Class of '55
September 2007

Dear Classmates:

Last Saturday I attended the annual gathering of Alumni Board members and class agents.  The meeting serves as the start for another round of class letters.  Of particular note was the announcement that our esteemed president, Jim Peterson ’64, will step down in 2008.  He will continue to serve while a search is conducted for the new president.  That should provide for a smooth transition and indicates how much Jim thinks in terms of the institution.

Personally I am saddened by his announcement.  He has demonstrated his wonderful leadership talents and his deep understanding of Gustavus culture.  Gustavus has greatly advanced under his guidance.  It is too bad his term will be so short.  Nevertheless, I am sure all alumni will offer their profound thanks for all he did for Gustavus in such a short time.  We wish Jim great success in all he does in the future.

I was struck by something else at the meeting; that was the energy and enthusiasm of the younger people who are now taking over in the alumni organization.  Now I realize why we need young people.  We old fogies often have just enough get up and go to get up and go.  At least this is my case and I’ll bet many of you would agree.  Our future appears to be in good hands.

I hope many of you will soon see the new football stadium.  It is quite impressive.

Don Gustafson writes that he just finished writing the history of First Lutheran Church in St. Peter.  They celebrate their 150th anniversary this year.  Gus still has the academic juices running as he continues to teach (his 47th year) at Augsburg.  He also told me about Lois Wall Hellberg’s daughter, Sara Bongiorni.  She has written a book entitled, “A Year Without Made in ChinaOne Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy.”  Apparently it has gotten very positive reviews and Loie’s presence permeates the book.

Some of you may recall the great debate that occurred in the fall of 1954 between the Gustavus team of Jerry Christianson and Ron Brown ’56 and two debaters from Oxford University, England.  Ren Anderson ’34 turned it into a major campus event long before the Nobel Conference.  The Brits parodied our alma mater that was printed in the program saying, “Thy bottle our bottle.”  I recall the words and image as though it were last week.  Jerry confirms my memory is correct.

Marilyn Anderson Stephan still has energy as she serves as mayor of Berkley, Michigan.  In November she will seek re-election.

Many of you will recall the superb art exhibition by Jackie Carlson at our 50th reunion.  It was striking.  Jackie continues her artistic ways in addition to volunteer work at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the medical library at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

Campus News

Gustavus has traditionally been ranked by U.S. News and World Report in their feature called “America’s Best Colleges.”  If any of you see this annual ranking, for the year 2008 Gustavus was listed as “Unranked.”  This is because of confusion over how Gustavus uses test scores as part of its admission process.  No need to worry, Gustavus is doing well and more than 3,000 students applied for admission, admitting that they are more interested in the school’s academic excellence and reputation rather than these rankings.

Athletics Hall of Fame ― Gustavus will induct new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame at a banquet on November 3.  They are:  Tim DeJarlais ’91, golf; John Erickson ’81, hockey; Dave Hultgren ’92, baseball; Craig Miller ’91, cross country; Mindy Mayerchak Oosten ’88, softball, soccer; Mike Schumacher ’91, football; Ann Sommerness Simms ’92, swimming; and Ryan Skanse ’92, tennis.

Esbj!  The Heart and Mind of a Professor  Rev. Robert Esbjornson ’41 has collaborated with Dennis Johnson ’60 in writing a book.  It’s part biography, part memoir and includes a sample of Esbj's writings.  Former students of Esbj will find this a rare opportunity to revisit all the excitement of encounters and conversations with this beloved professor.  Johnson and Esbjornson will be on campus during homecoming for a book signing from 10:30-12:00 in the Campus Center.  After that day, the book will be available in the Book Mark.  Proceeds will benefit the Esbjornson Fund within the Chapel Endowment.

Dr. Mary Morton, Gustavus’ new provost and vice president for academic affairs, assumed her position on Monday, July 2.  In this role as chief academic officer, she oversees academic programs and strategic planning at Gustavus.

Gusties Gather! – September 30

Gusties around the world are called to gather on Sunday, September 30.  The Alumni Board is designating this day as a way for Gusties to stay connected with each other.  In research among alumni, we know that Gusties already stay in contact with many alumni, and we know that Gusties have a strong interest in staying connected with other Gusties and with the College.  If there is a gathering in your area, we hope you will consider attending.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Gusties Gather! – September 30
  • Nobel Conference – Heating Up:  The Energy Debate - October 2 & 3
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 12-14
  • A Royal Affair – Razzle Dazzle, October 27
  • Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet – November 3
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – November 30-December 2

So, my dear friends, I hope you all will enjoy the coming holidays.  As you do, think back to those same times when you were undergraduates at Gustavus.  Tell me some stories about those times.  Keep in touch.


Dick DeRemee

1955 Class Agent