Class of '63
January 2008

45-Year Reunion

Reunion dates ― May 30 & 31, 2008

Volume 45, Number 4

Dear Classmates,

A new year!  New challenges!  New adventures!  Continuing the plan to provide you with a class letter with a guest writer and news every month until our reunion, here is our January edition.  We welcome as a guest writer, Kay Johnson Hanson, who graduated with a degree in nursing which meant she only spent two years on campus followed by two years in St. Paul.  Kay will provide us with a perspective on what it was like to be this very special group of people.  But first, the campus news.

Campus News

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.

Upcoming Alumni Events

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

For more information on alumni events, go to:


Guest Writer

The class of ’63 from the perspective of a nursing major, Kay Johnson Hanson

We are the nurses, of GAC

And for our services we charge a fee.

We’re good at backrubs and making beds

But we work best with the pre-meds, we do.

                                                                                                Tune: “Come On You Gusties”

Did you ever hear this sung at a variety show, or other venue?  When the class of ’63 graduated, 19 of us received the degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (and two of us, Gloria Saffel and Chris Swenson, married the pre-meds referred to in the song above.)  We nursing students shared many experiences with the rest of you, especially during the first two years when we lived on campus.  But because of the nature of our major, we also had many unique and interesting experiences both during those Gustavus campus years and especially during the last two years (plus one summer) when we lived in St. Paul.  I am sharing some reflections based on my memory, my scrapbook, and the events recorded in my diaries from ’59-’63.  Interestingly, those diaries also record the 3.5 years of my dating and engagement to Paul K. Hanson ’61 leading to our wedding in Berlin, Germany, on June 26, 1963.  When I boarded Icelandic Airlines at Idlewild Airport in NYC to fly to Luxembourg, I was surprised to see three Gustie classmates on the same flight.  Nancy Gustafson, Dorothy Jacobson, and Ruth Sammelson were going to Europe for a summer of fun and travel.  I was going to marry this guy I hadn’t seen or talked to for an entire year (he was on a Lutheran World Federation exchange program in Berlin and Geneva.)  Forty-four years later, I’m glad I made the trip.

We were the fourth class to enter this relatively new baccalaureate degree nursing program; the first class were seniors when we were freshman.  Historically, most nursing education had been in diploma programs based in hospitals, and the Gustavus program replaced such a diploma program at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul (those students spent one semester at Gustavus.)  Degreed nurses often had to “prove” themselves as we were held in suspicion by some hospitals and older nurses who felt we had a lot of theoretical knowledge but didn’t know how to “do” much.  Baccalaureate curricula included some elements which had not been included in most diploma programs such as public health nursing (including school and occupational health nursing,) and significant components of leadership and management.  It has been interesting to track the career paths of those in our class.  Many of us worked in public health related fields because those positions recruited a BSN for entry level positions and valued our skill-set.

Freshman and sophomore years on campus

Our first year was filled with pre-requisites; the only nursing courses were of an introductory nature.  Our numbers decreased significantly as classmates decided the nursing major wasn’t for them.  The curriculum was rigorous.  One of my dominant memories is that we had weekly quizzes in both chemistry and anatomy and physiology.  Elsa Johansen and I would stagger out to the section living room about 5 a.m. on Wednesday and Friday to memorize bones, muscles, and formulas for the day’s quiz.  I came from a high school of 50 with 10 in my class, including Randy Nelson and Darwin Seim (for 3 of the years).  Our little high school offered no lab sciences and I had never even been in a lab until these courses.  If it hadn’t been for Elsa, Arne Langsjoen’s weekly review sessions, and helpful lab partners, I wouldn’t have passed chemistry and would have missed a fulfilling and interesting career as a nurse.

In our sophomore year we continued with a heavy course load (including microbiology and physics...more labs) and started getting serious about learning beginning nursing skills.  In our nursing labs we learned how to carry on a therapeutic conversation, make beds, give each other baths, take each other’s vital signs, give each other shots, and even give each other enemas (I can’t believe we did that!)  We got our student uniforms and black and gold capes which we donned to walk to St. Peter Community Hospital one morning a week to take care of “real” patients.  We were the first ones downstairs for breakfast at Wahlstrom Hall those days as we needed to be at the hospital by 7 a.m..  On April 22, 1961, 20 of us were “capped” in a beautiful ceremony in the old chapel.  Evelyn Anderson rehearsed with us several times so we could say the Florence Nightingale Pledge together with appropriate emphasis.  Miss Doris Stuckey was the director of our program and she loomed large in our lives.  We both respected and feared her; she had a lot of power over us, it seemed.

Move to St. Paul

For the summer of 1961 and the two following academic years we lived in St. Paul.  Our new home was the nurses’ dorm (later named Mattson Hall) across the street (and connected by tunnel) from Bethesda Hospital and a couple of blocks from the Capitol building.  There we had a semi-cloistered life.  We ate in the hospital cafeteria, worked, studied, laughed, cried, and lived together.  We knew each others’ boyfriends and families and, most of the time, got along well.  Gustie friends who were from the Cities would give us a break from each other by inviting us to their homes for delicious meals and fun events.  We returned to campus for special events and to see friends as often as we could.  By the way, five of us married Gusties.

There were two classes of Gustavus nursing students living at the dorm each year.  We had our own choir and sang at many hospital and church events.  We had our own chapel service at 6:30 a.m.―we were required to attend on days we had clinical starting at 7 a.m. (we missed being on campus when Christ Chapel was finished.)  We celebrated St. Lucia Day and caroled throughout the hospital.  A beautiful Bethesda custom was for the night shift and day shift to join in singing a hymn at 7 a.m. to awaken the patients.  (Stories were told about patients thinking they had died and were in heaven, hearing the angels sing!)  We had a house-mother and kept hours similar to those on campus.  We were divided into smaller groups for clinical rotations; any general courses were all taken together.  In our entire four years of college, our curriculum had room for only one elective, and we had to agree on which one we would all take.  I think we chose Area Studies.  That course and others, such as philosophy, marriage and family, Christianity, were taught by faculty from the Twin Cities area―I don’t know where Miss Stuckey found some of them!

From our Bethesda headquarters, we branched out all over the area for our clinical experiences so got used to walking, taxis, buses, and driving in the Twin Cities.  We had valuable experiences at St. Paul Children’s Hospital, St. John’s, Anoka State Hospital, and Minneapolis Visiting Nurse Service.  We watched an early open heart surgery (from a balcony) at the University of Minnesota.  Reflecting the times, we had a course in Disaster Nursing and fulfilled the requirements to be Red Cross Nurses.  We went to a two day Civil Defense Conference  In October of ’63, my diary says “world situation really bad, all eyes on Cuba, maybe we’ll all be dead by the end of the week.”

Both at Gustavus and in St. Paul we participated with students from other schools in the Minnesota Student Nurse Association.  Elsa Johansen was honored as the first Minnesota Student Nurse of the Year.  I remember her armful of roses and how proud we were of her.

Some of our experiences were sobering.  The first baby I saw delivered was stillborn.  We saw patients die.  We watched our patients work through infections, complications, ECT (electro-convulsive therapy).  We worked with young quadriplegics coming to grips with their paralysis.  We made mistakes with medications.  We dealt with life’s beginnings and endings, and we had to be serious about our work.  We didn’t feel we had the luxury to cram for an exam and then forget the content; someone’s life/health might depend on it.  Plus―we had State Board Exams right after graduation.  Our challenge was to balance the serious aspects of our profession with the fun of being college students.

From our class of 19, seven went on to earn master’s degrees, Barb Berry Leonard and Barb Dahlin Johnson earned doctorates.  Each of us has made significant contributions to health care in many settings in the USA and beyond.  We remember and give thanks for the three classmates who have died.  Elsa Johansen Natvig in 1981, Lois Hendrickson Escherich in 2001, and Karen Peterson Zilliox in 2005.  Additionally four of us (Sue Bentzinger Olson, Pat Findley Casto, Rose Omodt Jost, and Sharon Shaver Pinney) have lost spouses since 2001.

We look forward to gathering for the reunion―with the entire class at the planned events and then with nursing classmates at Rose’s cabin near St. Peter.

The Honor Roll of Class of 1963 Nurses

Barbara Barry Leonard

Susan Bentzinger Olson (finished in ’66)

Adeline Blotter Roadfeldt

Barbara Dahlin Johnson

Mary Erickson Lindahl (joined us senior year)

Pat Findley Casto

Carolyn Helgeson Liebenow

Lois Hendrickson Escherich

Elsa Johansen Natvig

Barbie Johnson Johnson

Kathryn “Kay” Johnson Hanson

Alicejean Leigh Dodson

Charlene Lundahl Norris

Rose Omodt Jost

Judy Magnuson Peterson

Karen Peterson Zilliox

Gloria Saffel Mueller

Sharon Shaver Pinney

Mary Sundberg Larson

Chris Swenson Wilmot

Class News

JOHN LIPKE has been very active with Education Minnesota.  John, among other things, drives a school bus in Stewart which has a separate bargaining unit and is part of Education Minnesota.  He has had a leadership position in Education Minnesota which has meant that he has spent some part of every legislative session doing lobbying.  Recently he learned that he was selected as the Minnesota representative for the National Education Association (NEA) Educational Support Professional (ESP) of the Year and will be in the running for the National NEA ESP of the Year, which will be awarded on Friday, March 7, at the NEA ESP conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  This award includes $10,000 cash and expense paid travel to the conference.  John is currently a candidate for NEA Director from Minnesota.  He will be up for election at the March Education Minnesota Representative Convention.  For those of you still active in teaching don’t forget to vote for John.  KAREN PIERSON TOMMERAASEN sends a correction from the last class letter.  A news note was included that KAREN LINDBORG JONAITIS had enjoyed a trip to Costa Rica last winter.  It was Karen Tommeraasen who took the trip.  Karen Jonaitis had to stay home and suffer with the lousy 80 degree weather in Tucson!!!!  TOM LINDELL and spouse, Marilyn, will be entertaining Tucson Gusties at their home on Tuesday, January 22.  Brother, Pete ’62 and JUDY ANDERSON LINDELL will be at the gathering along with Vonnie Erickson Erickson ’65.

STEVE MUCH sent the key to his vanity plate (5holsin1) which I printed in an earlier class letter.  The meaning is that he has been lucky enough to have scored a hole in one five times on five different golf courses!  Steve provides further explanation for hidden meanings:  “I am just a lucky guy; I chose the right college; I chose the right wife; I chose the right career; I have two gorgeous daughters; I have two wonderful grandsons; I have excellent health.”  Steve is enjoying retirement with volunteer work, golf, traveling (left for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji on January 15 and will be gone 26 days) golf, bridge, golf, bowling, golf, and reading.  He has reread many of the books that he read as a boy like Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang; The Yearling, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  Oh, and did I mention that he plays a lot of golf!!!!  LEE MILLER sent his Christmas greetings and annual report from Denmark.  Last May, Lee started an emeritus position (working five hours per week) in order that a professorship in marine mammal sensory systems could be advertised and filled.  Thus, he has no administration, less teaching, and much less pay.  He spent the month of July in Iceland with colleagues from far and wide on a project to capture minke whales, test their hearing, and tag them with satellite and acoustic tags.  “This would have been a world’s first except the three we managed to get into the net escaped.  We even saw one of them swim to freedom.  This can happen in high risk science.  Wife, Mette, turned 60 last January.  She has at least three years to go before pulling back, so she is burdened with lots of administration and teaching.  The reason for the three years is that she got her research grant renewed.  In spite of the daily grind, she managed to find time for about two weeks of field projects in Switzerland on bacteria that do not need oxygen.  Lee is coming to the reunion in May!!!!!!!  DAVE BAUMANN has retired from his administrative work in the Robbinsdale school district.  He and Barb (Koehn ’64) are definitely coming to the reunion.  DEAN MCBRIDE and Mickey (Montague ’62) live in New Mexico.  They are planning to come to the reunion.

Hockey star, GERRY RICE, is planning to come to the reunion and hopes some of his teammates will also be there.  Others planning to come to the reunion include GARY RAITZ and PAUL CONRAD.  PETER KITUNDU has returned to Tanzania and will not be able to come to the reunion.  BONNIE LEWIS MCCLEES is busy in retirement.  She sings in two choirs, is active at her church and audits senior classes at the University of Washington in earth and space science.  This past summer she traveled to Minnesota and also had mountain top astronomy trips with her little camper.  EDNA RASK ERICKSON was married in December to Dr. Daniel Paskewitz.  In addition to Edna’s two sons and two grandchildren, their family will have the additions of Daniel’s five children and six grandchildren.  EDEN HUTABARET returned to Medan, Indonesia, where he will work on health issues in initiatives sponsored by the United Nations.  NORMA SAARI JOHNSON has retired from her work as a media specialist.  She and Curt ’62 divide their time between their homes in Woodbury, MN and Mesa, AZ.  She invites Gustie friends to visit them in either Minnesota or Arizona.

I am so grateful to Kay Johnson Hanson for her contribution to the class letter.  Next month, Sandy Brown Johnston will be writing and the following month Lee Miller will be our guest writer.  If any of you would like to have a paragraph or two included in the class letter, please feel free to submit something to me via e-mail.

Thank you to all who have already made their gift to the Gustavus Fund.  We are at 44.7% of participation.  Remember our goal is to hit 100%.  Thus far 113 of you have contributed $68,363 for this fund year which began on June 1.  Thank you!  Thank you!  Remember that you can contribute on-line by going to  You can even leave a news note!  Many thanks for the news notes that you send with your gifts.  Those notes will be featured in newsletters in February, March, April and May!!

Your reunion committee is meeting again on February 23 to continue planning for our reunion on May 30 and31.  If you have suggestions for things you would like to see happen at the reunion, please let me know via e-mail.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year and may this year be a happy and healthy one for all!!

Paul F. Tillquist,

1963 Class Agent