Class of '63
December 2007

45-Year Reunion

Reunion dates ― May 30-31, 2008

Dear ’63ers,

Merry Christmas!  I don’t think that I have ever written a class letter in December before where I could use that greeting.  In preparation for our BIG reunion on May 30 and 31, 2008 we are sending monthly class letters with the help of some guest writers.  I am most appreciative of three classmates so far who have “volunteered” to write a letter.  If you have an interest in writing a page or two of greeting and a recitation of the adventures of your life, let me know.  We have guest writers for January and February. I am looking for writers for March, April and May!!!

Many thanks to all of the members of the committee who have been making phone calls inviting classmates to the reunion.  Their outstanding work has resulted in tons of news which I will be including in this and future class letters.

Campus News

President Peterson Announces Retirement

President Jim Peterson ’64 announced in August that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the current academic year, capping a five-year term.  His early announcement will provide the Board of Trustees enough time to undertake a thorough search process and assist in a smooth transition to new leadership.  Peterson will serve through June 2008 and has offered to assist in an orderly transition beyond that date if needed.

Moes provide gift for Kendall Center

Gustavus parents Robert and Karin Moe have made a $1 million commitment to the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning. This leadership gift brings the College closer to its goal of fully endowing the center, which is dedicated to advancing active and interdisciplinary learning across the campus. When fully funded, the endowment will generate funds to support two main areas: faculty development and student-faculty research.

New football stadium opened

On September 8, the football team played its inaugural game at the College’s new football stadium.  The synthetic-surfaced field is recessed below ground level and features an earthen berm surrounding the entire field.  The field will continue to be named Hollingsworth Field after the late Lloyd Hollingsworth, who served as the College’s football coach from 1942-1960 and athletic director from 1961-1978.

Athletics Hall of Fame Induction

On Saturday, November 3, Gustavus inducted the following people into the Athletic Hall of Fame:  Tim DeJarlais ’91 (golf), John Erickson ’81 (hockey), Dave Hultgren ’92 (baseball), Craig Miller ’91 (cross country), Mindy Mayerchak Oosten ’88 (softball & soccer), Mike Schumacher ’91 (football), Ann Sommerness Simms ’92 (swimming), and Ryan Skanse ’92 (tennis).

Twin Cities Gustie Breakfasts

Join other Minneapolis/St. Paul area Gusties for a once-a-month morning cup of coffee and breakfast while getting an update on Gustavus. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100), 8:00-9:30 a.m., $10 per person.  Reserve by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763/533-9083

Wednesday, January 16 Gustavus Choir conductor, Greg Aune and Gustavus Wind Orchestra conductor, Doug Nimmo

Alumni Fund

The 2008 Alumni Fund has a goal of $1.95 million from 8,000 donors.  Continue a Gustie tradition ― join other alumni to reach the goal with your participation in the 2008 Alumni Fund.

Refer a Gustie

As the school year starts, many high school seniors are getting serious about their college selection. If you know of high school seniors or juniors who may be a good fit at Gustavus, please send their names to the Office of Admission at Gustavus to help recruit the next generation of Gusties.  Contact the Admission Office at 800/GUSTAVU(S).

Honor Roll of Donors

If you haven’t had a chance to find yourself online, please go to to check out the 2006-2007 Honor Roll of Donors.  The Honor Roll of Donors recognizes those who made gifts to Gustavus between June 1, 2006, and May 31, 2007.  To find your name or check your class results, just point and click from your home or office computer.  For those who do not have access to a computer, you may call toll-free 866/487-3863 to receive a copy in the mail (supplies are limited).

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.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Gustavus Gathering in Phoenix/Sun City, AZ – Jan. 20
  • Gustavus Gathering in Tucson, AZ – Jan. 22

Classmate Updates

ALICEJEAN “AJ” LEIGH DODSON writes:  “What a nice note, even with the non-so-vague threat to make up wicked things.  Threats may work where nothing else has.  May of ’08 is a possibility around here, because my husband’s USMA reunion, always the conflict, hits in September.

My news is retirement, in December of ’05 after eight years as program manager for the New Parent Support Program at Quantico and Henderson Hall Marine Corps Bases.  Am liking this―have found my long-dormant skills (?) with a pottery wheel and my retirement job is historic interpreter at Mount Vernon―home of our first president, George Washington.  My first visit there was at age 11.  I didn’t want to leave then, I’m still enamored with both person and place, and I really enjoy the chance for teaching and learning that this presents.

             Children growing, moving, active with their families, and delightful.  Grandchildren, the do it yourself kind and those we seem to acquire along the way, doing well.  Husband, Jon, is US Army retired and becoming actively involved with Wounded Warrior project and the traumatic brain injury program at Walter Reed Hospital in DC.

Most recent 'big' trip was Russia last fall.  What an experience!  So there is a little news just to keep you honest.”

And some news from TOM BOHN.  “I have fond memories of Gustavus and it was a wonderful time in my life.  I was a scared kid from a small town in Wisconsin and Gustavus and, in particular, the faculty, made me feel welcome.  I am in my final year as Director of the Ithaca College Washington Semester Program.  I live and work in DC as well as Ithaca.  We maintain our home in Ithaca and will retire here next year.  I spent 23 years as Dean of the Park School of Communications before retiring in 2003.  College asked me to stay on and found myself engaged in building the Washington program.  I do a fair amount of consulting in program development and higher education administration and fund raising.  Was fortunate to have had some success in the latter-securing the two largest gifts in Ithaca College history―$18m and $12m respectively―for the Park School.  Have had a great 40 year career in higher education and now it is time to do all those things I told myself I never had the time to do.”

ABBY ARTHUR JOHNSON was in contact with JUDY LANGKOS DONOVAN who sent the following note:  “I’m sending this news in lieu of my person, for I’m very sorry that I won’t be able to attend our GAC reunion in June.  Perhaps it will prompt some old college friends into contact, as Abby Arthur Johnson’s email prompted me.

            My husband Jack and I left the University of Kansas―and the United States―in 1965 on what, if the term had been invented then, was a ‘gap year;’ as we never returned.  I guess we’ve been living in a sort of gap ever since, made official only a month ago when we both became UK citizens whilst retaining our US citizenship.  Since boarding the Queen Mary on her final transatlantic voyage in 1965, I’ve lived 37 years in the UK and five in France (where my daughter was born and where I taught at the University of Strasbourg).  My son, now a research economist with the U.S. Forest Service, was born in the UK.  Here in York, I gradually made the transition from teaching to therapy, practicing for much of my professional life as a dramatherapist and eventually directing a dramatherapy training program at a York college.  I’m now retired, reflective and nostalgic.  A paragraph doesn’t say much about life, but I hope it’s enough to tempt some old friends to send news of themselves to  I wish you all well at the reunion.”

J. PATRICK HART also sends news:  “Living in the beautiful Loess Hills of rural Western Iowa and loving it.  I continue to do consulting work primarily in evaluation and sustainability of rural health service and health professions education programs.  Most fascinating is the evaluation work I do with a seven state regional network (IA, KS, MN, NE,  ND, SD, and WI) that provides behavioral mental health services for the agricultural (farm and ranch) population.  The network somehow brings together health care, civic government, faith-based, financial, educational and issue-driven organizations and groups to get services and resources to people facing tough times.  It’s a bit like trying to evaluate a miracle which isn’t covered in any of my evaluation textbooks, and, it enables me to keep up with the people who dedicate their lives to providing us with food, fiber, fuels and other essentials.”

Some of you may know that JANET RYAN TIDEMANN has been dealing with Parkinson’s disease for quite some time.  She had deep brain stimulation surgery for her condition.  The surgery lasted six hours, plus about two hours of operating room and related tests and procedures including a CT scan, a brain mapping, and installing a halo on her head.  Once the system was installed they tested it by turning on some voltage which completely stopped her foot and other tremors, and also stopped the involuntary muscle movement.  The system was not to be turned on for four weeks while everything else heals.  The last update came from Paul Tidemann ’60 on November 27 who wrote:  “Janet had her initial programming of her stimulator unit today.  It was a long session― about five hours.  The nurse practitioner was able to get the left side of Janet’s body working fine.  The right side is not yet fully programmed.  Each side of her brain has about six electrode sites with #6 in the deepest of the brain, #5 up one level and so on.  They can turn on just one of the electrodes and apply X voltage to it and then see what effect that has.  At some electrodes her tremors would stop, but then she’d have some minor side effects, so they do more fine tuning.  Of course, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.  You might not be surprised that right-brained Janet would have the best results (on the left side of her body) from the right side of her brain.  It is all rather amazing.”

CHRIS SWENSON WILMOT has been a busy member of the reunion committee calling nurses from our class.  The advantage of being on the committee is having a chance to chat with classmates about the reunion.  Several of the nurses gathered for a luncheon in Northfield in early October.  Chris and Mary Ellen Tordsen Kitundu ’65 (spouse of classmate, PETER KITUNDU) have worked on a project at their church in the design and stitching of stoles.  Chris is a member of the Needlepoint Guild which evolved into her being the co-chair and “finisher” of the project.  Chris dedicated her portion of the work to her Gustie mother, Ruth Swenson ’32, who taught Chris how to sew.  SANDY BROWN JOHNSTON (with the help of Jim) sent a newsy Christmas letter from Honolulu.  They reported spending last Christmas cruising off the Mexican west coast with a group of friends.  In July they sailed around the British Isles with Jim’s mother and then on to Normandy.  Son, Rob, is a writer and recently completed a contract for a sequel film for Fox’s DVD market.  He was also part of a writing team for a Fox TV sitcom called “Unhitched.”  That contract ended one week before the Writer’s Guild work stoppage which allowed him the distinction of being on strike rather than being unemployed.  The airing of those six television shows will begin on March 2nd.  Sandy continues to be the super tour guide on the island of Oahu including orchestrating a gathering of seven high school friends called the “Wells Girls.”  Sandy continues her volunteer work with the historic Hawaii Theatre and still gives the best tour of a former reigning female monarch’s home in Hawaii.

Some sad news to report:  CLAUDIA HAYDEN SCHROEDER’S seven- year-old granddaughter drowned last summer.  She was playing in the water behind a boat with an inboard motor which was running to charge batteries.   Her death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.  To increase awareness about this danger, they have started a website (  I commend the website to your reading.  It has information which may be of help to all parents/grandparents/friends in understanding the dangers of carbon monoxide.  Claudia and Jim are planning to come to the reunion in May.  BRUCE “BOCK” ANDERSON died in Duluth on December 3, 2007.  His survivors include Carol Anderson Larson ’59.  MARIETTA BITTRICH JOHNS and Ted are now living in Texas.  They will not be attending the reunion in May.  KAREN KATZ MCCARVILLE is living in Lindstrom, MN and will be attending the reunion.  CONNIE PONSOR FISK is living in Houton, WI.  She is undecided about attending the reunion.

BECKY (ANDERSON) LINDBLAD and JERRY are happy in San Clemente, CA enjoying two grandchildren and golfing.  It is unlikely that they will be attending the reunion.  ROSE OMODT JOST will be attending the reunion.  GRETCHEN BITTRICH ESTERGREN is enjoying retirement by taking cruises and traveling the U.S.  JOHN and HELEN (JOHNSON) MONSON are both retired.  John still hangs around the golf course, but this time as a player not a manager.  KEN ABRAM is also enjoying retirement finding time for golfing and volunteering.  He still enjoys hunting and dragged his faithful black Lab back to Minnesota this fall for pheasant hunting.  They spend part of their winters in Venice, FL.  He reports that his grandchildren are better athletes than he was at their age.  Both play basketball and have dreams of the NBA and the WNBA.

ADELINE BLOTTER ROADFELDT and Bill recently cruised around the Maritime Provinces and New England area.  Although they live in Northfield, Addy always roots for the Gustavus teams when they come to town.  They will be attending the reunion.  HEATHER HARSHBERGER FLUCK has traveled to Germany recently to visit Linda Macalister, her daughter, who is a professional opera singer.  Her other daughter is a captain in the military and a violinist.  Heather is in the Woodbury chorus, plays handbells, is congregational servicing director for the Renville County Chapter of Thrivent and relaxes by helping her husband with farm work.  She will be attending the reunion  SANDI SVENDSEN NELSEN enjoys living close to two of her grandchildren, and now that she’s retired she does some substitute teaching and directs a pre-school music program.  Newell ’62 is director of marketing and media for Hollywild Animal Park.

ELAINE AXDAHL MEYER is retired from teaching, but stays active judging speech and debate contests and editing articles for magazines.  She enjoys going to Palm Beach County, Florida, to visit her son, Greg ’89 and his wife, Diane Harrrison ’89, and two grandchildren.  Her other son, David, teaches in Detroit Lakes.  STEVE ROE is a retired engineer and was recently elected to the Crosslake City Council.  He has also been secretary of the Lions club for five years.  He has two sons, one of whom attended Gustavus as well as a daughter and a step-son.  Steve is planning to come to the reunion.  GLEN VANDERSCHAAF is looking forward to a busy spring with weddings and the birth of additional grandchildren which may prevent him from attending the reunion.  LILLIAN TAN is planning to attend the reunion.  SHIRLEY RAARUP COOKE lives in the Colorado Springs area.  She is retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield after 15 years and has started a new career with the El Paso County, Colorado Financial Services Department.

SANDY BEEHRLE AHLSTROM is master gardener for Hennepin County and she started her own gardening business six years ago.  She also is an elementary substitute teacher in the Hopkins School District which means she has been teaching for 45 years!!!!  WAYNE BURMEISTER reports that a one year commitment to baby-sit for grandchildren has now turned into six years.  They did a two week river boat cruise from Bucharest to Budapest this fall.  KAREN LINDBORG JONAITIS keeps busy with church activities and was instrumental in the updating and refurbishing of the sanctuary of her church.  Last year she and her sisters went on a mission trip to Costa Rica, and they hope to go to Bangladesh next year.  She is an active volunteer for the Murray County Food Shelf.  BARB ROLIG MORTENSEN and Lynn have three children, two sons and a daughter, who graduated from Gustavus.  They have five grandchildren.  Barb and her husband own a garden center in West St. Paul.  They have a summer home near Lake Superior.  Last summer she traveled with her three sisters to Sweden.  WAYNE “COOKIE” HOLST failed retirement.  He got tired of sitting on the decking drinking G & Ts while watching other people mow lawns.  You can see Wayne at Furniture USA in Shakopee if you are looking to update your home furnishings.

DONNA MUELLER RENNEKE writes regarding her bout with Celiac disease.  She participates in activities with a local celiac support group for people who are diagnosed with celiac disease.  It is an immune system disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods are eaten that contain the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye.  The cure is a gluten-free diet.  Donna was diagnosed with celiac disease 43 years ago when it was considered rare.  Now that it is know to be common, she volunteers her expertise in gluten-free baking to the increasing number of people seeking help in adapting to the gluten-free diet.  She would be pleased to communicate with any Gustavus classmate who needs assistance with the diet.  She can be reached at the following e-mail address:  SHARON (BAUER) THOMPSON and GORDON “FROM STORDEN” THOMPSON are both retired and living in Oregon and are planning to come to the reunion.  ALEETA MONACHESI JONES is enjoying the good life around Minden, Nevada.  She is planning to come to the reunion.

That is all the news for now.  I have many additional news notes that resulted from the phone calls and I’ll incorporate them into future letters.  Meanwhile, for those of you who promised callers that they would “send a news note to Tilly,” I encourage you to e-mail an update.  All of us classmates would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to send a gift to Gustavus either for the Gustavus Fund or for the Class of 1963 Scholarship Endowment Fund.  Another suggestion that you will hear me make increasingly, is to include Gustavus in your Will.  If you haven’t updated your Will for a long time, perhaps it is time to do and include GAC for 3-4% of your net worth after the last to die.  If you wish, you can designate the gift to the Class of 1963 Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Best wishes to you for a wonderful Christmas and happy and healthy New Year!


Paul F. Tillquist

P.S.  It is not too early to make reservations to come to Gustavus for the reunion―May 30 and 31!!