Elderhostelers.  Last year that included trips to:  Big Bend, Texas; Padre Island, TX; Monterey, CA; and New Mexico.  Perhaps you could ask for a discount for good public relations.  I had a wonderful phone visit with them last fall.  Last Sunday evening, April 25, I spoke to Don Peterson in Roswell, Georgia.  You won't believe what he told me!  Next fall, September 2004, his son, Ryan, and his grandson, Whitney, are entering Gustavus as freshmen!  Can you believe it?  That has to set some sort of record!  You'll never cease to amaze us, Don.  JoAnn Heyman Cory sends me interesting, thought provoking emails.  Bob died last year on February 14 after fifty and a half years of marriage.  She is very lonely as you might imagine.  Bob was a wonderful companion/husband, but she stays very busy in three reading clubs at the local library in Chandler, Arizona, several Bible study groups, and attends movies often.  JoAnn, words do not always express deepest feelings adequately, but we all extend our sympathy and caring.  He was a neat guy, I know.

I can be changed by what happens to me.  I refused to be reduced by it.  ~Maya Angelou.

Time for some Gustavus news!

If you're ever going to receive this letter, I'd best get it in the mail.  Before I close, there are two things I want to share.  This past year has been difficult for Bobby and me.  Last November he started kidney dialysis.  He goes to a DaVita Center very near our house, which is a plus, three times a week for four and a half hours each session.  He is not a candidate for a kidney transplant, but he is feeling much better physically.  He's still playing golf and works at Deer Run Golf Course, Victoria, two afternoons a week.  He loves that.  His energy level is not great and dialysis is very restrictive.  It doesn't leave much room for spontaneity.  However, he never complains and is very accepting.  I feel blessed and so does he.  Far more difficult than this, however, was the sudden death of our beloved son-in-law, John, due to a work-related accident last December.  He owned his own well company and was the victim of a freak accident.  Nothing could have prevented it.  John was married to our youngest, Cindy, who is 40 and he was 41.  They have two children, Joe and Brittany, both teenagers.  In minutes our lives turned around 360 degrees.  We will never be the same again.  Four and a half months later the sadness is greater, the loneliness more profound.  We loved John dearly and miss him so much.  But watching our daughter and grandchildren in this anguish is almost unbearable.  As Tom Boman ’53, said after his daughter, Annette, died last year, "Grief used to be the islands and now it's the sea."  Now you have a good idea of why this letter is so long in coming.

Life is so fragile.  Don't waste a moment and thank God each day for your blessings!  A final quote from the Maya Angelou that I mentioned earlier.

In the face of such uncertainty, believe in these two things―you are stronger than you think, and you are not alone!

Have a great summer!  And please, please, please send your $ gifts before May 31 so our class gets credit.  Let's raise our participation percentage!  Your money does wonderful things for Gustie students who are the kind of ambassadors the world needs.


Barb Eckman Krig

1952 Class Agent

Campus News:

50th Anniversary Alumni Fund Closes May 31

The 2004 Alumni Fund will close May 31 with a goal of 50 percent alumni participation. Thanks to everyone who has already participated with a gift.  If you haven’t given, please think about sending a gift along with your news in the enclosed gold envelope. Gustavus alumni have a long tradition of strong alumni participation.  Help maintain our national ranking by participating in the 50th anniversary year of the Alumni Fund.

Scholarships and financial assistance at Gustavus

Did you know that scholarships and financial assistance for Gustavus students totals $18M, almost 25 percent of Gustavus’ annual budget?  Alumni Fund gifts, including designated and unrestricted gifts, help enable students to receive a Gustavus education.  Gustavus offers two types of scholarships to students -- merit awards given to recognize academic achievement, and tuition grants are used to assist students with recognized financial need.  Endowed scholarships are an important part of the Gustavus grant program and currently nine percent of scholarship funds come from the endowment.

Alumni survey

An alumni survey was sent to 2,000 members of reunion classes.  Approximately 600 have responded as of April 1.  Questions on the survey consist of how well Gustavus prepared them for employment and graduate education, activities involved in while at Gustavus, personal growth skills, alumni events and services, and overall satisfaction with the College.  Results of the survey will be included in the Fall Quarterly.

Winter sports summary

Women’s basketball finished third in the MIAC and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Men’s basketball won the MIAC regular season and playoff championship titles before losing to eventual national champion UW-Stevens Point in the NCAA national tournament. Men’s hockey posted a third-place finish in the regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Women’s hockey finished second in regular-season MIAC play, but won the post-season tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Men’s swimming won its third consecutive MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing ninth at the NCAA championships. Women’s swimming won the MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing 13th at the NCAA championships. Men’s Nordic skiing won its first-ever MIAC championship and finished fourth at the NCAA Central Region meet. Women’s Nordic skiing claimed their third consecutive MIAC title and completed their season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Central Region meet. Gymnastics posted a 6–1 dual meet record and a second-place finish at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) West Regional. The women’s indoor track and field team finished second and the men fifth at the MIAC championships. 

Did you know …

Nearly 80% of Gustavus students graduate in four years, compared with 56% of students from other Minnesota private colleges; the national average is 17%.

There are seven choral ensembles and 23 instrumental ensembles, two jazz, four woodwind and three brass ensembles.

More than 40 percent of Gustavus students volunteer through the Gustavus community service center on a regular basis.

For student safety, the campus is well-lit, there is 24-hour Safety and Security patrol and escort service, residence halls are locked 24 hours a day, and there are blue light emergency phones throughout campus linked directly to Safety and Security.

And looking back -- during the college’s early years, students were awakened by a bell at 5:45 a.m. and all lights had to be out by 10:30 p.m.

Upcoming events

  • Cec Eckhoff Society Reception – May 1
  • Class of 1954 and 50-Year Club Reunions – May 28 & 29
  • Commencement – May 30
  • Alumni Fund closes – May 31