Class of '53
October 2009

Dear Classmates,

Some very good news.  Our class had the best percentage of participation (65.5%) of any class in our decade (1949 – 1958) in contributions to the Gustavus Annual Fund.  That’s terrific.  That must mean that you carefully read this class letter whenever it comes and save it next to your check book so you remember to send something in to the fund.

Some more good news.  Remember when we established a Class of 1953 Scholarship Fund back when we had our 50th reunion?  Well, I just received a nice letter from Gustavus junior Kristin Mead thanking us for the scholarship assistance she received from the class of ’53.  Kristin is a sociology/anthropology and theater double major.  To quote Kristin:  “I am paying for college on my own and am truly appreciative of anyone who is willing to help.  Thanks again!”

The comprehensive fee at Gustavus this year is $40,000 – a bit more than when we were in college in the early ’50s.  By the way, if any of you have won a lottery or come in to a large inheritance recently you can always contribute to the scholarship fund since it is open for more contributions.

And still more good news.  Jim Ford’s prayers, before the U. S. House of Representatives, have just been published.  Jim was chaplain of the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 2000.  One of his responsibilities was to open each session with prayer.  Those prayers are now in one magnificent book published by the government printing office and released in 2009.  The book has introductory statements by James Bonner, House Minority Leader, Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House.  This letter will close with one of his prayers.

If you would like a copy of Jim’s book, send $5 to cover postage to Jim’s sister, Janet Ford Schramm ’55, who lives in Duluth.  Her address is:  Janet Schramm, 313 Hawkins St., Duluth, MN 55811.

The college has a new president in Jack Ohle.  The president is of German ancestry and his wife, Kris, is of Swedish ancestry.  So that has stimulated all sorts of Ole and Lena stories like this classic:

Ole was on his death bed at home when he smelled chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.  With his last bit of strength he pulled himself out of bed, dragged himself downstairs to the kitchen, and reached for one of the freshly baked cookies.  Just then Lena came in to the kitchen and said, “Ole, keep your hands off.  Those are for your funeral.”

President Ohle came to our fair city (Duluth) a month or so ago for a little bit of meet and greet the natives and do some public relations for the college.  The day was picture perfect and the event was in the front yard of one of the college’s more recent graduates.  He did a fine job of fielding questions including the anticipated one regarding all the turn-over in the top echelon of the college.  His answer seemed to sooth the natives who were already feeling generous toward their neighbors given the abundant supply of brats, beans and beverages at the event.

One of Ohle’s initiatives was to hire a new public relations firm to produce promotional materials for the college.  This firm interviewed hundreds of students, faculty and staff and spent days on the campus getting a feel for the place.  They produced a booklet for prospective students called, “IF.”  It’s terrific.  The theme is, “Make Your Life Count.

A statement in the booklet says:  “Our purpose is rooted in faith, community, citizenship, ethics, and hard work.  In one way or another, everyone participates.  It’s what it means to be a Gustie.  And it’s what separates us from the other colleges you may be thinking about.”  Nice.

Contact the Alumni Office and ask for a copy.  After you’ve read it, pass it on to a college prospect.

The Nobel Conference was held October 6 and 7.  The theme, as you have likely read about, is: “Water – Uncertain Resource.”  An appropriate theme this year in that California, Arizona and even Washington are all parched this late summer and fall and Georgia and most of the southeastern states are in flood stage with too much water.  It always amazes me that those who pick conference themes three years in advance seem to pick a topic that turns out to be exactly right for the times.  If you plan to attend the conference keep an eye out for class of ’53ers at the event.

A last request before the Alumni Office inserts some college news.  The next (Jan.) class letter typically is prepared by someone other than your class agents.  Any volunteers who would like to give the class letter a try?

Campus News

Gustavus get High Rankings

Gustavus Adolphus College is listed as the 33rd best liberal arts college in the country according to a new set of college rankings released on Thursday, September 3, by Washington Monthly magazine.  The publication states on its website that schools were ranked based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories:  social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

Gustavus once again ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings.  Gustavus moved up eight places from last year’s rankings to 80th on the magazine’s “Best Liberal Arts College’s” list.  Gustavus is one of six Minnesota colleges that placed in the top 100 in this year’s rankings.  One of the measures used to capture the various dimensions of academic quality at each college is alumni giving percentage; therefore, participating in a giving program at Gustavus, regardless of amount given, is important to the College.

GLA Membership

All of us remember the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.  It was a place for study and, depending on your era, finding a “coffee date.”  But, in the 21st century, it has become much more.  It is a technology-rich laboratory for learning and a storehouse of culture and recorded knowledge.  It must constantly be strengthened to ensure excellence in education.  The Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) provides financial support for the library and a program of events to its members.  Join this year and immediately make a difference.  Whatever membership gift level you choose, 100% goes directly to the library’s acquisition budget.  Join today at!!!

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.

Upcoming speakers:

President Jack R. Ohle – Oct. 21

Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 – Nov. 18

Thomas Young ’88 – Dec. 16

Upcoming Events

  • Athletics Hall of Fame – October 17, 2009
  • Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – November 14, 2009
  • Farewell for Steve and Barb Wilkinson, Minneapolis Hyatt - December 12

royal affair

As promised earlier in the letter, here is a prayer offered by Jim Ford before the United State House of Representatives at the beginning of the last session that Jim served as chaplain.

“May your outstretched hand, O God, that lifts nations and peoples from the ordinary meanderings of the human spirit, touch our lives in such a way that we do extraordinary deeds to promote peace and good will, that we strive to champion justice and freedom and that we ever look to the needs of the homeless and those who are forgotten in our land.  Make us instruments of healing when we are apart, makes us agents of kindness where there is anger, and make us good stewards of the blessings that have been the heritage of our land.

The Lord bless us and keep us,

The Lord make His face shine upon us and be gracious unto us,

The Lord lift up His countenance upon us, and give us peace.  Amen.”

~Delivered by Jim Ford on Thursday, January 27, 2007.

Spend your fall season wisely and think kindly about your alma mater.

Tom Boman, class letter editor

Marv Larson, fund coordinator

1953 Co-class Agents