Class of '54
October 2008

Dear classmates,

Oh!  How I wish you could have shared in the fun of planning for our 55th Reunion “due to arrive” May 29-30, 2009!  Some of the planners were unable to come…but for a “darn good reason,” like illness, travel, and surgery!  But we felt their spirit…and yours.  Please know how much your coming to campus May 29-30, 2009 is anticipated and desired!

Your planners want this to be “our reunion,” so we’re planning our own Class of ’54 dinner for Friday, May 29, preceded by our Memorial Moments, followed by wine and cheese… conversation too!  Yes, we are working on plans for Saturday also.  Sooo…do come!  Celebrate all that has been.…and all that is yet to be.

Class News

Our heartfelt sympathy to Shirley Thornquest Welch and her family upon the death of Dennis Welch ’53, on March 25, 2008.  Dennis served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and taught industrial arts at Columbia Heights High School for 30 years.  Dennis is survived by his wife, our classmate, Shirley, son, Steven, and daughter, Mary.  Our thoughts and prayers for each family member as they heal and move on to each new day.

Dick ’53 and Vianne (Lager) Engwall write:  “The Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations Annual Meeting on April 26, 2008 was great.  We sat with Barb Eckman Krig ’52, Dick Brubacher and roommate, Tom Boman ’53 in Christ Chapel…  We ate sticky buns…we still want the recipe!  Also we are hopeful that our granddaughter will enroll at Gustavus in the fall of 2009.  That will be the fourth generation!!”

Rod ’53 and Helen (Forsgren) Hokenson were “on the go” late in ’07.  We were in California with our daughter in September, and Maui in December with our granddaughter and family.  What fun with great-grandsons Clayton and Jeriah.  A tropical storm dumped 11 inches of rain in 48 hours, 70 mph winds blew and caused power outage; but it provided great “playtime” with “the little people”…the sun came out soon.  So seeing Maui began―wonderful time!

Betty Lundgren Schlotthauer writes:  “Gloria and Brouillette Strom and I vacationed in Hawaii in February.  While there, we called our Gustavus classmate, Ellen Togikawa Ryusaki.  She lives in Honolulu and we enjoyed spending part of a day with her.  She is retired from teaching and keeps busy with grandchildren, craft activities, and exercising classes.

Roger Carlson, John Chell, Jean Kirkvold Emholtz, and husband Jerry ’52, David Johnson, Jim Anderson, Kathy Erlandsen, Gustavus’ associate director of reunion giving, and I were met on campus September 12 for planning our 55th class reunion.  Alumni Director Randall Stuckey ’83 came by for a brief time…  It was a good time, but we missed a few:  Sharon Anthony Bower and husband, Gordon, were in Switzerland, John Sandquist was in California, Woody Chaffee was preparing for hip replacement, Howie Ruggles and Rollie Herbst also had medical concerns―we missed them…but we moved on with them in mind.  By the way, Woody is recovering very well.

After the Volunteer Leadership Meeting on September 13, Rod and I went to Alexandria and had a delightful visit with Carolyn Gooder and her daughter, Krissie Wilson―what fun!

Our new Gustavus President Jack Ohle was present at the meeting on September 13 and presented some thoughts to appreciate:

  • Alumni are the base of growth for any institution.
  • Based on core values Gustavus nourishes students…alums hold forth values learned here.
  • Gustavus “called” me to preside.


  • To continue to build Gustavus.
  • Alums to take ownership for the future of Gustavus by engaging in its life.
  • Understand who we are at Gustavus…yes, a college of the church with a firm foundation…not just church related.


  • To bring conversation on campus regarding risky, binge drinking.
  • To change the way of thinking about drinking…to take responsibility for each person’s life.
  • President Ohle is looking for alums to really be even more a part of the future of our Alma Mater.

Tom Young ’88, vice president for advancement commented that:

  • His work is grounded in enhancing the lives of current students.
  • He considerers Gustavus the Yale of Nicollet County.
  • Gustavus can be what we want it to be; it is nothing less than stewards of a unique legacy.
  • “Change is coming for Gustavus―it will be challenging, the place, energy, and vision will reach a new level of potential with alumni involvement—‘help us.’”

Tom invites and urges us to remember Gustavus in our personal estate planning and wills!  “There will be two kinds of colleges in the future… endowed or closed.”

Just one more comment from President Ohle, whose installation was October 3, centered on the theme, “Celebrate Gustavus,” and the named values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith.  He stated “We must find our “nitch” among other Minnesota colleges and beyond.  We can’t be everything to everyone.”

Campus News

Presidential Inauguration

Gustavus Adolphus College inaugurated Jack R. Ohle as its 16th president on Friday, Oct. 3 in Christ Chapel.  Various inaugural events were held over a four-day period.  On Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 4 the celebration was capped-off with an Oktoberfest; a buffet-style dinner immediately following the Homecoming football game with about a thousand Gusties in attendance.

Twin Cities Gustie Breakfasts

Join other Minneapolis/St. Paul area Gusties for a morning cup of coffee and breakfast while getting an update on Gustavus.  The group meets the third Wednesday of each month.  Future presenters include Tom Young ’88, vice president for institutional advancement in November and Steve Kjellgren ’86, director of food service

Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100)

Third Wednesday of the month - 8-9:30 a.m.

Cost is $10 per person.  Reserve a spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at:  763-533-9083.

Nobel Conference ― Who Were the First Humans?

Nobel Conference XLIV held Oct. 7 and 8, 2008 focused on the first humans.  Presenters considered the full range of recent evidence about the first modern humans going beyond archaeologists and paleoanthropologists to the work of biologists, climatologists, geneticists, mathematicians, and psychologists who have been adding to the scientific database.

Twin Cities lecture on international terrorism

Dr. Magnus Ranstorp '85, research director for the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm, Sweden, will present a public lecture titled, “The Threat of Global Terrorism,” on Thursday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m., at Interlachen Country Club, 6200 Interlachen Blvd., Edina, MN.  Ranstorp, who will be in the United States to cover the presidential election for Swedish television, will address some of the key terrorism trends and challenges for the next U.S. presidency.  He will also be presented a Gustavus Distinguished Alumni Citation in international relations.  RSVP to the Office of Alumni Relations at 800-487-8437.

Need medical insurance?

Are you between jobs?  Self-employed?  Not covered by an employer health plan?  If you need health insurance you can find the right coverage for yourself and your family through the alumni association.  Whether you need temporary or permanent coverage, please visit to learn more about the range of coverage options available.

New Alumni Board Members elected to serve a three-year term beginning this fall are:

Steve Bloom ’87, Lakeville, CEO of PRAGMATEK Consulting Group

Cathy Edlund Bussler ’00, Chanhassen, occupational therapist for North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale

Adam Eckhardt ’08, Minneapolis, marketing coordinator for Sonic Media Group

Ryan Johnson ’96, Plymouth, shareholder in Fredrikson & Byron’s corporate, Health Law and Mergers & Acquisitions Groups and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School

Janna King ’76, Minneapolis, president of Economic Development Services

Richard Olson ’82, Edina, director of major and planned gifts for Allina Hospitals and Clinics

The board elected Ron White ’75 and Janna King ’76 president and vice president.  Retiring board president Jan Ledin Michaletz ’74 will now serve a two-year term as ex-officio on the Board of Trustees.

Eight inducted into the Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame

Susan Erlandson Breckner ’83, volleyball; Milt Brostrom ’49, benefactor; Sarah Edmonds Harris ’93, cross country; Steve McDermott ’88, basketball, soccer; Andy Micheletti ’72, hockey; Ginny Schafer ’93, soccer; Tim Schwartz ’90, football, baseball; Mary Sutherland Ryerse ’90, tennis; and Heather Thorson Kittelsen ’92, softball.  The induction ceremony will be held on October 25 in Alumni Hall.  Family, friends and teammates are encouraged to attend.                                                                 

Legacy Award for Gustavus admission

The Gustavus Legacy Award was created for new students whose siblings are current Gustavus students or graduates or whose parents or grandparents are Gustavus alumni.  Renewable awards of $2,500 per year are given to scholarship recipients who have a high school grade point average of at least 3.5 or an ACT of 26 or 1170 (Critical Reading + Math) on the SAT.  For more information, contact the Admission Office at 800/GUSTAVU(S).

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Gustavus Library Associates Fall Author Day — Nov. 5
  • Twin Cities Lecture, “The Threat of Global Terrorism,” Dr. Magnus Ranstorp '85 — Nov. 6
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Thomas Young ’88 — Nov. 19
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – Joyeux Noel – December 5-7
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Steve Kjellgren ’86 — Dec. 17

David C.J. Endowed Scholarship

The Gustavus campus is alive and well moving forward as we make plans to return for our 55th anniversary and celebrating it so appropriately through our class gift honoring David, our class president and long time class agent, with David C. Johnson Endow Scholarship.  As of October 16, 2008 cash donations total $5,567 and pledges total $29,095.  When the cash total is $25,000 the process toward available funds for scholarship begins…  We will continue to work to reach $100,000.  What a satisfying feeling when together we, make that happen!

Thanks to you, classmates, for your donations to Gustavus.  Keeping the Gustavus experience moving now and into the future.  Helping our college to be all it can be.  YES, and in doing so sending more Gusties into our global society.

I look forward to seeing you on campus May 29-30, 2009!  You will be hearing from classmates “as time goes by.”  Have a fabulous fall season enjoying all of life.  Greetings to you from Woody…

See you next May,

Helen Forsgren Hokenson

1954 Co-Class Agent


Fellow 54ers,

Act 1, Scene 1:  September 12, 2008, 10:00 am.  Jim Anderson, Rog Carlson, John Chell, Jean Kirkvold Emholtz, Helen Forsgren Hokenson, and I met on campus to plan for our Big 55th.

Act 1:  Scene 2, noon:  Our chair, co-class agent Helen, assigned us tasks.  There is no way to say no to Helen; she would pursue us like all the Hounds of Heaven.

Act 2:  October 2008-May 2009.  Various scenes.  Several of us are to produce class letters.  And so I lead off with this.

Act 3:  May 29-30, 2009.  The campus.  Our 55th reunion.  Memorial service, reception, dinner, program, breakfast, program, lunch.  Details to follow.

On October 3, I was on campus for the inauguration of Jack Ohle (pronounced like “Ole” of Ole and Lena).  There I spotted John Wright ’54 and several from our adjoining classes.

The printed program included a page entitled “A History of Gustavus Adolphus College Through It’s Presidents,” good browsing when the speeches got a little long.  I was struck by the lineup of presidents during our 146-year history.  They were listed chronologically in two columns.  Jack Ohle is the school’s sixteenth head.  Edgar Carlson ’33 is at the top of that second column―one more reminder of how quickly our lives have gone by.

That got me imagining how different Edgar’s inauguration must have been back in 1944―if indeed he even had a formal ceremony.  (I feel a little funny calling him by his first name but we all did―unless it was to his face!)  For the sake of this column, let’s assume he was formally inducted and that the program of events was similar to Ohle’s.  The delegates would have robed in the lower floor of the Aud and trudged up those steps into the Chapel.  I’d guess the dinner would have been at tables set up in the gym.  For certain, there was no wine at the reception!  Those were serious times, enrollments decimated by the war, a physical plant with few adequate buildings, almost no endowment, low salaries.  I’d imagine that Edgar had to say that the continuation of Gustavus would require unprecedented optimism and sacrifice.

The scene for Jack Ohle was in many ways different.  The beauty of Christ Chapel, the vistas out those windows of new buildings upon new buildings, the evidence of substantial enrollment, the depth and breadth of the faculty, staff and trustees.  The four-course dinner was in Lund Center amazingly transformed by candlelight.  But there was one thing I believe was the same:  Ohle also spoke of our need for unprecedented optimism and sacrifice in order to bring the college to yet higher plateau.  He spoke, as I am sure Edgar did, of our Lutheran and Swedish heritage, our commitment to liberal arts education.

That’s the spirit I believe we will all feel when we gather in May.  See you there!

 Dave Johnson

1954 Guest Class Letter Writer

P.S.  One of our most interesting classmates will not be with us.  Jean (B. Jeanette) Larson died in September at the age of 92.  She was a young widow and mother when she made her way to campus in the fall 1950.  She was a trailblazer, one of very few non-traditional students.  She stayed on to be an iconic member of the staff, the manager of The BookMark.  It was a national model for college book stores.  Rest in peace, Jean