Class of '56
April 2007

GAC ’56ers:  Quite frankly we thought our telephones would ring off their hooks or our e-mail boxes would be flooded with responses when we offered the opportunity for a fellow classmate(s) to volunteer to replace us as 1956 class agents.  To our surprise, nary a call or e-mail arrived, so we can only assume that you would miss our smiling faces in photos featured in the Gustavus Quarterly?! ☺  OK, we will temporarily continue as class agents.  That will give us an excuse to get-together on the Big Island to write the January letter and enjoy our week of eucalyptus steam baths!  However, please help us out when we ask YOU to be a guest writer for the April or September letter.  This April class letter is written by Mary Andreen Carlson―a big “thanks” to you, Mary.  We await YOUR offer to be the scribe for our September letter.  First offer gets the prize!!!  Carolyn and Jo

Greetings ’56ers from Palo Alto, California!

Carolyn Jens Brusseau called and assured me one letter did NOT a class agent make, so I will take this opportunity to chat with you ’56ers on a kind of hit and run basis.

Since I spent only the last two years at Gustavus, I am not sure if this mandates a class letter half as long or twice as long.  We can decide when I run out of words.  (Paul doesn’t think that can happen.).  It also probably means that lots of you never heard of me, so this is my time to tune in to you...and perhaps in subsequent letters you might take your turn to let us take a peek into your life...OR you can fast forward here to more interesting news.

Gustavus was a part of my life since I moved to St. Peter at age three where my grandpa, who lived next door, taught Greek, Latin and math.  He had been in Gustavus’ first graduating class, after putting himself through school in a bootstrap operation.  He saw education as the best way out of the poverty that drove his family in 1872 from Sweden where they were starving.  My parents met at GA, graduated in 1917, and married in 1920.  After their deaths, I found their letters from 1915 to 1920, typed them up 10 years ago, and have a lovely G-rated love story for our family archives.

My parents were absolutely delighted when I quit the inappropriate boyfriend and wanted to go to Gustavus, one of the better decisions of my life.  Paul ’55 and I have been in California for 40 years, coming to Palo Alto in 1967, with Ann 9 and Peter 7, from Paul’s graduate school in oceanography (Oregon State University in Corvallis) where my four years of kindergarten teaching kept the wolf from the door.  He joined the United States Geological Survey in marine geological research that he has loved, and completed his retirement last September after seven years of working part-time for free as an emeritus scientist.

I dabbled in substitute teaching, Girl Scouts, Sunday school and other stay-at-home mom stuff until 1974 when the new pastor at our church decided we needed a preschool and put gears in place to provide preschool to our neighborhood for 22 years.  We felt lucky to get paid for what we enjoyed.  Because we live a long way from our roots in Minnesota, we and our kids have done most of the traveling to keep contact with relatives and friends in the Midwest over the years.  But it is always a HUGE treat when folks actually come HERE and visit with us at our home here in California.  (Call ahead; we’ll be ready:  650-494-1028).

This last month we were lucky enough to have two sets of ’56 visitors...some kind of record.  Carl and Faith (Walfrid) Lindell came in February for a couple of days, and we took that opportunity to go to our nearby redwood park for a walk and a picnic by the sea at Santa Cruz, among other small sites around here.  It was not easy to uncover their 25 years in Africa in the space of three days, but we gave it our best shot!  Your missionary dollar is very well spent by the ELCA!!!

When Faye Reber and her friend, Angella, came by in March for a few days, we visited a couple of gardens, and had our share of medicinal dark chocolate with its anti-oxidant benefits as a high priority.  We continued to talk too long in the evening and needed to use the same sign-off at night as we did during practice teaching....sleep fast!  In both cases, much of the time was spent TALKING and hearing about the good stuff going on now, and in the past.  That was the best part.  And that was the part I missed when we suddenly cancelled the trip we had planned back to Gustavus for the May 2006 - 50th reunion.....when our daughter, Ann, had major surgery.  As I sat at the hospital, waiting for the news from the ENT surgeon who, with great skill and hi-tech miraculous instruments, repaired the 1 cm hole in the thin sinus bone next to the brain, where the spinal fluid was leaking out....I knew you were all having a great dinner.  But I knew I needed NOT to be THERE because I needed to be HERE.

I spent much of the next several weeks doing stuff moms do...fetching things and shaping cups for her to use to drink (NO STRAWS and LIE FLAT) and explaining to her kindergarteners why she would not be there to say goodbye at the end of the year.  I cried just like she did, even though I’d planned NOT to.  She has now been given dismissal from the ENT people, and has taught another year of kindergarten that looks like a United Nations class, most non-white, a real mix.  Our lives go from the highs of laughter, joy and so many opportunities for thanks in our daily the lows of watching the pain of folks we know as they struggle with disease and loss, and those we do not know who make the evening news that makes me cry.  We have the wonderful fun of seeing our grandchildren in their drama and sport events...and the sadness of the lady who came to the food closet for free food because she had just added five mouths to feed since her grandchildren had come to live with her…because her daughter went to prison.  We will celebrate our 50 years of marriage by going in July with our family back to our honeymoon cabin near McGregor, MN.  I was told that Carolyn spilled the beans to you at the banquet about my plan in 1954 to find a husband at Gustavus.  I’m happy to report that IT WORKED! spades! a man who is smart enough to tell me that my cooking is so good that we eat better at home than when we go out to eat!  That line works for him too; I am a pushover for flattery.

Consider picking up the ball for the next letter to help out Jo and Carolyn in thanks for their very efficient service as class agents...really VERY classy agents.

(I guess this letter turned out to be twice…or more…as long!)

Mary Andreen Carlson

1956 Guest Letter Writer


Here are some notes you will want to see that have come into the Alumni Office:

Liz Brown Webster writes from Bayfield, WI, “Jack and I moved into our new home in the Apple Orchard area of Bayfield.  We enjoy having visitors, so look us up if you are in the area.

Ray “Padre” Johnson from Cody, Wyoming, indicates that his son, Ray, Jr. has a brain tumor.  I know I speak for the whole community that our hearts are hurting for him and our love goes out to him as he copes with his son’s serious illness.

David ’57 and Evelyn (Johnson) Borg from Stillwater, MN writes:  “Highlight of the year:  A 50th anniversary cruise (Caribbean) in August.  Took our whole extended family of 25 members for the 7-day cruise.  A number were Gustavus graduates or attendees.  Then four days later, attended Miriam Borg Teeter ’64 son’s wedding in Palo Alto, CA.”


Alumni Awards Announced

The Alumni Association announces the following 2007 awards selected by the Alumni Board of Directors.  Greater Gustavus AwardGiven to those who, by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus CollegeRuss and Jan (Ledin) Michaletz ’74 ’74

Distinguished Alumni CitationsRecognizes outstanding and exceptional professional achievement

Paul Peterson ’94, principal, St. Peter High School, Minnesota State High School Principal of the Year.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90, house speaker, Minnesota House of Representatives.

First Decade AwardsRecognizes early professional achievement

Jennifer Pleuss Spande ’97, diplomat, Political and Economic Section, U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Alexander Hill ’97, senior scientist, Medtronic, Inc.

The Greater Gustavus Award and Distinguished Alumni Citations will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 26, and the First Decade Awards will be presented during Homecoming Weekend, October 13.

Energy Wars

Minnesota colleges and universities competed during February in the Campus Energy Wars.  The Campus Energy Wars challenge was to see which campus conserved the most energy throughout the month.  Gustavus students and faculty made a concerted effort to change their behaviors by turning off unused lights in their dorm rooms or classrooms, unplugging appliances, and lowering thermostats to reduce energy consumption.  The culminating event was a campus competition to pedal stationary bicycles to see who could pump the most energy into an electrical generator supplied by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Linnaeus Symposium Celebrates Birth of Carl Linnaeus

In celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established genus/species used today, Gustavus will host its second Linnaeus Symposium: Linnaeus @ 300 on Wednesday, April 25, 2007.  The daylong conference will feature presentations by ethnobotanists, Mark Plotkin and Paul Alan Cox, Linnaean scholar and impersonator Hans Odoo, and author Paula Robbins, who has written about Pehr Kalm, one of Linnaeus’s “apostles” to America.  The day will also include tours of Linnaeus Arboretum, a special photography exhibition by Anders Bjorling ’58, music, dance, and a Scandinavian feast.  The festivities begin at 10:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m., so save the date and join us at Gustavus this spring.  For more information, go to <> or call 507/933-6181.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Linnaeus Symposium - April 25
  • Gustavus Association of Congregations – April 28
  • MAYDAY! Peace Conference: Community Food Security - May 2
  • Celebrating 75 years of the Gustavus Choir - May 5
  • Celebrating 75 years of Theatre Reunion  - May 11-12 <>
  • Class of 1962 - 45th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • Class of 1957 - 50th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • 50 Year Club Reunion – May 26