Class of '53
February 2002

Dear Classmates,

One year from today most of us will be weighing in and eating carrot sticks attempting to reduce our body mass to something a bit closer to what it was in 1953.  We will be just a few months away from our 50th class reunion.  Still time to see if we can put on a sweater, turn sideways, and not create a full solar eclipse.

The college does the 50-year class a favor by holding all events on campus away from the maddening crowd of other reunions with all of those boomers and gen‑xers who look so good and can still run the length of their driveway without collapsing.  Activities are scheduled an extra 10 minutes apart to give time for the 50th types to make it across campus.  Coffee urns are located at the halfway points between campus attractions, just like at a marathon run, to provide body fluid replacement.

It is wise to start putting aside those frequent flyer miles so you can come back to St. Peter next May for the big 50th.  If you do fly, the closest airport is still the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.  St. Peter has not changed much in 50 years so there is no major airfield in the vicinity unless you fly yourself and land in Lars Olsen's watermelon patch just west of the campus.

Many of us have not been back to the campus for far too many years and things have changed.  More buildings, of course.  The landscaping that we recalled as early crabgrass is now winning awards among college designers.  The swimming pool that replaced the large bathtub in the basement of the gym is only slightly smaller than Lake Emily.  What was once a collection of wheat fields is now a highly respected arboretum with a full time naturalist.  The tennis courts are regulation and some are covered to guarantee play in foul weather.  The geology department is out of the basement in Old Main and the education department is remarkably respected.  Much has changed that make it worth coming back to check it out.

So plan ahead.  Fellow class agent, Bobby Krig, accepts no excuses.  Avoid having the embarrassment of having Bobby show up in front of your house in his black limo with two henchmen and dragging you off in your bathrobe, putting you in the trunk, and hightailing it off to the campus for the reunion.  Be there early with your dignity intact and plenty of stories to tell.

So much for the reunion reminder in this letter.  But be prepared to have many more as the year unfolds.

The winter Olympics reminds me that Gustavus might have been the Olympic site instead of Salt Lake if only things had worked out a little better in the early 1950's. There was good snow in Minnesota in 1951-52.  Downhill skiing was just becoming popular, but there were not many ski areas that had opened.  One of the places that looked promising was the picnic area just to the north of St. Peter, just off highway 169.

Most of you may remember the area as the location of frequent "ice cream socials" (as they were advertised around campus thinking that President Carlson was not aware of what was really going on) sponsored by the fraternities when they were not volunteering for service projects.  The area had a small creek that had cut a rather severe gully on the west side of the bank that defined the Minnesota River valley.  The north side of the gully looked perfect to some skiing enthusiasts as a potential downhill ski area.  A few runs down the slope in late winter of 1952 confirmed the possibilities.

Over the summer of 1952 a well used Ford sedan was located and donated to the project by a well-meaning parent.  Another enterprising student, whose father owned a hardware store and feed mill, located a used, but serviceable, rope that could be run from a pulley at the bottom of the hill to the rear wheel of the car that was jacked up at the top of the hill and, wah-laa, a ski lift.

Alas, the winter of 1952-53, as most of us recall, was not unlike the winter 2001-02.  Almost no snow.  What little did fall usually melted within days.  The ski hill never opened.  And history was changed.

But if it had snowed in 1953, imagine what might have happened.  First a couple of ski lifts and some runs.  Then a chalet and a hotel or two.  Then the Sioux tribes in the area would have opened a world class casino bringing in high-powered lounge activities.  Interstate 35 would have been routed down highway 169 through St. Peter and Mankato rather than to the east through Northfield and Owatana.  Gustavus would have grown rapidly and become the flagship of the ELCA.  The bishop would have located his office at Gustavus rather than Chicago.  The powerful Lutheran lobby would have gotten the legislature to prohibit the use of anything stronger than 3.2% alcoholic beverages except in private clubs in the entire Minnesota Valley.

The bid for the winter Olympics in 2002 would have gone to St. Peter rather than Salt Lake.  There would not have been a bidding scandal since Lutherans would have used debating skills honed in Prof. Anderson's speech classes to convince IOC members to vote for St. Peter without the use of bribes (with perhaps the exception of a few scholarships for promising pre-sems at GA).

Christ Chapel would have become the center of evangelistic fervor rather than the Crystal Cathedral in California.  One of our seminary grads might have been the Robert Schuller of our day.

But it didn't snow in the winter of 1953 and events mostly bypassed the quiet Minnesota valley.  So, come back in 2003 and renew old memories.  Maybe some of you might even like a side trip to the location of the ski hill that might have changed history if only the weather had cooperated.

This might be a good place for the kindly people in the Alumni Office to insert their version of recent campus news, which is written this time by a current Gustavus student.  Then will follow the news of your classmates.

Campus News

Hi!  My name is Tracey Hanson.  I’m a senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Business Management.  I’ve worked in the Alumni Office all four years and can hardly believe that I’m now starting my final semester!  Instead of taking a class (and doing homework) this J-Term, I spent my time slaving away in the Alumni Office.  It was great to have the extra time to relax and do other activities that J-Term allows.  Having unlimited time at home each night made for some great cooking!  And getting to watch “Friends” without worrying about the homework you should be doing instead was also a plus!  The start of the spring semester (thus, the start of homework) has been a sudden shock to my system! 

The campus is full of life and excitement.  A successful and busy J-Term just ended, and spring semester is now underway.  The theme for J-Term 2002 was "Our Global Village," and the month was a celebration of cultural diversity as we grappled with social, political, economic and philosophical aspects of our ever-shrinking world neighborhood.  Faculty offered 29 different classes that tied into this global theme, many of which were travel courses.  Examples include Islam and Culture, and Chinese Cooking and Culture.  This year, 2319 students enrolled in J-Term courses, with many who studied abroad, participated in internships, student taught or studied at other domestic institutions.  I got very jealous when I read e-mails from my roommates who were studying in warm, sunny Australia.  J-Term themes for the coming years include “Service-Learning” (2003) and “Undergraduate Research.” (2004).

Gustie winter sports teams are having a great year, as all are near the top in the MIAC.

Gustie music ensembles just returned from their tours.  The Gustavus Band embarked on an international tour this J-Term.  The band toured Sweden and Norway, presenting “Music from America.”  The tour dates were January 16 through February 10.  The tour concluded with a homecoming performance on Feb. 10 in Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Choir toured the Midwest during Touring Week in February, concluding with their home concert Feb. 16 in Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Orchestra toured Minnesota, the Dakotas, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa.  The orchestra concluded their tour with a home performance Feb. 17 in Christ Chapel.

The Alumni Association is on the road this winter and spring connecting alumni to each other and the College.  Director of the Linnaeus Arboretum and Instructor of Environmental Studies, Jim Gilbert ’62, will travel along to provide an interesting and informative program.  Complete information is listed on our web site under events.  If you need more information, give us a call at 800-487-8437.


February 23    Orlando Chapter event – Sam Snead’s Tavern

                        301 East Pine Street, Orlando

                        7:00 p.m. Dutch treat dinner

March 7          San Diego Chapter event

                        Dinner hosted by John and Paula Penrod ’79, ’79

March 8          Tucson Chapter gathering 

Dinner - Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’67, ’66 residence

March 9          Phoenix Chapter gathering

                        Dinner at Pera Club, Tempe

March 10        Sun City Chapter gathering

                        Dinner at Bella Vista Restaurant, Peoria

April 5             Bay Area Chapter event

April 6             Seattle Chapter event – Luncheon at Buca di Beppo Restaurant

April 7             Denver Chapter event

More information will be sent to alumni and friends in these chapter areas.

RSVP to Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or e-mail

As I prepare to graduate in June, I find it increasingly hard to think about leaving this place.  It hardly seems possible that four years have flown by, and that in six months I, too, will be considered an alum.  I will always carry with me fond memories of my four years here.  GO GUSTIES!!!

Class News:

Joan Hallender Hengel sends a note from Switzerland saying she enjoys the class letters (this is why I start with Joan in this section of the letter) and be sure to say hello to Bobby Krig:  "He always was something special."

Betty Nelson Eckman is now the president of the Swedish Cultural Society of Rockford, IL.  To celebrate her new status, she took one of her grandchildren to Sweden.  She notes that youngsters under 16 travel free in Sweden if accompanied with a parent or grandparent.  Thanks for the tip.

Bob and Dar (Hill) Barke check in from Madisonville, LA.  "Louisiana looks really good after the tough winter of 2001."  Too bad they didn't wait until this year when Minnesota seems more like Arkansas.  But who can predict the weather.

Fran Dale fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a priest.  Actually he was a "priest guide" through the tabernacle on the "Holy Land Tour" at the Passion Play in Eureka Springs, AR.  Whoa.  For a minute there I thought we had lost one of our true believers.

Laverne and Pauline (Carlson) Huse did the Europe trip this summer.  Likely it was a good opportunity to avoid baby sitting their nine grandchildren that all live in the immediate area of Rochester, MN.

Gaylord and Jeanenne (Andersen ’57) Fernstrom enclosed a copy of a clever business card that lists their profession as "professional grandparents."  Maybe they will have them for sale at the reunion.

Beverly Peterson says that she and husband, Gene Frisk ’55 are just having a good time.  Figures.  He is still working, but she is playing, doing watercolors, crocheting, and enjoying a new granddaughter, Linnea Kristina.

Russ Nielsen retired (again), this time as the bus driver for the Fort Collins Good Samaritan Retirement Village.  He says he got too old to be on his hands and knees hooking up wheel chairs for some of the old people his age.

Marj Kaus Jenkins writes that she faithfully reads the class letters as a way to keep informed of campus and class happenings.  (Good thing that the Alumni Office inserts information because the stuff that I put in is mostly a product of whimsy and fantasy).

Marguerite Olson Pratt, as you faithful readers recall, decided to seek a respite from the family farm near Gardner, ND and purchased a retirement condo in Fargo, ND. That's a switch from the usual North Dakota retiree that moves to Texas or Arizona.  Makes sense, though, they have children in Fargo, Minneapolis, and Fort Atkinson, WI.

Willis Swanson attended this year's Nobel Conference.  He says he is still trying to figure out what the presenters were saying.  That's O.K.  One doesn't need to understand; just being there is good for the soul.

A bunch of classmates were on Bobby Krig's calling list for the fall Phonorama.  Bobby left some cryptic notes that someone, someday may be able to translate.  Bobby does a great job during Phonorama manning the phones for nights on end.  Of course, he does get all the pizza he can eat during his evening calling shifts.  At any rate, here are some of the names of the people he contacted and their current home locations:

  • Dick Engwall - Minnetonka, MN
  • Janet Hersch Lovold - Champlin, MN
  • Myron Johnson - Elmore, MN
  • Rodney Hokenson - Adrian, MI
  • Joan Warner Halverson - Northfield, MN
  • Donna Olson Nystuen - Inver Grove Heights, MN
  • Val Barlau - Waconia, MN
  • Rita Hale Elmen - Sioux Falls, SD
  • John (Jack) Graber - Burnsville, MN
  • Lowell Larson - Southern Pines, NC
  • Rudy Semeja - Ely, MN
  • Roy Johnson - Eden Prairie, MN
  • Norma Johnson Hein - Charlotte, NC
  • Ann Carlson Campbell - Delphi, IN
  • Penny Erdahl Catterson - Port Angeles, WA
  • Beverly Nordstrom Arnold - Green Valley, AZ
  • Richard Anderson - Eugene, OR
  • Delphine Hedtke - Saint Paul, MN
  • Mae Olson Anderson - Sierra Vista, AZ
  • Daniel Borg - Sterling, MA
  • Darlene Hill Barke - Madisonville, LA
  • Tom Boman - Duluth, MN

That's an impressive list of phone calls. Let's hear it for Bobby!

If any of you are around the Twin Cities on Saturday, April 27, Gustavus is sponsoring its annual day of community service.  It's called GIVE ‑ Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors.  Give Bobby a call if you can participate.

That's all folks.  Stay on your diet.  Pray for peace.  Keep doing your random acts of kindness. 

Tom Boman

1953 Co-class agent with Bobby Krig


Phone: 218/724-2317