Class of '56
September 2009

Our thanks to Faith Walfrid Lindell for writing the interesting and inspirational class letter in April.

It is our usual plan to have a guest writer in September as well, so this summer we invited Keith Garlid to make Lushwell live again and Paul Piche to illuminate his career/life highlights.  They both declined to be our guest writer.  HOWEVER, they both wrote memorable messages via email that they have consented to let us share with you.

Keith Garlid has an impressive record of continuing research and he was the first author of an article, “Cardioprotective Signaling to Mitochondria,” that was published in the June 2009 Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.  He is affiliated with the Department of Biology at Portland State University in Oregon.  Keith writes and we quote:

“Lushwell returns!  What an interesting idea.  I’ve thought about it and will probably decline because of too many other writing commitments.  I’ve attached a recent paper (C & J:  referred to above) that reviews exciting new findings from my research, but this probably isn’t what you have in mind.

Lushwell was typical Minnesota-Scandinavian humor.  I didn’t realize that at the time, of course, because I didn’t know there was any other kind of humor.  I didn’t realize it during my 15 years in Baltimore, either―the humor there is rich, but different.  But then I moved to Ohio, where, as far as I can tell, there is no humor whatsoever.  That is when I perceived the unique nature of Minnesota humor.

I don’t know if I could write an au courant Daily Struggle.  The column was about making gentle fun of hypocrisy, which is still not in short supply.  (I wrote a letter to the Editor here, in which I pointed out that the central theme of U.S. foreign policy is ‘Keep the world safe for hypocrisy’).  Aside from my lack of talent for the job, I can think of some reasons to decline this wonderful invitation.  The arenas in which hypocrisy plays a major role are religion and politics, often merged, and sex and drugs.  I take politics seriously, which doesn’t mean that it isn’t hilarious at times.  I respect my dear classmates who hold religious views, but I’m afraid I had an epiphany after I left Minnesota and am a devout born-again atheist.  Not too promising.  I take sex seriously too, and I do have a funny little story about sex―perhaps another time.  I would like to say I don’t do drugs, but my 22-year-old son, Anders, is living with me, and I am perpetually high from second-hand smoke.

Most of all, I have been away from Minnesota for too long―is the humor still the same in a state that is only blue by a hair?  A state that elected Jesse Ventura governor?  (I treasure every right-winger I meet and argue with in Portland, because they are so rare.)  Ah, give me the good old days, when the fundamentalists I grew up with were full of good humor and not involved in politics.”

In a subsequent email, Keith writes and we quote (completely uncensored―for adults only!)

“I actually constructed a quiz for the newsletter―but it was while trying to go to sleep, and I’ve forgotten most of it.  So I’ll tell you some true stories, this time about my wholesome family life.

Spending time with my boys, Anders and Torleif, who are about to go back to school, four years ago, I took them to South Africa, where I had been invited to give a talk.  Fantastic trip.  One evening in Kruger Park, where a cardiology meeting was being held, I had a nice al fresco dinner with an elegant SA cardiologist.  Elephants roaming around the compound.  She asked a very personal question - ‘How do you think your boys are turning out, Keith?’  I said, ‘I was very fortunate.  One, they’re not in jail, and two, they haven’t found Jesus.  What more could a man ask?’

Torleif has a darling girlfriend named Maddie.  He said he wanted to stay with me for a few days this Spring, and I was delighted because he had been away at school (Corvallis) and I thought we could spend some time together.  I saw him for about 1 hour, then Maddie came up.  They went into his room and didn’t appear for days.  A week later, I cooked dinner for the boys.  Our little dog was in the living room humping away on a stuffed animal.  Torleif asked, ‘Why does Chewy always hump those dolls?’  I responded, ‘Chewy asked me the same question about you!’”

Paul Piche gives a counterbalance to this class letter with his message of faith from his home in Virginia.  He writes and we quote:

“I wish I could reply positively to your request.  It is indeed an honor to be considered as an ‘interesting’ body worth reviewing his life’s vocations.  However, due to circumstances at this time, I must regret the offer.  As to my Naval career, that can be summed up by saying I went on a number of ‘free’ cruises to various parts of our globe all paid for by Uncle Sam, flew over some of the more beautiful countries and scenic areas (including some not so friendly), spent a number of years working directly with our Allies including living in Norway (don’t tell our Swedish related classmates) and had the time of my life flying on and off some of the best aircraft carriers in our Navy.  The circumstances which cause me to regret your request also have caused me to ‘retire’ from Special Olympics.  After 39 years of being a Buddy, Hugger, Chaperone, Coach, and Founder and Chairman of one of the major Commonwealth Games, I have had to step aside.  This has truly left an empty spot in my heart as working with ‘God’s Special Children’ is a joy which we all should experience in life.

OK…’nuff about past history.  Nothing interesting has happened to me since retiring and playing ‘olde’ to the grand kids.  The best I can do is to let you know that I am presently recovering from a medical ‘multi-pak’ drama….had a minor heart attack on the 30th of December….no big deal….during the tests they found that the ‘little’ tumor at the base of my skull (had been tracking it for about 7 years) had blossomed from .5 cm to over 3.5 cm and was now pushing against the spinal cord….effecting three major sensory nerves….facial nerves, equilibrium and sight in the right eye.  They put me on steroids to stem the growth of the tumor (this qualified me for any of the Halls of Shame) and scheduled me for the ‘cyber-knife’ radiation….had this bit in March.  In the meantime, the steroids had a negative effect on my extremities….and as a result, the legs gave out and I ‘crashed’ to the sidewalk fracturing a couple of vertebrae….so there I was….in a body ‘clam shell’ restricting the back and at the same time ‘enjoying’ the reaction(s) from radiation.  They rectified the back issue with an operation….pumped me full of cement and sent me on my way.  In the meantime, during one of the follow-up MRIs, they found I had developed an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta….just another item to keep my docs earning their 2009 vacation.  I found that with all the specialists looking after me I was only missing two, e.g. Ob/Gyn and Pediatric.  Don’t know what I can do to get them on board….don’t want to even try!

So here I am at the end of June getting around with a walker and still trying to get up steps….but the sun is shining and every day brings a little more joy and reason to live.  After all those nights flying night traps on the carrier with ‘God as my co-pilot,’ I am positive that He will continue to look after me and that in the near future I will be out playing golf.  Couldn’t break 100 in the past so I am not hoping for too much.

Again, I am sorry that I cannot join the esteem rank of ‘guest writer’ and share the honor with such as my life long compatriot, John Annexstad.  I do wish all the ’56ers the best and do hope that the good Lord and life have and will continue to be good to them.”

Paul sent an encouraging update the last week in August and we quote:

“Am getting around with a cane and, after a few scotch and waters, without any support.  Cardio-vascular doc has given me a clean bill of health and I will meet with the neuro-oncologist next week to review status of brain tumor.  Other than that all is normal, whatever normal is!

I am just going through the senior ‘golden years’ like everyone else.  After all, at our age, we all have creaks in the joints that need oiling ever so often, gastric burning that employs the Malox industry, and leaky radiators depending on Depends.  But each morning’s sunshine is wonderful and we can look up and thank God for another day.”

Paul always has marvelous quips and here is another one -- “It is easier to say I’m fine with a grin, than to tell you the shape I am in.”

More Class News

Many of you are already aware of the sad passing of Dallas Blenkush last April after a battle with lung cancer.  He was pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lakeville for 27 years and was known to give countless thought-provoking sermons.  He had been a member of the Board of Trustees of Gustavus and involved in the Dollars for Scholars program.

We are also sorry to report the death of Roger M. Nelson, formerly of Duluth.  At the time of his death, he was serving as vice president at Pearson Education-School Division in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Paul Johns writes that “every child and grandchild is a wonderful gift.”  Ten years ago his son was told that because of cancer, resulting in leg amputation and chemotherapy, he would probably not be able to father a child.  However, on May 8, 2009, Annalise was born to Mark and Jeneal Johns.  That is very exciting, Paul.

Barbara Brunkow Avery reports that she is doing well after her right knee replacement surgery.  She still has arthritis elsewhere, but she walks well and the pain in her leg is gone.  She stays active in her local community center―takes the senior citizen exercise classes four times a week and is on the event planning committee.  Glad to hear you are still involved, Barb.

Our accolades to Ray Norling who received a Distinguished Alumni Citation at Gustavus in the field of business.  This is a tremendous honor and we can be proud that we “rubbed shoulders” with Ray during our college years!  Ray has made a “significant impact on the turkey industry in Minnesota, the nation and the world for several decades.”  He formed Life-Science Innovations in 2005 “to provide strategic guidance and administrative support for what had grown to be ten affiliated biotech, engineering, genetics, and agricultural industries.”  You can read all about it in the Fall 2009 Gustavus Quarterly and you will be duly impressed!  Ray, who lives in Willmar, joins the prestigious company of these other ’56 recipients of the distinguished alumni award― John Annexstad (government service), Nancy Adolphson Baker (gymnastics), Keith Garlid (medicine), Ray “Padre” Johnson (art) and James Knapp (medicine).

Carolyn Jens Brusseau is retiring at the end of this year (currently vice president-investments at UBS financial services in St. Paul) and is looking forward to the arrival of twin grandsons in January!

JoAnn Johnson Lundborg spent two weeks during August in the Provence area of France playing “nanny” on a trip with daughter and family.

We are encouraged to make additional gifts to our Class Scholarship before November 30th.  Any gift given prior to that date will directly impact the amounts available for distribution during the following academic year.  Although the last year has proven difficult for investments, Gustavus remains a good steward of our gifts.

            Market value as of June 1, 2008                                 $90,829

            Gifts received and/or income added                                 125

            Change in market value                                              (26,737)

            Market value as of May 31,2009                                $64,217

In view of more favorable market conditions in recent weeks, we can assume (hopeful?) the market value has improved since this report.

Carolyn and Jo               (new)

Co-class agents             

Campus News

Gustavus Library Associates 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!!!

Homecoming and Family Weekend – October 9 & 10, 2009

Join us for Homecoming and Family Weekend festivities this year!  Parents, alumni, and friends of the College are invited to return and reconnect on this great weekend.  Check out all the activities on the Gustavus alumni web site (

A Walk in the Arb

As part of Homecoming Weekend, the Linnaeus Arboretum will be hosting its annual Fall Fest on that Saturday, October 10.  Come enjoy a guided hike through the arboretum and browse its many beautiful flower gardens and tree collections.  Maple trees will be in their fall peak this weekend.  Master Gardeners and tree care experts will be available to address your questions and concerns, so bring a branch!  Bring your kids for a hayride through the arboretum!  Have a look at this year’s scarecrows around the Borgeson cabin!  Enjoy cookies and lemonade, purchase an arboretum t-shirt.  The weather for last year’s Fall Fest was absolutely gorgeous, and we expect this year to be no different!  For more information, call 507-933-6181 or email

“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:

President Jack R. Ohle – Oct. 21

Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 – Nov. 18

Thomas Young ’88 – Dec. 16

Upcoming Events

  • Nobel Conference:  H²0 Uncertain Resource – October 6-7, 2009
  • Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 9-10, 2009
  • Athletics Hall of Fame – October 17, 2009
  • Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – November 14, 2009
  • Farewell for Steve and Barb Wilkinson, Minneapolis Hyatt - December 12

royal affair