Class of '56
April 2009

To the Class of 1956,

When I saw Jo at our 50th Class Reunion, she wanted to know what I had been doing hiding out in Africa for 25 years.  Then Carolyn asked me this spring to write a class letter so first I spent some time reflecting on my years at Gustavus.

The exposure to foreign guests and students and professors with overseas experience did make an impression on me.  The religious emphasis on serving others also was important.  While at Gustavus three of us in the Lutheran Student Association were involved in packing books to be sent to Tanganyika.  Two of us ended up working there, the third went to the “foreign” field of Texas.

My husband, Carl, and I lived in Tanzania and Ghana for over twenty years.  When one goes to a different culture, a support system might be minimal.  There are neither family nor friends that have been around some or all of your life.

As we began getting to know people we made friends for many reasons.  Perhaps it was because of a common goal.  As Lutheran missionaries during this era, we found friendship with the people of the country as well as others who came to the country at the request of the local churches for projects which the church itself had identified as needing help from outside themselves.  Our new friends might have been of the same religious denomination; more likely they were not.  Peace Corps Volunteers and other countries’ volunteers were our age and there were also aid workers from a variety of organizations.  All came with a sense of helping and serving local people.

As American citizens, we often made friends with other Americans, because we enjoyed celebrating American holidays together.  Studying our host country, the American Women’s Organization of Ghana learned different aspects of the Ghanaian culture.  In that country we attended durbars, funerals and danced at harvest festivals.  In Tanzania, after Sunday worship, we stayed while the live offerings were auctioned and at weddings enjoyed rice pilau and goat meat.

As parents of four daughters, our friends were those who had children about the ages of our children so they could share play times together.  As the years progressed we discussed educational methods and various schools.  As we moved to different locations or schools closed, we found alternatives for our children’s education.  For three years, I ran a little school for kids from Canada, Norway, England, Bermuda and Germany in addition to our own children.  With friends we grappled with the challenges of sending children off to a boarding school.  Not all of the schools were boarding schools, but my children were educated in our mission’s school, a Dutch-company school, a Swiss school, an American school for embassy children and two different International Schools.

Because of our own interests, we found friendship with people who loved to explore new places, who bicycled, played tennis and board games.  We all enjoyed the ocean, whether it was for swimming, surfing, snorkeling or shelling.  We planned musical programs and plays.  We took advantage of French, German, British, Ghanaian and American cultural programs plus Russian and Chinese events.  We had great times eating foods from other countries.

Living outside the U.S. I found one of the privileges was becoming part of new communities wherever we lived.  It sometimes was a challenge for people from different nationalities to live and work together, but what a joy as people began to understand and appreciate the cultures of their co-workers and friends.

At the request of the overseas church, three times my husband and I started major new projects in two different countries.  We needed to bring people together in teams to accomplish the stated goals.  We had small budgets for our work so learned to make use of the resources in the community.  Our title was “Leadership Training Facilitators” as we created and ran non-traditional programs of Theological Education by Extension, student pastor for the diocese and organizing a Bible school for students from independent spiritual churches.

Besides teaching young children, I taught English to adults.  Running a guest house located on our property was another activity.  Since retirement, during the most recent five years, I have volunteered for the Minnesota Ombudsmen Program for Long-Term Care.  As people learn and exercise their rights, improvements are slowly happening in long-term care in Minnesota.

We retired in Minneapolis and after a few years moved into Becketwood, a senior cooperative near Minnehaha Falls.  In that kind of setting, one is blessed with a whole new community.  This community is probably more homogeneous than our overseas experience, but possibly not!

As we lived in twelve different homes, each home was special.  Living in a variety of places was stimulating and rewarding.  Having just finished reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, I was taken with the number of places that he lived.  I was encouraged that he felt it important to process the meaning of each location and fit it into his life story.  He took full advantage of each experience and felt that it helped him in interpreting present-day experiences.

We look forward to hearing more experiences from others in the Class of ’56.  Each class member has a story to tell.

Faith Walfrid Lindell

1956 Guest Letter Writer

Class News

Duane Jensen is teaching classes at Oak Harbor Lutheran Church.  That’s in the state of Washington.

Jim and Karen (Stewart ’57) Kittlesen traveled to Alaska in June 2007 in celebration of their 50th anniversary.

The 50th wedding anniversaries are upon us.  Reuben and Kay (Jacobson ’58) Carlson in Tigerton, WI recently celebrated theirs.

Carl and Faith Walfrid Lindell and family celebrated their 51st anniversary in August 2008 at the Northern Highland American-Legion State Forest near Minocqua, Wisconsin by camping for seven days with their four daughters, their four husbands plus ten grandchildren.  Biking and swimming every day was an important part of the routine.  Biking 20 miles or so with even the youngest, at age 7, happened a couple times and swimming across the small lake was a stimulating experience for all of the family.

Campus News

Update on Commission Gustavus 150

Recently posted to the Commission website is a summary of the common issues and “big ideas” discussed at the first nine National Summit meetings regarding the College’s five core values (Excellence, Faith, Justice, Service, and Community).  The participants were asked how the College might ensure that the core values would be lived out in the lives of alumni, faculty, staff, and students.  The summary is being shared with all members of the eight task forces of Commission Gustavus 150.  The common issues and big ideas will help shape the recommendations made by the Task Forces to the Gustavus Board of Trustees and ultimately form the basis for the College’s long-range strategic plan.

Gustavus Forensics Team Wins!

Congratulations to the Gustavus Adolphus College Forensics Team, which won its second straight Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Championship on Sunday, Feb. 22.  Gustavus finished with 446 points to beat out Minnesota State University, Mankato (408 points) and Concordia College, Moorhead (213 points).  Gustavus placed first in 6 of 13 events and placed four individuals in the top seven of the individual sweepstakes standings.  First-year student, Chloe Radcliffe, placed first in the individual sweepstakes and senior, Tasha Carlson, will represent Minnesota at the 2009 Interstate Oratorical Association National Contest―the oldest speaking competition in the country―on April 25 in Oxford, Mississippi.

Gustavus’s Day at the Capitol

Hundreds of students and financial aid supporters from Gustavus Adolphus College and other Minnesota private colleges and universities gathered on various days at the state Capitol this spring to advocate for need-based student financial aid.  Gustavus’s Day at the Capitol was March 5, shared with Hamline University and St. Mary’s University.

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Join us for a cup of coffee, breakfast, and great conversation.  This month our featured presenter is Steve Wilkinson, men’s tennis coach.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, Wednesday, April 15, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Reserve your spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763-533-9083.

Linnaeus Symposium

The Linnaeus Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, April 22, 2009 and will include Dr. Margaret Lowman, a tree ecologist and Gustavus alumnus, Gail Johnson Speckmann ’73, whose water color art display will premier during the conference; and there will be a special choreographed dance production on the theme of trees.

MayDay!  Peace Conference

“Tiananmen + 20 Years” is the topic of Gustavus Adolphus College’s 29th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference to be held Wednesday, April 29, 2009 on the college campus.