Class of '59
October 2001


September 11, 2001…There are relatively few dates of historic significance that have etched their way into our memories…December 7, 1941, maybe November 22, 1963…that occasionally warrant the queries, "Where were you when it happened?," "What were you doing?" We were just toddlers in December of 1941 and our memories might be somewhat hazy surrounding the "date which will live in infamy."  The events of the past month are much more vivid and will live in our minds for quite some time.

If I kept a journal, as many of you probably do, the entry for September 11, 2001, would have included:  "…the day God cried!"  Certainly this was a day that will change the course of history― that could have a dramatic effect on our lives, as few days could have. Each one of us reading this letter will have had some reaction or connection with the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. and the intent of the terrorists to destroy many of the freedoms we enjoy in our country.  The events following September 11 and the impact on the American way of life will more than likely have the reverse effect…they will bring us together, bind us under a common cause―to fight for the freedoms we enjoy.  We are truly a "Unified" States of America!  United We Stand!

As time passes, we continually hear from our national, regional and local leaders that we must return to a sense of "normalcy"…to business as normal, as best we can.  We would be remiss, however, if we did not take a moment of silence to honor and remember the victims and their families and the thousands of people directly affected by the tragedies of September 11.  And in that moment of silence, we have the opportunity to strengthen the communication link with our God…to share in His tears…and to resolve to do our part in building a better world for our children and the generations to come.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King over 30 years ago resound stronger than ever…

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

And so we move on…

On a lighter note, I am pleased to introduce our new co-class agent for the class of ’59.  At Gustavus you knew her as Carol Johnson.  During her junior year she married Bruce Heyl ’59 and their first son was born during their senior year.  After commencement, they moved to Laramie, WY, then St. Louis, MO, and finally Appleton, WI.  Carol taught school in Laramie and St. Louis between children―three in all.  In Appleton, Bruce was and still is a psychiatrist and Carol's second career in banking took off.  In 1999, Carol returned to Minnesota to retire and enjoy the Bluff Country around Winona.  Carol was instrumental in organizing the campaign to buy and plant trees on campus following the storm that hit St. Peter in late March of 1998.  I’m excited to have Carol as a co-class agent as we work together to "Build a Greater Gustavus."

Here is Carol's greeting…

Hi Classmates!

I have just returned from the Class Agents' Day at Gustavus and I'm truly excited.  I've agreed to be a co-agent with John Erickson.  I question why I did this, more work etc, but two events this year have made this decision easy.  I was on campus in June for an unrelated campus convention.  I saw Gustavus through " foreigners eyes" and was totally thrilled by the beautiful campus, facilities and the food prepared for us.  Other women at the convention were equally astounded by GAC.  And now this last weekend I became familiar with the quality of administration and instructional staff.  It is superb.

We also had the opportunity to meet and hear one Gustie senior co-ed, Angela Ziebarth.  She is awesome and I believe indicative of the type of student Gustavus is attracting.  Angela came to Gustavus as music major, but has taken on a science major in pursuit of her desire to become a doctor.  In her junior year, she and friends formed a string quartet and requested permission to tour with it as a recruitment tool for the school.  Permission was granted and they went from Minnesota to Chicago and the East Coast.  In addition to this, she also has done a lot of community service within St. Peter like helping to build a children's playground.  She was truly an inspiring speaker.  It made me wonder how dedicated and studious were we back in the ’50s?

For these reasons, I am happy to be a class agent and make certain that the Gustavus tradition will endure for generations to come.  By now you've received the Quarterly.  Wasn't it a beautiful publication?  And I hope you've returned your recently mailed survey so our directory is up to date.

The Class Agents' meeting focused on our annual fund drive.  It began in 1954 with 37% participation from all classes and has grown over the years with record participation in 1986-87 at 61.6%.  Since then it's dropped off to 35% this year―most of this occurring from 1995 until this year.  True, the stock market has been off this last year, but not in the previous years.  So―our goal now is 50 by 50.  This translates to 50% participation by the 50th year, 2004.  The important note is not how much you give, but that you give a little and remain connected to our wonderful school.  We'll be calling you during Phonorama and hope you can say "yes" to our request.

Gustavus Alumni Fund Update…

Fall Phonorama is here!  As you know, Phonorama is one of the main means we have of supporting the Gustavus Alumni Fund.  Contributions to the Gustavus Alumni Fund can be designated for some specific cause at the donor's choice or can be left as undesignated both will supplement the college budget.  Either way, the true beneficiaries are the students who will receive a quality education at one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.  Seventy-eight percent of the students at Gustavus receive some level of financial aid.  This year, in addition to Lutheran Brotherhood, AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) has a matching gift program.  If you are an AAL policyholder, let Gustavus know and they can increase your support for the College by up to $100.  For non-members, AAL offers an Associate Membership program.  For just $10 per year, you and members of your family can become Associate Members of AAL with matching gift benefits.  Let me know if you want more information about this opportunity.

Our class participation last year was just over 52%, below last year's performance of 56% and well below our record of 61% in 1998-99.  To help the College achieve their 50 by 50 goal, we have set our goal for the year 2001-2002 at 65% participation by the Class of ’59.  Last year, we ranked next to last in the decade of the ’50s (1951-1960).  Total dollar giving from our class last year was just under $42,000, again well below previous years.  Our class goal for total giving to the Alumni Fund in the coming year has been set at $50,000―certainly a realistic and achievable goal.

Phonorama runs from October 15-25, with a repeat in early March.  We're hoping a strong contingent of callers will be on the phones to call for your pledges.  We will also be contacting a number of you via e-mail as an option to the telephoning.  Following Fall Phonorama, as in the past couple of years, GusLink (the student callers) will be a part of the Gustavus Alumni Fund telephone campaign.  Throughout the school year, a team of 30 Gustavus students will be calling the alumni that we don't reach, asking for their pledges.  Either way, be thinking about your commitment for this year and be ready to respond when the phone call comes your way!  Your gifts are greatly appreciated!

Gustie News…

The Alumni Office is sending this class letter via U.S. Postal Service Mail and also e-mail to those alumni for whom we have an e-mail address.  Eventually class letters will be sent via e-mail only, when an address is available, unless you notify the Alumni Office that you prefer to continue to receive your letters via U.S. Postal Service.  Contact the Alumni Office at

As Gustavus enters its 140th academic year, the 2001-2002 year opened with an enrollment of 2,540 full-time students including 670 first-year students.  The Class of 2005, selected from a record number of applications (2,163), includes 18 National Merit Scholars and 18 international students, doubling last year’s number of nine international students.

Last year Gustavus athletic teams finished 18th out of 395 competing in the NCAA Division III national Sears Directors Cup Standings.  Standings are based on national tournament finishes.  The Gustie women athletes won the MIAC All-Sports title for the first time in its 18-year history.

Gustavus ranked among top colleges – Gustavus is ranked in the second tier and one of the top 114 best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report magazine.  Gustavus ranked in the first tier in two categories, retention and graduation rates.  Gustavus’ first-year to sophomore retention rate of 92 percent ranks in the top 15 percent of all national liberal arts colleges and graduation rate of 76 percent ranks in the top 20 percent of all national liberal arts colleges.  Alumni giving ranks in the top 25 percent, down from the top five percent and a tier one ranking five years ago.  Raising the percentage of participation of alumni giving is of highest priority for the college and the offices of Alumni Relations and Gustavus Alumni Fund.

Gustavus named Best Buy... Gustavus has been named one of the best colleges in America and a Best Buy by The Fiske Guide to Colleges.  In the 2002 guidebook, the College is one of 300 best American colleges and one of 43 Best Buys nationwide.  Within Minnesota, Gustavus is among seven best colleges and is one of two private college Best Buys.  To determine which colleges make the annual Best Buy list, Fiske researchers combine cost data with academic and lifestyle information about each college and university.  Those institutions named to the Best Buy colleges list are said to offer “remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost.”  Gustavus is also included in The Princeton Review’s 2001 edition of The Best 331 Colleges.

Nobel Conference XXXVII, What is Still to be Discovered?, was October 2 & 3.  This year’s conference included five Nobel laureates and three other experts who gave participants a foretaste of what the next big discoveries might be as we look toward the second Nobel century.  This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prizes and the conference included the premier of Steve Heitzeg’s ’82 The Nobel Symphony, two art exhibitions in the Hillstrom Museum, and an exclusive banquet with a menu recreation of the Nobel dinner 100 years ago.

Comprehensive alumni directory – In partnership with Publishing Concepts, the Gustavus Alumni Association is publishing its fourth comprehensive alumni directory.  Surveys were sent to all alumni in August and information will be used only for publication of the directory and updating database information in the Alumni Office.  The book is available for purchase only by former students of Gustavus.  Please correct or update any information and return to Publishing Concepts in the enclosed envelope provided with the survey.

New chaplain announced - The Rev. Rachel Larson has joined Rev. Brian Johnson ’80 in the Office of the Chaplain.  Larson will work in partnership with Chaplain Johnson and the other members of the Office of the Chaplain to provide spiritual guidance, worship, leadership, counseling, teaching, and other pastoral services to Gustavus students, staff, and their families.  Larson is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and of what is now Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Christmas in Christ Chapel, A Celtic Pilgrimage, is November 30 & December 1-2.  A ticket order form was inserted in the Fall Quarterly.  Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.

News of Gusties…

There's just a smattering of "news notes" this edition…we're depending on YOU to send us information…we want to know what's happening in your world!

Joyce Miller Biagini writes from Maplewood, "I have finally joined most of my classmates in this wonderful stage of life called retirement. Still busy with volunteer teaching and tutoring as well as traveling, skiing, golfing, etc."

Lynette Street Flato has a new Gustavus diploma.  She reports that last spring a replacement diploma arrived at her home in Forestville, CA, to replace one that was taken along with many other treasures years ago when their house was robbed.  She is very grateful to Lois Madsen Allen and the Registrar's Office for their efforts.

Richard ’58 and Patricia (McLane) Olson continue to see many Gustavus friends every year― both here in the Twin Cities and on their travels.  Their granddaughter, Meredith Marti (daughter of Phil Marti ’79) is planning to enter Gustavus in the fall of 2004.

Susan Hansen works as a medical transcriptionist over the Internet with ATS in Taylor, MI.  Her commute to work is one of the shortest on record―from the bedroom to the office/den in her house.  She has a daughter and two sons plus seven grandchildren in the Detroit area, in addition to a daughter in Elgin, TX.

Marilyn Gustafson Asp has retired from her work of 16 years as lay visitation minister at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis.  She is still active in the bell choir and serves on the Congregational Life Commission.  In her retirement, her days are still very full assisting her 92-year old mother and her sister-in-law who lives in Floodwood, MN.  When not in Minnesota, she enjoys adventuring in the Phoenix area where she and her sister and brother-in-law have a place.

Dave Nordstrom is back on campus again―this time the campus of Eastern Michigan University.  He has joined the faculty there as professor of polymers and coatings following his retirement from Dupont at the end of the year 2000.

Stanley Jurgenson serves as chief of chaplains at the VA Medical Center in Danville, IL, where he has been for 32 years.  Daughter, Kristen, graduated from the University of Evansville (Indiana) in 2000 and daughter, Mindy, is a 2001 graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Headlines in the St. Paul Pioneer Press last June read:  "Chief Judge Leaving "Best Job in the World".  The article went on to talk about Paul Magnuson and his decision to "relinquish his post" as the U.S. District Court's chief judge at the end of June, 2001, and his plans to retire next February after spending just over 20 years on the bench.  The excellent article reinforced what we already knew about Paul, citing his "kindness, dedication to public service, concern for individuals and innate sense of justice" among his many gifts and talents.  Congratulations, Paul, as you look forward to your well-deserved retirement years!

A ’59ers mini-reunion of sorts took place this summer when the Sand Lake Choir gathered for its annual performance at Hope Lutheran Church in Moose Lake, MN.  Members of the choir (and summer residents on Sand Lake) included Sandra and Sonia Anderson, Dave Eckman and myself in addition to another 8-10 Gusties, pre-1959 and post-1959.  In attendance at the Sunday morning worship service were Carol Hansen Johns and Wilt Croonquist.  They gave an unqualified "thumbs up" to the choir's performance.  Will Moose Lake ever be the same?

In Closing…

That's it for this edition.  I hope this letter finds you and yours well.  Don't forget the Gustavus Alumni Fund…and send in your news (you don't have to wait for the Phonorama call) so we can pass it on in the next class letter!  Plans are for a "guest writer" to take up the pen in January and share the rewards of chatting with you!

Till next time…take care!

Your class agents,

John Erickson                                                   Carol Johnson Heyl

15150 Williston Lane                                        1702 Valley View Drive

Minnetonka, MN   55345                                 Winona, MN   55987

(612) 935-2442                                               (507) 454-5543