Class of '52
January 2008

Happy New Year!

It is my privilege to write our first class letter of the new year.  It is appropriate to begin with news of the past and progress to the current state of the (re)Union of the Class of 1952.

Our class agent, Barb Eckman Krig, was in a very bad car accident early last fall.  Initially it was a broken nose but other complications ensued continuing to include sessions with a chiropractor.  Her totaled car had to be replaced and there were innumerable insurance papers to file.  I had hoped that by this age we no longer need new learning experiences, WRONG!  I had colon surgery October 5 which progressed to an infection of the incision so it took me three months to recover.  So we have the medical report out of the way, at least until the new year when word came that our class mate, Patsy O'Connell Sherman, had a stroke December 16 in her Realife apartment in Bloomington, MN.  After several weeks at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital she moved to Sister Kenney Institute nearby for therapy, and she has now been moved to Augustana Health Care Center in Apple Valley, MN.

In case you missed it, I refer you to page 52 of the Fall 2007 Gustavus Quarterly which is topped by the picture of the class of 1952 who attended our 55th reunion last May 25 and 26.  Also attending, but not at the photo-op were Clair McRostie, Bernice Johnson Peterson, and Paul Swedberg.  Where were the other classmates?  It was Memorial Day weekend, opening of cabin weekend, etc., but we missed you!

Barb sent out a class letter, prior to the May reunion, in which the possibility of making changes to our class of 1952 endowed scholarship to honor the memory of two of the first international students we had on the Gustavus campus was initiated.  They were:  Garmame Wondafrosh and Seifu Selassie from Ethiopia.  Both are now deceased because of political strife in Ethiopia.  Paul Elofson has established that both of them can be considered of the class of 1952.  Besides hearing from Paul and from Maynard Jacobson, Barb also received responses from Roger Rotvig and Ernest S. Lantto.

Be that as it may, we can move forward in the following ways:

1.  As of January 15 there is $23, 019 in the endowed scholarship of our class.  It cannot be used for scholarship aid until it reaches $25,000.  Our first action must be to complete that amount and go further with it.  When you send your gift to the alumni fund before the end of the fiscal year May 31, 2008, and you wish your funds to go to our endowed scholarship, be sure to note that with your gift.  In doing research in my accumulation of communications (re:  gifts for Gustavus) I found one form which came with the recent brochure entitled “Investing in Scholarships at Gustavus.”  In Step 2 of that form under endowment, there is a place to note that you are giving to Endowed Scholarship.  If that is too complicated, just send a note with your check, saying that it should be used for “Endowed Scholarship for Class of 1952.”  Kathy Erlandsen, Associate Director of Reunion Giving, will be informed of your check, until we reach that $25,000 goal and beyond.  Alumni Director, Randall Stuckey ’83 adds, you may also give to the alumni fund―or vice versa―that gentleman walks his talk!

2.  Once we have scholarship usable funds of $25,000 in our class endowment the fund will generate a scholarship of 4.5% of the total value.  In discussion with our classmate, Dr. Maynard Jacobson, Pastor Kelly Chatman, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and member of the Board of Trustees at Gustavus, suggested the scholarship be used for African Americans.  With our refugees such as Somalis, Sudanese and others ready for college studies our scholarship will be given to those who bring diversity to campus with preference for African American students.

3.  Where the departed Seifu and Garmame fit into this needs to be studied.  Garmame met his death in 1959 during an uprising he was leading in Ethiopia.  Several contacts have said that he is in the Ethiopian history books.  In 1969, Stan ’51 and I and our three sons returned to Tanzania the “long way” by traveling the length of Ethiopia to reach Addis Ababa, visiting friends along the way by varied forms of transport―this was when our fellow Americans were on the moon.  After doing the mountains with twenty plus hairpin curves going up and at least as many going down each mountain and surviving, I knew that the Lord likely had something more for us to do in Africa!  As we left Addis Ababa to fly to Kenya and on to Tanzania, Seifu Selassie met us at the airport so that we had that short visit with him.  He was then Minister of Education in the government and had married Miss Ethiopia.  Paul Elofson wrote about Seifu, “When the ‘Progressive Movement’ (Revolution) succeeded, Seifu was arrested, imprisoned, for several years, then either executed or assassinated.”  Paul found this on the internet under “Imperial Ethiopia,” page 5, under “Revolution.”  Happy Googling for your information on this.

“I shall leave our departed brothers to rest in peace in Ethiopia.”  Paul also suggests, “If the revolution had not succeeded, Seifu’s name might today be in the history books and not Garmame’s.  Seifu probably lies unnoticed in an unmarked grave.”

Last October several responses were received from classmates when calls were placed to them.

Elmer Ackermann and his spouse, Joanne, reside in Shawano, WI.  He is retired from Peace United Church of Christ where he was their minister of music.


Elizabeth Halverson Agar of Okemos, MI noted that she has a granddaughter in the army in Iraq.

Shirley Huselid Anderson was with us for our reunion last May.  She made a trip to Minnesota then to honor her family for Memorial Day.  Her parents are buried at Lafayette, MN cemetery and her husband, Dick Anderson, is buried in Redwood Falls, MN, where they lived for their entire marriage.  Since Dick’s death, Shirley has moved to Appleton, WI to live at Heritage Woods senior housing.  In September 2006, Stan and I spent an overnight with Shirley before we boarded the Lake Superior Ferry the next day.  Two of Shirley’s three children have been living in Appleton, but daughter, Vicki Mielke ’82 and her family recently moved in the new year to Dallas, Texas, just when Shirley is selling her Texas trailer where she has spent many winters.

Here in St. Peter we have lost two of our six professor classmates in recent years:  Paul Granlund and Jack Clark.  Gustavus is the campus of Paul’s sculptures, appreciated by all who tour the campus.  There is hardly a campus event without a tour of Granlund’s art.  Jack’s tenure in the religion department is remembered by all who studied with him.  Our two other retired, professor classmates from the business department, Ellis Jones and Clair McRostie, are active participants in the campus and wider community.  Ellis and Janet Jones moved last year from their home for 47 years at the top of the Jefferson Avenue hill, just off the campus and at the gate of the Valley View community.  They now live at Central Square Apartments which were built after the tornado at the site of the old Central School building, which was whisked away in the tornado.

Sam Gault is retired from his historic, family-owned Nicollet County Bank and has turned over the reigns to two of his children, Sam, Jr., and Lisa ’83, and their capable staff.  They must have been doing something right these many years as the bank receives acclaim in banking circles year after year.

Barb Krig has mentioned before that I wrote “Marie’s Memoirs, Farmer’s Daughter” in Africa before our fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2006.  We had a thrilling celebration that year and during 2007 we had another great celebration that went on all year.  I was co-chair with Paul Aasen (retired Gustavus financial aid director) of our sesquicentennial of First Lutheran Church.  We are the oldest established congregation in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of ELCA and as we go into 2008 the congregations out west of us are celebrating their 150 years this summer.  They are Scandia Grove Lutheran Church and Norseland Lutheran Church―and they are going to celebrate together.  It has taken awhile for the Norwegians and the Swedes to come to this agreement!

But for our Benson family we have already had the event of the year as we celebrated Stan's birthday on January 11-12 with family gathering and an open house―and the surprise of our lives.  We have three sons with families:  John ’80, a professor at Minnesota State University - Moorhead, MN; Todd ’83 who lives in Washington, DC, and works for an international development agency; and Jeff who moved to Seoul, Korea last August where he is a civil engineer in a project with U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Korean government.  We knew John and Todd would be with us for the birthday but we had our great surprise when Jeff and his younger daughter, Natalie, arrived from Korea with his DC brother and sister-in-law.  Oh Happy Day!

Stan and I made trips to the county and state fairs last August when we were honored as Nicollet County Outstanding Seniors 2007.  Great to be recognized by our community!  Among our many ministries in church, college and community of St. Peter is Stan’s ministry to his pastoral colleagues.  He took Bob Esbjornson ’41 to his medical appointments in recent years until his death October 26, last year.  Today he has brought Clair Johnson home from the hospital and visited our missionary colleague, Elder Jackson ’45 who has moved to Benedictine Living Community, our new health care center in St. Peter.  Life is never dull as retirees in St. Peter, at least not for us.

If I do not cease here the college may end this letter with the announcement of a newly chosen president.  Good to be chatting with you, let the college hear from you!

Marie Schafer Benson

1952 Guest Letter Writer

Campus News

Forensics Team Continues Excellence

The Gustavus forensics team continues the tradition of excellence, with major team and individual wins this season.  Last season the team ranked in the top 20, which is impressive since 14 of the top 20 schools are “Division I” schools that have more funding and more coaching staff.  While many schools have several full-time forensics coaches, the Gustavus coach also is a full-time professor.  So a unique aspect of the Gustavus program is the team meets weekly for peer coaching, a technique the team has found to be very successful. 

Twin Cities Gustie Breakfasts

Join other Minneapolis/St. Paul area Gusties for a once-a-month morning cup of coffee and breakfast while getting an update on Gustavus. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100), 8:00-9:30 a.m., $10 per person.  Reserve by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763/533-9083.  Upcoming speakers:

February 20 – Hank Toutain, Dean of Students

March 19 – Mary Morton, Provost and vice President of Academic Affairs

April 16 – Cindy Johnson-Groh, Executive Director, Linneaus Arboretum

May 21 – Tim Kennedy, Sports Information Director

Gustavus Dancing With the Profs

Inspired by the popular television show Dancing with the Stars, a standing room only crowd of students, faculty, and St. Peter community members filled Alumni Hall on November 2 to watch Gustavus students and faculty/staff members swing dance to raise money for the St. Peter United Way.  The event, “Dancing with the Profs 2,” featured six teams of one Gustavus student and one faculty/staff member.  In preparation for the evening competition, the Gustavus Swing Club gave the teams dance lessons, while members of GAC-TV documented the learning to provide a video showcase on each couple.

Alumni Insurance Programs

The Alumni Association sponsors insurance products for alumni, spouses, children, and parents.  Products include life insurance, auto, home and renters insurance, and short-term medical insurance to fill temporary needs of new alumni without insurance after graduation and others who may have gaps due to unemployment.  For information about life and short-term medical insurance, call 800-635-7801.  For information about auto, home, and renters insurance, call:  800-524-9400, (800-328-0705, ext. 552 in the Greater Twin Cities area).

Gustavus Music Showcase

The three international touring music ensembles at Gustavus Adolphus College — The Gustavus Choir, the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra —  will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.  Tickets for the concert are on sale through the Orchestra Hall box office and may be purchased in-person, online at:, and via fax or phone at 612-371-5656.  Tickets are $22 for adults and $12 for children ages 6-18 and current Gustavus students with a valid I.D.

College Relations blog

Gustavus College Relations staff has introduced a new blog that will offer commentary and news on a variety of topics pertinent to the campus community as well as some photography, video, and audio content.  During the month of January the blog will feature the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra’s China tour and observations on several January Interim classes.  The new blog can be read at:


Men's tennis coach Steve Wilkinson has been named the national winner of the United States Tennis Association (USTA)/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Campus Recreation Award.  This awards program, which began in 2003, was open to more than 2,000 ITA head and assistant coaches at the NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, NAIA and junior/community college levels.  Senior goaltender Trevor Brown became the first men's soccer player in Gustavus history to be named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Men’s Soccer Team as released by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Fine Arts Events

“Destination Anywhere:  A Juried Exhibit of 15 Award-Winning Young Artists With Disabilities,” is now on display at the Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus.  The exhibit, a product of a partnership between VSA arts (formerly Very Special Arts) and Volkswagen of America, Inc., strives to recognize and showcase young artists with disabilities, ages 16-25, who are living in the United States.  In November the Department of Theatre and Dance presented a Festival of Student Work.  A miniature “Fringe Festival” in its own right, this collaboration of more than 60 actors, dancers, designers, and technicians, operating on 10 different production schedules, filled Anderson Theatre, the Black Box, and the Schaefer Fine Arts Center for four days of artistic celebration.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast – February 20
  • Breakfast with the Easter Bunny – March 8
  • Music Showcase – March 9

For more information on alumni events, go to: