Class of '60
Greetings to all of you,
—especially those of us from the class of ’60 who turned 60 this past year! Isn’t there something awesome about the 60 from 60 conjunction? I am Paul Tidemann and I was asked by Dennis Johnson to guest or ghost-write the class letter this time. Dennis has been at it for so long and has done it so well, but I’ll give it a shot. I may mess up in trying to interpret what some one of you sent in for news, but "name recognition" is the most important thing, isn’t it?!
I was listening to WCCO radio (that sort of types me—some of CCO I can’t stand) the other day—and I found it interesting that within 24 hours Gustavus had three faculty/staff persons featured in programs or interviews. The first was Jim Gilbert who I always enjoying hearing with his "Nature Notes" on Sunday mornings about 7:15 a.m. Jim "retired" from years as a naturalist at Hopkins High School and is now teaching at Gustavus and is heading up the arboretum. Jim was a fellow member of the Independent Men’s Club at Gustavus which I will say more about later. The next day I heard Chris Gilbert interviewed about the Clinton impeachment situation. Chris teaches political science at Gustavus. That same afternoon Paul Aasen, Director of Student Financial Assistance, was interviewed as a follow-up to our new Governor Jesse Ventura’s remarks to U of M students regarding the need for them to get their financial act together and rely less on financial aid. Those three Gustavus representatives were a heavy-weight crew of commentators and truly did represent our college well!
Now, I have to say something about the Independent Men’s Club. As near as I can figure out, this year is close to the 40th Anniversary of when a few of us decided to form that organization on campus. We did so as a way of offering an opportunity for students who were not in the fraternity-sorority system to have a social/collegial outlet. The IMC lasted for quite a few years and then finally died out. It served a purpose then. Some of you may remember that I directed the Indie Men’s Chorus. Some of us have been thinking about trying to put together an Indie reunion this spring. We haven’t put all the details in place yet, but I would be glad to hear from any of you who might be interested in it.
As far as my life is concerned, I am close to completing 18 years as pastor of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in inner-city St. Paul. The other half of my years in ministry (17) have been elsewhere, including Guyana, South America. My wife, Janet (Ryan ’63), is a pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in inner-city Minneapolis. Their church burned down three years ago last Christmas and they are in the final design stages prior to building the first new church building in urban Minneapolis in about 40 years. We have two grandchildren on Janet’s side of the fence and all of our children are living in the Twin Cities metro area.
My sons, Peter and Christopher, are in Minneapolis and this summer they decided to go, with their mother, Lynda (Johnson ’59), to Tanzania on a safari. They left Lynda and her husband at the end of that and successfully climbed the 19,300 foot Mount Kilimanjaro. (A poignant part of the story is that Christopher experienced collapses of each of his lungs five years earlier due to a congenital condition which was surgically corrected on each occasion. He did the Kili climb with no mishaps!) When my sons returned, they said, "Dad, when we got to the top of Kilimanjaro they pointed out Reusch Crater. "Didn’t you know that guy Reusch!?" So, I told them about Dr. Richard Reusch who taught Christianity to some of us at Gustavus and the fact that my wife, Janet, had lived in his house when she was a Tanzania missionary. She tells me that Reusch climbed that mountain at least 58 times!
I could reminisce all day about Gustavus, but I’d better not. I have no doubt about the fact that Gustavus was a part of my "great awakening" to the realities of life in this world. Some of my best memories are of people like J. Luke Creel , that proper gentleman, who said we should never use the word "kids." Oscar Ahlenius Winfield (who changed his surname so that his daughter would never have to be called "Missahlenius." Erazim Kohak, who shocked the campus with his black leather jacket and motorcycle and taught us "godless" (not really) existentialist philosophy and hyped the value of fairy tales for the human spirit. Then there was Richard Lindemann , who gave us insight into the sound of Middle English language and who was pleased on the first day of class that I pronounced my surname correctly (TEED-ah-mon). Myron Falck, who introduced me to some superb concert band literature; and Paul Allwardt , who gave me a depth of appreciation of Christian hymns. Yes, one could go on all day.
Before I get to the class news, I want to share something that I sent out to a group of friends with a Gustavus connection on November 11, 1998. During the months that followed the awesome, horrific tornado on the Gustavus campus, I kept several of these friends updated on the progress of "Rebuilding a Greater Gustavus." In November, I sent out the following note:
I attended a gathering of Gustavus clergy alumni today and Dr. Axel Steuer spoke. He had some interesting things to say about what is happening on campus.
In the first place, since the March tornado they have had no less than six additional tornado warnings or watches on campus. The worst was a storm that hit in July and did an additional $3-5 million damage on campus. Unbelievable!
Dr. Steuer told quite an interesting account of the decision to re-open the campus three weeks after the tornado. Many people, on-campus and off, advised him to leave the campus closed until fall. He (Steuer) consulted with the contractor and insurance people and stayed resolute in the decision to re-open as soon as possible to finish the 1997-98 year. As it turned out, it was the right decision. The students who had to come back to a decimated campus, and 90% of them had to attend classes in make-shift trailers, were cooperative and enthusiastic.
The whole campus was closed for the summer in order to rebuild and now all of the residence halls (with the exception of Johnson Hall which had to be torn down) are up and running and most of the academic buildings as well. They have broken ground for the new campus center/dining facility and hope to be in it by next winter.
Just a few weeks ago the chapel steeple was put back in place. It was evidently quite a remarkable engineering feat. They had a big ceremony during which a construction worker in a 200 foot crane bucket went up with the cross to attach it on the top. Steuer thought about what might happen if the worker lost control of the cross with all the people below.
He spoke of the remarkable and unstinting work of construction workers and supervisors who worked 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. He said one of the remarkable things was that every time the construction bosses got together with campus reps they began with prayer.
Someone asked Dr. Steuer about how everyone on the Gustavus staff was doing (emotionally, physically, spiritually) and he said generally quite well. Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance Company came to Dr. Steuer at one point and insisted that he and his wife take six days off this summer to go to the Canadian Rockies and they paid the bill. He has been trying to get others to take time off, but he has not always succeeded. He is a bit worried about long-term stress that all of this may bring on people. Some of the faculty and staff are still not back in their homes, but most are okay.
Another interesting piece of the story was Dr. Steuer's negotiation with the insurance company regarding assistance to students. There was a serious concern that the college would have a large percentage of students that would not return in the fall. When he went to the insurance company with this concern, they discussed the matter briefly and then agreed to use a clause in the disaster aspect of the insurance policy to give every student a $3,000 credit on their college costs for this year!
In all of this, I find it amazing and awesome that our alma mater has survived and thrived so well. I find Dr. Steuer's manner of presenting what has happened to be moving and life-giving. He is a truly wonderful servant of God, from what I can see. I think that without the likes of him and our friend, Dennis Johnson, things at Gustavus would be far different today.
I thought I'd pass this on to a few of you who would be interested.
* * *
I know that Dennis Johnson has played a singularly vital role in the entire process of rebuilding Gustavus from the very moment the tornado hit. Dennis is not very forthcoming about what he has done, but I can tell you that all of us in the Class of ’60 can be very proud and grateful for Dennis’ leadership. He and Carol were on the way to campus for a workout in Lund Arena when the sirens went off in St. Peter. They got to Lund Arena and were told that the tornado was on the way. Dennis got everyone left in the arena into a room where they sat, prayed and supported each other with hands-held while the tornado came and went (sounds like "Passover" doesn’t it?) and wondered what they would see on campus if they all survived—which they did.
That was not the end, but the beginning, as Dennis and Axel Steuer met to gather the GA disaster team to begin, immediately, assessing the damage and determining what was to be done. Dennis played a key role in "managing the media" that deluged the college for information and opinion.
* * *
I’d be interested in hearing from any of you about anything. I love to get email. My address is: PTidemann@aol.com. My home address is: 1079 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105-3135.
NOW, LET’S SHARE SOME NEWS OF OUR CLASSMATES
We extend our sympathy to Steve Lundgren whose mother, Ethel, died in the fall of 1998. She was a person known to many of our classmates and a bright star for Steve and others in the family . . . Dennis Johnson is traveling with the Gustavus Choir in South Africa January 15-February 2. He helped set up the trip and taught and coordinated an orientation course for the choir. The Gustavus Choir trip is the first to South Africa for any college or university choir in the upper midwest . . . Bill Benson is teaching at Willmar Community College and reports that their youngest son, Andrew, was married recently . . . Jo Jenson Tollefson and her husband, Dean, visited Ruth (Walfrid) and Charles Dettor in Italy last March. With the help of Ruth & Charles who really know Rome and its public transport they "saw Rome in a day!" . . . AND Ruth and Charles, who sometimes live in Bridgeton, NC, were still sailing the Mediterranean around Italy, Sicily, Malta and Western Greece up until September last year . . . Dennis Johnson reports seeing Arlene Schoone Patzwald at the Gustavus Chicago alumni gathering at the NBC Studio. Arlene is designing a basketball appreciation class for women and remains a sports enthusiast. It is obvious that she has an entrepreneurial spirit and great energy! . . . Cameron and Jeanette (Westberg) Johnston are still in Waukesha, WI where "Scooter" works in Family Service. They have two daughters in Oregon and Idaho. They keep in close touch with John and Linda Van Deusen—speaking of whom! I just received an email Christmas letter from John and Linda in Columbia, SC. (I guess that John officially graduated in ’61, but he seems very much a part of "us.") They just completed modifications of their house, which makes living easier. John has lost a lot of weight, but is improving. They were sad to experience the death of John’s mother and Linda’s father in a seven-month period in 1997. They are still able to enjoy traveling and recently went to the Grand Canyon. . . It was nice to hear from Tom Weston and his wife, Carol, who now live in Lacey, WA . . . Bob and Lou (Eckman) Engstrom are still hanging out in Scandia,where Bob is pastor at Elim Lutheran. They are proud of all of their brood, but most recently of their daughter, Kathryn, who gave a wonderful voice recital in St. Paul as part of her Masters in Vocal Performance degree work at the U of MN. . . Nate and Doreen Lundgren left Minneapolis after a dozen years at Augustana and now have landed at the church-with-the-best-name—Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran in Foley, MN and they enjoy the slower pace and living next door . . . Roger Anderson has left his work at Luther Seminary and is now "interim executive pastor" (How’s that for a handle!) at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood . . . I know from friends and colleagues that attorney Luther Granquist is a shining light and driving force behind the fine work of the Legal Aid Society in Minneapolis. . . I have refrained from commenting on our new wrestler/body/mind Governor Jesse Ventura. But, I should conclude this letter by saying that our classmate Sharon Schultz Magnuson should have been proud that her husband, the Honorable Chief District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson ’59, administered the oath of office to our new Governor at the specific request of Governor Ventura!
A SALUTE TO OUR RETIREES !
There were so many of our classmates who report that they are in some way retired that I thought they deserved a special box in this letter! Congratulations to all who are getting on with another dimension of life! . . . Karen Olson was honored on her retirement last June for 38 years of service as a teacher in the Austin public schools. She started teaching in Austin elementary schools right after graduating from Gustavus and after shorter times at three schools was at Banfield Elementary since 1972. Good for you, Karen! . . Dennis Johnson wondered if he was dreaming, in a nostalgia state, or just deja vu, but last fall he actually did see Dick Johnson running onto Hollingsworth Field once more, except this time he did not head for the Gustavus side, but (oh, no!) he went to the St. Olaf sideline. The true story is that Dick is helping to coach the Ole backfield. Dick’s coaching skills were superb, but it was not enough to turn the tide for the Oles as the Gusties won big time. Dick and Orpah (Jungclaus) have retired to Northfield . . . Barb Nordstrom Hanson and her husband, John, spent some time in Italy visiting the art treasures and in England visiting their son, Eric, and family and as a result missed the "spire" raising at Gustavus. Barb says she has "redirected" her life, having left teaching last May. . . Helen Hannover Johnson has retired from 3M and enjoys life with her husband, Steve ’59, in Eagan. They have two grandchildren . . . Arne Johnson from New Hope is another of our teacher retirees, as is Marian Nelson McCollum who still lives in Williamston, MI. . . Lois Sundberg Smedstad retired from Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. . . Karen Olson Brown reports that the first class of Gustavus nurses ’60 have or are turning 60 and had a fantastic reunion in Durango in September. Thirteen were there and giggled at old photos and reinforced the strong bonds of friendship formed so many years ago. Karen says that she and her husband, John, are retired and have been fortunate to enjoy travel time with kids and grandkids and time "up north" . . .
Finally, I have been asked to publish the names of "lost alumni" from our class at Gustavus. If you know where any of these persons are, address and/or phone, please send a note to the GA Alumni Office:
Harold E. Anderson, Ivan W. Asplund, Kent Carlander, Donald Dally, the Rev. Dennis Holmberg, Robert Kin Yin Lee, Nguyen K. Luyen, Robert W. Norlin, James A. Russeth, Anne Shumate, Morris E. Stewart, Norma Johnson Talbert, Bill Wallentine.