Class of '54
December 2008

55-Year Reunion May 29-30, 2009

[The following was written by one of the wonderful reunion committee members―Jean Kirkvold Emholtz.]

Hi Gustavus Grads of 1954,

I have volunteered to help write this class letter.  So here goes:

As you know we are over three quarters of a century old which means―

  • You refer to anyone less than 40 years as a “kid.”
  • You keep forgetting, you surround yourself with calendars, memo books and notes and still you forget.
  • Getting a little action means your prune juice is working.
  • You enter a metallurgical period of your life:  silver hair, gold teeth and lead bottom.
  • You are fairly convinced that there is no problem with your eyes; it’s just that others are becoming slightly blurry.
  • You are planning to come to Gustavus in May to celebrate your 55th reunion.

As a member of what my husband refers to as the “the Optimist Committee,” we have worked for two years planning this fantastic weekend.  Besides the Alumni Honors Banquet, several things have been planned for our class alone.  We will have a seminar scheduled for the class of 54 and a luncheon.  We hope you will plan your vacation around this event.

I want to encourage you to consider donating to the Class of 1954, David Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fund, which will be our contribution to the future of Gustavus.  David is a well-respected member of our class and his accomplishments deserve this honor.

Hope to see you in May.

Go Gusties!!

Jean Kirkvold Emholtz

1954 Guest Letter Writer

Dear Classmates,

Yes, we are looking forward to our 55th reunion!  Wow!  I hope that most of you will be coming.  It promises to be full of fun and renewal for all of us.  We will be having our own special banquet on Friday evening preceded by a service of Memorial remembering those classmates who have made the journey through death before us.

After our worship together, there will be a wine and cheese fellowship for a further time of reunion and reminiscing.  Other events will include a Saturday morning “presentation and discussion without a quiz” about our relationship to our Moslem and Jewish neighbors in the faith.  Our Saturday luncheon will be festive and renewing because we will be with those who are celebrating their 50th Reunion.

More information will follow concerning registration and where to stay on the weekend as well as other opportunities for being together.


Jim Anderson

Jim has gone through a hip replacement surgery and since the hip joint was also badly cracked he has had many complications following the procedure.  After collapsing one day and rushed to the hospital they discovered his body chemistry was not right  After a rough fall season his body chemistry has been normalized and he will now be able to make a planned winter trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Helen Forsgren Hokenson

Our co-class agent and her husband, Rod ’53, who live in Adrian, Michigan, experienced a very special treat with the visitation of the Gustavus Women’s Hockey Team that played the Adrian College Women’s Hockey Team for two games in mid-October with the Gusties winning one of the games.  Rod met the team when they arrived and he and Helen were able to be with the team and their parents before and during the games.  Afterwards the enthusiastic team members and cheerleaders sang a special rouser of thanksgiving and appreciation.

Janet Hanson Jones

Janet had a hip replaced some 16 years ago and was experiencing a great deal of pain caused by deterioration through the aging process.  She entered the hospital on October 6 for repair work and because of further complications was in the hospital for over a month and had to be hospitalized again on November 30.  She is now at home and gets around in a wheelchair.  With her indomitable spirit even though in a wheelchair she was able to attend the annual St. Lucia Festival in Christ Chapel.

Waldo Lindberg

Waldo writes:  “We have been viewing the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean from our living room, now for 15 years in Ocean Park, Washington, 30 miles north of the Columbia River on the Washington coast.”  (Waldo, I know something about that beauty having had my internship in Portland, Oregon, and appreciated your note.)

Marilyn Reiten Meyer

Marilyn sent this note from Silver Spring, Maryland:  “In June, our church’s tour choir was the first American choir to sing in the Cantata Smaland music festival in Vaxjo, Sweden.  Along with choirs from Norway, Sweden and Germany we learned mid-summer dances, ate a traditional hot herring lunch in an old glass factory in Pukeberg and had a delicious salmon dinner following the final concert in Vaxjo.  My husband and I had a special treat when three members from our Swedish exchange student’s family met us and attended the first concert.  The choir also sang in Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, and St. Petersburg.”

Paul W. Olson

Paul writes from Devon, Pennsylvania:  “Last week (June 27) I made my 336th donation of platelets for cancer patients and whole blood to the American Red Cross.  It ranks me 5th in donations for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware region of the American Red Cross.  I say this not to brag (maybe a little), but to say there are things you can do that benefit humanity when you are over 60 - 65 - 70.  It is easy to do and the need is so great.  Please consider this wonderful cause if you don’t already know how rewarding this is.”  P.S.:  “My goal is 500 donations, God willing if the creek don’t rise!”


This annual Christmas in Christ Chapel celebration opened December 5th and ran through December 7th.  For many students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Gustavus, Christmas in Christ Chapel is a kick-off to the Christmas season.  The production is very popular as evidenced by the fact that the college has packed the 1,000-plus seating of the Chapel for every single performance for more than a decade and this year was no exception.

This year’s performance explored the Christmas Story through the traditions of French music and art.  It was entitled “Joyeux Noel:  A Feast of French Music, Art, and Culture.”  Such a theme offered the directors opportunities to mix traditional and Christmas works.  I especially enjoyed an old French favorite, Bob Chilcott’s “Angels From The Realms of Glory.”

In this magnificent production there were three choirs, an orchestra, a bell choir, and a dance company.  It is an event in which Gustavus as an institution of higher learning wholly pours itself into a visual, auditory, and spiritual celebration of the Christmas season, involving 350 plus participants.

It was to me first and foremost a worship service that involved scripture readings and quiet times for prayer and of course the singing of our great Christmas carols.  The youth were there.  The choirs were there.  The bells and instruments were there and the presence of our Lord Jesus and the power of the Spirit were there!

The closing hymn featured the three choirs, the orchestra, the bell choir, as well as us as a congregation in a spiritual musical explosion of “0 Come, All Ye Faithful.”  (Yes, I am in the Christmas mood!)


Jay Schoenebeck ’80 Gustavus Football Coach resigned at the end of this football season, stepping down after 15 seasons to be able to spend more time with his family.  His record is 74-76 including 63-65 in MIAC games, and he consistently finished in the top half of the Conference.  Jay was a Gustie himself and certainly poured himself into Gustavus and its football.

Athletic Director, Al Molde ’66, wanted a new football coach that would carry on the tradition of recruiting and developing kids with strong character and wants very much, as we all do, for Gustavus to win a championship.  In the process he finally narrowed the search down from 75 candidates.

It is exciting to know as I am writing this that Peter Haugen has been named the new coach.  Haugen has been the football coach at Minneapolis Washburn High School since 1994 and in that position posted a 111-44 record with 11 league championships.  Haugen attended Bethel University from 1988-1991 and played baseball, football and hockey for the Bethel Royals and also served as an assistant coach with the Bethel football team for two years before moving to Washburn.

All of the current Gustavus assistants have been guaranteed jobs for next season.  This strikes me as being a very good thing and certainly adds continuity to the football program.  GO GUSTIES!


We are making progress toward establishing this scholarship in the name of our class of ’54 and David C. Johnson who has given so much of himself to our class, and to Gustavus.  At the time I am writing this we have gifts and pledges of $38,417.50 with an actual cash on hand of $9,321.67.  In order for this scholarship to be an authentic gift of our 1954 Class at our 55th Reunion there needs to be an actual amount of $25,000 given.  We have an immediate goal of $100,000 which would enable us to award a significant scholarship to a needy student.  How exciting this would be and how significant it would be to award such a gift at the time of our 55th Reunion.

These are tough times for many people and I am amazed at how people find a way to give.  Here’s hoping that you find a way to consider a pledge or cash gift on behalf of our class.  In living near the Gustavus campus we have the opportunity to hear the beautiful Carillon Bells which was our gift to Gustavus at our 50th Reunion.  The bells remind me of the generosity of this great class of ours in the past and our opportunity to be generous in our giving to this Scholarship Endowment Fund.  Think about it!  Make a pledge!  Give now!  You’ll be glad you did!

In this great time of giving and receiving may you experience a joyful, rewarding, empowering season and a New Year full of health, healing, and peace.

Forrest "Woody” Chaffee

1954 Co-class Agent

(with Helen Forsgren Hokenson who adds her greeting to you as well.)