Class of '54
April 2008

Dear Classmates,

Can you believe 54 years ago our class of ’54 left Gustavus…graduated, joyful, hopeful, ready to “get going” with more of life??  What a great “moment in time!”  And we did “get goin” as we knew to do…probably not realizing how much we had yet to learn!  Oh!  Well, as a Swede may say “so it goes,” with experiences of a few “bumps in the road,” it’s my hope that so far we can say, “Wow, what a ride!”  Ah yes…that aging process…this story got my attention…

Classmates, many of us are guilty of looking at others our own age and thinking, “Surely, I can’t be that old.”  If you’ve ever done this, then you’ll appreciate the following.

My name is Alice Smith and I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist.

I noticed his DDS diploma, which bore his full name.  Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my high school class some 40-odd years ago.  Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on way back then?

After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park High School.

“Yes, yes, I did.  I’m a Mustang,” he gleamed with pride.

“When did you graduate?”  I asked.

“In 1965,” he replied.  “Why do you ask?”

“You were in my class!”  I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely…and then that ugly, old, bald, wrinkled, fat, gray-haired, decrepit, creature asked, “What did you teach?"

Thinking about classmates:

Sharon Anthony Bower writes, “I’ll phase out of my semi-retirement status to quarter retirement in 2008, taking only a of couple clients who need continued training.  I probably should start a new career in confidence training for seniors, but the scope of necessary skills for senior survival seems too vast to conquer.”

Congratulations and best wishes for great happiness to Phyllis Anderson Erickson and Roger Erickson ’54 upon their marriage on October 2, 2007.  They reside at 2125 Bard Court, Faribault, MN  55021.  May their life together be long and blessed!

John Sandquist had this news to share:  “The last eight or ten years I’ve worked as a substitute teacher for the St. Paul School District.  I thought seriously early on about teaching and subbing gives me just as much of teenagers as I can handle; it also keeps my brain in shape, a need most of us probably recognize.  I highly recommend it.

Also, last fall Kathryn and I moved back to the Twin Cities (St. Anthony Village, a real town) after twenty-eight years in Red Wing and Northfield.  We have a nice condo, few homeowner duties and access to most Twin City events in one-half hour or less.  Hope everyone is well and is thinking about our next reunion―it will be more difficult later to navigate the St. Peter hills in wheel chairs!”


by Janet Hanson Jones


How time flies!  It is already nine months since we made the move from our house to an apartment.  That must mean that it is time to get those last boxes in the living room unpacked!

During Lent the St. Peter Ministerial Association sponsors a Preach and Soup session each Wednesday at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion.  The service followed by a lunch of vegetable beef soup and bread is completed in about one hour making it possible for people to attend on their noon hour break.  Their downtown location also helps in that regard.  Ministers take turns giving the meditation and on March 5 the preacher was our classmate, Forrest Chaffee.  Members of the church provide the lunch and the free-will offering goes directly to the local food shelf.  This year’s offerings totaled over $900!

At First Lutheran Church, our church, we would have light suppers of soup, etc. on Lenten Wednesdays.  One week we ate and visited with the Nadeau family; Mrs. Cindy Nadeau, Gustavus class of ’82, is the daughter of Bob and Marlys (Setterholm) Gamm, both from our class.  We had met before but it was fun getting to know them a little better.

On Palm Sunday the St. Peter Choral Society presented the St. Matthew’s Passion with orchestra and several soloists at Christ Chapel.  It was marvelous!  Pauline Wiemann was also there to enjoy the music.

February 24 was the “Winter Warmer” luncheon at the Arboretum―more soup!  It was the annual meeting of the Friends of the Arboretum with Mary Edlund Rehwaldt ’53 as the new president.  Her husband, “Red” ’52, was also there as were Stan and Marie (Schafer) Benson ’51 ’52 and Don and Beverly (Matson) Gustafson ’55 ’56.

On Monday, March 17, the College Chapel service commemorated the tenth anniversary of the tornado.  It was a few days early because the College would be closed on the 29th for spring break, as they were at the time of the tornado in 1998.  It was very moving to see the broken cross from the steeple carried in the processional and leaned against the altar.  The eternal light which remained lit through the storm was also carried in.  It really reminds us how old we are getting when we realize that the current students were small children at the time.  They were particularly interested in the display of pictures at the back of the chapel.  The Mankato and St. Peter papers covered the event as well as at least one Twin Cities TV channel.

On Saturday, April 19 in Christ Chapel, there was a memorial service for Robert Esbjornson ’41 led by Dennis Johnson ’60.


Thanks to Janet for those “Notes from St. Peter.”

So much “good stuff” is happening.  We appreciate Alumni Director, Randall Stuckey’s ’83 keeping us “in the know”…

  • Many of you have already heard that the Gustavus presidential search is continuing after three finalists visited campus.  Although all three had their strengths, the search will continue with a group of trustees and search committee to find the person that best fits the needs of the College.  Along with the presidential search, the search for the next vice president for advancement continues.”
  • The Winter Reunion Committee Retreat last month at Mt. Olivet was well attended and very productive.  Reunion committees will continue to be our top priority as we strive to meaningfully engage as many alumni as possible in reunion planning, attendance, and class gift participation.”
  • Springtime is a call for the academic and annual fund year.  We want everyone to send a gift and some news about their lives.  More than ever, annual fund gifts provide students with financial aid and an opportunity to attend Gustavus.”
  • The “Reds” Take the Plunge – Members of Tau Psi Omega fraternity (Reds) participated in the Polar Bear Plunge in February as part of St. Peter’s Winterfest.  The Polar Bear Plunge is a Minnesota-wide effort to raise money to support Special Olympic athletes.  The Reds collected $2,700 and raised awareness of the positive impact sororities and fraternities have on campus and in the community.
  • The women’s hockey team became the first team to finish the MIAC women’s hockey season undefeated.  The team is currently ranked #3 in the country going into the playoffs.  The men’s tennis team claimed its fourth ITA Division III Team Indoor Title in the eight year history of the tournament.  The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won the MIAC Championship.

Alumni Awards Announced

The Alumni Association announces the following 2008 awards selected by the Alumni Board of Directors.

Greater Gustavus Award - Given to those who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College:

Jim and Susan (Pepin) Peterson ’64 ’65

Distinguished Alumni Citations - Recognizing outstanding and exceptional professional achievement:

Craig Johnson ’69, bishop, Minneapolis Area Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Talmadge King ’70, chair, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.

Barbara Berry Leonard ’63, nursing professor, University of Minnesota.

First Decade Awards - Recognizing early professional achievement:

Miho Ihara, senior consultant, CPCS Transcom Limited.

Jason Smerdon, Barnard Environmental Science/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Environmental Science, Barnard College.

The Greater Gustavus Award and Distinguished Alumni Citations will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 31 and the First Decade Awards will be presented during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 4.

Congratulations to each Alumni Award recipient!  Some of the best campus news of what our Alma Mater is about comes from senior student and Alumni Office intern, Adam Eckhardt ’08.  Adam writes:

Greetings and salutations from on top of the hill!  My name is Adam Eckhardt and I have the privilege of interning with the Alumni Office.  I worked full-time during January term, but this spring I am on a part-time basis along with my classes.  I am a senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Business Management.  I can hardly believe that second semester is upon us.  This past January was my third J-term on campus and it proved to be just as cold as I remembered it.  There were several mornings when I braved the trek across campus in the subzero blistering winds and the ice-coated parking lot that I wondered to myself, “Why do we live here?”  I suppose if it weren’t for the people this would be a pretty dismal place but then I would get to work and see the people who make Gustavus happen every day and remembered why.

This year’s J-Term had a lot of opportunities to offer students.  There were over 26 different classes that went abroad to places such as Guatemala, Fiji, Tanzania, South Africa (My roommate went on this trip, I’m so jealous), India, and Australia.  Along with all of the classes the Orchestra toured in China for their international tour this year.  The tour started on January 18th and went through February 1.  If you look on the Gustavus web page you can see the orchestra doing the Gustie Rouser on the Great Wall of China!  I wonder how many times that has been done before?  The orchestra concluded with a home concert in Christ Chapel on February 17.  Speaking of tours, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra toured Florida over Spring Break this year.  The Gustavus Choir (I am a first tenor in this choir!!) postponed its tour this year due to Dr. Aune needing to leave for the remainder of the year for medical reasons.  We wish him a speedy recovery.

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

Other things that have happened this semester included the 13th Annual Building Bridges conference.  This conference focused on Genocide Awareness:  How will history judge us?  Paul Rusesabagina, whose life story was the basis of critically acclaimed movie Hotel Rwanda spoke at this year’s conference.  The Gustavus Music Showcase was at Orchestra Hall on March 9.  The Gustavus Choir, the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra were all featured at this event.

I cannot believe spring is going so fast and before I know it I will be graduating and becoming an alumnus.  These four years have been great to me and I will cherish them forever.  I am proud to say that I am a Gustie and I hope you all are, too!  GO GUSTIES!!!!

As I read Adam’s letter, his “cold, blistering wind” phrase got to me…for I think it was in our junior year that the mercury didn’t go above -30° for about six weeks―when it did get up to 0°, we had thoughts of sunbathing.  Yes, those were the days…for me, as well as others it was a hike from Wahlstrom to the Annex for an 8:00 a.m. class, winds and all…such fun!  But didn’t it just make us hardy?!

By the way, are there any more stories out there??  Woody or I would like very much to receive some for future class mailings―okay?

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 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100) $10 per person.  Reserve a spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763-533-9083.  Next date:  May 21 - featuring Sports Information Director, Tim Kennedy ’82

Class Reunions for the 50-Year Club, 1958 and 1963 will be held on May 30 and 31, 2008.  And YES…next year 2009 we’ll be at Gustavus celebrating our 55th…What a pleasant time for remembering and “moving on!!”  Our Reunion Planning Group meets for a second time on campus this September 12, at 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  (This is the day before the Volunteer Leadership Day meetings on September 13).  This group consists of the Giving, Events and Communication Committees―we’re so grateful for the significant work of the Giving Committee in initiating the David C. Johnson Endowed Scholarship.  Classmates serving on committees are:

Events:  David Johnson, Chair; John Chell; Jean Kirkvold Emholtz

Giving:  Roger Carlson, Chair; Jim Anderson, Howie Ruggles, Sharon Anthony Bower

Communications:  John Sandquist, Chair; Rollie Herbst

Volunteer Callers:  Betty Lindstrand Abrahamson and Marilyn Reiten Meyer

Co-class Agents:  Forrest Chaffee and Helen Forsgren Hokenson

We would welcome any of our classmates on September 12, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., to think with us in this “continuing” planning for our 55th Anniversary Reunion, May 29-30, 2009.  Should you plan to come, September 12, please call Helen Hokenson at:  517-263-0546 or Woody Chaffee at:  507-934-3537 by September 1.  Sure would be fun to see you and share thoughts and ideas!

Now, the Giving Committee has this message to share with you in regard to giving.

Time seems to go by very quickly these days.  In many ways, graduation from Gustavus was just a few short years ago.  In other ways, it will be our 55th year anniversary next year.  Regardless if time goes by fast or slow, our class of 1954 will celebrate our 55th graduation anniversary from Gustavus Adolphus College on Friday and Saturday, May 29-30, 2009.  It’s only a year away.

In honor of our 55th Anniversary, our class is endowing a scholarship which will be known as the Class of 1954 David C. Johnson Endowed Scholarship.  The minimum objective is $25,000 with a goal of $100,000 which will generate $4,500/yr. for a student who has financial need.

Now the good news:  As of April 18, 2008, we have received pledges and outright gifts of over $17,000 from 11 classmates.  This is wonderful news and we’re on our way.

Enclosed you will find a pledge card and envelope that can be used for your financial commitment.  Here are some pledging options for you to consider:

$5,000 pledge to be paid over three (3) years

$3,000 pledge to be paid over three (3) years

$1,500 pledge to be paid over three (3) years

Please give consideration to pledge your financial resources for the Class of 1954 David C. Johnson Endowed Scholarship.

Also, we hope to see you May 29-30, 2009 for our class anniversary celebration of 55 years!

The “Gift of Gustavus” is surely one of the best “ops” happening!!  Is it not awesome that in celebrating our 55th anniversary that our class is helping to assure that gift possibility to more students?!  And what a pleasure it is to honor our classmate, David Johnson in so doing?  Thank you for the pledges and dollars already in!  As of mid-April scholarship pledges were at $13,821 and cash donations received totaled $3,946.  THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR DONATIONS TO GUSTAVUS!  What a great work we can do together.  May our generosity and creativity keep moving us on to our goal!  Our Giving Committee, and each of us classmates can keep each other focused “on the prize”…the GOAL of $25,000 by Spring 2009…then continuing to our $100,000 GOAL!  Thanks David, for your inspiration!

Reflections of David Johnson


Myron “Mike” Anderson

What does one say about such an energetic and accomplished person as David C. Johnson?  Lots, if we had the time and printable space!  It was very interesting for me to observe Dave in his formative college years at Gustavus as co-residents in Uhler Hall and as a fraternity brother in the Eppies, as a faculty member in the department of biology later on during his tenure as Academic Dean and, even later on, as he headed up our fund-raising committee to purchase the wonderful carillon bells that now play on the campus.  We also kept somewhat in touch when he was Chancellor at the University of Minnesota, Morris when I kept reminding him that Morris, although 20 miles away, was a suburb of Hoffman where Jean (Randin ’55) and I went to school.  He always referred to Jean as Jeanas Randinus.

Stories about Dave run rampant, from college days’ incidents like coming in to the café by the South Side Shell station, after bringing his date to the dorm, wearing a bright shade of misplaced lipstick on his face to the many highly successful performances as master of ceremonies at a variety of organizations, to his adventures hiking in Norway―and who knows what else!

I do not believe that there are any Deans who do not have their critics, but Dave seemed to survive them well.  One of the responsibilities of an academic dean is to make decisions on faculty promotions and tenure after receiving recommendations of the personnel committee.  After a final meeting of that committee, of which I was president that year, Dave and I sat in the car discussing the situation.  His demeanor relayed his serious approach to this as he labored with decisions on a couple of difficult cases.  It was as though he was playing his sense of humanity and concern for the welfare of those on the borderline against his deep-felt desire to maintain and improve faculty quality.  He definitely spent some overtime hours on that one!  I use this example to express my appreciation for his ability to handle these very difficult situations and yet maintain a sort of happy-go-lucky attitude that makes you feel good.

It also makes me feel good as we establish an endowed scholarship program in his name.  He does embody the spirit of Gustavus and has a sincere interest in providing a quality college education to as many as possible.  We can be proud that a member of our class is deserving of this honor.  Not all of us have a building named after us as does David at the U of M, Morris!

And so we go on…we hope many of us in our class of ’54 can gather on campus May 29-30, 2009 to celebrate the “Gift of Gustavus” in our lives with gratitude, memories, continuing energy, hope and focus for what is yet to be!!

“Year’s End”

As we think about that gift of Gustavus we received, may we be mindful also that Gustavus’ fiscal year ends May 30…what a good moment now to say thanks with an additional financial expression!!  Our Alma Mater appreciates all our efforts!

Years ago as I waited, during the overture, to go on stage as Aunt Eller in a local production of “Oklahoma,” one of the actors would come by with the greeting, “Give ’em heaven, Helen!”  So now I say to you, “Give ’em heaven” on this “life trip”―enjoy every day!

Thanks for all we can do together!!


Helen Forsgren Hokenson

1954 Co-class Agent