Class of 1961

June 2011

Dear Golden Class of 1961,

The Gustie Spirit is alive and well!  It was a huge presence at our grand 50th class reunion on May 27-28.  Ninety-one classmates and spouses too, brought up the elusive but all important spirit that exists among Gusties.  Sometimes it almost seems as if that was a secret utilized by the Gustavus sculptor in residence, Paul Granlund ʼ52, since many of his pieces on campus show dramatic and beautiful movement that almost tosses that spirit around.

The schedule for the two-day event was ambitious for some of us and rewarding for all.  Memories from many, center on most of the following events:

  • Great Smiles – (Was there a “Smile 101” class?)
  • Raindrops – (Does it always rain on weekends in Minnesota?)
  • Christ Chapel – (What a peaceful, inspirational site for our memorial and remembrance service for 39 classmates who are deceased.)
  • Rev. Ted Johns’ homily and classmates singing together for the first time in 50 years (it was noted that we sang in harmony!)
  • Lining up for the official class picture on the altar steps of Christ Chapel
  • Gathering in the Dive (former swimming pool) before the banquet − (no swim suits required)
  • Great Gustie food (ranked 8th among U.S. college food services) at all meals
  • Jim Krough leading us as MC
  • Dr. David Carlson ’60 accompanying our prayer at the baby grand piano
  • Classmates’ Reflections presented by Nita Swanson Anderson and Bruce Warner
  • Soothing dinner music by a quartet including our own, Bruce Gray
  • Recognition of professors and staff, plus commentary, by Jim Krough and Dean Wahlund ’72
  • Presenting our ’61 Class Gift to the alma mater -- Stu Johnson and Pat Ecklund Fick
  • Being addressed by President Jack Ohle
  • Rev. Don Fultz’s benediction—(in the African language he utilizes in mission responsibilities)
  • Interesting seminars on Saturday−of course, we embraced our classmate Dr. R. Michael Blaese’s presentation on his work in cellular immunology.  Our brain matter was stretched, Mike!  Many classmates also heard President Jack Ohle and Jim Gilbert ’62 (who leads listeners to a beautiful understanding of nature)
  • Induction into the 50-Year Club – The class was represented by me and former class agents Dennis Freeman, Nita Swanson Anderson, and Jim Krough.  Remember that now you may attend that luncheon and other reunion activities every year!
  • President’s Reception – (Where do the Ohles find all of that energy?)
  • Vesper Service – (“the beginning and the end”)  We thank you for welcoming us back to the hill, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Awards and great food at the Alumni Banquet

“Most of us could not believe that we could have a beer or wine on campus and not even pay for it!  (50 years changes everything−or maybe we were old enough now!).”

Carol Olson Heath

“One of the most enjoyable pieces in the weekend was the gathering at the AmericInn when in a relaxed manner we gathered Friday evening and again Saturday a.m. for breakfast.  No rush, able to sit down and chat with classmates and spouses.  As always, Friday evening is the place to be if you want to see friends.”

Dennis Freeman

“Thank you for the Golden Anniversary Book which I received yesterday.  I sat down immediately and went through it.  I can imagine what a wonderful time you had with so many old friends.  I also can appreciate the many hours of planning that went into the anniversary event.”

Barbara Knutson Richter


“The reunion was wonderful beyond words!  Thank you for all of the effort and time put into the planning.”

Paul D. Hanson

During the reunion we celebrated the Class Anniversary Gift to Gustavus.  There was a giant check that was presented to the college for $1,509,743.08 – which many of you were surprised to see!  This included $1.4 million in Estate Gift Declarations that have been declared by classmates for the class of 1961!  Wow−that is incredible−thank you to everyone who has declared something in your will or estate!  Even with that large amount being in “future” form, our class still managed to raise $108,983.08 in gifts and pledges to Gustavus during our reunion year.  Participation was also excellent, with 129 of our 201 classmates making a contribution this year−that’s 64.2%!  Well done my friends.

A side note on our 1961 Class Endowed Scholarship fund.  We managed to double the amount in this fund during this past year−that is incredible!  Our class has now given $49,989.26 into this endowment, which will spin off over $2,000 in financial aid to a student this fall who is in financial need to attend Gustavus.  Is anyone willing to send in the $10.74 to make it an even $50K?

OldMain_20X24We did also have some leftover prints of Old Main that were available at the reunion with a gift of $60 or more to the 1961 Endowed Scholarship.  If you are interested in acquiring this color print taken from the original oil painting by Mary Pettis, please send a check for $65 to the Gustavus Annual Fund, Attention Kathy Erlandsen and she will mail you a copy.  The prints are in color, 8 x 10 in size, and are signed by the artist.  Please make mention with your check that you would like the “Old Main Print”.  These will only be available while supplies last, so send in your gift soon or call/email (866-487-3863 or to check availability prior to making your gift.  Credit card gifts online will also be accepted, but you must make mention that it is for the 1961 Scholarship and that you would like the “Old Main Print” in order for it to be processed and mailed to you.

Two omissions were noticed in the Anniversary Booklet, if you’d like to update your copy:  Nita Swanson Anderson served in the role of Class Agent from 1970 – 1973 and Dr. Paul Thompson was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.


Our great classmate, Linda Lundgren Erickson, died peacefully early June 3rd.  Several of us went to her memorial on June 13th.  Her husband, John, was in the class of 1959, both well-known at college and life-long friends, that we miss so much.

Ralph and Marlys (Schneider ’63) Swenson, Hudson, WI and Green Valley, AZ, spent four weeks in Australia and New Zealand last January and February.  They observe, “If we welcomed people to our churches with the same enthusiasm and friendliness with which Aussies greet their visitors, there wouldn’t be room in the sanctuary for all who would come.”  The Swensons escaped natural disasters in the region.  In Cairns, Australia, cyclone Vasi came ashore only 40 miles south from where they were.  Less than two weeks after they left, a massive earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand.  Ralph notes, “We were saddened to see the damage to the majestic cathedral on the town square—less than one block from our hotel.”

Luray and Jim Wiberg have had to decide from many options for their summer activities.  “First, Luray is serving as our congregation’s director of music for the month of May.  Second, I am celebrating my 50th anniversary as a forerunner at Holden Village in the Cascades this summer and third, we are combining that with a trip to Canada and Alaska.  So, we regret that our Gustavus class reunion simply could not be included, especially since we spent three weeks in St. Paul with our daughter and her family in April enjoying our two grandsons while their mom and dad were busy with school activities at Apple Valley East where they both teach.  I also was able to baptize my 7th grandchild while there…so to all my friends I say congratulations on making it to the big 50th celebration and may there be many more.”

A note from Lorene Johnson came just before the reunion, “It’s been an eventful year.  I took a backward free fall down basement steps−opened the wrong door at cousin’s to escape three exuberant dogs!  I survived with only seven head staples (hard Swedish head!) and a sprained ankle!  University of Iowa doctors agreed that I’m a miracle walking.  Our eldest son had cancer surgery twice in February and March and is holding his own.  We spent a lot of hospital time.  We’re now home trying to catch up.  Thanks, Virgene for always doing a super job!”

In April, Jo Linnee sang “The Armed Man, A Mass for Peace” by Karl Jankins with the Winona Oratorio Chorus.  She sent word that it was a wonderful experience!

Bette Estesen sent us all a note; “I hope you have a wonderful reunion!  I know campus has changed (and it’s beautiful as always).  I attended our family reunion there last July.  It was great!!  Tucson is getting warm−should reach 100 degrees this week.  I keep busy with home, cats, friends, and group meetings of friends.”

Trouble found Peter and Julie Nelson Neyhart’s family in Juneau, AK, before they had even returned from our reunion.  Their son, Brett, had an accident in the mountains and was helicoptered off the site and later Medivac’d to Seattle.  Julie and Peter arrived in Seattle from Minneapolis early Monday afternoon and Brett had surgery on Tuesday.  He is recovering quite well in Juneau now.  Your prayers are appreciated.

Bruce and Sue Gray, St. Peter, spent March in Florida.  It was very enjoyable, except for “Mr. Gustavus,” their family pet, who has a beloved Minnesota routine.  He is a 2 ½ year old mini poodle who loves to walk the sidewalks on campus.  Bruce has retired from the Gustavus Advancement Office and currently is researching and writing a history of the BSO (Black Student Organization) at Gustavus.  Bruce is interested in diversity at the college.  Many of you received a telephone call on behalf of our class gift from Bruce.

Huge thanks to all of you for your part in giving me the Gustavus throw.  It will always wrap the warmth of our 50th reunion around me and be treasured.  Could it also be a magic carpet so that we can plan a future ride together?

The reunion’s success was not my doing, dear classmates.  It was totally yours, a gift you made by taking all of the effort needed to attend from coast to coast and from north to south – literally!  The planning was done beautifully by the Alumni Office personnel (Randall Stuckey ʼ83, Kathy Erlandsen, Erin Holloway Wilkin ʼ02, Philly Kauffmann and others) and by very dedicated classmates who volunteered and then stuck in there when the full nature of the job became obvious.  It required many meetings and huge effort, time and creativity.  We owe you a great reunion, Reunion Committee members:

Nita Swanson Anderson         Kathy Moody Buegler                        Karen Westman Carlson

Lorraine Sandvig Carlson       Nan Dahl Carlson                   Judy Johnson Chaffee

Jean Stenstrom Eidsvold        Jan Sanftner Elvekrog             Sally Enstrom

Pat Ecklund Fick                    Dennis Freeman                      Carol Olson Heath

Stu Johnson                             Joanne Larson Karvonen        Jim Krough

Patti Maedl Krough                Miriam Lind Lagus                 Jo Linnee

Julie Nelson Neyhart               Judy Carlson Olson                 Judy Fairbanks Sandberg

Virgene Grack Sehlin              Kathy Bunde Thorsell             Bruce Warner

Ruth Hilgendorf Weber          Jim Wiberg

Plus those classmates with special participation in the Memorial and Remembrance Service:

Rev. Ted Johns                       Dale Gustafson                       Miriam Lind Lagus

Pat Ecklund Fick                    Jo Linnee                                 Dennis Freeman

Bruce Warner                          Carolyn Wedin                        Jim Knoble

Kathy Moody Buegler                        Bruce Gray                              Judy Fairbanks Sandberg

Nan Dahl Carlson                   Karen Westman Carlson         Judy Carlson Olson

Carol Weisbrod Johnson         Stu Johnson

Former Class Agents who presented the Class of ’61 to the 50-Year Club:

Dennis Freeman

Nita Swanson Anderson

Jim Krough

Virgene Grack Sehlin

Your Class Agent,

Virgene Grack Sehlin