Class of '69
October 1999

Dear Classmates,

Is it September yet? I've forgotten where I put the summer. No doubt it'll turn up in some unlikely place?like coming home from the grocery store and putting ice cream in the cupboard. I was taken aback early last week when driving home I commented on how lovely the trees seemed for turning so early?and of course but three days of September remained.

Today our task is getting the squash and pumpkins out of the garden and the apples off the trees. In our garage David unearthed an antique cider press that came from his grandfather's garage--that's surely an indication that we're to make cider with this year's bumper crop. And last night our neighbor and I went into production of fried green tomatoes. I've been waiting for this since July when I got the recipe by buying a whole cookbook at my beloved New Perry Hotel restaurant in Georgia. I almost didn't get the chance to try them when once again in our absence local deer ate all of our tomato plants. I was fortunate to have a friend who emptied her garden for me in preparation for a threatened hard freeze last Thursday, providing a supply of green tomatoes for this delight.

The late afternoon provided an opportunity for a walk to a small chapel on the other side of the lake that is surrounded by St. John's woods. What a fabulous day! With St. John's homecoming yesterday enough people were on the trails to warrant traffic directors. For those of you who are outside of Minnesota in some season-less place?you're in our thoughts because September here has been truly fabulous. Of course you're permitted to remind us that we live in a state of extremes. There was enough snow to fire up snow blowers in Marshall. Friday night's game between Albert Lea and Mankato had to be called off due to snow.

It hardly seems like four months could have passed since our reunion. This was our first opportunity to gather at the Sofitel. I admit that I am partial to being in St. Peter at Shoreland, but this was nice. One advantage was a fantastic dinner capped by an array of magnificent desserts adding a totally decadent ending.

As I visited with Jean Nord Searles she made an interesting comment, "It's like I come back here every five years and get re-grounded." Hers was a perfect statement about the reason for having such reunions.

We had a fun time visiting with Dick Elvee and hearing about his then upcoming marriage. His wife, Edie, is a woman he dated at Bob Jones University?she was a freshman when he was a senior. She got in touch with him last winter, wondering what was happening in his life after so many years. The rest, as it's said, "is history."

This delightful woman is a retired teacher from Maryland. When the Chaplain leaves Gustavus at the end of the year they'll divide their time between Maryland and the house Dick bought in Mexico. It's hard to imagine Gustavus without him. The pulpit will be in good hands, I suspect, for Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 is both a gifted homilist and a warm, welcoming person. He'll keep the doors open and the lights on.

Saturday's reunion events were a perfect extension of Friday evening. With the new food service not yet completed, and the desire to have all reunion luncheons on campus, some innovative sites became dining areas. Ours was downstairs in the new part of Vickner Hall.

Our menu included sack lunches in fancy black and gold Gustavus bags. And we were treated to delightful entertainment by Paul Hokanson's group, balancing Gospel with hits from the 50's and 60's.

The afternoon vespers service was, as always, an opportunity for a bit of quiet reflection leading to another kind of renewal. If this year's reunion didn't work for your schedule, know you were missed and plan to make the 35th a possibility.

A sad occasion took me to St. Peter early in September when Mark Ahlstrom ’65 lost a 20-month battle with lung cancer. As I drove down the valley I thought how that trip offers me a sort of restoration. It wasn't quite fall yet, trees were still green, but from Hutchinson onward acres and acres of brushed gold soybeans filled-in the view.

Mark's service was at First "Lutheran-Catholic" where surely the spirit of Rev. Millard was lending supportive comfort. The celebration was named the "Mark Fest." Elvee had us wear nametags as we entered the church. Words of praise for Mark's life were balanced with music offered by Karl Franzene, Peter Eckhoff ’87, and others.

Pictures throughout the church offered another reminder of Mark's laughing love of life. Dan Johnson's ’64 eulogy was built around three of Mark's pictures and a quotation from The Matchmaker, "Are we having an adventure yet, Barnaby?" He shared that in l963 he and Mark felt a need to be at Kennedy's funeral and boarded a plane (Dan's first flight) for D.C. Once there Mark managed to take a haunting picture of the casket. Later they were discussing whether to go directly home, but instead got on a bus for New York City where Luther (the play that Dan was then directing for Mrs. Anderson) was on Broadway. Through the generosity of someone who saw them in the lobby, they ended up watching the play from the center of the third row. What an adventure his fabulous life was! Julie Johnson and I finished the day with dinner on Westwood's lakeside porch. Rain offered a symbolic closure when we had to grab our glasses and dash inside.

At the Class Agents' meeting a couple of weeks ago we were invited to share impressions of Gustavus as part of a marketing exercise. Owing both to memory and Mrs. Young's presence in the group (the new Evelyn Young Food Service is fabulous to see and nearly finished), several people had things relating to food. Kris Lundberg Moorhead ’68 was among those mentioning almond pie?noting that she sometimes went to Sunday morning church because she'd be able to get a good place in line for almond pie. (Even now some of us select our places at a Gustavus luncheon by where the almond pie is.) A recent grad also chose the food service because for him it was the one place to eat where he could always find friends.

Another mentioned the old water tower by Uhler, sometimes walking by as sheets of water cascading down its sides caught the sun's rays. Someone noted that when it was time to take the old tank down for scrap, a husband and wife team of professional dismantlers came to take the pieces to where used water towers go when finished.

Eddie Johnson ’42, a contemporary of Esby's, talked about living under the football stadium. Ceilings were installed over handball courts in his day, which provided spacious digs for $2 a month.

Bobby Krig ’53 was traveling in Ireland, but his wife (Barbara Eckman Krig ’52) was certain that he'd want her to share the time he and friends brought a cow into chapel (the old "Aud" of our day). Apparently getting the cow up to the balcony wasn't nearly the challenge that confronted those who tried to get it to go down the steps.

A young woman from a recent class, newly married to a U. of M. grad, recalled attending an event on that Minneapolis campus. Greeting another on the sidewalk, her husband wondered where she might have met that individual. Upon hearing that she had not, he reminded her that "We don't do that here." Perhaps that's one reason why I chose Gustavus, where we still do that.

Now to the news of us I have to share.

Congratulations to Rosemary Lange Guttormsson for taking second honors for her painting "Kansas Garden" at the Spring Juried Exhibition of the Minnesota Watercolor Society in Minnetonka last May. It can't be over thirty years ago that I remember her coming back from the art barn excited about her painting class!

Louise Anderson Nichols is in an interesting endeavor. She's a nationally certified child passenger safety technician instructor. Louise provides training to law enforcement and health professionals as well as consultation to parents, child care providers and others.

I received a nice article from Sun Newspapers about Catherine Nelson Feste and the recent publication of her book, Meditations on Diabetes. In it Madeleine L'Engle writes, "Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically." In her introduction Feste writes, "The purpose of Meditations on Diabetes is to help the reader find meaning in life experiences and to develop a philosophy that is helpful and hopeful. Ultimately, personal experience is the only valid means we have to understand life?past and present?and to make our choices for the future." Catherine writes, she says, "aphoristically." She has collected aphorisms since grade school and in her office she has thoughts taped or pinned to the walls. "I love beautiful thoughts. An aphorism is a short, pointed sentence expressing a wise observation or general truth." Meditations on Diabetes is available at bookstores and on the Internet at

Anita Stauffer is living in Oak Park Illinois after completing two terms in Geneva, Switzerland as a theologian of the Lutheran World Federation. The final volume from the worship and culture study which she directed, Baptism, Rites of Passage and Culture, was published by LFW last summer.

I enjoyed an opportunity to visit with Jill Nelson Grise at the reunion. She's a homemaker and goes on campouts for people in personal growth. She had a trip to the BWCA coming up in the summer. Her daughter, Tammy, graduated from Morris in June with a degree in elementary education. She spent last summer working as a reading instructor at a camp near Ely and will spend the next year working in an after-school program in Wilmington, Delaware. Her son, Trever, is a freshman at the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota.

Congratulations to Scott Haag. He's president of Moore Oil Co. and was awarded the Pegasus Circle of Excellence for l998 from Mobil Oil.

Paula Nelson Marten lives in Aurora, Colorado where she's an assistant professor at the University of Colorado and currently serves on the health ministry task force at Bethany. Paula's involved in trying to start a parish nurse program and presently oversees the efforts of 20 volunteer parish nurses in monthly church projects and in the weekly senior center program. Many congratulations to Paula for being a finalist last May for the Nightingale Award which is award for a nurse who demonstrates commitment to caring for others. It is a state-wide event in Colorado with 230 nurses nominated and 15 finalists.

Both Ellen Bork Rusin's sons are at Georgetown University. Trevor is a senior in the school of foreign service and Grant is a sophomore in the business school.

Kathleen Mayerle Edwards was not able to join us at the reunion because of a move from Huntsville, Alabama to Colorado Springs where her husband was transferred. What an enviable move! I suspect that Colorado Springs is particularly magnificent at this time of the year.

Karin Heffernan achieved a significant honor, being named l998 Regional Distinguished Teacher by NCEA--one of 12 in the country. She teaches art to pre-K through grade 8.

A recent press release notes a new focus for Klaus Sitte, who for many years has served in Montana's Legal Services Association. Klaus coached his state's law school negotiation team to a third place finish in its role representing the tobacco industry in talks with a mock legislative committee. The team earned a spot as an alternate for the next round of competition to be held in London in July.

David Solheim was recently elected to a three-year term on the North Dakota Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Kathlene Giese Skoller is in her third year with an innovative elementary school fine arts program. She's part of a team of eight fine arts teachers who present students with 2 1/2 hour workshop-like lessons integrating visual art, drama, dance, and music. Last spring she presented workshops about this program at two national conferences, one in San Francisco and the other in Washington D.C. Summer found Kathleen and her husband traveling throughout the British Isles with a side trip through France to the Frank Ghery Museum in Spain.

Dan Isaacson has taken a leave of absence from teaching and is working at Nordstrom's in the Mall of America. That sounds like fun to me?what an interesting atmosphere to go to work in!

Incredibly, Phonorama and the campaign for contributions to the College will soon be underway. Many in our class choose to participate as contributors to the fund. Those contributions are ever so much appreciated. Every gift helps the college carry out its many endeavors. As we move ever closer to the front tables reserved for the "older classes" at class agents' meetings, I'm reminded that the median graduation year is now l980! With more students enrolling and graduating every year, our role as a source of financial support continues to grow in importance. I hope that when you receive a call seeking your financial support, you'll be able and willing to respond.

One final thought…

We took Karlie along to the class agents' meeting because we going from there to a birthday celebration in Mankato. As we were getting ready to check out of the AmericInn and go up to the meeting Karlie was packing up the books she was going to read while we were in the meeting and wondered if she could come to Gustavus. I replied that we hoped that would be her choice (though I could be stretched to Luther or Concordia). I reminded her that at her baptism Elvee had it would be recorded that she cried at the font so it could be shared when she arrived to be a freshman. Then she asked what she'd do there and I tried to talk about interesting endeavors, classes, meeting new people, and of course studying and taking tests and writing papers. She put it more appropriately; "Will it be as fun as third grade? I wish we had school every day!" Yes, Karlie, I think it will be as fun as third grade.

May you have a wonderful Autumn! Thank you again for your great support of our college. I look forward to talking to as many of you as I can in the coming weeks.

Jane Leitzman

1969 Class Agent