Class of ’58
May 2010

Dear ’58ers,

Hooray, Hooray, it’s the first of May!  Well, actually it is the third of May as I am always about that far behind.  Spring is here in Minnesota with the delightful perfumes of lilacs, lilies of the valley and crab apple blossoms.

I had the opportunity to meet Liana Lien ’13, the first recipient of our class scholarship.  She is a first year student from Carlos, MN (Alexandria High School) with hopes of majoring in biology and attending dental school after graduation.  Her dad works in construction and her mother at a retail store in Alexandria, and they operate a small hobby farm in Carlos.  She played the cello for seven years in high school, was a cheerleader, a hospital volunteer, a 4th grade tutor and a member of National Honor Society.  She is taking biology, chemistry, French, religion and the required First Term Seminar this year.  She works in the financial aid office and would like to study abroad some day.

I found her to be a delightful person enjoying her time at Gustavus and studying hard.  We talked about her being from a small town, which makes her part of a distinct minority at Gustavus.  In our day, the majority of us were from small towns or farms, particularly the guys in our class.  A fast check of our 1958 yearbook identifies eight members of our class from Alexandria:  DENNIS ERICKSON, BARBARA JOHNSON MORRIS, DARRELL LORSUNG, HERB LUNDEEN, MARILYN CARLSON SHERMAN, BILL TOBABEN, CHAR BUKKILA WESTRUM and RALPH WESTLUND.

News, some old, some more recent:  Some of you may be aware of the passing of Phil Knautz ’48, director of the concert choir from 1954-80 and professor of music until he retired in 1985.  He had been living near his son in Colby, WI and died last week at the age of 86.  I am sure all of you choir veterans have many fond memories of “Mr. K.”

I am also very sad to report the death of ANDREA GRANT JANOUSEK on March 10, as reported to me by MIM ANDERON OLSEN.  “To know her was to love her” would be the reflection of many in our class.  BOB PETERSON and I remember many great conversations with Andy during those Phonorama days.  She was a unique person, a chemist for Boise Cascade, an environmentalist who wanted so much to write a piece for our reunion book, but even two years ago, cancer had sapped her strength.  Mim reminded me that she not only built her own A-frame, but also her own pipe organ!  Memorials were asked for Rainy River Community College in International Falls, but you may also consider a memorial to our class scholarship at Gustavus since financial aid was very important to her.

As we approach third base on our life’s journey, I am never sure how to address those in our class who have health issues.  We can start with the good news, HEATHER PETERSON DAVIS-PEABODY and Bob are headed to Florida as we write, with reports that her last chemo went well, and according to Carolyn, she is doing great.

RUTH RAARUP MITCHELL was at the Gustavus breakfast in Destin, FL in late February and she is positive and looking great as she continues her medical treatments.  ADE SPONBERG had a “re-do” hip surgery late this winter and in my last contact had a few more weeks before he could put full weight on his foot.  Our thoughts are with those who have Parkinson’s (BOB PETERSON, LEROY MUELLER, JOHN THOMAS (MARLENE’S ISENSEE THOMAS’S husband) and those with memory issues (CHARLES BUSCH, CHAR JONSON BERNDT.  As we get older, we need to make sure we remember each other.

The snowbirds are slowly working their way back north.  JANICE (CARLSON) and LYNN STRAND have purchased a home in Green Valley, AZ and have moved from Bozeman, MT.  Their new address is:  19001 S. Richfield Ave, Green Valley AZ 85614.  SONYA (HARBO) and SKIP TALUS will be leaving Houston in a few weeks for their summer home near Biwabik.  They are proud that their grandson, Eric Talus, will be enrolling at Gustavus this fall.  Gotta be proud of those third generation kids!  JODY SPRINGER LANGE and Howard are also enroute from Georgetown, Texas to Minnesota.  SALLY CLAUSEN TAYLOR and Gib spent two weeks on Mustang Island at Port Aransas, TX and loved fishing and collecting shells.  Gib played his guitar at local music jams twice a week.

If you like to watch birds, Saturday May 15, is Gustavus Birding “Big Day.”  Wherever you are, make a list of the birds you observe that day and send your list to Bob Dunlap, Linnaeus Arboretum naturalist at Gustavus.  Bob’s email is  Attention to JIM EDMAN and others.

RON and Marilyn MICHELSON are really going to do it!  After 41 years in California, they are moving to Wasilla, AK, leaving on May 27 with a stop to see their daughter and family in Olympia, WA and arriving in Wasilla on June 6.  I asked Ron to keep notes on the trip as they head through BC to the Yukon and then over to Tok and southward to Anchorage.  They plan to integrate themselves into the community and become Alaskans.  I made about a dozen recruiting trips to Alaska when I was working and met many delightful people, some of whom came to Gustavus!

If you recall, BOB PETERSON, wrote of the start of his career at Gustavus in the last class letter.  He hopes to be able to continue that in the summer edition.  I encourage any of you to think about writing a slightly longer piece for a future class letter.  Maybe when MARY ELLEN YOUNG gets tired of golf!

In the meantime, ELLWOOD JOHNSON has stepped forward at my invitation.  Here he is:

Sam seems to think that I’ve led an interesting life after Gustavus and that it might be of casual interest to my fellow classmates.  Out of this adventure of over 52 years, there may be a couple of notable items.  I want to add that I have not invented anything, performed life saving procedures, and all of the famous people whom I have met would have no recollection of me.  But, when I was growing up in beautiful downtown Lowry I could not have day dreamed of some of my experiences; lifetime and professional.  I have been involved with about 24 different companies.  I am not suggesting that it is a good thing for everyone, but it just evolved that way for me.  Most of my challenges have included work as a contractor for the government, or for private international development organizations (NGOs), and even federal service; I was also the executive director of a natural history museum and planetarium.  Hopefully, my work has helped my fellow man.  I do know that it has given me so many real friendships that have lasted over the years.

When I first entered the work force after graduation it was as a pharmaceutical detail man─I hyped the company’s products to the medical profession in my assigned area.  This did not last long as I was bored re-reading old issues of Better Homes & Gardens in the doctor’s offices.  I got the job mainly because I was a former US Navy Corpsman─ one of my tasks was working in the Dependents Clinic at the Corpus Christi Naval Hospital.  I was assigned to the Delivery Room where I gave the newborn B-12 shots and silver nitrate drops in their eyes.  This was truly a learning experience.

So, on March 1, 1962 I became the 13th person to become a space science lecturer in NASA’s Spacemobile Educational Programs─a program that is still operating today.  It was initially focused on presenting an assembly type program to elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States─we all remember our assembly/lyceum programs and I became one of those.  The employment was a contractor position but we reported to our NASA officials.  I came on board on a Thursday, met my NASA bosses as well as our contractor boss.  They told me on Sunday, I was to join my trainer and we were to spend a week in West Virginia.  Keep in mind, that like my RCPA experience, I did not know anything about space science or NASA’s programs or mission.  Twice on Monday and Tuesday, I listened to the 50-minute lecture, on Wednesday morning I gave half of the lecturer, on Wednesday afternoon the second half, repeated on Thursday and on Friday I gave two full 50-minute lectures.  Oh yeah, on Friday evening I was introduced as a space science expert and gave a 30-minute talk on the Elkins, WV TV station.

At the Seattle World’s Fair, we had the NASA pavilion which contained a 150 seat auditorium.  We had a number of Spacemobile lecturers assigned and we gave 6 lectures a day and then 9 on the weekends.  It is interesting to note that at this time “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was being shot.  Some of the senior actors used the NASA pavilion as a rest area/pit stop.  One day after a lecture I dropped into our lounge/pit stop area, looked to the right, and there was Elvis.  I think we said hi, but Elvis and I “pittled” together.  Not many people can say that.

As I was slated for the next international assignment, they flew me down to Caracas to monitor the program and gain insights on how to set up the programs in a foreign country.  The effort in Venezuela was under some strain.  It was at a time of violent student demonstrations and terrorism.  The students would come out of the campus to do their thing, and then rush back to the safety of the campus, which was a sanctuary for students and according to law could not be penetrated by the national police.  The Embassy was under high security surveillance.  We had several meetings there discussing security of the NASA program and personnel.  It was a tense situation for all. 

After the conclusion of the Exposition, the State Department asked me to go to Georgetown, Guyana─to the west of Surinam.  This was a very interesting assignment.  I lectured at several schools in Georgetown but the highlight was an open lecture in the city library.  The “auditorium” was just a bit bigger than classroom size and it was packed with the spillover in the hallways and the main library.  Needless to say I had to talk very loud, as they did not have an amplification system.  The elected government was very sympathetic to Russia and the Communist Party and they had planted some Communists in the front seats to bait me and generally create trouble.  I answered their questions or rather statements the best I could; most of which were centered on Russia beating up the US on space exploration.  I replied that I had told them about our program of exploration but that I, or no one outside of Russia, had any idea on what the Russians were planning to do.  It was impossible to make any comparisons as no information got out to the free world.  That drew a standing ovation from the entire audience and the sympathizers stormed out amid laughter.  It was a good day for America.

Back in Washington, we began to work on the plan to regionalize the management of the Spacemobile Program to the Educational Offices of the individual NASA Centers.  As a side task, I was asked to monitor a congressional hearing on the NASA educational programs on Capital Hill.  The hearing was over at noon time and I went to a local outdoor restaurant near our office to have lunch with co-workers.  I got out of the cab and noticed an absence of normal sound.  No horns blowing, no people talking, the world had slowed down.  The date was Friday, November 22, 1963.

President Kennedy’s body laid at rest at the White House on Saturday.  Then on Sunday, there was the public viewing in the rotunda at the Capital.  Our apartment was close to the Capital and we made friends with many who worked for Congressmen.  One who was on Senator Kennedy’s senior staff and offered to get us preferred status for the viewing.  We walked up to the Capital and they took us up to the top of the Capital─look at a photo of the Capital and you will see small windows at the top of the dome─it housed an in-house annex of the Library of Congress.  From those windows, we could see the funeral procession coming up Pennsylvania Avenue.  Senator Carl Hayden, D‑Arizona was also in the library─at that time America’s oldest Senator.  When it was time to go, the escort said we were following the staff of Senator Humphrey.  We walked down spiral stairs, the door opened, and there was the casket with military honor guards.  We walked past the casket and walked outside.  We then saw a person running up the steps and telling anyone who would listen that Lee Harvey Oswald had just been shot.  We thought it was disgusting that a person would be spreading those rumors.  We quietly walked home, turned on the black and white TV and saw the reruns of Oswald being shot in Dallas.

I really worked at getting the job as Tour Director of the Apollo 11 Fifty State Tour.  The Apollo 11 van was to visit all state capitals for five days and then take two days to travel to the next location.  The van─ 58’ long, 14’ high, and 13.6’ wide ─contained the Apollo 11 Command Module and a Lunar “Moon” Rock.  Visitors could walk on both sides of the van to view the historical exhibits.  The caravan on the road consisted of a lead vehicle, state police officer car, the van, state police officer car, and follow-up vehicle.  It was guarded 24 hours a day by the state police.  Our first stop was Sacramento, CA and I symbolically turned over the van to Governor Ronald Reagan who gave a 15 minute off the cuff speech to the audience on the importance of education and the future of space.  A memorable moment.  Another highlight was the visit to Minnesota where Governor LeVander ’32 accepted the van─a GAC alumnus and a former lawyer for RCPA at Elk River where I got to see him frequently at board meetings.  On the first anniversary of the landing on the moon, we had the van at Springfield, MO on the capital grounds.  Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins as well as high NASA officials and local government officials were at the ceremony.

I then worked for several private voluntary international agencies in the Santa Barbara, Los Angles and San Diego areas─VISSA and Children’s Aid International.  In Children’s Aid, we got involved with the End Hunger Network which was founded by Jeff Bridges.  I worked on outreach activities in support of the 1983 End Hunger televent, a three-hour live television broadcast focusing on educating and inspiring action to end world hunger.  In one of our earlier planning meetings at a local school, our attendees included Jeff, John Ridder, and Cloris Leachman.  After taking documentation photos of the event, I went outside of the building to have a smoke break.  Following me was Cloris─a small woman─who proceeded to chew me out for five minutes on the evils of smoking.

Children’s Aid was also involved with the Chernobyl children.  We flew to Warsaw, Poland and Minsk, Belarus to set up an affiliate office to work with the affected children in Belarus.  In Warsaw, we had to get a visa from the Russian Embassy to travel to Minsk.  They had a steel fence surrounding the Embassy.  No guards visible.  We pushed the doorbell by the gate and they called us in.  We walked without guard into the Embassy and the foyer and shortly an under-secretary appeared.  We chatted about 15 minutes─they wanted to know about our work and plans for Minsk and then he said we could enter Belarus.  I don’t believe they even stamped our passports but they were stamped when we crossed the Polish border.

The next day we visited the US Embassy to record our presence in Poland and plan to visit Minsk.  There were security guards all over the place and detectors to go inside.  It was sure a stark contrast to our visit to the Russian Embassy.  I’m sure there were security all over the Russian Embassy grounds but none was visible.

In 1993, I moved to Phoenix where my sister lives.  I became an independent consultant working on developing a number of databases which I hoped to market.  I was also doing some evaluation work for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) which developed into several talks to their grantee conferences.  Along this time, a couple of other consultants and I formed the Grant Connection Group to help applicants for CSAP program grants better understand and follow the process.

On 10/24/98, I pulled the plug and retired.  On 4/12/00, I noticed a growth on my left neck area.  Testing found cancer and they started chemo and radiation to reduce the size of the growth and when it decreased appreciably they removed the growth.  I decided to move back to Phoenix and in November 15, 2001 they noticed another growth in the same area.  I was referred to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and 12/5/01, they removed the growth followed by chemo and radiation.  Since that time, I have had no more cancer threats.  Pretty lucky and I credit buttered noodles and not lutefisk.

Thanks Ellwood!  You have been a teacher and contributor all of your life.

Before we close, I should mention that President Emeritus Jim Peterson ’64 received the Order of the Polar Star from the Swedish King this spring.  Our own BOB PETERSON was one of the first Gustavus recipients of this award.


The 1958 Class Scholarship now totals $85,161 as we head to our $100,000 goal.  The Christ Chapel Accessibility Endowment is at $205,060, including an anonymous $165,000 bequest from outside our class.

Our class total for this year is a very impressive $67,840!  Great giving!  Our participation goal of 70% is still possible, but we need to hear from 46 of you to make that goal.  Give whatever you can; participation is most important at this time.

Best to all of you!

Carolyn Lund Sandvig and

Owen Sammelson

Campus News

Gustavus Announces Major Building Projects

At its Monday, Jan. 25 meeting, the Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with three major building projects.  The College will erect a new 125,000 square foot academic building with a large 3-story atrium at the center providing natural light to many of the spaces.  It will qualify for a “gold LEED” qualification as a green building.  This will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  It will house the largest departments on campus (economics and management, psychology, and communications).  Also, plans are under way to renovate A. H. Anderson Social Science Building.  Construction timelines for the projects are not yet finalized, but the College expects to break ground on the new academic building late this spring.

The effort is a significant early implementation step of Commission Gustavus 150, an innovative, constituent-based strategic planning process that has engaged hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders over the past year.  “These projects will greatly enhance learning and teaching, student recruitment, and institutional advancement for many years to come,” said President Jack R. Ohle.

Gustavus Forensics Wins Nationals

The Gustavus Adolphus College forensics team took first place in the individual events portion of the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament March 19-21 in Minneapolis.  Gustavus amassed 306 points to narrowly defeat Ohio University, which scored 305 points.  A total of 57 colleges and universities participated in the tournament.  Gustavus sophomore Chloe Radcliffe won the Pentathlon competition, which recognizes the top 10 students who compete in at least five events.  First-year student Kate Bissen took first place in Informative Speaking and senior C.J. Hunt also took home a first-place trophy in the Program Oral Interpretation event.

Former President Peterson Honored

James L. Peterson ’64, who served as the 15th president of Gustavus Adolphus College from 2003 to 2008, was awarded the Royal Order of the Polar Star at a special, private luncheon Thursday, April 29, on campus.  The honor was bestowed by the Swedish crown in appreciation and recognition of Dr. Peterson’s service to Gustavus and his continued work to foster relationships with individuals and organizations to strengthen ties with Sweden.

Nobel Conference Preview

David Tilman, a prominent American ecologist and a Regent’s Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology at the University of Minnesota, will give a free, public lecture at Gustavus Adolphus College at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 14.  Tilman’s talk, titled “Can We Feed the World and Save the Earth?” will serve as a preview to the 46th annual Nobel Conference in October, which is titled “Making Food Good.”  Tilman’s lecture will take place in Wallenberg Auditorium, in the Alfred Nobel Memorial Hall of Science

GLA 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!!!

Admission News

Applications for next year are ahead of where they were last year at this time which makes Mark Anderson ’66, the director of admission, very happy.  We graduated two very large classes in the last two years so we need to have somewhat larger classes in order to maintain our enrollment at about 2,500.  Mark Anderson will retire at the end of the academic year so a search is going on to replace him.  Gustavus has had only three directors of admission since 1950 (Howard Holcomb ’49, Owen Sammelson ’58, and Mark Anderson ’66) which is quite an amazing track record.

“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 speaker, May 19:  Al Molde ’66, athletic director and Tim Kennedy ’82, director of sports information.

Upcoming Events

  • May 19 – Twin Cities Alumni Breakfast
  • May 20 – Faculty and Administrator Breakfast
  • May 28-30 – Reunions/Commencement Weekend
  • June 4-6 – Nurses Reunion - 50 Years of Nursing
  • June 8 – Omaha Picnic – Zorinsky Lake Park
  • June 9 – Des Moines Picnic – Pearson Park