Class of '54
Fall 2009

Dear Classmates,

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson who wrote, “I am looking on the happy autumn fields and thinking of the days that are no more.”  Yes, the autumn is here and casting a great colored beauty on the Minnesota River Valley and of course, the Gustavus campus.  Homecoming has come and gone and the Gustavus football team scored a victory in the last seconds over Pacific Lutheran College to lift the spirits of everyone.

Last spring, during commencement weekend, Gustavus graduated 608 members of the Class of 2009.  Fifty-eight earned Phi Beta Kappa honors for excellence in the study of liberal arts, and 48 graduated summa cum laude.  In the midst of these rapidly moving days of time we can think of what has been and of what could be.

That same weekend we celebrated our 55th reunion and certainly thought of the “the days that are no more.”  The Alumni Office informed me that it was the best attended 55th reunion in the history of Gustavus!  In the midst of all the flurry of the times, the Carillon Bells of Christ Chapel continue to ring out each day and remind us of our faith that continues to be renewed so that we can say with Robert Browning that “the best is yet to be.”  This class letter is meant to share with you some of the great things that are going on at Gustavus.


Gustavus introduced a new brand position to better reflect its mission and core values.  The position builds on market research involving more than 2,000 Gustavus constituents and coordinates with the report of Commission Gustavus 150.  The new brand position incorporates use of the tagline “Gustavus Adolphus College:  Make Your Life Count.”

Under the leadership of President Jack Ohle and the Gustavus Board of Trustees many students and faculty and community leaders were enlisted to take a good look at Gustavus and its future.  There were eight Task Forces recruited for study and planning as well as alumni summit meetings around the country.  From their meetings have come some 439 recommendations for study and implementation as we look forward to the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the history of Gustavus in 2012.  From all of this activity a theme song that is the spirit of Gustavus and our 1954 Class emerged spontaneously with the words “Make Your Life Count.”  As I write this and ponder this theme I can’t think of one classmate that has not made their life count in their relationships to their work, family, and communities in which you live.

Gustavus as a college climbed eight places as one of the best colleges in the United States according to the annual ratings in U.S. News and World Report and the Gustavus Dining Service is rated once again in the top ten.  Gustavus students are well fed and well educated and along with the alumni are committed to living lives of significance and purpose.  More students than ever are active not only on campus but in community projects of service as well.


Once again over 5,000 persons attended the 45th Annual Nobel Conference on fresh water in the world entitled "H20:  Uncertain Resource."  I have been attending these conferences for the last six years in a row since we moved to St. Peter and I thought this year’s conference was one of the best with clear, distinct presentations mixed with humor and great spectacular audio-visuals and charts.  Mornings and afternoons before the presentations there was special music offered by different Gustavus musical groups including the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, the Vasa Wind Orchestra, a Trombone Choir, as well as the Gustavus Choir.  Seven internationally known scientists which included an engineer-economist, marine ecologist, water chemist-environmental scientist, a Christian environmental ethicist, a civil engineer, and a geographer.  All of them made exciting presentations followed by standing ovations.

Among the highlights was Rajenda Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who told the audience that a warmer world is a more chaotic place with more rain in extreme latitudes and the tropics and much less rain in the middle, including the Southwestern United States.  “Climate change,” he said, “brings a major disruption of the entire climate system.  It is universal across the globe.  It happens everywhere.”

Other scientists stressed that there is only so much fresh water and increasingly we are contaminating and overusing water causing more and more shortages which reminded me of a granddaughter who loves to take 30 minute showers!  If every person would limit themselves to 7 minute showers it would make a difference.

It was continually stressed that water is the lifeblood of Earth.  It is the livelihood of every living thing.  It is what binds us together.  Without fresh water, we shall perish from the earth.

What is it that goes putt, putt, putt, putt, putt??? (say this as fast as you can...answer below)


GLA Membership

All of us remember the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.  It was a place for study and, depending on your era, finding a “coffee date.”  But, in the 21st century, it has become much more.  It is a technology-rich laboratory for learning and a storehouse of culture and recorded knowledge.  It must constantly be strengthened to ensure excellence in education.  The Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) provides financial support for the library and a program of events to its members.  Join this year and immediately make a difference.  Whatever membership gift level you choose, 100% goes directly to the library’s acquisition budget.  Join today at!!!

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Upcoming speakers:  Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 – Nov. 18, Thomas Young ’88 – Dec. 16.


First of all I want to personally thank Helen for talking me into serving as a Co-class Agent along with herself.  She was delightful to work with and skillfull in reaching many of our classmates and meticulously attentive to every detail with a great sense of humor.  Her life has now gone through some dramatic changes that can happen to any of us.  First of all one of her sons now needs very special care and requires ongoing caring attention.  Then last summer on the night of July 14 a fire started in the garage of their home at 4:00 a.m. in the morning.  If it were not for an observant neighbor who came pounding on their door telling Helen and her husband Rod ’53 to get out quickly as the whole house was in flames, they may have perished.  Fortunately they possessed good insurance and during these past weeks and months have had their home literally rebuilt.  I rejoice with them as they will be moving back in their home some time at the beginning of November.  Along with everything else Helen has an eye which needs a cornea transplant which will happen sometime this coming January.  Thanks Helen for all that you have done as a Class Agent and for being such a caring person that serves with joy.


Dolores Youngren Bergstrand

Death came to Dolores on May 29, 2009, in Minneapolis, MN.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Wilton Bergstrand ’30 in 1999 who had been a dynamic national youth director in our Lutheran Church for many years.  Dolores herself was a retired youth director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Jamestown, New York.  She is survived by three children, John ’78, Paul ’80, and Lori Swenson ’82.

James Everett Anderson

Jim was born May 12, 1932 at Frost, Minnesota, and graduated from Frost High School in 1950.  After graduating from Gustavus in our Class of 1954 he taught English and coached tennis at Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota, until he began selling educational materials to schools─his lifelong passion and occupation.  With the exception of the two years he served in the U.S. Army, he remained in the education sales field until his retirement.  He was inducted into the Gustavus Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.  Death came to Jim on August 20, 2009.  He is survived by his two sons and a daughter, David, Jeffrey and Lisa and a sister and a brother Marilyn and Larry.  Jim enjoyed painting, golf, tennis, and times with family and friends during his retirement.  (I have had many conversations with Jim about Gustavus and he was always positive.  When I was at Gustavus he was my personal encourager when we were both on the Gustavus track team.)


As of the present moment gifts and pledges for this Scholarship Fund now total $46,646.89.  Total monies on hand are now $27,630.23 which means that since this is over $25,000 we can award our first scholarship sometime during the next year!  Special thanks to everyone who has participated and to everyone who will keep on giving to this Scholarship Fund…please remember that only the interest generated can be used which means that the principal will never be used, but will only produce more scholarships as we continue to give to it.  It is the giving that keeps on giving to needy students.


Many thanks also to all of you who give to the Annual Fund which also helps needy students.  In fact, 2,004 alumni have made a gift to Gustavus since June 1 of this year.  In the ten classes of the decade of the fifties, our Class of 1954 has given $4,744.51 with 33 of you participating which is 25.2% of the class and the second highest.  Such monies are well managed and put to great use.  Here’s hoping we can keep on giving.

Thanks for reading this and for all of your support.

Best wishes always,

Forrest "Woody" Chaffee

1954 Class Agent

P.S.: Answer to above question: “a very lousy golfer”

Upcoming Events

  • Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – November 14, 2009
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – December 4-6, 2009
  • Festival of St. Lucia – December 10, 2009
  • Farewell for Steve and Barb Wilkinson, Minneapolis Hyatt - December 12