Class of '69
30th Anniversary Class
May 28 & 29, 1999
So much for my earlier resolve to have you get this letter before Christmas. Where do the years slip off to!? It doesn't seem that more than three months have passed since I was last apologizing for not greeting you sooner with Phonorama news.
I was at St. Benedict's yesterday having lunch with David. There's a definite January term feeling there. Memories of time for card games; extra long visits in the Canteen; leisurely mornings; digging through records at the historical society in St. Paul; a trip to Washington, D.C.; describing black crows with Authur Shove; Professor Swanson in the English department; and some incredibly cold walks getting from place to place were triggered by the quiet atmosphere of empty classrooms surrounding David's office. I'm sure that every college offering January term has defenders and detractors, but it's good to see a continuing commitment to this unique time offering special opportunities for exploring.
Christmas at Gustavus was especially magnificent this year. It was celebrated with the spire and cross once again crowning the chapel and the eternal light replaced in its sacred position. Craig Johnson, who I asked to contribute to this letter, will share some of the wonders of that glorious day.
When I drove into town for the St. Lucia celebration later in December I'd been warned about the removal of the Arts and Heritage building. The pile of rubble standing in the place of that once glorious old building was devastating. How much more so for the group of people who invested so much of their time and effort. Hopefully their momentum will help secure a new home for this important part of the Saint Peter community.
Minnesota's incredibly warm fall lasted well into December. We decided to put up a real Christmas tree this year and headed to the nearby tree farm on the 12th of December. We had a wonderful time spending a late Sunday afternoon checking out each individual tree on the five-acre farm wearing sweatshirts in the 60-degree afternoon!
That same extended autumn was a much-needed gift to St. Peter. It extended rebuilding time by many weeks. It seemed that each finished house was more ablaze with Christmas lights than ever before. A trip past Swede Park provided further evidence of recovery. You may remember the huge pine tree that was lit each Christmas along Minnesota Street. Although that tree blew away in the storm, the park was more beautifully decorated than ever before. Fifteen newly planted evergreen trees were showered in white light in place of the old tree. The entire gazebo was lit as well! This beauty was the work of a group of volunteers who provided the considerable effort needed to make it so wonderful. Such a monument to longevity and perseverance!
Dear Fellow 69' Gustie graduates,
The year 1998-99 will be remembered by our college as tumultuous. As you know, on March 29, 1998 the college and the city of Saint Peter were struck by severe tornadic winds. The result on our campus was damage sustained to all of our 29 buildings with a total loss of between $55 and $60 million dollars. All landscaping and over 2,000 trees were lost. No college had received such extensive damage in the history of the United States.
Immediately plans were made to rebuild a greater Gustavus. Construction crews began working seven days a week and thousands of volunteers from congregations, colleges, and communities swept onto our campus to help in the recovery. Three weeks after the storm classes resumed and in May 600 students graduated in a heartfelt stadium ceremony on the football field
Over the summer months all of the buildings were put back into order and in September we welcomed 700 first year students. This is the largest and most academically gifted class in the history of the college…except of course the class of 1969.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the weekend events of Friday May 28, at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington, celebrating and remembering our wonderful time at Gustavus. The last reunion was outstanding and this one will be even better if all of us show up. On Saturday May 29, we will be having a 12:15 luncheon on campus in the Confer/Vickner language building. Y’all come!
Craig Johnson ’69
Now, to the news of us that is always such fun to gather and share.
Tim and Sandra (Leasure ’70) Bloomquist's three sons are now all Gustavus grads. Aaron is a financial officer for Georgia Health Partners in Savannah and his wife, Kristine, is director of wellness at Memorial Hospital. Ross is a mortgage banker in Burnsville and his wife, Lea, is a senior program analyst for Hennepin County. Adam's love for the outdoors finds him living in an ideal spot, in Brainerd, where he's a pension auditor.
Darius and Cyndi (Severance x71) Larson's children are in ninth and tenth grade at Tech High School in St. Cloud. When we talked Sarah was heading into the gymnastics season and they'd both just finished playing junior varsity soccer.
Glen and Linda (Jabs '72) Stenlund have two weddings coming up―one in May of this year. Linda said that "they're slowly letting us in on the details" and Glen noted, "It's funny how when they get to be 25 they seem to think they should decide everything."
John Wolff retired from the Naval Air Reserve last month after completing 30 years as an officer. Jean (Rebischke '72) noted "He went in the year I was born. What a coincidence!" John's civilian work is as product & sales manager at Cummins Power Generation. Their son, Matthew, got involved in soccer last April and when we talked they had some early morning trips to Rochester for playoff games coming up. John has an uncanny knack for turning up "treasures" in unusual places―like the still-in-use microwave rescued from a neighbor's junk pile. His most recent fun find was his dad's carbide bicycle light on an antique-hunting expedition in Cannon Falls.
Greg and Kathleen (Anderson ’70) Gunderson's oldest daughter is in Eau Claire and enjoying being a stay-at-home mom with her 18-month-old son while awaiting a new baby. Their second daughter is a recent Gustavus grad working in human resources in Minneapolis. Their son is at the University of Minnesota where he's recently made a switch from engineering to industrial design. Greg is a self-employed career consultant and Kathleen is a media specialist at the correctional facility in Red Wing.
Ron and Marci (Gustafson ’70) Kirchoff's son is a high school junior. He's involved in basketball and track―his team went to the state finals in track last spring. He also sings in the Cathedral Choir at Mt. Olivet. Their daughter in eighth grade also plays basketball and goes out for track. Both of them play the piano and are enjoying that. Eighth grade means the Kirchoffs have a confirmation coming up this spring.
Tom ’68 and Sue (Weber) Wickstrom's oldest son graduated from Augustana-Sioux Falls last spring. He was a music major with an emphasis in church music. He's an organist and choir director, although his primary instrument is the tuba. Tom and Sue have a fun place to visit when they can―he's in an interim position at a Presbyterian church in Seattle―living on the same island where Bill Gates resides.
The Wickstroms' youngest son is a junior at Ferris State College in Michigan where his is completing the third year of a six-year pharmacy program. Tom reported that their daughter's 4 1/2 year old son loves teaching "his big grandpa how to fish." They enjoy time with him at their cottage on an inland lake 55 miles away―the perfect distance.Tom is the only pastor at a medium sized church―meaning he gets a day off each month if nothing comes up. His congregation recently began remodeling for handicapped accessibility. Construction was postponed until spring for fear of being exposed to the elements should winter come sooner than expected. They did the fundraising last year, but bids came in 200% over budget, which required cutting away some features of the new plan. Sue is a RN working the evening shift at the community's 28-bed hospital. She rotates between emergency, OB, and head nurse.
Jo Ann (Hansen) Blatchley is still teaching fourth grade and Sunday School and having a good year. She and her husband are now "officially empty nesters." Their son is a junior at Madison and their daughter a freshman at Oberlin. They were looking forward to an Ohio trip for parents' weekend in November.
Barb (Seeley) Devlin's daughter, Christine, is a sophomore at Arizona State at Tempe. Barb and John were both gone when I called, so younger daughter, Katie, filled me in. Chris is in jazz choir and had just finished appearing in a production of As You Like It when we talked. Katie, at Richfield High School, is in pop choir. She had just finished playing the part of one of the police officers in Arsenic and Old Lace when we talked.Sandra (Nelson) Danger was enjoying the late fall weather when we talked―she reported some flowers still blooming! She teaches a biology and math combination schedule in Braham. She's also been involved in review classes for students who still need help with the basics and has two of her classes in that assignment area. Her husband works for the department of natural resources in St. Paul―one of an increasing number of people who tolerate the long commute to enjoy life in the country.When I reached Toni (Dangelo) Boie she and her husband had recently returned from enjoying a business trip to a spot just north of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. They have only their youngest daughter at home―a seventh grader involved in soccer, basketball, and "reluctantly playing the clarinet. It's kind of like the family instrument." Their next daughter is a sophomore nursing student at The College Of Saint Catherine. The next in line son is employed as a chemist, while their oldest daughter is in computers.
While we were enjoying incredibly warm weather in the upper Midwest, Shirley (Johnson) Blichfeldt reported that in Orlando, it was starting to cool off. It was "only in the 80s" when we talked. After a long time of middle school subbing and temporary jobs in the high school, Shirley has a full time position teaching high school math and which she really enjoys. Her husband recently retired and she noted "Now I'm the one who crawls out early in the morning." Shirley works at the newest high school in the county, a short distance from her home. The building is five years old and already boasts the addition of 40 portable classrooms!I moaned and complained when each district in Minnesota was directed by St. Paul to add three days to the existing calendar. Since no money was provided for these days, many schools like the one where I teach decided to eliminate in-service days to cover the cost of additional instruction. To ensure that our school year would end in the first week of June, we began with three days of school prior to Labor Day.
When we vacationed in Florida later that summer I was astounded at the number of schools starting their fall terms as early as August 10th! Shirley's school was one of them. She's in her first year of block scheduling―she'll have taught four full classes by Christmas. Some of her experienced colleagues report they have less total instructional time and are thus able to cover less content under this system. Science teachers tend to like the schedule, as it offers longer lab periods. Shirley found that she was spending less time keeping records for her 90 students.
Shirley's son is a computer science major at the University of Central Florida and had just spent a good summer. One of his endeavors was working with submarine simulators for the Navy.
Tanya (Wasenda) Bergman shared that it's been a most eventful year―both she and Jack recently remarried and both their daughters are engaged! "You raise them all these years for this Cinderella time―and then they're within three months of each other. We're hoping the stock market improves."
Their oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner in San Francisco. She and her fiancé‚ are planning their wedding for Door County Wisconsin "which they think is just the most romantic place in the world." Youngest daughter, Molly's wedding will be in Chicago. She's a junior high teacher in Cincinnati. She teaches an overview language course in Spanish, French, and German and her students choose one of the languages to concentrate on when they get to high school. Tanya related "plugging along" at her community college position. Although requiring a different mindset than the job she was doing for Gustavus, Tanya reports that she loves the challenges it offers.
Cheryl (Maley) Gelbman's son, Dan, is a resident assistant at Concordia where he's a sophomore. Daughter, Jane, is a high school junior involved in Youth in Government through the YMCA, piano, and "much socialization." Cheryl got involved with the first gubernatorial debate in Brainerd through the League of Women Voters. Jane was with her and by being "in the right place at the right time" had the fun of being interviewed by a reporter from the Star Tribune. Cheryl was recently elected to the hospital board and has many congratulations coming for becoming the first woman president of that community's 80-year-old Rotary chapter.Janet (Torgerson) Nelson recently began a new job in customer and employee satisfaction at Gantz-Wiley Research. She's enjoying her work in this fairly small company and told about a wonderful coincidence―she's met and works with three other Gusties who together span four decades.
Cindy (Altemose) Losch works at Kittson Memorial Health Care Center in Hallock. She's a care coordinator in charge of half of the residents. Most of her time is spent in supervisory roles, but she does get to spend some time on the floor.Karen (Lindberg '70) Schoenrock said that she and Jon are still "settling in to Dallas" but having a good time. Jon has been at Southwest Airlines for the past three years and has been really pleased with his work for that firm. Their daughter, Katherine, is at Gustavus as a senior majoring in communications and art.One of Tim Haut's sons interrupted school to pursue interests in film. He managed to work his way up to assistant director on a movie produced by Sundance and had an opportunity to do some work on a crew for Diane Sawyer. His oldest son is at the University of Connecticut majoring in peace studies, which requires developing his own course of study. Does it come as any surprise that he's excited, motivated, and has an idealistic spirit?
Last summer was a period of intense fires in many parts of Florida. Gale (Johnson) Bomgren tried to describe 40-foot walls of flame coming within two miles of her Florida house in Ormand Beach. Jon recently celebrated his 25th year of ordination and Jon and Gale have graduations coming up. Jason is a senior in high school and leaning toward high school teaching and drama― another not too great surprise―and looking presently at Albion College. The same spring will find Eric Paul graduating from college with a major in engineering.
Bill and Judy (Johnson) Fletcher were enjoying the extended fall and the empty next life. Everything is fine in Des Moines, at least from their perspective.
Alice (Hansen) Long is among those of us pondering retirement in the not too distance future.
Karen (James) Klink had had her first experience with middle schoolers and really enjoyed it― noting it's "so exciting to see them grow right before your eyes." She chaperoned a group of middle school eighth graders to England in June. They went, among other places, to Stonehenge and Momsbury and "really got into history and culture." The exchange program that made the trip possible was initiated by the school district where Karen teaches.
I began writing much further after Christmas than I'd hoped, and with apologies, this letter concludes soon after Groundhog’s Day. On Groundhog’s Day the Minnesota Zoo's groundhog was interviewed at length by impeachment-weary reporters. The inevitable conclusion: winter will return after a week's respite of temperatures in the upper thirties and the accompanying slush and brown.
It's hard to believe that this final year before the Millennium marks our 30th year since concluding our studenthood at Gustavus. Thirty years ago it was cold on the hill as we embarked on the beginning of our final semester. For a number of us this time was filled with classes in Old Main in preparation to leave for an extended period away from campus as student teachers. In this building, perhaps more than in any other on campus, dwell the spirits of so many Gusties gone before us who left their own marks on their part of the world. Against the backdrop of Old Main in the winter time with its unique sounds, old friendliness, and occasional temperature variations in temperature we played out our reluctance to leave campus for that last period against the excitement and tension provoked by the need to put three and half years into place.Other parts of the campus saw a new round of job interviews, preparation for the GRE, and graduate school applications. Most of us may have lingered a little longer over coffee in the Canteen with friends who would all too soon head in various directions. We might have admired, a little more thoughtfully than before Christmas, the remaining midwinter sunsets over our snowy hill. Likely that final Lenten journey we headed into as Gustavus students encouraged a little more reflection for us than our previous three, listening to Elvee's poetic guidance a bit more intensely than before. Could we have realized when we watched boxes of punched cards carried to computers so big that they required their own special building that we would come together in thirty years later to give one another our e-mail addresses and compare notes on where to get a good deal on a portable generator for the following January?
Thirty years is a long time. Time enough to come together once more to celebrate the ties to Gustavus that still bind us together. You've received a reunion questionaire―a sure signal that it's time to begin thinking about that May weekend. This year we will follow the custom begun of necessity with last years' reunion. Friday's events will be held at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington. We will return to Gustavus on Saturday.You will receive more information in the months ahead.
Jane Norman Leitzman
1969 Co-Class Agent