Class of '53
January 2001

Dear Classmates,

In the last week, I have, by chance, had a collection of communiqu├ęs from the college. I thought that you might be interested in a rephrasing of them since they give you some idea that our alma mater is still alive with traditions that will warm your heart.

Things are getting straightened out at Gustavus. A letter from the President yesterday explained that a group of structural engineers came up with a solution to keep the spire on the chapel in an upright position. Seems that strong winds had recently tilted the spire to leeward-I'm guessing that it was pointing toward downtown St. Peter and all of you know that there is plenty of temptation to find in downtown St. Peter. Well, the spire is now pointing straight up and will stay that way. That's a relief to know that the moral compass on the campus is now properly aligned.

About a week ago I received a large packet of photocopied petitions from students complaining that the administration is not listening to them and threatening to reduce funds for the peace program at Gustavus. I received the packet as a member of the Gustavus Board of Trustees, a position I have not held for some ten years. It was reassuring that student protesters at the college are so out of the mainstream that they think that I'm still on the Board. Perhaps I was the last raging liberal and they figured they might find a sympathetic vote. At any rate, this group of protesters is not likely to make much headway. Today, an organized group of effective protesters would have their own web site rather that relying on photocopies.

And lastly, in the mail no less, a newsletter came from my old fraternity, the Eppies. As some of you may recall, all the fraternities and sororities were banned from the hill some two decades ago in an attempt to curb the excesses of initiation, hell week, as some of you may recall it. After a generation of students had passed from the college, fraternities and sororities were allowed back on if they promised to reform their ways and do good deeds for their fellow citizens. Almost all came back, but my old fraternity, the Epsilon Pi Alphas. Drat, I thought, we once were such clean-cut classy young lads.

Well, somewhere deep within the soil of the campus, apparently uncovered when the tornado blew through, the old Eppie spirit reappeared and a new organization formed and promised to do good deeds and was readmitted. The last group of initiates, according to the newsletter, was large, full of promising scholars, able to do good deeds, and still loved a good party now and then. Very reassuring. I went to the basement, found my old initiation paddle hanging next to the furnace, and dusted it off. Ah, fond memories.

This is all reported to you so you can judge for yourself if the college is still an interesting blend of fine old traditions combined with what is new and promising. The alumni office will add at this point, some stories of the new and promising.

Campus News

The Gustavus campus is enjoying another busy and exciting January Term with 2300-plus students enrolled for credit! We are offering over 100 January Term courses, including 16 travel courses (plus 36 international courses through our UMAIE consortium). There are also 15 courses on the special Environmental Studies theme for J-Term 2001. Some of these courses include, Chemistry in the Environment, The Literature of Winter, Geographical Issues in the Third World, Global Environmental Change, Amazonia: An Eco-Historical Perspective, GIS in Environmental Analysis, The Changing Face of Agriculture, and Environmental Journalism. Next year (2002) the January Term theme will be "Global Village" and will feature both international and domestic diversity focused courses. After that J-Term themes are planned for "Service-Learning" (2003) and "Undergraduate Research" (2004).

You are invited and encouraged to attend these upcoming national chapter alumni events. Invitations are sent to alumni in chapters. For more information, please call the Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or look on the web at

  • Rapid City Chapter, Gustavus Choir Concert, February 1
  • Sioux Falls Chapter, Gustavus Choir Concert, February 2
  • Twin Cities Chapter, Gustavus Choir Concert, February 4, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 12650 Johnny Cake Road, Apple Valley, 3:30 p.m.
  • Gustavus Band Home Concert, February 4, Christ Chapel, 7:30 p.m.
  • Gustavus Choir Home Concert, February 10, Christ Chapel, 7:30 p.m.
  • Marco Island gathering February 24
  • Vero Beach gathering February 25

Reunions 2001

50th Anniversary Class and 50 Year Club reunions will take place on campus, May 25-26 for the Class of 1951 and the 50 Year Club. Registration material will be mailed in April.

A reminder that all other reunion classes (1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996) will have their reunions at Homecoming on September 21-22. Class gatherings will take place in the Twin Cities at the DoubleTree Hotel, Minneapolis Airport at the Mall, on Friday, September 21. Homecoming activities will take place on campus on Saturday, September 22.

Will you help Gustavus remain strongly church related? Encourage your ELCA congregation to join the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations. There is no cost. For more information, call the Office of Church Relations at 800-726-6194 or e-mail Craig Johnson at

There is a smattering of news from classmates that has come via a Phonorama calls and notes written on those familiar envelopes sent to you on a regular basis with the hope that you will write a sizable check to the college and send it in to support the annual fund drive.

Tom Boman has finally retired from the University of Minnesota, to the relief of his colleagues who were concerned that he was forgetting where he last parked his car on the campus. His good wife, Mary, reports that having him around the house all the time is like having a grand piano in the middle of the kitchen.

Fran and Betty Ness Dale write from Holiday Island, AR, a retirement community in the Ozarks, that life is good and the location is beautiful. I suspect that the note was written before the snowstorms that ravaged that state and the electric outages that resulted from downed power lines. Meanwhile, those of us back in Minnesota have had an ideal winter and no power outages.

Ross Warner, the ultimate geezer athlete living in Alaska, reported that he skied 71 times last winter and plays basketball three times a week. The kid was from Duluth, so you knew that he would be tough and love the snow.

Jeanette Pehling Iseli responds from Altamonte Springs, FL. She is recovering from cancer, but no details were given. Hope all is going well.

Dorothy Videen Ekstam lives in Laurens, IA, and is coping with the loss of her husband, John, who died the previous year.

James Wennblom, the master of the media and a collector of films, lost his wife, Grace, this past November.

The deaths that we all experience, whether it be classmates, or neighbors, or work mates, or good friends, or family, reminds us that we have entered the era when our days are more numbered and we need to live them to the fullest. We are reminded of the importance of family, of networks that sustain us and keep us fixed on what is important.

In that regard, I would hope that you keep connected to Gustavus via visits, sharing news in the classletter, and dropping off an email now and then. And speaking of email, I attempt to respond when you send something in, but haven't been very organized in saving the news for the next newsletter. I'll resolve to try to do better in the future.

Do send me something that I can use in the next class letter, even if it is the latest George W joke. I'll try to keep the stories balanced so you recent converts to the GOP will not feel slighted.

Oh yes, do remember to support the Gustavus Fund. My trusty co-class agent, Bobby Krig, would feel terrible if our numbers began to decline. It's his job to hustle the funds so make it easy for him. He'll appreciate it.

Cheers and God Bless,

Tom Boman