Class of '56
January 2010

Hi Class of ’56 from Kay Rethwill Moline,

Jo contacted me last fall and asked me if I would be the guest writer for the January class letter.  Well, I could not say no to Jo and Carolyn, so here goes.

It has been a long time since Charlie Wold and I were Class Agents and wrote a lot of letters.  So hopefully I will be able to push along and send you some things you want to read.  I did not graduate with all of you, but I have been considered a member of your class for many years, teaching nursing here at Gustavus since 1970.  I came to Gustavus as part of the Bethesda program in the fall of 1952.

Years pass quickly when you are having fun, and that is something I have had for many years, nursing, teaching and now retirement.  I would never have time for a full time job now.  I however; never give up the only paying position I have.  As long as I am asked to play Mary Christmas, the patient for the junior nursing major performance exam at the end of each fall semester.  I keep busy working in our yard and garden and the herb garden at the Linnaeus Arboretum.  I take piano lessons and do the usual fun things retired folks do.  Then there is the volunteer stuff.  I am president of the Board of the Friends of the Linnaeus Arboretum, on the Gustavus Alumni Association Board, and the River’s Edge Hospital and Clinic Commission (formerly St. Peter Community Hospital).

On to retiring, it seems at our age news is full of it.  However, considering our ages it is a good thing that many of us have worked as long as we have.  The public out there needed us.  Some classmates I’ve heard have retired are:  Barbara Brunkow Avery, Paul Lund, Lois Moran Sprain, Beverly Matson Gustafson, Don Roberts, Richard Bergman, Ruth Chell Oliphant, (still directs the Children’s Church Choir), Mary Swanson and George Hieber.

Death took its toll this year as well.  Dick Derauf died on August 19, 2009.  Nancy Irgens Derauf ’57 wrote “he had been going through so many health problems in the last couple of years and his body just gave up.”  Melba Johnson Gevik’s husband, Dean ’53, died on June 6.  A note came to me that Audrey Joan Simmons Jasperson died on July 3, 2009.  It was reported that she came to Gustavus in 1952.  She was not in the nursing program.  I don’t know if any of you might have known her.

Many of you will remember former geology professor Chester Johnson.  Chester died on December 8, 2009.  The following is the message President Ohle sent out to the campus community:

I write to let you know of the passing of a beloved member of the Gustavus family.  Chester O. Johnson, a professor emeritus of geology at Gustavus Adolphus College, died Tuesday, Dec. 8.  He was 96.

A founder of the College’s geology department, Johnson taught at Gustavus from 1940 until 1978.  Following his retirement from teaching, he continued to work at the College as an archivist in the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.  In 1978, he became the Minnesota Synod Archivist of the Lutheran Church in America.  In 1988, when the ELCA was created, he assumed the position of Lutheran Church Collection Archivist until his retirement in 2001.  Johnson influenced many Gustavus students during his 61 years of service to the College and the Church.  The Chester O. Johnson Geology Scholarship and the Chester O. Johnson and Walter L. Youngquist Geology Student Research/Field Studies Fund were created in 2001 to honor his legacy.

In 2002, Chester and his wife, Marian (Swanson) Johnson ’41 were awarded the Greater Gustavus Award, “the highest award given by the Gustavus Alumni Association for those who by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College.”  Johnson was also recognized by the Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations with its Covenant Award in 2002.  The Covenant Award is given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions in building and maintaining the relationship of Gustavus with the Lutheran Church.

Professor Johnson will be missed by all who knew him.  Please join me in keeping his family in your prayers.

His wife, Marian (Swanson ’41) died on January 1, 2010.  She was an instructor in English and library science and the periodicals librarian here at Gustavus.  Marian was 89 years old.  Rev. Dr. Clair Johnson died on December 24, 2009.  He served as chaplain at Gustavus and taught in the Religion Department from 1962 to 1995.  Clair was 84 years old.

Class News

The following message from Inger Bjorck Ruin was received by Jo and Carolyn and we’d like to share it here:

Dear Carolyn and Jo,

For many years I was completely out of touch with Gustavus but for the past ten years or so I am on the mailing list and I read your class letters with great interest.

There may be some people who remember the Frost Queen (1) of 1955, Inger Bjorck from Sweden.  On that assumption I will briefly relate what happened to me when I left Gustavus after the spring term of ’55.  After some traveling around in the U.S. during the summer I returned to Sweden.  I studied English and French at the University of Lund in southern Sweden to become a teacher.  I married a political scientist who came from Finland.  We moved to Stockholm where he became a professor at Stockholm University─ I continued studying and got a Ph.D. in English linguistics.  I was a senior high school teacher and later had a post as associate professor of English at the University of Uppsala, which is within commuting distance from Stockholm.  I wrote a book defending the study of grammar in language learning against theories to the contrary.  In the sixties our three sons were born and they all have families, which makes a crowd of 17 people when we all meet.  This happens in the summer when we are at our summer place in Finland on an island west of Helsinki where my husband spent his childhood summers.

We have been back in the U.S. a number of times.  1971-72 the whole family spent a year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where my husband had a research grant at the university, the spring of ’81 and ’91 we were at the University of California, Berkeley where he was a visiting professor.  For many years I had contact with my roommate at Rundstrom Hall, Carol Christensen.  She came to visit us in Ann Arbor but we lost contact in the late ’70s.  She was a librarian in Colorado and used to send us packages of paperbacks for Christmas to keep us up to date with new American fiction.

As you can see from this short CV my year at Gustavus was very formative both in making me choose the English language as my field of career and of course also because it created a lifelong interest in the U.S. and all it stands for, good and bad.  Now that I am retired my main interests are my grandchildren and politics.  I am a member of the school board and the community council of the suburb of Stockholm where we live.  It is one of the most conservative communities in Sweden.  I belong to the small, but vocal, social democratic minority and we can at least vitalize the debate by presenting our opposing views on how to organize society.  When it comes to American politics we in our family were of course, like most Europeans, very happy about the election of Obama.  My husband even has an Obama hat, a gift from one of our sons who was in New York last fall.  We are keeping our fingers crossed for his health care reform to be passed by the Senate.  From a Swedish point of view it is so obvious that this is a necessary part of a civilized society.


Inger Bjorck Ruin ’56

Congratulations to Coach Don Roberts as recipient of the Hobey Baker Legends in Hockey Award.  For more information you can check out the Fall 2009 Gustavus Quarterly. Don and Nancy (Lea) Roberts still live in St. Peter, but spend a lot of time at their lake home.

Student News

I was able to track down this year’s recipient of the 1956 Class Endowed Scholarship with the help of Kristine Staumann ’07, Donor Relations Associate.  Deirdre “DeeDee” Arnold ’12 is a sophomore from Bovey, MN and graduated from Grand Rapids (Minnesota) High School.  I met with DeeDee and Kristine in November for a conversation at the Courtyard Café.  DeeDee chose Gustavus because her sister is here, and while visiting with Admission counselors from Gustavus she learned about our fine athletic trainer program.  DeeDee is on the women’s softball team, broomball is her intramural sport, and plays basketball and volleyball with her friends.  She participates in Proclaim a contemporary worship service in the Dive on Tuesday evenings.  DeeDee hopes, if time allows, to be able to participate in the Big Partner, Little Partner Program.  Her dream is to study in Spain during a semester of J-Term Abroad.  She maintains a 3.6 GPA.  I know if you were able to meet and have a conversation with DeeDee you would be as proud as I am that she is the recipient of our scholarship.  She is very grateful for the scholarship and thanks this class for.  We plan to meet again in the spring, just to keep in touch.

In the spring and the fall, students are treated to special events planned and sponsored by the Alumni Office and the Annual Fund Office.  At both events the students are told about how important it is to be an alumnus of this college, and also told how they can give something back to the institution that has given them so much.  Last year by graduation time 57% of the seniors had made a gift of some amount and this year’s senior class already has 17% who’ve given.  The percentages look good when graduation classes are over 600.

Campus News

Gustavus gets High Rankings

Gustavus Adolphus College is listed as the 33rd best liberal arts college in the country according to a new set of college rankings released on Thursday, September 3, by Washington Monthly magazine.  The publication states on its website that schools were ranked based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories:  social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

Gustavus once again ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings.  Gustavus moved up eight places from last year’s rankings to 80th on the magazine’s “Best Liberal Arts College’s” list.  Gustavus is one of six Minnesota colleges that placed in the top 100 in this year’s rankings.  One of the measures used to capture the various dimensions of academic quality at each college is alumni giving percentage; therefore, participating in a giving program at Gustavus, regardless of amount given, is important to the College.

Martin Luther King Day Events

The Diversity Center is sponsoring two events in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Speaking at Chapel on Monday, Jan. 18 will be C. T. Vivian, a minister, author, and close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement.  Daily chapel will begin at 10 a.m., with Rev. Vivian speaking from 10:20-11 a.m. and answering questions from 11-11:15 a.m.  Also on Jan. 18, Mixed Blood Theatre will be presenting the play “Daughters of Africa” at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall.  Both events are free and open to the public.

“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:  Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90, Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives – Jan. 20; Doug Minter ’79 Director of Student Financial Aid and Kirk Carlson ’95, Associate Director of Student Financial Aid – Feb. 17.

Upcoming Events

  • Jan. 14 – Atlanta Chapter Event – Linda Bailey Keefe ’69 residence
  • Jan. 20 – Twin Cities Breakfast, guest speaker - Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90
  • Jan. 26 – Job Transition Workshop – Transfiguration Lutheran Church
  • Feb. 9 – Destin, Florida brunch – Another Broken Egg Cafe
  • Feb. 17 – Twin Cities Breakfast – Gustavus Financial Officers
  • Feb. 19 – Tucson Chapter Event – Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’67 ’66 residence
  • Feb. 20 – Phoenix Chapter Event – Larry and Deone (Nordquist) Cartford ’59 ’59 residence

All the best in the New Year,

Kay Rethwill Moline

1956 Guest Letter Writer