Class of '53
Ah the magnificent summer of ’98. I suspect that we actually experienced, what my geologist friends call, a tectonic shift, that phenomenon where parts of the earth’s crust move to a different location. In our case, Minnesota must have moved closer to San Diego for the summer only to move back in time for the onset of fall and all the cool air and colored leaves that signal the big chill is about to descend.
Today the big chill is in the air and reminds me that this class letter was due to Gustavus yesterday. So here goes…
Fellow class agent, Bobby Krig, and I descended on the campus in mid September to attend the annual class agents’ meeting held in Alumni Hall. Let me assure you that the campus transformation from tornado damaged to early fall readiness is amazing. The place looks and feels great! And the enrollment is the highest in history. Now St. Olaf is envious that they didn’t get their own tornado.
Gone is Johnson Hall. It sustained significant damage from the tornado and building inspectors advised that it should be torn down rather than attempting to rescue it. But for old Johnson loyalists, there are plans afoot to build something on the site that would look and smell something like Johnson Hall of yesterday. Apparently they can build a new building that will look old and still smell musty.
There is a huge hole close to the old dining center that will soon be filled with the new campus center which will house a larger dining room and a brand new, high technology kitchen. One concession to technology will be to retain a couple of the old wood fired ovens that Evelyn Young ’33 used to bake that specialty bread that we all grew to love and cherish. And, as you might have guessed, the new facility will be named after Evelyn.
Our class distinguished itself this past year with the best percentage of alumni giving in our decade. That’s terrific! It also gave Bobby bragging rights over his nemesis, the class of ’52 (the class agent for that class being his dearly beloved).
When you get your reminder this year to contribute back to the alma mater, you will notice that the annual fund has been renamed the Gustavus Fund. Makes sense. When you do your income taxes for ’98, it will help you remember where that check went. No longer will you have to recall which annual fund your money went to; now it will be clear that it went to Gustavus, your favorite alma mater.
The class reunion in May was a tremendous success. All classes met at the Radisson in Minneapolis so not only could we hobnob with classmates, we could banter with friends from other classes. The idea to hold the reunions in a single hotel in Minneapolis was tornado driven, but it was so successful that next year the Friday night alumni reunions will again be scheduled in one of the Twin Cities hotels.
One culinary observation. We had almost the same menu on Friday night at the Radisson and Saturday night at the alumni banquet held in the fieldhouse on campus. The hotel meal came out of Radisson’s ample kitchens; the Gustavus meal came out of the field kitchens and was served by a host of students. The Gustavus meal was better. The food was hotter, tastier, and delivered with that amazing efficiency characteristic of Gustavus food planners.
But you have been reading this class letter with the idea that eventually you would get some news from classmates. Some of the news is a bit dated since it covers everything from last spring to the present. But that’s okay. If we heard this before we have likely forgotten it so everything will seem fresh. That’s the beauty of being in our late 60’s.
Marianne Colberg Kewsani retired in May from her role as foreign student adviser at Gustavus. She hopes to return to India to visit, a first since she hosted some 17 Gustavus students for a semester abroad back in 1991.
Audrey Peterson Ostlund, is retired, but still hanging out in Atlanta, GA and makers her weekly contributions to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. Not many Lutherans in Georgia, but the trusty few hang together.
Betty Pearson Pelzl (if I have this correctly) went to Australia for about six months so that her husband could practice medicine in some small, under-served areas. That and a bit of traveling kept them from the reunion. But they do have slides of their experience.
Marjorie Kaus Jenkins traveled to Jordan, Israel and Greece in April and May, "just in time to avoid the rubber bullets."
Don Joacobson, the Grand Rapids, MN loyalist, is staying fit by continuing to serve as the assistant cross country ski coach even as he cashes his retirement checks from the GR school system.
Jim Wennbloom, a self styled farmer and writer, continues on the lecture circuit regaling listeners with stories of the history of Hennipen Avenue and inside stories of the Oscar nominations and awards.
Rodney Hokenson, retired after 40 years of conventional parish ministry, has signed on as the midwest church relations field associate of the Odyssey channel offering quality programming that is spiritually and educationally uplifting.
Delphine Hedtke has entered what she says is the, "the third age," an age of involvement, creativity and meaning. She is attending the Luther Seminary Lay School, traveling, consulting and doing elderhostels.
Chuck and Beverly (Molstre) Leistico continue to reside in Arlington Heights, IL. He retired from the department of revenue (no wonder he had an unlisted phone number) in ’98. That’s about the time that Illinois experienced their first revenue shortfall. Expect Chuck to be recalled into service.
Francis Johnson Hummel spent some time in Prague, Czech Republic, and is willing to exchange slides for coffee.
Shirley Svendsen Thompson still operates that remote B and B near Hatt Butte, OR as featured in National Geographic in ’97. No phones, no TV, some radio reception, weekly newspaper. Says she really looks forward to the class letter. Way to go, Shirley!
Elaine Nagel Nelson volunteers at church doing everything from running off bulletins and newsletters to counting money and sewing quilts for LWF. Another advocate of the third age.
Irven Bud Nelson along with his wife, Carol, returned to Montivedeo, Uruguay. They spent 7 ½ years there as missionaries back in their youth.
Dick Engwall, retired anesthesiologist, is still making medical history by surviving angioplasty, five vessel coronary bypass, and lymphoma. Everything is now in remission and he looked great at the reunion. Claims that all of this trauma actually helped his golf swing. Figures.
Art Dale hangs out in Tower, MN, famous for its cold temperatures and usually the first place to experience frost in the fall. He writes, composes music, and consults on small group ministry.
Ah, there is more, but I’d better put this letter in the mail so the Alumni Office can get this off in time for this year’s Phonorama and all the reminders of good stuff at Gustavus that they add. I’ll write another class letter and get the rest of the information out in time for Christmas gift giving.
Here’s the news from the campus:
The 1998-99 academic year opened with a record enrollment of 2,470 full-time students (compared with the previous record of 2,389 set in 1988), including a record 700 incoming students (compared to 648 of 1987). Contributing to the record enrollment is the stable 94 percent full-time student retention rate. Students returned to a campus that has been newly landscaped with 400 trees planted last spring and nurtured over the summer. They also discovered that 95% of all repairs made necessary by the tornado of March 29 are now completed. They returned to find Johnson Hall gone as it proved to be "beyond repair," but they also were greeted by a new College View Apartment addition, which houses 92 upper-class students, and the recently purchased Jefferson Avenue apartments (now known as Arbor View), which houses 60 upper-class students. In addition to new carpeting, painting, and furnishings, the campus is sporting 300 new state of the art computers for students and faculty, 28 new Steinway pianos (making us a member of a very elite circle of "All Steinway" campuses), 13 new high-tech multimedia systems for classrooms, new and upgraded outdoor and indoor athletic facilities, and new scientific equipment.
What remains to be done? The Prairie View Residence Hall, to be in place and opened in October, will house 60 students. It will be located west of Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Physically and symbolically the repair/restoration era will end with the placement of the spire and the cross back on the top of Christ Chapel. The spire will go up in sections over a two-day period and the cross is scheduled to be set on Thursday, October 22, weather permitting.
Students also noted the beginning stages of construction on the new Campus Center. This project, part of our strategic plan, was accelerated by the storm. The official groundbreaking ceremony will take place Monday, October 19. This $18.6 million, 51,000 square foot construction project will double the size of the Dining Service Building, providing students, faculty and staff with expanded and improved dining, meeting and office spaces. The Dining Room will, appropriately, be named for Evelyn Young ’33, longtime director of the Dining Service at Gustavus. In progress also is an addition to the Melva Lind Interpretive Center to house the Department of Environmental Studies.
US News and World Report continues to give Gustavus high ranking. This fall’s issue again placed Gustavus in the top half of the 162 national liberal arts colleges in the country. Gustavus is one of four colleges in Minnesota to be in this category. The others are Carleton, Macalester and St. Olaf. The other ELCA schools in addition to Gustavus and St. Olaf are Gettysburg, Muhlenberg and Augustana (IL). Many of the schools with which you are familiar are classified as either a "national" or a "regional" college. National liberal arts colleges have the most selective admission policy, recruit nationally and offer most of their degrees in the liberal arts. Regional liberal arts colleges are less selective in admitting students and grant fewer than 40% of their degrees in the liberal arts.
US News further honored Gustavus by ranking the College third nationally (out of 90 schools) in operating efficiency. This ranking measures academic quality and dollars spent to deliver that quality. Gustavus was the only Minnesota college ranked in this comparison of national liberal arts colleges.
Newsweek magazine’s college publication again listed Gustavus as a "buried treasure." These are colleges that are known as "Hot Schools, Cool Spots." The magazine describes Gustavus as a place where "Personal attention rules--can’t slide by here." Other buried treasures include: Davidson College, Davidson, NC; Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA; Pomona College, Claremont, CA; Trinity University, San Antonio, TX; and College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Good company, indeed.
Children of alumni continue to be honored for their academic achievement and potential when they enroll at Gustavus. The Alumni Scholarship of $2,500 (renewable to $10,000 over four years) is awarded to children and grandchildren of alumni with high school grade point averages of 3.5 or better, or SAT scores of 1170 or an ACT of 26. This fall Gustavus welcomed to campus 70 new entering students who are children of alumni. Sixty-seven legacy students were awarded an Alumni Scholarship. This number includes 54 children of alumni and 13 grandchildren of alumni.
Nobel Conference XXXIV, Virus: The Human Connection was October 6 & 7. The Nobel Conference magazine was again inserted in the August Minnesota Monthly magazine and sent to the entire Gustavus mailing list.
Christmas in Christ Chapel is December 4, 5 & 6. The theme this year is The Holy Family. A ticket order form was inserted in the center of the Summer Quarterly and another form is enclosed with this class letter.
The Gustavus Orchestra will perform its Autumn Concert at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Saturday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m. The featured violin soloist is Siqing Lu, one of the most important Chinese violinists of his generation. General admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call the University of Minnesota Arts Ticket Office (612-624-2345) or Gustavus Ticket Center at (507-933-7598).
G.I.V.E. (Gusites In Volunteer Endeavors), a day of community service, was a huge success for another year. Alumni, parents and friends gathered on Saturday, October 3 to work together in the spirit of service to better their communities. An impact was made around the country as nearly 1,000 Gusties worked in nine cities including: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Duluth, MN; Fargo, ND; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Orlando, FL; Saint Peter, MN; Seattle, WA and Washington, DC.
Recycle your Quarterly – after reading each issue of the Gustavus Quarterly, we encourage you to "recycle" the magazine by taking it to your place of business or worship and sharing it with others. Spread the good word about Gustavus!
Alumni Chapters will be meeting in cities around the country near you! Mark your calendars today for the following Alumni Association chapter visits: Chicago, November 14; Atlanta, November 19; Washington, DC, November 20; Boston, November 21; Denver, February 1 (Gustavus Band concert); Fargo, Feb. 20; Seattle, March 5; San Francisco, March 6; Los Angeles, March 7; Phoenix, March 8; and Sun City, March 9.
Don’t forget the Gustavus Fund (once known as the Annual/Alumni Fund) as you plan your year end giving.
Be of good cheer. Keep the faith. And keep those cards and letters coming.
1953 Co-Class Agent
Note from the Alumni Office: Tom was very modest in his letter about how the 1953 class did in the final analysis of the 1998 Annual Fund (now Gustavus Fund). So we would like to note here that Tom and Bobby were awarded the Class Agent of the Year Award at the annual class agents’ meeting in September. They were decade citation winners in percentage of participation by achieving 75.4 percent (141 donors out of 187), an increase of 3.6% over 1997. Along with Phonorama coverage, four class letters were written during the year to promote a well-attended and well-planned reunion program. This award also recognized their continued support in many areas of the Alumni Association and the College. Congratulations Tom and Bobby!