Class of '56
March 1999

Dear Classmates,

This class letter is long overdue. Sorry!

I'm choosing this particular time to write these notes because I'm needing some peace and quiet behind my closed office doors. We are having four of our six grandchildren here for the weekend. Elise is dancing through the house to the loud music of "Joseph and His Amazing. . . "Ben, our only grandson, is soaking in a bubble bath because of an earlier injury, and Anna, our oldest, is painting a water color for a class assignment. Katybeth, the youngest, is doing some pouting, some laughing, and some serious harassing of their dog, Izzy. Judy has made snacks for all of us to enjoy wherever we choose to drop, spill, or tip them over. Judy actually enjoys these weekends. I'm sure many of you have experienced these same happenings. Someone said, "If we'd only known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, we would have had them first!??"

Some not-so-exciting news, but news, nevertheless. Our class is pretty much in the middle of our decade, 1949-58, in that 46% of us are giving to the Gustavus Fund, 78 out of 170. In actual dollars we do a little better, ranking 4th out of ten. Overall alumni participation last year was 44.8%, which does not reflect the Gustie spirit very well. Our goal this year is 52%. That's 9,900 donors and we have 5,257 to date with few precious months left! Dollars received to date are slightly ahead of last year, but a long way from where we need to be in order to make our goal of $950,587. If you've already given, please consider another gift―a stretch gift―and encourage others to do the same. We have until May 31 to reach our goal. I know that all of you are giving to other organizations and causes and to ask those who have already given is most uncomfortable! Those that have not yet gifted the Gustavus Fund, think seriously about helping if at all possible. It will help our class percentages, but more importantly help students, faculty, and your alma mater recover from the devastating tornadoes. Immediately following the tornadoes everyone truly came through with help and money, but we Gusties have to hang in there until we completely recover!

Campus News

March 29 marked the one-year anniversary of the tornadoes that swept through the campus and St. Peter community. Much has been accomplished in the recovery effort and the College extends appreciation to all alumni and friends who volunteered their time, energies and resources in the recovery effort. A commemoration service was held on campus the last day of classes before Spring break and Gustavus also hosted a community-wide ecumenical service in Christ Chapel on Sunday, March 28, which was followed by a public reception in Alumni Hall. Later in the spring semester, two fine arts events will be presented. In "A Celebration of Renewal and Resurrection," the Gustavus Band, Gustavus Choir, and St. Ansgar’s Chorus will perform David Holsinger’s The Easter Symphony at 7:30 p.m. May 1 in Christ Chapel. Then from May 13-16, an original theatre production, "The Tornado Project," will be performed at 8:00 p.m. each night in Anderson Theatre.

The Kresge Foundation has awarded Gustavus a $1 million challenge grant toward the Campus Center, which is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2000. This project has received support from a variety of foundations, corporations, and individuals, as well as the state of Minnesota. To meet The Kresge Foundation challenge, Gustavus must raise approximately $4.3 million in support of the Campus Center, an outdoor track facility, and tree replanting and campus landscaping. The Kresge Foundation has participated in other Gustavus projects, including awards of $500,000 for the renovation and expansion of Nobel Hall of Science in 1996, $250,000 to build Confer Hall in 1989, and $350,000 toward the construction of Lund Center in 1983.

Gustavus has been selected as this year’s recipient of the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA) Midwest Region Institutional Award of Excellence. The award is granted to an institution of higher education that has distinguished itself in excellence through creative application of human resource principles or that is widely renowned for the outstanding manner in which it develops and maintains human resource programs. Gustavus was chosen for this award "because of Gustavus’ outstanding, comprehensive, and humane response to the tornado devastation that occurred on your campus on March 29, 1998. The decisions made that affected employees were done in a way that not only assisted with the timely reopening of the campus, but also treated employees in a caring and proactive manner."

Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, is visiting Gustavus for six weeks as the Rydell Nobel Conference Distinguished Visiting Professor. He is teaching a seminar on "Science and the Moral Imagination" along with Gustavus professors Larry Potts (chemistry) and Deane Curtin (philosophy).

Athletic "March Madness" affected the Gustavus campus as the men’s basketball team qualified to participate in the NCAA Division III tournament for the fourth consecutive year, winning three national play-off games before losing to eventual national champion Wisconsin Platteville in the quarterfinals. Gustavus hosted the 16th annual Division III National Collegiate Gymnastics Championships and placed second. The Gustavus women’s hockey team won the MIAC championship and ranked second in the nation in Division III, and the women’s indoor track and field team boasts two All-Americans, ending the season 16th in the nation, our best ever.

Reunion and Commencement Weekend ’99 is May 28-30 with reunions planned for classes ending in 4s and 9s. Gusties of all ages and classes are invited to attend. If you are not a member of a reunion class but wish to participate, call the Alumni Office at 1-800-487-8437. A schedule of events will be included in the Spring Quarterly and registration materials will be sent to reunion classes.

It has been suggested to us that we identify a guest class letter writer for one of the three letters we are to write per year. Other classes have had great guest writers I've been told. Well, I've had little success in finding one of my classmates (you!) wishing to be that guest writer. Please, oh please someone volunteer to write just one class letter. I'll send information, etc. and be indebted to you the rest of your life and mine―depending, of course!!

We won't be hearing from Judy's class this time. Wouldn't you know she has a guest writer. We do have a few bits of news though:

Rev. Charles and Myrt (Jostad ’58) Haney have been to Sweden establishing a sister congregation in Sweden for their church, First Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Portland, OR. Their church is the oldest Swedish Lutheran church on the West Coast. Thank you for the news, Myrt!

Anita (Lien '59) and Ozzie Anderson, our classmate, have been in Guam teaching in the public schools for six years. Both have traveled to Paris, southern France, Morroco, Italy, Vienna, and Prague this past fall. Yes, both are now home safe and sound in Park Rapids, MN fishing and swimming at Big Sand Lake where they have built a new house and both have retired―but only one of them sent news. Thanks to Anita we have this info to report. I'm sure, Ozzie, you were instrumental in making this news available to your dear old classmates as well!!

Rev. Roger and Helen (Sandgren) Munson, husband and wife of course, have been spending time in Alaska, August and September, and plan to be in Florida for January through March. Good thinking, you two. It wasn't a matter of weather or not?

I had lunch with Harvey Davis the other day. The combination of his observations of life, quick-wit, and interest in me and you (his classmates) was really enjoyable. I only wish I'd had a tape recorder (I would have asked) so the rest of you could have enjoyed our conversation! Yes, I did ask him to write our class letter, but he travels a lot―I mean a lot!―So, no soap. Are you familiar with that expression or is that just a St. James colloquialism?

I think many of you know that Jim Mattson passed away April 4th, 1998 of colon cancer. He joined the Foreign Service right after graduation and served in Vienna, Salzburg, Bonn, Casablanca, Beirut, and Brussels. He spent his last years with the Departments of Defense and Labor. After his retirement, Jim directed the labor officer functions course at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA. Our sympathy to Jim's wife, Ilse, and family. Other deaths to report: Beverly Langdahl Nielson x54, Ft. Collins, CO, on March 3, 1999; Gretchen Hein Osborne '56, Issaquah, WA, on July 25, 1998; and Donald W. Hixon '62 (Whitey Hixon's brother), Burnsville, MN, on February 14, 1999.

Gus Link (students at Gustavus) will continue to call us, but may not be able to reach everyone― even if they reach most of us they don't ask for information about your activities―so news is difficult to come by. So, please, when you send your gift to Gustavus don't forget the news. The only good class letter is about classmates! Hey, we can brag, exaggerate; nourish a good story as much as we want. It comes with aging, grandchildren, and traveling. A good book read can be pretty exciting news! If this sounds like I'm: A) whining, B) redundant, C) begging, D) all of the above. You're right! D) All of the above!!

Bob Erdman

1956 Class Agent