Class of '43
April 2007

Dear Classmates,

At Gustavus, Minnesota’s winter has melted into spring, and in about a month when the Gustavus Association of Congregations convenes on campus, there should be greenness and budding plants.  This year our class has an especially appealing reason to attend the meetings because our classmate, Dr. Mary Nelson, will be the keynote speaker on the topic, “Living a Life of Leadership.”  Mary, a nationally known community leader, notes that living a life of leadership “sometimes requires sailing into uncharted waters” and she plans to provide practical insights on how we can be more intentional in our efforts in Christian leaders today.  Last year Mary was awarded the Service Award at the conference.  If any classmate in attendance can share ideas from the address, please jot down notes or write a paragraph or more about it.  Such information would be great to share in our next letter.

Dale Gustafson, Manchester, CT continues to find new avenues to promote the CD that he had burned from the Gamma fraternity record and gave to each classmate at our 45th reunion events.  The original record was made about a month before our graduation in 1961.  At this point, Bruce Seastrand ’62 has joined in the effort, and now a new burning of the CD will be sold at upcoming reunions, including that of the Class of 1962 in May.  The Gustavus Book Mark will also be selling the CD for $15 and all profits will go to class scholarships of the participating classes.  Did you know that the male chorus is the same group that serenaded at the dormitories and sang at fraternity banquets?  They often rehearsed at Trinity Lutheran, where Dale’s father was the pastor.

Christmas in Christ Chapel was an inspirational celebration again last December.  At the great Swedish meal on Saturday evening, we saw Mark ’59 and Kathy Bunde Thorsell, Robert and JoAnn Schwartz, Dr. Arne and Miriam Lind Lagus, Stu and Marlys (Johnson ’58) Johnson, Ralph and Marlys (Schneider ’63) Swenson and Bruce and Sue Gray.  We heard that a number of other couples also were there.

Our total class gift during our reunion year ending October 7, 2006, was $89,373.  In addition we presented a large, ceremonial check to President Peterson ’64 at the reunion which represented about one and a half million dollars that some classmates have committed to Gustavus as either direct pledges to Gustavus or as pledges in their estate plans.  Thank you so much for remembering our alma mater so generously.  Our class scholarship still needs considerably more contributions to reach the $25,000 level that it must achieve within a three-year period to allow an award to a current Gustie student.

Our annual fund gift this year will build only during the time since the reunion in October through May 31.  Although I have not been able to make calls, the Gustie students who helped with Gus Link have probably telephoned many of you.  Please send news with your gift or e-mail me at:

During Homecoming Weekend when our reunion activities took place, the alumni who had signed up for the Cec Eckhoff Society were invited to a special gathering.  To be a member of that society, all that you need to do is pledge that you will send a gift of some kind to Gustavus every year.  Quite a number of you qualify but have not specifically made the commitment.  Let Gustavus or me know if you wish to be a member.  Other societies are also available for large donors.


Alumni Awards Announced

The Alumni Association announces the following 2007 awards selected by the Alumni Board of Directors.  Greater Gustavus AwardGiven to those who, by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College:  Russ and Jan (Ledin) Michaletz ’74 ’74

Distinguished Alumni CitationsRecognizes outstanding and exceptional professional achievement

Paul Peterson ’94, principal, St. Peter High School, Minnesota State High School Principal of the Year.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90, house speaker, Minnesota House of Representatives.

First Decade AwardsRecognizes early professional achievement

Jennifer Pleuss Spande ’97, diplomat, Political and Economic Section, U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Alexander Hill ’97, senior scientist, Medtronic, Inc.

The Greater Gustavus Award and Distinguished Alumni Citations will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 26, and the First Decade Awards will be presented during Homecoming Weekend, October 13.

Energy Wars

Minnesota colleges and universities competed during February in the Campus Energy Wars.  The Campus Energy Wars challenge was to see which campus conserved the most energy throughout the month.  Gustavus students and faculty made a concerted effort to change their behaviors by turning off unused lights in their dorm rooms or classrooms, unplugging appliances, and lowering thermostats to reduce energy consumption.  The culminating event was a campus competition to pedal stationary bicycles to see who could pump the most energy into an electrical generator supplied by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Linnaeus Symposium Celebrates Birth of Carl Linnaeus

In celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established genus/species used today, Gustavus will host its second Linnaeus Symposium: Linnaeus @ 300 on Wednesday, April 25, 2007.  The daylong conference will feature presentations by ethnobotanists, Mark Plotkin and Paul Alan Cox, Linnaean scholar and impersonator Hans Odoo, and author Paula Robbins, who has written about Pehr Kalm, one of Linnaeus’s “apostles” to America.  The day will also include tours of Linnaeus Arboretum, a special photography exhibition by Anders Bjorling ’58, music, dance, and a Scandinavian feast.  The festivities begin at 10:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m., so save the date and join us at Gustavus this spring.  For more information, go to <> or call 507/933-6181.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Linnaeus Symposium - April 25
  • Gustavus Association of Congregations – April 28
  • MAYDAY!  Peace Conference:  Community Food Security - May 2
  • Celebrating 75 years of the Gustavus Choir - May 5
  • Celebrating 75 years of Theatre Reunion  - May 11-12 <>
  • Class of 1962 - 45th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • Class of 1957 - 50th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • 50 Year Club Reunion – May 26


Carole Paulson Olson, Wautoma, WI your classmates would want to join me in sympathy on the death of your husband, Milo, on Christmas Eve.  He suffered more than a year with dementia with Lewy body, diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic about a year before.  Milo taught agriculture and earth sciences at Reedsburg, WI, high school where Carole was also a teacher.  A few years later he joined the Wisconsin-Extension Program.  He worked with numerous extension programs, set up several parks and museums:  the Caddie Woodlawn Park, the Empire and Pine Lumber Museums.  Milo received numerous awards before his retirement in 1990.  He and Carole enjoyed the stock market, traveling in Europe with the Luther College Choir and supporting the trumpeter swan and whooping crane recovery program in Wisconsin.  Their children Erik ’90, Waukesha WI, and Johanna ’94, Chicago IL, were both Gustavus graduates.

Reunion connections continue.  Rev. Dr. Jim and Luray Wiberg, Silverthorne, CO had made the trip from St. Peter to Colorado by October 22, and they found, “a beautiful 12’ snowfall to greet them.”  The Wibergs enjoy skiing so they were “tuning up the skies and waiting for the next BIG one.”  Now they are working on assembling singers from all over the country to sing in some of the great churches during a spring 2008 European tour.  Jim comments,  “I much prefer to travel when I’m relating to the local culture and people and not just staring at buildings and art or listening to someone else perform.”

Last spring they took a two-month tour of the south, up the East Coast and across the Midwest.  At Christmas their Summit Chorale sang at Keystone Mountain Resort in Colorado.  That resort is famous for “its chocolate village complete with a six-foot Christmas tree made of Belgium chocolate and a model train village also made of chocolate.”  The Keystone chef sculpts 2,500 pounds of chocolate into a miniature alpine village complete with a massive chocolate mountain, a working chocolate gondola, a cascading chocolate waterfall, and, new this year, a 6-foot white chocolate Christmas tree with hand-blown sugar ornaments.”  Rev. Ted and Marietta (Bittrich ’63) Johns, San Diego, were at the October reunion activities.  They do lots of traveling with Opportunity International, an interfaith micro-finance charity.  They were at Gustavus for the Nobel Conference and our reunion, and they had a children and grandchildren reunion at their lake home on LBJ Lake near Austin, TX.

Bill ’60 and Carol Hansen Benson, Kandiyohi, MN came to St. Peter for our Saturday luncheon.  Carol has just completed 23 years of volunteering for Rice Hospice in Willmar.  Both of them are “still being challenged by music, playing with the Willmar Symphony Orchestra and our church Potluck Band (Bill, trombone and Carol, violin).”  Bill also, “picked up baritone after a 50-year hiatus and played with the summer band in the park.”  They are the grandparents of seven:  four grandsons and three granddaughters.  Tom ’60 and Carol Villesvik Weston, Lacey, WA attended our 45th reunion events.  They have both retired:  Tom from Boeing Corp. and Carol from elementary education and interior decorating.

James and Carmen (Jones ’62) Knoble, McGregor, MN and Estero, FL enjoy summers at Big Sandy Lake in northern Minnesota and then head for winters in southern Florida in the Naples area.  Jim attended our 45th reunion in October.  He retired about five years ago from health care CEO positions which he held in many different states:  Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida and New Mexico.  They have two daughters―Bethany ’89 is a Gustie―and there are four grandchildren.  Jim has contacted some of you with Phono calls over the years.  Peter and Julie Nelson Neyhart, Juneau, AK attended our 45th events in October.  Julie has been one of our most faithful classmates who attend the reunions most of the time.  They both volunteer to greet tourists who disembark from cruise ships in Juneau, and they say, “If you are coming on a cruise ship through Juneau or the area, we’d love to show you around.”  Julie joins her church group every Wednesday to make tied quilts for Lutheran World Relief.

Marie-Charlotte af Ugglas Leire, Helsingborg, Sweden, sent a greeting to classmates at the time of our reunion in October.  She wrote, “Sorry not to be able to join you on October 6 and 7.  I hope that those of you who plan to travel through Scandinavia will visit us.  We live 20 km north of Helsingborg and have a wonderful view over Oresund and Denmark.  Four children and three grandchildren keep us very busy.”  Jan Huntington Nelson, Lincoln, CA also sent greetings to classmates at the reunion with regrets that she and Bob, her husband of about three years now, could not be in Minnesota because they were returning October 22, from a cruise on the QM2 to view fall colors in New England.  Jan reminisced in the note about her many connections to St. Peter and Gustavus that were developed during her marriage to Hilding “Ing” Nelson ’62 and the birth of their only child, Lonnie ’84, while Ing was a senior at Gustavus.  They got to know many St. Peter people, including Gustavus professors and their families.

Joanne Swenson Lippert, San Clemente, CA sent greetings at the time of our reunion along with regrets that she could not join us although she had already made flight and other arrangements.  She writes, “I so dearly treasure the gift of my Gustavus education and the gift of friends made there—I’ve been rarely in touch with you but you remain so close to my heart.”  After she had made arrangements, she heard from her daughter, Suzanne, that she had set up a Christmas visit to California, and Joanne could not request time-off at both times.  Under the circumstances, she was given time-off during the Christmas holidays for the first time in her ten years with Wells Fargo Bank.  Dennis Freeman visited with Jo during a business trip to southern California in August.  About a week later Denny e-mailed Jo that his ex-wife, Mary Lou Hawkinson ’63, had died suddenly in Iowa.  Denny and Mary Lou’s five children are all Gustavus graduates.  Denny, your classmates extend sympathy to you and your children.

Dr. Carolyn Wedin, Frederic, WI writes that a trip to Sweden is in the works again because she is working with a friend on a translation of a book published in northwestern Wisconsin in 1924 in Swedish about pioneer Baptist settlements in the St. Croix and Mississippi River valleys.  Carolyn and Tony Rolloff have enjoyed trips recently to visit children and grandchildren.  Laken, 12, and Henrik, 5, live in Singapore where their parents are at the Singapore American School.  NWA waylaid them in Hawaii on their way home in December and awarded them coupons that will get them to Seattle where Milo, 9 months lives.  Amanda Jane is a sophomore at Loyola University in Chicago.  Sam, 13, resides in Jackson, MS.  John and Joleen Domes, Albert Lea MN, announce a new grandson, Eric, who was born January 15, 2006.  Roger and Kitty Fletcher, Blue Earth, MN were thinking about attending our reunion when their telephone contact reached them in early September.  At the time Roger was smoking 600 pounds of salmon from Lake Michigan.

Tom and Karen Idstrom, Little Falls, MN have moved north since Tom’s retirement from teaching and coaching in the Mounds View Schools, a suburban St. Paul school district which also gave me teaching experience in English and journalism in the 1960s.  Tom has not given up coaching, however, because he now coaches a football team in Little Falls.  The Idstroms have five grandchildren.  Bill and Sharon Ekenstedt, Cumberland, WI have three sons who are young adults now.  Bill, you commented that you may have the youngest sons among our classmates, but I wonder if there might not be some younger than yours.  It certainly would be fun to gather some statistics.  Bill has retired from farming.  Sharon is the director of nurses at Cumberland Memorial Hospital.

The November 6, 2006, Minneapolis Star Tribune featured an informative article about the work of Anna Katharine Mansfield, daughter of Jim and Katharine Mansfield, Winston-Salem, NC.  (Katharine places the fault for all of Anna’s interest in Minnesota squarely with Jim and his connections.)  Anna is the University of Minnesota’s first project leader of enology, the study of wine.  She has been developing grapes for wine in Minnesota for five years, and she also has married a Minnesotan.  The article says, “Larry Colbeck, president of the Wine Company, which has distributed Minnesota wines for two decades, calls the university’s project, ‘the best cold climate viticultural unit in the country, if not in the world.’”  Anna earned a BA in English at Salem College near home, a master’s in food sciences from Virginia Tech and now she is nearing a doctorate from the University of Minnesota in food sciences.

Developing patience has been the theme for us this winter.  In January I took a little fall with big consequences, breaking my tibia plateau bone just below the knee.  To the present time, recovery has meant no weight bearing on the left leg.  To imitate me this Easter, you may practice hopping on one leg with your grandchildren!  Each of you is wished a wonderful Easter season with peace in your hearts because of the sacrifice of our Savior.  It is sad not to have talked with any of you this annual fund year, but I know that you will remember Gustavus and our scholarship as always.  Please send me some news about ideas, activities or travels for our next class letter before the close of the Alumni Fund on May 31.

Virgene Grack Sehlin

1961 Class Agent