Class of '54
October 2001

Dear ’54ers,

First, sadly, but importantly if we are to maintain our bonds with one another, I began with notes of sympathy:

To Sylvia Johnson Johnson on the death of her husband Dwight ’58 on April 2, 2001.  Sylvia and Dwight became among the most internationalized grads from our era, long-term residents of Japan, where they served as missionaries.

To the family of Jerry Ludvigson, teacher and coach in Burnsville, MN, who died on October 23.

Next, seriously, you, we, all of us, need to pitch in to help make our class letter newsworthy.  We chose a small college, perhaps not realizing back then its gift to us, a sense of community that has bound us together for the 51 years since we matriculated.  But community comes with obligations.  It means that we need to communicate, to tell others about ourselves.  We started out reporting our engagements and weddings, then children, then jobs and job changes.  That worked for about the first thirty years.  And then, wham, we just plain ran out of that kind of news.  There is no Strom Thurmond or Pablo Picasso among us, to my knowledge.  Class agent after agent since then knows my struggle now, to pepper the class letters with news about us which will cause us to say, "Wow!"

Let's prove, as we are with the idea of our own class gift to the college, that we can take another perspective on a class letter for people approaching the age of seventy.  Let's tell one another about what we're doing now which is enriching our lives.  I have a more specific proposal.  Everywhere I turn, not least since September 11, I see people who are seeking ways to volunteer, to make a difference.  I also see people who don't quite know how to do this.  I hear people saying that the old ways of enjoying retirement just aren't very satisfying after the attack.

I think we can help one another here by providing examples of our own volunteer activities.  So include such news in the envelopes we get from the Alumni Office or tell me directly.  (My email is:; my snail mail is:  1235 Yale Place #1705, Minneapolis 55403.)  I'll do my best to lace subsequent letters with your accounts, to try to make our Class of ’54 newsletter something I'm thinking of as "hard news with a soft side."

And, if you won't help, be forewarned:

Up to now I've been discreet and absolutely professional, resisting the temptation to do the kind of junk I do for Confidential and Hollywood Uncovered.  I have not published the tantalizing tips from my numerous covert operatives about who amongst us was seen at their plastic surgeon's and then boarding a plane to a remote location for six weeks.  I haven't even once succumbed to what I have independent corroboration about which of us has been seen with bimbos and bozos in tow in broad daylight.  But down deep I'm a reporter and there lurks in every reporter the chance to be remembered as the Woodward and Bernstein of Sleaze.

"No More Mister Nice Guy"

Now to some crucial late-breaking news:



On behalf of the seven of us (Mike Anderson, Rog Carlson, John Chell, Joyce Lindell Lund (dec.), Betty Lundgren Schlotthauer and Arlene Waxlax Sonday and me) who have worked these past years to identify and organize a philanthropic project which will enrich our college, I am delighted to note our progress on the carillon.

You've probably wondered why I haven't reported this earlier.  We grew up with United Fund thermometers in our down-towns, showing week by week the flow of dollars, the red line out of bulb and slowly up the tube.  Fund-raising strategy has changed.  Now there is a silent phase before anything is announced.  That phase ends when we know that gifts to date are sufficient to assure those who have not yet donated that they are not buying into a losing cause.  With this letter, we're moving beyond the silent phase.  Here's the skinny, and it's good news:

1.  We are going for $150,000; $40,000 of that for our Class of 1954 state-of-the-art, envy-of-the-state carillon, the remaining $110,000 for an endowment to assure its proper maintenance and an educational program for perpetuity for such people as church bell choirs and organists.

2.  We now have $49,336 in gifts and pledges from a clearly representative group of classmates.  Here's the roll call to date:

CARILLONEUR LEVEL ($5,000 over 3 years)

Roger Carlson

Dave Johnson in memory of Jean Lunnis Johnson

Paul Olson

Arlene Waxlax Sonday

CARILLON TOWER LEVEL ($3000-$4999 over 3 years)

Sharon Anthony Bower

Vic Carter

Barbara Gruse Johnson

Lavern Johnson

Janet Hanson Jones

Marilyn Peterson Reaser

CARILLON BELLS LEVEL ($1500-$2999 over 3 years)

Mike Anderson

Marion Vorlicek L'ivers

Adelaide Rethwill Meyer

Phyllis Johnson Wegner

Grace Ronholm Westlund

CARILLON CHIMES LEVEL (up to $1499 over 3 years)

Frances Gabrielson Blomgren

John Chell

Roy Daumann

Olga Gray

Mary Lundgren Hauck

Dayton Martinson

Marilyn Reiten Meyer

Arne Peterson

Betty Lundgren Schlotthauer

Ardis Peterson Schwarz

Carl Towley

3.  But it's not as simple as saying we have the carillon in hand and the first $9,336 for its endowment.  Some of the donations listed above are for the longer term and won't be in cash when the invoice arrives for the instrument.  The carillon is built in The Netherlands and the order must go in well in advance.  (And how important it is for the Gusties to be able to process into graduation and the other ceremonies, not least daily chapel, before 2004.  Recall that the very small carillon the college had, a donation from a fraternity in our era, was destroyed in the tornado.  There will be no sound of carillon bells over the campus and valley until we act)!

4.  I'm absolutely convinced that we will make our goal.  The 26 who have stepped forward to date are only about a fifth of our pool.  (It's daunting to produce an exact list, but we were 150 graduates and about 126 of us are still living.  Add those who began with us in 1950, but did not graduate, some of whom have continued to show interest in Gustavus.)

5.  I know that in the post-terror market, it's perplexing to know our own assets.  I would urge you to contact the Gustavus Advancement Office for their help and advice, 800-726-6192.  Jim Isaak from that staff has been appointed liaison, and he has been an extremely helpful person to the class committee.  He can talk about the many ways besides cash (though keep in mind we need cash too!) to contribute to the fund.

6.  Keep in mind that our project is of great interest to the college.  For decades every class has raised money for the Alumni Fund.  We have been granted an exception, to have our own project.  Many of you give yearly to the Alumni Fund.  This can be your way to contribute to Alumni Fund, an intention you must make known with your gift.  We ’54ers are an experiment, a pilot project.  We on the committee believe that we are the wave of the future!  I don't think we're alone in feeling good about the fact that our Class of 1954 Carillon will be identified for all time to come by that name.  That's what makes the endowing of the instrument so crucial.

Thanks, fellow Gusties of ’54, for pondering what I've written on behalf of the committee and of our donors to date.  Please don't put this in the circular file.  Please renew your commitment to community, the community we formed back in 1950.


Dave Johnson

1954 Class Agent

Campus News:

The Alumni Office is sending this class letter via U.S. Postal Service Mail and also e-mail to those alumni for whom we have an e-mail address.  Eventually class letters will be sent via e-mail only, when an address is available, unless you notify the Alumni Office that you prefer to continue to receive your letters via U.S. Postal Service.  Contact the Alumni Office at

As Gustavus enters its 140th academic year, the 2001-2002 year opened with an enrollment of 2,540 full-time students including 670 first-year students.  The Class of 2005, selected from a record number of applications (2,163), includes 18 National Merit Scholars and 18 international students, doubling last year’s number of nine international students.

Last year Gustavus athletic teams finished 18th out of 395 competing in the NCAA Division III national Sears Directors Cup Standings.  Standings are based on national tournament finishes.  The Gustie women athletes won the MIAC All-Sports title for the first time in its 18-year history.

Gustavus ranked among top colleges – Gustavus is ranked in the second tier and one of the top 114 best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report magazine.  Gustavus ranked in the first tier in two categories, retention and graduation rates.  Gustavus’ first-year to sophomore retention rate of 92 percent ranks in the top 15 percent of all national liberal arts colleges and graduation rate of 76 percent ranks in the top 20 percent of all national liberal arts colleges.  Alumni giving ranks in the top 25 percent, down from the top five percent and a tier one ranking five years ago.  Raising the percentage of participation of alumni giving is of highest priority for the college and the offices of Alumni Relations and Gustavus Alumni Fund.

Gustavus named Best Buy... Gustavus has been named one of the best colleges in America and a Best Buy by The Fiske Guide to Colleges.  In the 2002 guidebook, the College is one of 300 best American colleges and one of 43 Best Buys nationwide.  Within Minnesota, Gustavus is among seven best colleges and is one of two private college Best Buys.  To determine which colleges make the annual Best Buy list, Fiske researchers combine cost data with academic and lifestyle information about each college and university.  Those institutions named to the Best Buy colleges list are said to offer “remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost.”  Gustavus is also included in The Princeton Review’s 2001 edition of The Best 331 Colleges.

Nobel Conference XXXVII, What is Still to be Discovered?, was October 2 & 3.  This year’s conference included five Nobel laureates and three other experts who gave participants a foretaste of what the next big discoveries might be as we look toward the second Nobel century.  This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prizes and the conference included the premier of Steve Heitzeg’s ’82 The Nobel Symphony, two art exhibitions in the Hillstrom Museum, and an exclusive banquet with a menu recreation of the Nobel dinner 100 years ago.

Comprehensive alumni directory – In partnership with Publishing Concepts, the Gustavus Alumni Association is publishing its fourth comprehensive alumni directory.  Surveys were sent to all alumni in August and information will be used only for publication of the directory and updating database information in the Alumni Office.  The book is available for purchase only by former students of Gustavus.  Please correct or update any information and return to Publishing Concepts in the enclosed envelope provided with the survey.

New chaplain announced - The Rev. Rachel Larson has joined Rev. Brian Johnson ’80 in the Office of the Chaplain.  Larson will work in partnership with Chaplain Johnson and the other members of the Office of the Chaplain to provide spiritual guidance, worship, leadership, counseling, teaching, and other pastoral services to Gustavus students, staff, and their families.  Larson is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and of what is now Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Christmas in Christ Chapel, A Celtic Pilgrimage, is November 30 & December 1-2.  A ticket order form was inserted in the Fall Quarterly.  Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.