Class of '69
September 2002

Dear Classmates,

Incredibly enough we’re heading into the fourth week of the new school year.  I’m still not ready to comprehend that it’s August, yet that month is now history!  Two weeks ago I saw an ad indicating that “now that it’s finally summer...”  That really gave me pause.  It was an extremely busy summer for us, but quite fun―hopefully yours was also enjoyable.

Our summer included Girl Scout trips to Washington, DC, Chicago, and St. Croix State Park.  The latter was over a hot humid period and the swimming beach of choice was in the St. Croix River.  After some of the girls who hadn’t been there before were assured by me that they weren’t “swimming in blood” and were given a brief mini-lesson on tamarack trees, the swim was wonderful.  (Thankfully the information was reinforced by the tour guide on the riverboat ride the next day.)

I suspect that for most of you camping with a youth group is by now, a distant experience so I’ll confess a fire building breach.  One of the three adults in charge of this group of girls had already retired for the night to nurse her sore back, leaving two of us to get the ritual s’mores fire going.  Shelby, my experienced cohort, brought along one of those butane fire lighters for the purpose, but we found it to be broken when we tried to use it to light our well-laid fire.  We couldn’t find a match in any of our stuff.  (Luckily this was anything but a primitive site - the kitchen could have accommodated a banquet for a 100 - and the girls were in one of the cabins.  Shelby thought maybe her car’s cigarette lighter would do.  But by the time she ran with it from her car to the fire, it was out.  For our next attempt we made a torch of newspaper (not in the Girl Scout manual!) and lit it with the gas stove in the kitchen.  For good measure I also lit a cardboard pop carton in the same way.  We really had to hurry those last few steps to the fire, but fortunately it caught right away.  We pushed the boundaries of the fire safety techniques we learned in our leader classes, but we got the job done.

The trip to Washington was set up to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Girl Scouts.  There were 100,000 of us from 44 states singing camp songs and having entertainment (no fires).  We had highly sought-after “swaps” (trading items to meet other girls) so we got to meet lots of people seeking one of our copper Minnesota pins.  All were terribly impressed with us for having ridden straight through for 27 hours on a bus to get there!  Lodging for the 150 of us from Minnesota was at American University so it really was a great experience for our girls.  They thought a college food service that included soft serve ice cream was quite the neatest thing―only a little less exciting than our stop at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Our summer also included attending the 90th birthday party for Evelyn Sponberg Young ’33.  What a grand time!  The cake was, appropriately, red velvet and of course delicious.  The program was very fun―a terrific celebration of our phenomenal Evelyn.  One of my favorite stories came from conversation rather than the official program.  Dan Johnson ’64 shared that he was involved in a sit-in to protest the closing of the canteen during chapel, and Evelyn came to serve them coffee, and I think, rolls.  For the many Gusties present that evening at Mt. Olivet this celebration helped us recall the contributions of this delightful lady to our college experience.

After what seemed like only a few days we were on our way to the Class Agents’ Meeting at Gustavus.  That first weekend in September was a time of temperatures in the 90s and I sympathized with students starting their year in such heat.  It was a really sweltering day for the music festival in Swede Park.  On our way out of town we stopped at the Treaty Site History Museum and we urge anyone close enough to make an opportunity to take that in.  In addition to its permanent collection, the museum prepared an exhibit on area breweries that flourished in St. Peter, Mankato, and other towns before prohibition.

The public announcement of Gustavus’s capital campaign was the focus of this year’s meeting.  I picked up many interesting things from that morning to share with you.  One speaker talked about being from a large poor family in which everyone attended and graduated from college.  Each one, upon finishing, in turn helped the next sibling waiting in line for an education.

He related that tradition to those of us who have, in a more general sense, come before today’s Gustavus students.  Through our donations we now help students enroll and complete their education.  These students will take their place in this same tradition, helping in turn those who come after them.  Randy Hoag, now a senior and a potential NFL draft choice, recalled that it is “people like you who gave me the opportunity to be here.”

Evelyn Sponberg Young ’33, outgoing campaign chair, noted that Gustavus began with one student in one building, fostering Eric Norelius’s dream.  “Now we’re in the 49th year of our alumni fund, initiated by Ren Anderson ’34 and his wife, Sylvia (Benzon ’36).  Then the venerable Cec Eckhoff ’56 took it and ran with it.”  He ‘stayed the course’ as will Randy Stuckey ’83 and Jim Isaak ’86.  Heeding, she said, in all capital letters, the clarion call.”  In our 49th year we’ve swelled to 21,000 strong!  Mrs. Young took this opportunity to announce the formation of the Cec Eckhoff Society honoring his lifelong commitment to Gustavus.  We’ll learn more about this important opportunity to honor Cec and the work he did for Gustavus.  What I do know is that this group will honor his guiding belief that any gift to Gustavus is an important contribution to the college’s future and should be honored.  What an ideal tribute to Cecil, who so many of us miss so much, to pledge an annual gift in whatever amount we can afford to Gustavus.

In his brief remarks Pastor Dennis Johnson ’60, recently retired vice president for college relations who has returned to serve for a year as Gustavus’s interim president while a search begins for a new leader, contributed his definition of “gusto” as “of, or pertaining to the act of being a Gustie.”  He drew upon this new definition to introduce this year as the 100th anniversary of Gustavus athletics, an occasion for some fun recollections.  Just 100 years ago Gustavus beat Mankato Normal, now Minnesota State University at Mankato, in football.  And the rest, they say, is history.  In 1886 a gym was guilt with student funds, and now incredibly already, Lund Center is 18 years old.

Fall Phonorama is fast approaching.  We’ll dial for dollars during the second week of October (Monday through Thursday) from the Doubletree Hotel.  The hotel is located just South of I-494 on 24th Avenue near the Mall of America.  Phonorama will then move to U. S. Foodservice (Kraft) for a second week (14 to 17 October).  If you can spare a few week night hours (6:00 to 9:00) to call your friends, please contact the alumni office at Gustavus and let them know you can help (toll free at:  866-487-3868).  It would be wonderful to see you there!

I always hope I’ll be able to visit with each one of you, bit I know the limits of the process will not enable me to make 358 calls in only eight short evening sessions.  I hope you will consider including Gustavus among the charitable groups you support this year.  Make the commitment that others made for us and become a charter member of the Cec Eckhoff Society with the pledge of a yearly gift of any size.

Now to share what I have learned about those of us who have sent notes to me or the College.

Jill (Grise) Nelson’s son recently graduated from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and is looking at a year in Japan.  Daughter, Tammy, is working at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.

Linda Hereid Wallin had an interesting note.  “In July, 2001, NRT purchased my real estate company, Northland Real Estate, Inc.  I was owner/broker with 31 agents for seven years.  Now I continue to work as a sales associate for Caldwell Banker Burnet, Northtown office in Coon Rapids.  I also administer a contract with First Preston Foreclosure Specialists to list HUD acquired properties in 51 counties in Minnesota.  In my spare time” (and this is hard to envision Linda) “ I operate my music video business, Center Stage/On Location, Inc.  Our market is mainly graduation parties, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, class reunions and corporate events.  I also dabble with a cute little gift shop on the north shore of Lake Superior named Captain’s Core.”  It’s located one mile east of Beaver Bay in Minnesota.  I also accompany church services and choirs every Sunday, and have been for 23 years, at Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine.  I perform with a concert trio named “Krisendale” and work with a small group creating “Be Still” retreats.  Our trip had produced several CDs and tape recordings.”  What interesting things you’re involved in Linda!

Barb (Seeley) Devlin is still superintendent of schools in Richfield and feeling acutely the difficulties currently posed to the funding of education.  An unfortunate byproduct that she noted is that more and more “superintendents are forced to be more like professional fund-raisers than educators.”  John’s still teaching in Prior Lake, Christine graduated from the University of Arizona last spring and is living in Tempe, and Katie’s a sophomore at the University of Maryland.

Dave Benson wrote from Ft. Collins, Colorado and was his note ever envy-inspiring!  “I’m retired.”  That alone can bring forth some envy.  He went on to talk about “working as an organizational consultant to schools in Colorado and Utah and working as a psychotherapist in private practice.”  That sounds like a busy and interesting retirement, but now here’s the envy part.  He also said he got to work at the Olympics in Salt Lake and was traveling to Turin, Italy to discuss work with the 2006 Olympics.  Congratulations on a great retirement, Dave!

I received such an interesting piece about Judy Johnson Olson who was with us as a freshman and then transferred to Bethel.  It was about the then upcoming 11th Annual Music of the Church Festival from the February 14th, 2002 Jackson County Pilot in Jackson Minnesota.  “Featured ensembles include the Chordhustlers, Three Revs and a Ron, On Call, Clam Lake Boys, Mountain Lake Singers, Jubilant, Provident, and The Schlagers.  A special five-trumpet prelude will kick off the festival.”  Judy was featured as one of the soloists for that event.

“A classically-trained soprano vocalist, Judy Olson says her passion for music was fostered in her hometown of Jackson, a place that still has a special place in her heart.”  She describes the early influences in her life as well as those at work during her college years.

“But music has not only been a hobby for Olson, it became her life.  As a freshman at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Olson sang in the choir and was a soloist.  She also took part in the concerto aria at the end of the year―quite an accomplishment for a freshman.

After transferring to Hamline University in St. Paul, Olson majored in K-12 music education, singing with the Acapela and Oratorio Society, participating in an opera workshop and performing in recitals.  After graduating in 1970, Olson taught music in Roseville for seven years…In addition to working with aspiring vocalists, Olson has delved into church music at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church and Wayzata Community Church.

All the while, she has pursued her own love of performing.  A member of Thursday Musical, Olson will perform at the end of February at Temple Israel in Minneapolis.  She’s part of the Minnetonka Choral Society, which will present Mozart’s Requiem in April, and she’s also been a member of the South Metro Choral, which allowed her to do a European tour three summers ago.  Her singing has taken Olson on tour around the United States and Europe, and in 1985, she gave a recital at the University Church of St. Mary’s in Oxford, England.  The performance was cited in the London Times…Olson and her husband, Jim, reside in Minneapolis and have a grown son, Jeremy.  Many of Olson’s family members remain in Jackson,”

Dave and Susan (McNamara) Showalter have happily joined the grandparent ranks.  Congratulations!  They’re the happy and proud grandparents of a baby boy born to their daughter Abbey and son-in-law, Tim.  Eli Carter Showalter-Loch was born July 31, 2002.  What an exciting and thrilling fall that event has provided!

The envelope included a wonderful clipping about our Ruth Johnson.  It carried a picture of her and sculpture she’d made of a giant loaf of French bread.  “Minnesota State Legislator, Ruth Johnson created the bread loaf out of a chunk of clay provided her by students at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she was previously employed.  Students sent identical blocks of clay to a variety of individuals, inviting each to create something with it.  The sculptures are being offered for sale in a fund-raiser to help AIDS victims.  National celebrities like Phil Donahue also received clay blocks to shape as have members of the Gustavus College faculty.”  The auction happened in March and the clipping was from the Metro Lutheran in Minneapolis.

Congratulations to a Klaus Sitte on a new professional appointment.  “The Board of Trustees of the Montana Legal Services Association announced the appointment of Klaus Sitte as its new executive director.  Sitte replaces Neil Haight who is retiring after more than 30 years at the help of the organization.  Sitte’s appointment follows a nationwide, five-month search and interviews with finalists from three states.  Board Chair Bill Conklin of Great Falls was gratified by the active and engaged involvement of the entire 15-member board throughout the long, yet successful search process.

Before his appointment, Sitte was the managing attorney of the Missoula office of MLSA for 28 years, as well as deputy director for the past six years.  He currently serves on the Montana Supreme Court’s Equal Justice Task Force and the State Bar’s Access to Justice committee.  Sitte will remain in the Missoula office, where he has trained and mentored hundreds of new lawyers, interns and volunteers, many of them through his involvement with the University of Montana Law School.”

The spring 2001 issue of the Mt. Olivet magazine brought news of a new endeavor for Ken Kotzer.  Senior Pastor Paul Youngdahl ’59 wrote, “God has blessed Mount Olivet Church with a vision and mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through the creation of a branch congregation located in the rapidly growing western suburbs of the Twin Cities.  We believe the area surrounding Victoria, Minnesota―the site of our Mount Olivet Rolling Acres campus―is alive with potential for gospel-centered worship and people-sensitive ministries.

I am delighted that Pastor Ken Kotzer will serve as the lead pastor for Mount Olivet Church West.  He will share his time between Mount Olivet Church West while continuing many of his duties in our 50th Street and Knox location.  His gospel-focused ministry and winsome “people” gifts equip him well for this outstanding outreach opportunity.”  Our thoughts are with you as you continue in that most worthwhile expansion Ken.  Mt. Olivet has so many exciting outreach projects.  What a perfect illustration of “we can do together what we can’t do alone.”

From the Mound weekly The Laker, I received a super piece about Janis Rude Fischbach“Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge has started a new program recognizing a “Featured Teacher” from Mound Westonka High School each month with a certificate for a dinner for two…The first teacher to be recognized as a “Featured Teacher” was Janis Fischbach, a teacher in the Westonka School District since 1969.  Over the years she has taught health to students in grades six through 10.  Fischbach taught at Grandview Middle School from l969 to l991, and then moved over to Mound Westonka High School.  She currently teaches eighth and 10th graders.  She is one of the few teachers in the Westonka District who has taught eighth graders every year of her teaching career.

Fischbach was one of the people who took a lead in creating the eighth-grade retreat that helps eighth-graders make a smooth transition to high school life, and has been involved with the retreat the past nine years.  With her husband, Roger, also a teacher at MWHS, she was responsible for starting the Distinguished Student breakfasts at the high school.  Teachers select a student in each subject area to honor for their efforts and achievement after first, second, and third quarters.  The Fishbachs have been putting on the breakfasts for 11 years.

She was also part of the core group that developed the Mentor program in l999 and was the high school coordinator for the program in 2000-01 and the district coordinator this year.  She has also been department leader for 15 years and is a shared decisions team member.”  Congratulations on that well earned recognition Janis!

Lois Hudec Ahrenholz just had two significant weddings when both her sons―Aaron on June 15, and Troy on September 20―were married.  Congratulations to both of them Lois.

David Hanson and his wife, Sylvia, have a son in the military.  He’s a First Artillery Lieutenant with the First Cavalry in Fort Hood Texas.  Congratulations to him on that achievement.

Rob ’70 and Christine (Lundahl) Lunz’s daughter, Emily, has started her first career― producing news in Fresno, California.  That sounds most interesting―what fun that will be to follow!

And that’s what I have for now.  October is upon us, as the soybean fields are turning gold while trees are hinting at bursts of bright color yet to come.  I look forward to a few long walks along the lake path at St. John’s before we have to find our snow shovels.  May you find this autumn season a time to put away the summer as you get ready for the changes to come.

Jane Norman Leitzman

1969 Co-Class Agent

Campus News:

Welcome Class of 2006

Approximately 690 new students arrived on campus this fall keeping the total student enrollment just over 2500.  There are many interesting opportunities for first year students even before school starts with a community service immersion experience in the Twin Cities, a cultural study in Paris and a wilderness experience in the Boundary Waters.

Gustavus named a “Best Buy”

The Fiske Guide has again named Gustavus one of forty-three “Best Buys” in the country.  This is based on an exceptional investment of tuition money for an exceptional education.

Hello Walk Online Community is featuring several discussions this fall including Nobel Conference Director Tim Robinson discussing nature vs. nurture, and Political Science Professor Don Ostrom discussing the upcoming elections.  Join the conversation by going to <>

Gustie students start new community service initiative called the AMIGOS program.  The 65 Spanish speaking volunteers serve the growing Chicano-Latino population in St. Peter by providing after-school tutoring, teaching ESL classes to adults and serve as big partners.  This program is in addition to the other on-going and one-time service opportunities that 75% of students participate in while at Gustavus.

Building a Great Gustavus Campaign was launched to the public on Saturday, September 7.  Since the tornadoes of 1998, the campaign has raised $77 million toward a $100 million goal.  The focus of the remainder of the campaign is on funding renovations in Old Main, growing endowment, and increasing gifts and participation in the Gustavus Alumni Fund.  Your personal financial support and your leadership are needed and greatly appreciated.

Minnesota Legislature Cuts Financial Aid

Due to cuts with the Minnesota State Legislature, Gustavus lost $400,000 in money for student employment.  The college continues to work hard to meet financial needs of students since nearly 80% of Gustavus students receive financial assistance.  This includes $14 million from the colleges own budget.  Your support of the annual fund goes directly to help these students and is especially needed to help make up the financial gap for these current students.

Christmas in Christ Chapel is December 6 & 7.  The theme this year will be songs, stories and legends from Scandinavia.