Class of '53
January 2008

55-Year Reunion

Reunion dates ― May 30-31, 2008

The weather up here in the far north has been terrific.  Lots of snow, mild temperatures, and awesome skiing.  But as I write this I can feel the arctic winds beginning to blow out of the northwest and by the weekend it will be well below zero.  All thoughts of global warming will have left us and we will be huddling close to the furnace listening to it hum away beating back the frigid temperatures.

Of course, all of this talk only makes those of you looking out at green grass and contemplating another round of golf or a nice hike down by the seashore think about how much easier it is without having to put on long underwear and two jackets before going outside.  I guess we all tend to gravitate where we feel best.

And speaking of feeling good, my good wife and I attended Christmas in Christ Chapel again this year.  The music was marvelous, the atmosphere dripped of Christmas and anticipation, and the food was spectacular.  We had the good fortune of attending on Friday night and, anticipating a snow storm coming in, hightailed it back to Duluth.  By Saturday snow was blanketing our alma mater and it was quite easy to find a good seat in Christ Chapel even without an advanced ticket.  President Peterson ’64 mentioned in his remarks at the Friday dinner that the college expected over 6,000 people to attend the concerts―unless the snow intervened.

All of this snow reminds me of the short-lived Gustie ski hill experiment.  If it had worked many of you who have traveled to Colorado or Austria to find great skiing would likely have come to Mount Gustie for your vacation.  The ski hill was located north of town along one of the ravines that faced north.  One of the organizer’s dads had a spare Ford car that he was willing to loan to the enterprise and someone had found enough rope to make it possible to have a rope tow from bottom to top.  The rope looped around one of the rear wheels of the car located at the top of the hill and was attached to another wheel at the bottom.

The year before the great ski hill development the Minnesota Valley had an unusually good winter with lots of snow and an extended period of cold weather.  Many students practiced skiing down the hill in front of Uhler Hall and a ski team was organized to take on St. Olaf.  But as luck would have it, the next year, the year of the ski hill, hardly a flake of snow fell all year.  The weather was so mild that the profs in the biology department were advocating that the earth was warming―a radical idea at the time.  The ski hill development faded and the Ford car went back to ferrying pigs to market.

But it is always fascinating to think about what might have been, especially if St. Peter had become the state capitol.  Students would be coming to Gustavus rather than the University of Colorado for the skiing.  Excursion boats would be traveling up and down the Minnesota River since the legislators would have provided the resources to make the Minnesota River navigable at least as far as Mankato.  And Gustavus would likely be known as Gustavus Institute of Technology, GIT for short, and been in the same league as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But it didn’t snow in the winter of ’52-’53 and back in 1895 a couple of crooked lawmakers from St. Paul stole the documents that would have made St. Peter the state capitol.  So what we have is a fine liberal arts college in the modest little town of St. Peter where 6,000 folks still gather at the beginning of advent and listen to sweet carols sung by eager college students.

Do any of you readers remember any details of the great ski hill experiment?  Names?  Correct dates?  Whatever?

By now you have probably read any Christmas letters that you forgot to read earlier, paid off your Target bills, and are pondering who to vote for in your local caucus or primary election.  So it is time to think about making your annual contribution to Gustavus.  Yes, I know, the stock market is sinking, the housing market is making it impossible for you to sell the house you left back in Minnesota as you decided to make a permanent move to Florida, and some of your kids are still living with you since they can’t find a job, even with their Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota.  But even so, a small contribution really counts, especially since we want our class to finish at the top in “percent of donors” in our decade.

This spring will mark the 55th year since our graduation.  Amazing how time flies.  Our reunion is May 30-31 (mark your calendars!) and graduation is Sunday, June 1.  Memorial Day is early this year, May 26.  So there will still be another weekend in May for opening up your cabin.  Consider coming back to the college for graduation weekend and the celebration for all alumni that have hit the 50-year mark and more.  On Saturday there are programs, interpretive hikes in the arboretum, open tennis courts for those of you still able to chase a ball around, and coffee urns everywhere.  We hope to have some special events for the class of ’53 including a field trip to the old ski hill.  Who knows, we might even find some well-aged wine on the site and some cheese to go with it.

One of the perks of making it this far in life as an alumnus is that the college foots the bill for all of us aging alums if we will come back at graduation time.  The lodging is free in the dorms and the food is for a nominal fee, with the Alumni Banquet being on the house.  If you want air conditioning and a soft bed you had better make an arrangement with a motel in St. Peter or Mankato ASAP.

Well, I have made my pitch for the reunion and for donations.  Time to move on to the spotty news from you graduates.

Gus and Jeanne Harms from Waterloo, Wisconsin, have a granddaughter at Gustavus:  Courtney.  She is a sophomore and likely never heard the tale of Mount Gustie.

Elaine Nagel Nelson is a mainstay of Zion Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.  She quilts, makes banners, counts money on Sunday mornings, and watches over six great-grandchildren.  She has been a member of Zion for 52 years.

Glen Sandquist, that old romantic, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary in July in Texas with a colossal barbecue for friends from Peace Lutheran Church in Austin.

Bud and Carol Leaf Nelson and Chuck and Marilyn Anderson Jacobson took a trip to Portugal and Spain and brought back record amounts of fine wines for use in communion settings and family celebrations.

Odean Hokenson and his wife Myrtle (Lindquist ’49) have passed another milestone.  She just turned 80 so he added on to the house and invited all of their five children to move in with them.  Two of the kids are Gustavus grads:  Miriam ’79 and Becky ’73.

David Kobe and his good wife, Suzanne, have decided to move closer to the Chimney Rock on Chimney Rock Road in Colorado.  The view is better and they are closer to good skiing.

Robert and Darlene (Hill) Barke have migrated to Madisonville, LA, in order to escape the cold Minnesota winters.  No information whether any of their 15 grandchildren will be moving in with them.

Marv Larson and his wife, Ruth, winter in Apache Hills, AZ, where they can keep a watchful eye on the comings and goings of John McCain and also play a bit of golf each day.

This is all the information there is to report.  So put your fingers to the keyboard and send us some good stuff for the next issue of the class letter.  It will be much appreciated.

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.


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.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, February 20
  • Music Showcase, March 9

For more information on alumni events, go to:

Your faithful editor:

Tom Boman