Class of '60

January 2008

Dear Classmates,

Rev. Denny Johnson, our erudite leader, has honored me with the invitation to write this letter.  Following his illuminating newsletters and Lundgren’s, with its bon mot’s, is a daunting task, but I have news from our class covering a myriad of subjects.

First a couple matters to clear up.  The class agent and writer of our last class letter states, “Either no one in the class knew the identity of the caricaturist of Esbj, which was printed in the last class letter or they didn’t bother to relay their answer.  It was Scooter Johnston and he remembers it well.”  He wrote:  “It seems to me that the actual pope died and the Vatican was involved in an extended process of choosing a new pope.  I was taking a Christianity class from Esbj at the time, and I was so impressed that I thought there could be no better leader of the Christian world.  Alas, before the poster could inspire a groundswell-grass roots movement to elect Esbj, the poster was taken down before many saw it.  Another seemingly inconsequential event that has affected the course of history.”

Dennis says, “Mea Culpa, yep, some of you did catch the mistake I made in identifying a letter from Bob Eidsvold about the Edina High School reunion as coming from Byron Helgeson.  Of course, I know By is the Star of Starbuck and didn’t come from Edina, MN.  But, I saw the Florida references and automatically clicked on By.  Dang, I hate when that happens.  One more like that and there will be a groundswell to take this away from me.”

Let’s get to the mailbag

Jerry Thrall received Denny’s book, Esbj!, for Christmas and was so impressed he bought five more, got them autographed by the author, and gave them to his relatives.  There’s a fine testimonial.  By the way the book is temporarily sold out but I’d suggest you call the Book Mark at Gustavus, to order a copy, 1-507-933-7587.

Jerry just recently sold his business, Thrall Products and is fully retired.  Jerry and Dorie are lucky that their two daughters (Gustavus grads) live in the Twin Cities.  This gives them plenty of time with their five grandchildren.  THIS IS HUGE FOLKS.  Jerry reached the peak of his athletic career this past summer by winning the prestigious “Bob Krough Invitational Golf Tournament” against top-flight golfers and Gustavus luminaries Jim Donicht, Bob Krough, Arlan Burmeister and Byron Helgeson, as well as other Gustie alums from other classes.

One person very dear to my heart is my old confirmation buddy, from Immanuel Lutheran in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Virginia Nelson Anderson.  Virginia and Ray have just moved to a new residence in Janesville, WI.  They keep busy with church and community activities and they visit their kids and grandchildren scattered around the country.  Ruthann Shervheim Danger flew to England in November to visit her son, Mark, who is in the Air Force.  Marilyn Hansen Ehline moved to Saginaw, MI to be close to her family.  She’s very active in that community, but also traveled to Oregon, San Francisco, eastern Canada, Mexico and Minnesota this past year.  Sonja Alvheim Hirsch and hubby, Tom, divide their time between Edina and Arizona.  She and Marge Lind Halvorson, Pat Skalbeck Wharton, Karen Dahlberg Landro, Ruth Grandstrand Engdahl and Dorothy Lind Hiebert went to St. Lucia Day at Gustavus this past December.  Muriel Woods lives in Boulder, CO where she’s busy with cultural activities:  concerts, plays and art exhibits.  Beth Wray Anderson enjoyed her first year of retirement (as church secretary) and lives in Overland Park, KS.  She was at Gustavus her first two years.

Whoa, something in from Dave Wold.  Seems Dave is tapping into his Lutheran roots as he now sings in a church choir in Saffle, Sweden, as well as participating in a Martin Luther discussion group.  Help me out here folks.  To use his words, “It’s a gas, I really can’t sing very well, but we’re the only choir in the world where being able to sing isn’t a prerequisite.”  Lucky for Dave, who has always been a little off plumb.  Martin Luther, a great study, and the Reformation, a mighty force to push mankind forward.  M.L. was ranked as third most influential person of the last millennium.  I never caught the guilt bug, rather I like By Grace Alone.  Dave, our illustrious wonder boy has carved out an incredible life in Sverige and still does some work writing marketing articles for the suppliers to the pulp and paper industry.  He is definitely a world traveler in his business as well as leisure.  He is a Rotarian, a Third Degree Odd Fellow and an alternate city council member in the Sick Care Party (Sjukvardspartiet).  Our Mr. Wold, with his fertile mind, is learning Italian and got an electric keyboard for Christmas.  When traveling in Europe you may spot Dave and wife, Inger, biking or hiking.  They cover most of the continent.  Dave biked 3,000 km (1,864 miles) between March and October.  WHEW, let me catch my breath!  Dave sends this along.

Singing with the Lutherans

By Garrison Keillor

I have made fun of the Lutherans for years—who wouldn’t if you lived in Minnesota?  But I have sung with Lutherans and that is one of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn.

We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their constant guilt that burns like a pilot light, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese.  But nobody sings like them.

If you ask an audience in New York City, a relatively “Lutheranless” place, to sing along on the chorus of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” they will look daggers at you as if you asked them to strip to their underwear.

But if you do this among Lutherans they’ll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach and down the road!  Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony.  It’s a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person’s rib cage.

It’s natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony.  We’re too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison.  When you’re singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment.

I once sang the bass line of “Children of the Heavenly Father” in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices.  By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this:  people, these Lutherans, who love to sing in four-part harmony, are the sort of people you could call up when you’re in deep distress.  If you’re dying, they’ll comfort you.  If you’re lonely, they’ll talk to you.  And if you’re hungry, they’ll give you tuna salad.

Dave says, “Once again Garrison has bitten the core of the apple and put his finger on the pulse of the truth.”

Ruth Grandstrand Engdahl also is busy with grandchildren and their sports events.  LaVonne Risty Herbert with husband, Jim, live in Bloomington, MN and besides attending St. Lucia Day festivities at Gustavus she was in Christ Chapel for the Christmas program.  Karen Dahlberg Landro and husband, Ken, are enjoying their five grandchildren and happy summer days at their lake cabin near Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Warren Nelson and wife, Fiona, live in Bellingham, WA.  Donal Ward lives in Hudson, OH and works for the Environmental Protection Agency.  Donal does volunteer work for the American Legion.  Don and Cathy have five grandchildren, three boys and two girls, age one to nine years and Don says, “They’re all smart and cute.”

Our People in Africa

Joel Wiberg led a group of 14 people (early in ’07), from several different church denominations, to Tanzania for a visit to three dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania and to tour national parks.  In July and August, Nancy (Anderson) and Joel gathered with over 100 former and current church workers from their Tanzania days, in Helsingborg, Sweden.  Following this gathering they drove north with Ron and Barb (Dahlin ’63) Johnson and Danish friends for eight fantastic days in Norway’s fjords, glaciers and mountains.

At the end of this month Andy (Noren) and Fred Rogers are taking a three-week tour of Thailand with Denver friends.  In April they’ll take their granddaughter, Heather Martinez, to the “mission field” of Arusha, Tanzania where Heather will visit two schools and participate in a humanitarian project.  Andy and Fred have provided support to the Arusha schools since their Kilimanjaro trip five years ago.  By the way, while on top of “Kili,” sitting around the campfire at night, the native serpas burst into some good ol’ Lutheran hymns.  Who da thunk it?  Andy, Fred and Andy’s sister, Karen Noren Talle ’62 will take a safari while there.  Andy’s grandfather, Swan H. Swanson ’10, was in charge of foreign missions in Africa and his son, Stanley Swanson ’41, ran the schools for approximately 30 years.  Some Augustana history here.

Back to Minnesota and that wood tick, Robert Krough.  Bob loves it up nort.  He is very talented, knowledgeable and highly inspired in his carpentry, evidenced by the beautiful addition to his lake home on Pokegama Lake, southwest of Grand Rapids, MN.  As heretofore mentioned Bob puts on his annual Gustie golf tournament at Giants Ridge near Biwabik, MN.

Nate Lundgren writes, “Doreen and I are enjoying good health, life at the lake, three daughters and four grand children.  A cruise in December and time away in February and early March to Arizona and Palm Springs, CA are adding to the delights of retirement.”

Arlan Burmeister retired since 1998, plays plenty of golf and travels with wife, Bev.  For sixteen years they have gone to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in January.  The balance of the winter is either in Arizona or California, alternating in Florida.  This year they will fit in a trip to Aruba and one week in Hilton Head before they come home for Easter.  They spend time with grandchildren, all in Twin Cities except for one family near Milwaukee.  They are planning a three-week trip to the Eastern Block countries in Europe this fall with a day in Munich for Oktoberfest.  Wow, I might add that Arlan is a great-grandfather.  Mel Hammarberg taught several classes this past spring term at the University of Pennsylvania, then technically retired on June 30th, but wound up teaching a course in the first summer session and a class this past fall term.  He did an essay on LDS sexuality being published by the University of Utah Press in a book honoring the work of sociologist, Thomas F. O’Dea, about the Mormons.  Mel intends to finish his own study of the world of the Latter-day Saints this spring (while watching to see how Mitt Romney does in this election campaign).  As for myself, Bill Shogren, I had a fabulous seven-day trip to Ibaraki, Japan in November on a Sister City Program as a member of a tennis delegation from Minneapolis.  Sixteen of us men and women played social tennis with the Ibaraki girls who trounced us with their exquisite lobs and their boomers with precision down the alley.  This was a home stay situation and very educational.

Back in 2004, Dave Wold and I were driving in his Saab from his home in Saffle, Sweden to Oslo, Norway.  We had just missed hitting a mouse that was chomping on grass too close to the road and I turned to Dave and said, “Ya know, I really liked what Jerry Thorson wrote about his favorite English Prof. J.W.R. Lindemann in that article in the Gustavus Quarterly titled, “Great Teaching.”  Dave looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh that was great, Jerry put it so eloquently, I was impressed.”  Dave and I agreed that that piece, “Great Teaching” was an important item because it gave alums a chance to express their love/respect for their favorite and most influential profs/mentors, usually in their major fields.  We thought how great after almost fifty years Jerry could reflect on how Lindemann changed his life.

In that piece Jerry stated, “My freshman English class had been assigned Browning’s evasive ‘Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister,’ and the class had not prepared and nobody got it.”  Jerry explained that, “Lindemann rose slowly and for a painful few moments addressed our incompetence and unpreparedness.  He did not presume to interpret the poem, line by line, but rather began the most moving, evocative oral interpretation I have ever experienced.  The professor became the consummate actor, his voice rising, now falling, seething with hatred and envy of Brother Lawrence.  The Spartan Annex classroom became a grand theater—and my view of poetry as an effete exercise changed abruptly and permanently.  I knew the poem conveyed pride, jealousy, religious hypocrisy; indeed, that poetry was emotional expression.”  Jerry went on to close his tribute with, “John William Richard Lindemann.  Now there was a man.  He was Chaucer’s Clerk incarnate….and gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.”

Oh yes, that wordsmith, Jerry Thorson!!  Jerry and Judy have a home in Washington just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, and they winter at their other home in Palm Desert, CA.  Seven years ago, Jerry, launched a research project, which culminated in his writing a memorial book about his boyhood and life-long hero, WWII pilot brother, Harold, who was shot down in Negros, Philippines in February 1945.  Jerry set out to find his lost brother’s remains.  He says, “It has been the single most important and significant thing I have done in my life…… sometimes emotionally wrenching, always rewarding.”  He states that the research took him through thousands of pages of official records and correspondence from men who trained and fought with Harold.  Jerry goes on, “I learned that he was awarded the Distinquished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and three Air Medals, along with numerous campaign medals.”  The goal is to have his brother’s remains interred with full honors at Arlington.  WOW!!!  In addition to this Jerry has been a docent at the Palm Springs Air Museum for six years, conducting school group tours and presenting informal lectures about WWII aviation to various groups.  Who on earth can explain something more clearly than our Mr. Thorson?  Judy Thorson is a docent, conducting children’s tours at Palm Desert’s “The Living Desert.”

Trundling along I got in contact with Byron Helgeson who still works part-time for Disney in Orlando, FL.  Byron and Gail (Nelson ’62) have residences in Orlando and Vero Beach, FL.  Byron is on the Citrus Bowl selection committee so he scopes out college football teams to play in that bowl game.  Wonderful Marguerite Stow Nelson writes that she and David spend a lot of time in summer up at their Halcyon Lake home nestled among the pines, birch and popple trees, on “da range,” (that’s Minnesotan for Mesabi Iron Range) and winters between Mexico and Blaine, MN.  Marguerite still sees some of her Wahlstrom Hall bridge group, Shirley Zaske Sweeney ’59, Helen Hannover Johnson and Donna Casperson Bentzen on occasion.  Charley Johnson is a member of a singing group in the Twin Cities and drives from his home in North Mankato for weekly rehearsals.  Marilyn Wiklund Anderson had a great trip to Sweden in August and visited Monika Eklund Ankarhem, who attended Gustavus in ’59.

WHEW, this Gustavus gang is mighty busy and has varied interests.

Marian Nelson McCollum and Lon enjoy traveling and spending time at their cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  They enjoyed a month in Scotland this past spring connecting with the clan McCollum/Malcolm heritage.  They also spent the month of September in Colorado working on the straw bale house their youngest son is building.  Marian says, “It’s great to have the energy and strength to still do manual labor.”  Kay Kemp Salo leads an active life at the lake in Duluth.  She and Kent recently enjoyed a “trip of a lifetime,” a Mediterranean cruise which took them to Italy, France, Croatia and Greece.  Marcia Johnson Shaw and husband, Art, live in Rockford, IL.  Carole Engstrom Shoquist and Loren ’59 are active in the Gideons.  Their commitment has taken them to exotic places, and they recently enjoyed a family vacation in Spain.  They live in Cameron Park, CA.  Lois Sundberg Smedstad sends greetings from Moorhead, MN.  She and husband, Dave, this past year enjoyed a wonderful first trip to Hawaii.  Loretta Sundberg resides in White Bear Lake, MN where she’s retired from teaching.  She loves the challenge of a good bridge game.  Pat Skalbeck Wharton is happy that her son and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren (two of whom are twins) are back in Minnesota.  She, with husband John, plan an extended trip to Australia and New Zealand in February.  Bob and Lou (Eckman) Engstrom report from their retirement home in Moose Lake, MN that they’re active in church functions.

When my email hit, Bob Eidsvold was sitting in his Sanibel Island, FL condo reading about catching sharks on a fly rod in the Florida Sport Fishing magazine.  Bob says, “Fighting a couple hundred pounds on a fly rig would be quite a gas, eh?”  Bob will try anything, why not?  Last year the Eidsvold’s visited the Galapagos Islands.  Bob and Jean (Stenstrom ’61) also have a lake place in Wisconsin and a condo in Edina.  Bob has started to write some family memoirs about fishing with his grandfather in Ottertail County, Minnesota.  Boating is big with the Eidsvold’s as they have boated from Moline, IL to the Twin Cities and in the Apostle Islands, WI, the North Channel, Door County, WI and Lake Michigan.

Moving on, Dennis Johnson notes that he saw Mark and Roz (Johnson ’62) Anderson, David and Karen (Westman ’61) Carlson, and Jim and Diane (Hammargren ’63) Anderson at the Royal Affair…were you there?

The Annual Fund giving is always an important item for our small private college.  So far this year our class is doing well with a slight increase in number of donors.  That is great because the dollar volume reflects percentage of participation.  Let’s assure future generations a choice between private and public higher education.

Most of us saw in the Gustavus Quarterly that Sharon “Sadie” Schultz Magnuson passed away on October 10, 2007.  She was amazing in her family, career and church life.  Sadie had many health problems including cancer.  When diagnosed she asked God to let her live long enough to see her children grow up.  The disease remitted and she lived to delight in her children and grandchildren.  She devoted herself to sharing the faith and God’s love through teaching, inspirational speaking and touches of quiet kindness in the lives of countless individuals.  Her deep faith left her with tremendous peace.  Unafraid of death, she celebrated life until the last moment.

Well that’s about it.  Hopefully you’ll enter 2008 with equanimity even during this hectic political season.

Sincere best regards,

Bill Shogren

1960 Guest Letter Writer

Campus News

Forensics Team Continues Excellence

The Gustavus forensics team continues the tradition of excellence, with major team and individual wins this season.  Last season the team ranked in the top 20, which is impressive since 14 of the top 20 schools are “Division I” schools that have more funding and more coaching staff.  While many schools have several full-time forensics coaches, the Gustavus coach also is a full-time professor.  So a unique aspect of the Gustavus program is the team meets weekly for peer coaching, a technique the team has found to be very successful.

Gustavus Dancing With the Profs

Inspired by the popular television show Dancing with the Stars, a standing room only crowd of students, faculty, and St. Peter community members filled Alumni Hall on November 2 to watch Gustavus students and faculty/staff members swing dance to raise money for the St. Peter United Way.  The event, “Dancing with the Profs 2,” featured six teams of one Gustavus student and one faculty/staff member.  In preparation for the evening competition, the Gustavus Swing Club gave the teams dance lessons, while members of GAC-TV documented the learning to provide a video showcase on each couple.

Alumni Insurance Programs

The Alumni Association sponsors insurance products for alumni, spouses, children, and parents.  Products include life insurance, auto, home and renters insurance, and short-term medical insurance to fill temporary needs of new alumni without insurance after graduation and others who may have gaps due to unemployment.  For information about life and short-term medical insurance, call 800-635-7801.  For information about auto, home, and renters insurance, call:  800-524-9400, (800-328-0705, ext. 552 in the Greater Twin Cities area).

Gustavus Music Showcase

The three international touring music ensembles at Gustavus Adolphus College — The Gustavus Choir, the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra —  will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.  Tickets for the concert are on sale through the Orchestra Hall box office and may be purchased in-person, online at:, and via fax or phone at 612-371-5656.  Tickets are $22 for adults and $12 for children ages 6-18 and current Gustavus students with a valid I.D.

College Relations blog

Gustavus College Relations staff has introduced a new blog that will offer commentary and news on a variety of topics pertinent to the campus community as well as some photography, video, and audio content.  During the month of January the blog will feature the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra’s China tour and observations on several January Interim classes.  The new blog can be read at:


Men's tennis coach Steve Wilkinson has been named the national winner of the United States Tennis Association (USTA)/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Campus Recreation Award.  This awards program, which began in 2003, was open to more than 2,000 ITA head and assistant coaches at the NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, NAIA and junior/community college levels.  Senior goaltender Trevor Brown became the first men's soccer player in Gustavus history to be named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Men’s Soccer Team as released by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Fine Arts Events

“Destination Anywhere:  A Juried Exhibit of 15 Award-Winning Young Artists With Disabilities,” is now on display at the Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus.  The exhibit, a product of a partnership between VSA arts (formerly Very Special Arts) and Volkswagen of America, Inc., strives to recognize and showcase young artists with disabilities, ages 16-25, who are living in the United States.  In November the Department of Theatre and Dance presented a Festival of Student Work.  A miniature “Fringe Festival” in its own right, this collaboration of more than 60 actors, dancers, designers, and technicians, operating on 10 different production schedules, filled Anderson Theatre, the Black Box, and the Schaefer Fine Arts Center for four days of artistic celebration.