Class of 1952

May 2011

Dear Classmates,

Our class agent, Barb Eckman Krig, received our Benson family letter in March and wants me to edit it into a class letter for our class.  I am sorry it is arriving so late and so close to our gathering for the 50 Year Club this month, but it has been a prolonged April Fools of a month for us about which I will write later.

When our family were with us last June to celebrate my 80th birthday Stan announced that he was tired of giving his money to doctors and the medical world.  He wanted to see his grandchildren who are on three continents−North America, Asia, and Africa.  Last fall we set out on this Odyssey.

During the first half of November 2010 we went to South Korea where our youngest son, Jeff and his family live and work and learn.  Jeff is the lead engineer for moving the U.S. military establishment from downtown Seoul, Korea, out to the country side.  Seoul is a city of 18 million people with my added comment that it has 18 million cars on the road 24/7.  To set the record straight I do not like heavy city traffic, good reason to be residents of St. Peter, Minnesota.  We loved our two weeks with them with adventures every day.  Our grandchildren attend Seoul Foreign School which began with Presbyterian mission impetus more than a century ago.  The family is active also at International Lutheran Church where Pastor Steve Kosberg is current pastor.  His origins are in Mankato, Minnesota.  I have heard that our classmate, Roger Pearson once served this church early in his ministry and I believe Chuck and Marilyn (Anderson) Jacobson, both of the class of 1953 served there in more recent years.  We had a very special Thanksgiving with the church congregation, with worship, and turkey and all of the trimmings.

Our granddaughter Carlee graduates from SFS in June.  All three children are active in theatre.  With the crowded city situation the school has limited athletic fields, but they have five theatres.  Son, Jeff came through the international school system spending 10 years at International School Moshi (Tanzania) where I was on the board of directors for 20 years.  He gives leadership to their board at SFS.  So they have a happy situation for their family, but Jeff having the US military and the government of South Korea as his bosses has some obstacles in the work place.  The North Koreans shot over to an island of South Korea while we were there to keep the stress fired up.

We were home for the first half of December which meant we could enjoy Christmas in Christ Chapel and other specialties of the holidays before we set off mid-December for Africa.  Our middle son, Todd ʼ83, and his wife, Betsy, are working in Kampala, Uganda, where he is head, Uganda Strategy Support Program for International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).  We were with them for Christmas as were their children, Luke and Ellie, from USA.  Within a week they will both be college graduates, Luke from Macalester two years ago and Ellie May 7 from the University of Indiana.

This was the time when the largest country in Africa, nearby Sudan, was taking its vote to divide into the Muslim north and the Christian south; while in Uganda a busy election campaign was proceeding with my friend of Tanzanian days, the Honorable Grace Akello, operating on the campaign trail as the Principal Private Secretary for President Museveni.  Votes accomplished and an election won does not make instant peace in either country.  Todd told me this week there were serious riots going on in Uganda in regard to economic problems.

With the new year we flew to home territory of Tanzania where we spent far more than 30 years of our working lives as Lutheran missionaries until retirement in 1992.  There we met many African and expatriate friends, other retired missionaries, missionary kids (the MK’s) now living and working there and contemplating becoming citizens of Tanzania.  It was a trip down memory lane for our “last trip home.”  Our class agent Barb Eckman Krig tells me she always dreamed of being a missionary to Tanzania until she met Bobby ʼ53.  She still wants to do the trip and says to take her along next time we go−now that is a futuristic proposal beyond knowing!

Tanzania had had a peaceful election in November as the media told the world but while we were there the new opposition party called Chadema protested the election against the CCM, the established Revolutionary Party.  There were killings in Arusha, January 5 while we were there.  The numbers were never released to the English language press.  I said when we lived there, “In lieu of TV we have real live drama.”

Soon we headed home in mid-January with many friends wondering why we returned with the winter we were having here.  Now that we are survivors we long for spring to envelope us.  However, our adventure was not yet over because six days after we left Todd and Betsy in Uganda Betsy had seizures.  She had a malignant brain tumor in 1994 when they were living in the country of Malawi and a benign tumor called a schwannoma last year.  They experienced drama of being medevac'd from Uganda to South Africa and after hospitalization there on to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Betsy’s parents and three siblings live and where she had cyber knife treatment last year for the schwannoma.  They have not found the cause of the seizures there.  This week she and her parents will gather with us as the other grandparents for their daughter Ellie’s graduation from the University of Indiana at Bloomington.  Todd has made three trips back to Africa for his work since accompanying Betsy as she was medevac'd in February.  Later in May they will head home to Kampala together.

Back to the beginning when I promised my reason for my delay in writing.  It was the month of April when Stan’s leukemia which has been in remission because of chemotherapy he had July-October 2009 showed platelet problems in his blood.  He will have the same chemotherapy again which should keep us near home for much of the summer.  He plans to attend his 60th reunion at Gustavus May 27 and 28.  Hope we will meet many of you there.

It is time to begin to plan our 60th next year also−may we be as diligent as the class of 1951 has been in planning their celebration May 27 and 28.

Closer home I read a sports article in the St. Peter Herald that highlights the grandson of our classmate Paul Elofson, Mitch Elofson, son of Andy Elofson, who is a 17 year-old outstanding tennis player at St. Peter High School even though he did not begin to play tennis until he was ten years old.  He became a quick learner for which he credits his father who got him started playing with him daily.

Marie Schafer Benson

1952 Guest Letter Writer

Campus News

Alumni Association Awards Announced

The Greater Gustavus Award is the highest award given to those, who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College.  Walter Youngquist ’42, Eugene, OR, chair emeritus, Department of Geology, University of Oregon, and consulting geologist, was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Greater Gustavus Award.  Youngquist has established five different endowed funds at the College and is the recipient of a Gustavus Distinguished Alumni Citation in the field of geology in 2002.  Walter’s father, Walter Youngquist ’16, received the Greater Gustavus Award in 1953.

Distinguished Alumni Citations recognize outstanding and exceptional professional achievement, such as unusual honor accorded to the individual in his or her field of endeavor.  Named as 2011 recipients are John “Jack” Bergman ’69, St. Francisville, LA, lieutenant general, retired, United States Marine Corp., in the field of military service; Robert Brown ’83, Rochester, MN, John T. and Lillian Matthews Professor of Neuroscience, Chair of Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, in the field of medicine; and Mark Thomsen ’78, Henderson, NV, professional operatic tenor, in the field of music.

The First Decade Award recognizes early professional achievement to one female and one male in the 10th Anniversary Class.  Selected were Kirsten Cullen Sharma ’01, New York, NY, clinical assistant professor, New York University Child Study Center, New York University Langone Medical Center, and Jonathan Poole ’01, Washington, DC, special agent, violent crime branch, Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of State.  The Awards will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 28.

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfasts

Engage with other alumni and learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Gustie breakfasts.  The speaker for May will be Carolyn O’Grady, international education and for June it is Grady St. Dennis, director of church relations.  The Minneapolis breakfast is Wednesday, May 18, 8–9:30 a.m., at the Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Blvd. Cost is $10 at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing the Office of Alumni Relations at or by calling 800-487-8437.

The St. Peter breakfast will be Wednesday, May 11, 7:30–9 a.m. in a campus banquet room in the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center.  Cost is $8 per person, or $15 for two, payable at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing or by calling 507-933-7512.

Chapter Gatherings

This year President and Kris Ohle have traveled to many parts of the country and made 15 stops in various cities, in order to reach out to all of our alumni and bring them an update from the College.  Summer will bring another round of picnic gatherings – so please mark your calendar if you live near one of these locations:

Mankato, MN – May 31

Rochester, MN – June 1

Sioux Falls, SD – June 6

Fargo, ND/Moorhead, MN – June 7

St. Cloud, MN – June 8

Apple Valley, MN – July 12

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – July 13

Long Lake, MN – July 14

Duluth, MN – July 26

Grand Rapids, MN – July 27

Brainerd, MN - July 28

Class of 2016 The Admission Department has already received deposits for over 750 new students next fall.  This is way up from previous years when only 50 – 100 deposits would have been received by this time.  Looks like the secret is out about Gustavus!

Nobel Conference 47 - The Brain and Being Human  Oct. 4 & 5, 2011

In recent years, novel collaborations between neuroscientists and researchers in seemingly disparate fields have forged new ideas and new questions about the working of the brain.  Aspects of daily human life are now incorporated into the scientific arena in a new synthesis to understand the human experience and what it means to be human.  The braiding of neuroscience with the humanities, arts, social sciences, theology, and engineering has empowered explanations of the motivations and operations of our daily activities.  This insight engenders uncertainty in terms of how to best apply this knowledge responsibly and ethically, and perhaps is even challenging the distinctiveness of our own species.