Class of '54
April 2006

Dear Classmates,

As this “chat” begins, the calendar tells me it’s spring; yet here in southeast Michigan the air is “nippy;” and guess what―for this “transplanted Minnesotan,” it feels like a “snow-deficit” winter just left!!  You see, we’ve had only one real snowstorm…in mid-December!  Maybe Mother Nature will review the situation…but to each of you…HAPPY SPRINGTIME!!  It will be great to be planting and mowing again!!  Right??  May we thoroughly enjoy all the good stuff in our lives and find strength for the challenges!

Our Gustavus Quarterly arrived the other day…and it made me even more proud of Gustavus and grateful to feel the energy, commitment, vision, the daring of Gustavus to evaluate its life and mission.  It moves me to see that Gustavus wants to look deeply into its already effective life, to apply with 79 similar institutions for the assessment program…THEN to be one of the 18 chosen!  Our Alma Mater is GREAT!!  President Peterson’s piece “Thinking About Our Future,” in the Quarterly, Spring ’06 sets forth energy, vision, courage, involved thinking of many and a strong “do it together” effort.  Although we’re “51 years out” we are part of Gustavus’ history…and future!  A fabulous opportunity!

With thoughts of the future…some gleanings from a 2005 survey:

Of those alums who continued their education 94% reported that Gustavus prepared them very well/adequate for further study.

  • 77% were totally employed within 6 months of graduation.
  • 91% felt relationships with students were an advantage (think of all those Gustie friendships we still cherish).
  • 90% felt Gustavus’ reputation was an advantage.
  • 82% of alums noted, and valued the skill taught at Gustavus of life long learning.
  • 95% experienced and appreciate the challenging classes and professors at Gustavus.
  • 81% of alumni are very satisfied or satisfied with their Gustavus experience since becoming an alum.
  • 85% of alumni would very strongly or strongly recommend Gustavus to a prospective student.

And so the “successful beat” of Gustavus goes on…thankfully…even for us!

The Alumni Board met on campus in early February and determined the recipients of the 2006 Alumni Awards…and they are:

Greater Gustavus Award:  Gustavus Library Associates, for providing financial resources for Folke Bernadotte Library, and engaging and introducing alumni and friends in the mission of the College.

Distinguished Alumni Citations:  Karen Bossart Rusthoven ’66, St. Paul, MN, founder and principal of Community of Peace Academy, St. Paul; Susan Semple-Rowland ’77, Gainesville, FL, professor of neuroscience, University of Florida and director, Neuroscience IDP Graduate Program; and Magnus Ranstorp ’85, St. Andrews, Scotland, chief scientist at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies, Swedish National Defense College; and a Senior Honorary Research Associate and former Director of Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

First Decade Awards:  Rebecca Konrad ’96, Washington, DC, investment officer, global transaction team, The World Bank International Finance Corporation; and Milo Martin ’96, Philadelphia, PA, assistant professor, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Pennsylvania. 

The awards will be presented on Commencement Weekend or Homecoming Weekend depending on the recipient’s schedule.

Congratulations to the 2006 Gustavus Alumni Award recipients!!  Will any of our class be on campus for Reunion/Commencement Weekend?  We are all welcome!

It will be interesting to watch the response to a recommendation that was presented at the Alumni Board meeting…to initiate an Alumni Speaker Series in the Twin Cities to engage alumni and increase the academic reputation of the College, and to initiate a program that would bring alumni together in neighborhood homes to share information about the College and to provide a means of networking with other alumni.”  It sounds like a great idea…hope it will happen…we’ll look for its progress…(Maybe we can help later!)

So…how is our class doing financially with “gifting” Gustavus??  Some recent mail tells us that from June 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006:

  • 63 of us contributed, that’s 44.4% of us
  • $6,006.65 was given to “Unrestricted” Alumni Fund
  • $19,816.98 is our Total Dollar Credit this fiscal year, so far

There is yet time…to improve…to help Gustavus continue to move from “strength to strength.”  Enclosed is a handy envelope to use before May 31, 2006 to increase our participation…one total.  So much for which to be grateful…including this opportunity to give of our resources―now and into the future, that help even when our “resistance” is beyond this life.  By the way, eight classes in our decade (1946-1955) celebrate a higher percentage of gifting and higher percentage participation than our Class of ’54!!

What do you think we could, should do about that??  What is that line from our “early” years?  “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  There are lots of us Gusties out there to pitch in.  May each of us be moved to respond…THANKS from Gustavus.

The update given in February on the 1.2 million Alumni Fund goal, stated that $280,000 is needed to close the gap…to be successful!

Our gift to Gustavus, the carillon, continues to send beautiful sounds across the valley…I’d love to hear it more often…but that’s how it goes!!  Ann Hogberg, Assistant Director, Stewardship and Donor Recognition for Gustavus’ Institutional Advancement gave us this update:  “Outright gifts for the bells and accessories:  $62,960.  Gifts to the bells endowment:  $64,508.  Current balance of the $140,000 gift is $12,532.  Thanks for your gifts to lower the balance.

Please share thoughts you have about our 55th reunion, coming up in 2009; on September 11, 2006 our Reunion Planning Group “goes to work.”  We really want to hear form YOU!  Send your input to me, Woody, the Alumni Office or one of the Planning Group listed in Woody’s January ’06 class letter.

By the way, its fun to do this “agent” role with Woody―such a deal!!  So good to toss ideas or concerns back ’n forth.  Woody could get excited about closing out the carillon balance.  How about you?

January 2006 afforded me valuable time with our daughter in California related to her surgery and recovery…all successful!!  We are grateful!!  While there, it was a privilege to hear Bill Lesher, a friend of ours and seminary classmate of Rod’s tell of his involvement with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.  He currently chairs the Council Board.

This Council organized a unique gathering that was held in July 2004 in Barcelona, Spain, which welcomed 9,000 participants from 75 countries.  This event was the 2004 Parliament of World Religions.  The 2004 report says here people of faith, spirit and goodwill came together to encounter the rich diversity of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions, listen to each other with open hearts and minds, dialogue for mutual understanding, reflected on the critical issues facing the world and commit to discovering pathways to peace.

The goals of the 2004 Parliament were:

  • Deepen our spirituality and experience personal transformation
  • Recognize the humanity of the other and broaden our sense of community
  • Foster mutual understanding and respect
  • Learn to live in harmony in the midst of diversity
  • Seek peace, justice and sustainability
  • Actively work for a better world

The theme for this Parliament 2004 was “Pathways to Peace:  The Wisdom of Listening, the Power of Commitment.”  Four hundred religious and spiritual leaders, eminent scholars, grass roots activist, influential persons from guiding institutions and young people from around the world convened at the 2004 Parliament to focus on four global crises of human suffering:

  • Supporting refugees worldwide
  • Overcoming religiously motivated violence
  • Eliminating international debt in poor countries
  • Increasing access to clean water

This “Parliament piece” is included in our class letter because it feels, to me, so important in efforts to make this world a better place.  At the “Parliament” in Chicago in 1993, Hans Kund, co-author of “Towards a Global Ethic,” stated, “There will be no peace among nations without peace among the religions.”  This feels to be ever more true NOW―with passion I feel this!

If you desire more information, please contact:

The Council for a Parliament of the Worlds Religions (CPWR)

70 East Lake, Suite 205

Chicago, IL  60601

Phone:  312-629-2990



What issues do you feel a passion for these days?  It would be interesting to hear about them!!

Does anyone know of audiotapes or “records” of the Gustavus Choir in our years of 1950-54?  The College seems to have none.  Gene Casselman came and left Gustavus with our class.  It would be meaningful to have something of Gene’s choirs for our 55th reunion.  Could you ask around?  Thanks!

Our sympathy to Fran Gabrielson Blomgren whose mom died in February 2006.  May good memories console Fran and her family.  Who of us in fortunate enough to have our parents living?  Oh, how we do appreciate their love and wisdom…in life or in memory!  It was a pleasure to chat with Fran while spending that time with our daughter in California.

Amy Wampler Adamson writes, “we’re still convincing the young people at church or anywhere to become Gusties instead of ‘Oles!’”

Dianne Johnston Janda is retired living in Bloomington, MN.

Roger Carlson, shares news of Gustavus’ Institutional Advancement and Athletic Departments’ vision and plan…and yes…a football story!

Gustavus’ Institutional Advancement and Athletic Departments are in the midst of soliciting financial interest and commitments for construction of a new football field and stadium, baseball field, and practice fields on campus.  The football stadium will be located adjacent to the Lund Center while the baseball field and practice fields will be constructed west of the Swanson Tennis Center.  With the long-range campus physical plan calling for its relocation because of the mall, which flows westward from Christ Chapel, 100 former football players are conducting calls on 1000 Gusties for their pledges.  Pending Board of Trustee approval at their April meeting, ground breaking is scheduled to begin during the spring and summer of 2006 with the first football game scheduled for the fall of 2007.

Football, as well as all of the 25 intercollegiate sports played by men and women student athletes at Gustavus, are played under the guidance and rules of the NCAA Division III, and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).  It should be noted that students within this division can only be granted financial assistance on the basis of academic scholarship and financial need, not on the basis of athletic prowess alone.  In Division I and II of the NCAA, financial aid can be granted on the basis of athletic prowess alone and not necessarily on financial need and/or academic record.  It is comforting to know that Division III athletics continues to be as close to the ideals of amateur sports as there is in higher education.

The objectives of athletics at Gustavus are to provide its students with a team or individual athletic experience under a competitive environment, all under the rules of the NCAA.  Al Molde, Athletic Director at Gustavus, added these comments regarding the intercollegiate experience at the college:  “It is our goal to provide a wide range of competitive experiences for our student athletes among sport programs that are known for high quality facilities, coaching, and success.  Gustavus’ teams have finished among the top 20 NCAA Division III colleges in the Director’s Cup All Sports competition in eight of the past ten years.”

Stories abound whenever former Gusties get together and talk about the “good old days.”  Here is one that has lasted the story telling time calendar for well over 50 years:

Gustavus was playing St. Thomas in football in St. Paul and as usual it was a close game.  When the referee called Don Miller, Co-Captain of the 1953 team, for holding, he marched off the 15-yard penalty.  Don couldn’t believe it so he said to the ref, “Ref, you stink.”  The ref picked up the ball and marched another 15-yard penalty, and then said over his shoulder, “Hey Don, can you smell me from here?”

Gustavus is proud of its long history in intercollegiate athletics and the class of 1954 has added much to this long and worthwhile history.  ~Roger Carlson

Go Gusties!  Thanks, Roger!

Marilyn Reitan Meyer and husband, Rich, really made us happy…for in 2005 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and they drove here for the celebration.  Marilyn was my maid-of-honor…they made that event even more special.  This year their family enjoyed the Olympics.  Here’s the story:

No retirement for me yet!  I am still the Medical Records Manager for a Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and fortunately, my administrator grants me leave to travel.  Our latest trip took us to Torino for a week of Olympic skating events with two of our daughters and their families.  One son-in-law is of Italian ancestry and a super organizer not only for the events but also for transportation, restaurants, winery excursions, cheese shops and the sights of Torino.  The granddaughters (6 year old twins and a 10 year old) were magnets for cameras and now have memories and pictures with Sasha Cohen, Peekaboo Street and one of the pairs skating couples and a fleeting moment on the Valentine’s Day “Today Show.”  We found everyone representing many countries very friendly, helpful and full of life.

            Next trip!  Taking two grandsons and a granddaughter to Sweden in August.  What grand parenting is meant to be!  ~Marilyn Reiten Meyer

Janet Hanson Jones sends notes from St. Peter…

A few months ago, Dr. Theodore Conrad ’25 died.  As you perhaps remember, he was a professor and administrator during our days on campus.  As I reflected on his death, I wondered how many of the faculty, administrators and spouses from our era were still living and have made a list which I hope is complete.

Tuesday, we say Art ’43 (biology) and Gladys Glass at St. Peter’s only supermarket.  On Wednesday Ellis ’52 and I attend, “Preach and Soup” which is sponsored by the St. Peter Ministerium and held at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion.  In attendance that day were Chester (geology) and Marian (Swanson ’41) Johnson; Vic Gustafson ’42 (phy. ed); Beatrice Martinson (Floyd-sociology).  Last night at the Lenten Service at our church (First Lutheran) I saw Robert Esbjornson ’41 (religion) and Elgene Lund (Doniver-history).

Also living in St. Peter are:  Arne ’42 (chemistry) and Carol (Gaustad ’42) Langsjoen; Delores Gregory Stark (Don Gregory-art); Kathleen Hamrum (Charles-biology) and Myrtle Hollingsworth (Lloyd-phy.ed).  Living elsewhere are:  Lavinia (Bloom ’45) Bloomquist (Ross-business office); B. Jeanette Larson (bookstore manager) and Robert ’48 (chemistry) and Connie Larson Lavine.

Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of St. Peter’s tornado.  There are very few visible reminders of that day left.

Spring is here and we’re approaching the last half of the semester.  It will soon be time for commencement and reunions.  Ellis sings in a comedy quartet called “Magic” which is part of the Mankato Riverblenders Chorus.  All four of the fellows have Gustavus connections:  Ellis ’52 (tenor), Bruce Gray ’61 (lead), Don Miller (baritone) and Bill Lydecker (former faculty) (bass).  They are scheduled to sing at some of the reunion events during commencement weekend.  Hope to see you there!

Did you know Forrest “Woody” Chaffee published a book in 2005 entitled:  More Alive Than Ever?  It’s brief discussing signs in the miracles of John’s gospel.  It’s in a format for small group discussion or simply personal reflection…around the themes of joy, trust and hope.  It’s well worth our reading.  CSS Publishing Co., Lima, Ohio is the publisher!  Congrats Woody on a job well done!! 

John Sandquist for several years has been interested in inter-religious concerns…he writes:

Dear Class of ’54,

I believe the most profound issue facing America today is Islam.  This is due primarily to our abysmal lack of understanding of this great religion on which is causing nearly unsolvable problems for the world.  It engenders suspicion, hatred and faulty decisions more than any other issue.  Hans Kueng, the noted Catholic theologian, says no problems among nations can be solved without solving the problems of religions of the nations.  It may be the post-Christian Era in the West, but certainly not post-religion in Muslim-dominated areas of the world.

            I recently read that nearly half of Americans now believe that Islam is an inherently violent religion.  This runs counter, of course to its theology and its history.  Some scholars believe that historically, Christianity has caused more tragic events, i.e., the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Thirty Year War, plus many instances of cultural destruction of native people’s cultures.  After nearly four hundred years of peace and prosperity in Spain, where Muslim, Jewish and Spanish collaborated in running the country, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, after uniting Castile and Aragon, issued an edict 1492 ordering all Jews and Muslims to either convert, emigrate or be killed.  Obviously, similar instances can be cited of Islamic extremism, not the least, those of terror and bigotry.

            Helen suggested that perhaps we as a class, with the valuable perspective of a Christian liberal arts education and lives of devotion to understanding and social progress, might include a session or two on Islam’s basic beliefs and cultural appendages and how it views the Western behemoth of power, advancement, materialism and other values foreign to its world-view.

            We need input, however, as to the desirability of this project, the points, which you as individuals want covered, and some minimal funding.  Please respond soon to that the committee might proceed.  Reference and materials will be provided.

            I organized a very successful three-part series while living in Northfield and learned valuable guidelines for this type of approach.  Muslims are waiting to talk and we should listen and instruct ourselves on this explosive, but comprehensible world problem.

John Sandquist, 907 West Avenue, Red Wing, MN  55066.  Phone:  651-388-6215

What a moment it was to hear of John Chell’s involvement with inter-religious planning and work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area!!  Here is a message from John entitled:

Walking the Talk

What I find the most exciting about these class letters and our times together at Class of ’54 Reunions, are all of the stories we share about walking the talk!  We seem to remain the social activists of the ’50’s, who are not content to remain inactive and silent in 2006.  When Helen writes about the relevance of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in today’s local and international world, I immediately want to jump up and cheer!  Here’s why!

Some of you will recall that I am a founder and presently executive director of the Mall Area Religious Council (MARC), based out of the world renowned Mall of America, here in Bloomington, MN.  This project has become my passion in so-called retirement.  MARC now consists of 40+ congregations and faith groups from all of the local major world religions.  In our 13-member Board of Directors, we presently have representation from 12 different faith groups of the world, all living in the neighborhoods of the Mall.  We have two daily goals:

1).  Learning to listen and appreciate the richness of spiritual presence in believers of other world religions, while remaining true to our own beliefs, and

2).  Living-this-out at the Mall through exhibits, workshops, signage directing visitors and new residents into local neighborhood places of worship, advocating for minorities, advising Mall Management on their need to provide daily cultural and religious prayer space―are but a few of our efforts bringing sensitivity and holistic spirituality into this unique 21st century Mall-Entertainment-Marketplace venue in Minnesota.

NEWS for Non-Minnesotans!  Can you imagine―plans are in place to double the size of the Mall of America.  CEO John Wheeler tells me he would like to take our MARC advisement, and include a public prayer chapel for multiple use, entitled ONE WORLD MANY FAITHS.

OUR current horizon will please Helen!  MARC and the Twin Cities Chapter of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (see Helen’s article above) are just taking initial steps to launch in 2006, an “umbrella” likely called FAMILY OF WORLD RELIGIONS, for this entire 12 county Twin Cities Metropolitan area.  Our goal is to make multi-faith cooperation here in progressive Minnesota a model for large cities to small towns in our nation and worldwide.  This was the vision of businessman Sigmund Sternberg, chair for the executive committee of the International Council of Christians and Jews, back in 1998.  In winning the Templeton Prize for Religion that year, he said, “There will not be world peace until there is peace between religions.”

Oh, I have a new e-mail address as of this week:

I would love to hear from you, John Chell   (952-831-0447)

In earlier letters and in the Quarterly deferred annuities have been mentioned.  Here is a thought offered by Rod’s and my friend, Bill Lesher, who’s been president of Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkely, CA and Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.  (Heaven knows “gifting” must have been big on his agenda.)  Bill tells us.

“It is an old adage among development directors that the best way to insure a long life is to make a deferred gift to a cause or institution.  Such people automatically seem to add ten additional years to their normal life span.”  Thanks, Bill…our Gustavus Gift Office staff will be delighted to help us by phone at:  1-800-726-6192 or (507) 933-7512.  How about that?!!  By the way, along these lines check out page 38 in the 2006 Spring Quarterly for “Inheritance:  How Much is Enough.”

Randall Stuckey ’83, Director of Alumni Relations, passes this news to us: 

  • Recently the Trusteeship Committee of the Board of Trustees endorsed the proposal of the past-president of the Alumni Board to serve as an ex-officio member of the College Board of Trustees.
  • The Engagement Committee of the Alumni Board is planning August 6 as a day when Gusties around the country will get together.

What a neat idea…sounds like lots of fun and “catching up” will happen!!  Thanks Randy, for sharing the news!

A few paragraphs ago we’ve mentioned the importance of inter-religious work to improve life among people on our planet…but before all that happens, let’s not lose sight of the incredible value and need for a liberal arts education…like we gained at Gustavus…learning to appreciate diversity in culture, religion, economics, philosophy, political life…and on and on…learning that we can make a difference…gaining perspective…and knowing we can help assure this experience for young people now and for time to come when we give of our resources to Gustavus!  Such education is surely another key to a better world!!

Have a great summer!!  May the Lord keep us “movin’ on” each day!  Would love to hear what’s on your mind…or at least a bit of it! ☺

Take care!

Helen Forsgren Hokenson

1954 Co-class Agent

(with Woody Chaffee)