Class of '69
The start of a new school year should have been an obvious sign for me that summer really was on the way out, but that clue slipped by me about as quickly as the season itself. Some very hot weather during the first half of September helped me postpone that realization, with the first Monday of school ending at 11:00 due to the high temperature and humidity. Now we'd certainly have it be known that we're not wimps who can't stand a little heat. Ours was one of 16 schools districts on a voluntary conservation program that have agreed to shut down after a period of excess demand. Since we had to be out of the building soon after the kids, and couldn't get back in until after nine that evening, there really wasn't an opportunity to take any work home. It was a relaxing gift day. Many of us went downtown for lunch, putting a bit of a stress on the staff. There was some eager anticipation of a closing the next day as well and I'm certain that had that happened, the principal's announcement would have had to include "and would all student employees of the Wishing Well Restaurant report to work right after leaving school." I know there was disappointment for many that we were back to business as usual the following day.
The second reality check came with our journey to Gustavus for the fall class agents' meeting, reminding us that the season to rake leaves and gather the harvest is also the cue for fall Phonorama. Bob Peterson '58, who along with his families helped to chair last year's Alumni Fund, reminded us that "Alumni giving matters," sometimes far more than we know. He recalled his 1987 trip to New York with Bruce Gray '61 to meet a representative of a foundation that annually pays to construct one science building on a college campus.
While there would be future proposals from competing colleges, a mountain of reports, and campus visits by foundation executives, in the end it was Gustavus's national recognition as a small college with the highest rate of alumni support during the previous decade that set our college apart from the appeals offered by other fine liberal arts colleges. The competition ended with an Olin Hall for mathematics and computer science built at Gustavus and not at The College of Saint Benedict, that year's runner-up, because more Gusties sent in a few dollars to support their college than did Bennies.
This, my friends, is also a milestone year of sorts for other reasons. It's the 50th anniversary of the College's Alumni Fund and Phonorama. Present with the gathered class agents were people who survived the world's very first college Phonorama!
To help mark this event, the college offers membership in the "Cec Eckhoff Society," open to all who pledge an annual gift of any amount. It reflects Cec's view that "the amount isn't nearly as important as is your checking in every year" to let you know that with your help we're doing all right.
C. Eddie Johnson '42, always a contributor of amusing stories of those earlier years, recalled the devastating fire that consumed the Auditorium and with it all the college's alumni records in January of l970. He still had a telegram dated January 9, l970, that was sent to Phonorama volunteers; "All records lost in fire. Please send all donor cards." As a result of some extraordinary work, the lost records were restored in a few weeks. So, why do we continue to give hours and dollars to Gustavus, Mr. Johnson asked? Because, he reminded us, "Gustavus had to do with what is best in us."
As in past meetings of this group, students helped make us aware of why we support this college that played so important a role in our formation. One young Hispanic woman, who came to Gustavus as a first year student from Los Angeles, acknowledged that moving to St. Peter from L.A. was an incredible cultural shift. She made it over the barriers of culture and climate during her first year to become an impressive addition to the Gustavus community! Her thoughtful remarks, delivered with incredible poise and presence before so large a group, affirmed her recognition of Gustavus as an ever more diverse learning community.
The alumni office will soon send along a note describing "Gus Link" and its student callers. By now many of you have visited with one or more members of this select group of current students who are employed as callers to help expand the number of us who are reached directly. Remember as you visit with them that their tuition, as in our day, covers less than 60 percent of what it takes to educate one Gustie. The rest comes from a variety of sources, the Gustavus Alumni Fund included. Without this additional support, the experiences we had, and those which today's Gusties enjoy, would not be available. A gift to the Gustavus Fund helps to ensure that our college will continue to be a foundation of education and character.
And so friends, not only is it the 50th anniversary of the alumni fund, but in case you are not keeping track of these things, this year also marks the 35th anniversary of our senior year and the 39th anniversary of our soggy freshman fall. Soon we will come together to mark our graduation anniversary with a reunion celebration. More about that will come to you in the months ahead, but let us plan now to join together next fall for this event. As we plan our celebration, let us also plan to support Gustavus as each of us is able.
Our gathering also offered a chance to meet Gustavus' new president, whose acceptance of that role was recently featured in the Quarterly. On the strength of a first impression, he seems to be a very good choice for a demanding job. Warm and personable, Jim Peterson '64 brings valuable experience in leading non-profit organizations joined with a love for Gustavus that will enrich his contributions to the college. During our luncheon, Jim stopped to greet Chester Johnson (who still has an engaging dry sense of humor accented by a twinkle in his eye) and his wife, Marian (Swanson '41), as he made a brief visit to those seated at each table. Professor Johnson shared his approval. As he made time to visit with each of us, Marian noticed that he had yet to sit down to his own lunch. Chester noted that his lunch might not have been included in the day's events.
If you haven't been back to Gustavus since the tornado and have an opportunity to visit, please do. Take in the Nobel Conference in October, a Saturday game, a play, a concert, or Christmas in Christ Chapel. You will be impressed. It's a different campus than we knew with many new plantings and new buildings among the old; Old Main is still on the crest of the hill, now visible as you make your way up College Avenue. It's still a beautiful, "extraordinary place of extraordinary people."
And now, news of us…
Summer for us was particularly busy but wonderful. I hope it was for all of you as well.
An exciting part of it for us was attending the wedding of John and Barb (Seeley) Devlin's daughter, Christine. Christine and her spouse-to-be chose to have their ceremony at New Haven, Connecticut's Lighthouse Point Park. Those of you who have already watched your children make this journey have my total admiration; I can't imagine how you make it all work. As Christine walked down the aisle framed by guests on John's arm, my throat was so tight that any semblance of speech would have been impossible.
Their ceremony was traditional, original, unique, beautiful and meaningful. The ocean breeze extinguished the unity candle, so in its place Christine used a crystal bowl to collect petals from flowers in her bouquet, the groom Justin's boutonniere, and the bouquets of white roses carried by each of the mothers. She and Justin then let the wind carry the petals over the water.
The reception was in the park pavilion, which had been transformed into a magical place of twinkling lights, chairs and tables draped with white cloths and ribbons. The pavilion houses one of Connecticut's antique carousels. I rode it with Barb's mother Elsa, a delightful lady who has long been one of my favorite people. As we got off at the end of the run, I asked the operator if he knew the year it had been made. His response was "I can't tell you that, but I know she's 87 years old." To this Elsa added, "Well, so am I! We both got started in the same year."
Tim Haut's close proximity to New Haven made it possible for us to get to his church in Deep River on the following Sunday morning. He is such a gift to that congregation and it is obviously appreciated by the people who we joined that morning. Recalling the Fourth of July celebrations two days earlier, Tim incorporated Carl Sandburg's "The People, Yes" in his sermon. Later we "brunched" with Tim and his wife Phyllis at an inn built in 1776!
We were able to spend a few days exploring more of Connecticut, upstate New York, the "City" and Ellis Island. The experience convinced me that as much as I love my native Minnesota, I was supposed to have been planted in the East.
Cheryl Meyer Klein teaches physical education at Sandpoint High School. She's also the cross country and tennis coach so this fall finds her in the midst of her season, on the run to practice and meets. Son, Geoff, is a high school junior and daughter, Molly, is in Switzerland serving as an AFS foreign exchange student. There's no doubt that that's proving to be a challenging and exciting experience. Cheryl's husband, Jim, is at the middle school where he teaches math.
Dan Isaacson retired from teaching in Rosemount/Apple Valley and continues at Nordstrom's department store in the Mall of America.
Two of Jean (Polzin) Lorentz's daughters are married and she's enjoying her two grandchildren ever so much. She still continues to ride horses and travel with them to a number of states.
Wanda (Schwartz) Schnabel had a couple of "small world" stories to share. Their son was married last May in Vail, Colorado. The groomsmen included two additional Gusties. Dan Kolander '68, who's currently serving on the Gustavus Board of Trustees, confirmed another son in l990 in Boulder.
Karen (James) Klink has just completed her first year of retirement from teaching in River Falls—for 33 years!
Also among the lucky retired—Dale Searles retired from Hopkins High School after 34 years as a mathematics teacher and assistant principal.
Congratulations to Dave Solheim for some significant distinctions that came to him last year. Completing 20 years of teaching at Dickinson State University, he received its Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, and the Distinguished Service Award from the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English. In July he was named chair of the North Dakota Humanities Council.
Karin (Johnson) Heffernan and her husband are enjoying a condo near the beach in Naples—especially sea kayaking. She wrote, "Now we know where Minnesotans go when they go to Florida!"
Tanya (Wassenda) Bergman works at Harper College where she is responsible for the testing and assessment of students.
John Thomas serves the Hospice of Red River Valley as its chief medical director while living in Moorhead with his wife, Joy.
Barb (Moffitt) Braaten found herself a NASCAR fan when their son became PR person for Jimmy Johnson #48. They've moved to Blaine and she's thinking about retiring at the end of this school year, while enjoying her granddaughter. She was looking forward to the birth of a new grandchild this month.
Congratulations to Garry Guttormson on starting on his retirement from teaching math and science in Fridley.
Mike and Marcia (Bomgren '71) Bussey have lived in Wheaten, Illinois for the last five years, after returning from ten years in Jerusalem. Mike is still with the YMCA after 32 years. He's working as a consultant in the financial development plans throughout the 14 Midwest states, keeping him on the road a good bit. Marcia is teaching mathematics full-time at a private, Catholic high school in Wheaten. In addition to her teaching duties she's the varsity tennis coach for the girls' team in the fall, and the boys' team in the spring.
Their son Matt graduated from Wheaten in 2000 and finished his Arabic language study at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. He is with the Navy and assigned to a submarine. Andrew graduated from Gustavus and was accepted into the Peace Corps. He's been assigned to Nepal where he will be until December of '05. John is a high school senior currently running cross-country and starting to look at colleges.
Lynn (Sundquist) Fox is enjoying some exciting time in Hawaii. "A year ago I came to Maui with my husband to get certified in scuba diving. (There aren't too many tropical landscapes in Arizona). I returned at the end of the summer to begin teaching nursing at Maui College. We decided it would be some time before we would be retiring, so why not find a place that we could work and 'pretend we are retired.' Our spare time is spent snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and hiking. The people are wonderful and we have decided to stay a second year."
Bruce and Susan Johnson have contributed a new Gustie by bringing their daughter, Dana, to begin her freshman year.
Valerie Silrum-Boyer and her husband are enjoying retirement in Bozeman, Montana—she from Montana University and he from being chief of police.
Carley (Bjugan) Watts's oldest daughter is in her third year at Boston University and her youngest graduated from South High in Minneapolis last spring.
Congratulations to Greg and Signe (Overdahl) Lupfer's daughter, Nori. She won a Wattson fellowship for postgraduate study around the world—Russia, Switzerland, Brazil, Vlovinia, and Czeck Republic.
Sheryl (Reque) Peterson published a children's book, Let's Investigate Sugar for the Creative Company in Mankato.
Earlier this past summer I called Ward Moberg seeking his ideas on the joys of retirement in Osceola. He recalled that, "When I'm not talking on the phone I'm up at Walmart telling people about it." He's taken on employment as organist at First Lutheran in Taylor's Falls and for two Sundays each month he "rides the circuit" to also play for a church in West Denmark. Ward is also giving some of his "free" retirement time to serve his second two-year term on his county board, but is anticipating retirement from public life, noting that, "Everyone's entitled to at least one mistake."
One of Ward's many enjoyments, for those of us with some years left to envy, is taking a weekly organ lesson—on a weekday! He does this at Westminster Presbyterian in Minneapolis, his "pebble beach." He notes that the instrument there is very impressive, as is the organist who plays it. It turns out that his Westminster teacher was also his daughter Diane's first teacher.
Ward and Kathy's daughter, Julie '99, is just finishing her Master's in theology at St. John's, which she plans to incorporate into a library science program that she'll begin this fall at St. Catherine's. Her husband, Chris Gilbert, is a member of the political science department at Gustavus and can be heard from time to time on Minnesota Public Radio.
Daughter, Diane, is finishing her first year of a Master's program in organ at Notre Dame. She's getting good experience in her job as organist and choir director for an Episcopal church in Elkhart. Ward still officiates at track meets now and then. He recently did so wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt, "not wanting to bite the hand that feeds me." He has found some pretty passionate fans out there, "and then I get a lot of North Dakota jokes too."
Bruce Enstad finds that he still loves the Rocky Mountain life where "hiking, skiing, climbing, and incredible golf are always on the agenda in God's Pocket of the world." Bruce is in the second year of law practice in his firm, the Enstad Law Firm, PC, in Boulder, Colorado. He practices in business and real estate law with some civil litigation. Bruce also writes "within the last two months I began a new life with Dyan Devault and her two children, Brooke (13) and Alyssa (8), living at 985 Westview Drive, Boulder, CO 80303." Christopher '96 is a youth pastor at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina and Steven resides in Palo Alto, CA where he is a partner in a successful software company, Printra, Inc. Bruce invites Gusties who find themselves in Boulder to look him up. You can visit with him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowing how often I get the facts confused in these notes, Noell Nelson Reed followed Bruce's lead and sent an email message announcing that "Yes, I am married. Joel and I 'eloped' in July of 2002...we had a three day engagement. My youngest, daughter Carol, married in October and graduated from Mankato State University in December, making for a busy fall. Although things are on the 'up' now, I had surgery in November of 2002 for advanced stage ovarian cancer. Mayo treated me well and the seven-hour surgery went as planned. Since that time I've been taking chemotherapy and had my last session just this week (April 27, 2003). My husband is wonderful! He took an early retirement to be at my side. Since I've been back at work, he is now able to return to his writing, photography, and even resume some of his duties as a minister. How we met via the Internet is an interesting story that I'll save for an upcoming gathering. An MSU grad, Joel never thought he'd return to Mankato. But, he has, and we're very happy."
Kay Krusemark Schuller continues her nursing practice as a hospice care manager in DuPage, Illinois. Her spouse, John, is developing a marketing firm for the food service industry. Kay reports, as many have discovered, that being a grandparent is an enjoyable role in the parenting cycle.
Gary Preiss has been with the same firm, MTS Systems Corporation, since 1976. He might have the class record for remaining with one employer. His older son is enrolled in meteorology at the South Dakota School of Mines while his younger sibling completes his work at Normandale Community College.
This end to our summer has also been a time of life passages. Dr. Elmer Suderman succumbed to Parkinson's disease on the 30th of August. Julie Johnson, who attended his funeral in Saint Peter, recalled that event.
Elmer's time came August 30th, three days after his and Norma's 57th wedding anniversary. Their anniversary coincided with the opening reception on campus to begin the new school year and the inauguration of Gustavus' new president, events they attended. Elmer kidded with a friend that he privately pretended that the new president's reception was really recognition of their 57 years of marriage.
August 27th, the day of that reception, was the loveliest of old summer evenings, the last sunlight shining through the birch and maple trees, making the table cloths on the tables outside the Union even whiter.
It wasn't unusual to see Elmer and Norma on campus, even in the later stages of Parkinson's and his heart problems. They'd come for lunch in the Market Place and attend Faculty Forum dinners. In these later months, when asked how he was doing, Elmer would smile and say, 'I'm dying, but other than that, not bad.'
So though we hated to see him leave us on August 30th, it wasn't really a surprise.
The funeral was September 3rd at 11:00 in the morning—in the middle of a class hour on the first day of the fall semester—at their church, Union Presbyterian.
I hurried down in time for the service, joining Claus Buechman and John and Lorna Rezmerski, Rob and Judy Gardner, Clair Johnson, Esby, Bob and Kay Moline, among many from the congregation and family. After sitting down I looked over at the choir noticing Claude Brew, David Harrington and newer members of the English, math and computer science departments and the buyer for the Book Mark among the faces.
It wasn't until later that I realized that it was all of us, together now in this place, which moved me to tears. We had all scattered for the summer, and here we were on the first day of class, all together again, to witness the passing of a teacher, friend and colleague; together again to sing "Blessed Be the Tie that Binds" for Elmer's family.
Living our lives together here,
The christenings, poetry readings, book signings,
Weddings, retirement parties.
It's part of what nourishes our lives together here.
Elmer and Norma's son, James, and daughter, Amy, were returning to the church and people who have known them since they were in Sunday school. When James spoke some remembrances, he stood there as a young Elmer, not yet with that sonorous voice, but unhurried and kind.
I thought of Elmer's poems--how much Oklahoma and Kansas skies are in them, and ploughs and neighbors and wheat. I found my copy of Elmer's What Can We Do Here? I read more of his poems after finding one in the funeral bulletin. I felt wind burned and warm, tired from hard work, and content. And there is that quiet kind of sadness that remains―the plain missing of someone's presence―and that smile.
Talking to Myself
These Mennonites have had
Kansas black loam in their blood
For one hundred years.
When I look into their eyes
Granaries filled with wheat.
I shake their hands,
Rough and gnarled like the olive hedge
They brought from Russia,
Hands pungent with the odor
When I talk with them
I hear English with Low German accents
And sometimes it is still Low German.
When I talk to them
I feel like I am
Talking to myself.
God's speed Elmer. How blessed we are to have been where you were, to have learned more about the literature of life from you as we discovered a little more about ourselves.
This fall also marked the departure of Paul Granlund. During dinner on the evening before our alumni fund meeting we learned from Julie Johnson, Ruth Johnson, and Eileen Holz '71 that Granlund would most likely be unable to leave his Mankato hospital room for either the Swedish Institute's display of his work or a retrospective showing prepared at Gustavus. The Minneapolis Star Tribune offered a moving tribute as a prelude for his funeral in Christ Chapel. Granlund's work on that chapel's doors, like his many sculptures on the mall, seemed more significant knowing that there would be nothing more from his inspired hands. A brief tribute appears on the Gustavus web site at http://gustavus.edu/news/releases/granlundobit2003.html.
September 18th also marked the loss of Lane Erickson, whose outstanding performance in football during our years was recognized by his selection as the MIAC's Most Valuable Player of 1969. Growing up in Willmar, Lane enjoyed fishing at Green Lake with his family and friends. Following Gustavus, he completed his preparation for dentistry at the University of Minnesota. With his graduation from the School of Dentistry in 1976, he began his 28-year practice in Saint Cloud. Lane is survived by Jeanne Taylor Erickson '68, his wife of 35 years, and by his sons Luke and Nathan. Keep them in your prayers in the days ahead.
Late summer on the Eckman Mall is always a delight, with large areas now given over to a wide variety of maturing flowers and shrubs as a setting for some of Granlund's provocative work. It's a welcome addition to the campus that we knew. Crossing the mall while the still warm afternoon sun highlighted mixed purples and whites, reds and yellows, we found ourselves engulfed in a cloud of hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies. Resembling small Monarchs, these free spirits dashed about in their pursuit of summer's last nectar, adding the orange and black of their wings to the mix of color before us. I'll think of those butterflies as we pass all too quickly through fall, then on to Thanksgiving and into the rush of Christmas. This is a time to treasure while we are able, remembering those with us and not, as we take in these last few days of summer slipping into fall. Ahead there are games to play, plays to attend, concerts to perform, grades to record, records to set. But now, if only just for a moment, we can just be.
Jane Norman Leitzman
1969 Co-class Agent
College opens 142nd Academic Year -- More than 700 new students, including transfer students and international students, joined the Gustavus community this fall, keeping the total student population around 2,515. The retention rate of students from the first to second year remains at 90 percent. These students will be taught by 198 full-time and 55 part-time faculty. Gustavus was again ranked in the top third of the 214 national liberal arts colleges by the U.S. News and World Report.
The Alumni Fund Turns 50 -- On June 30, 1954, the first Alumni Fund officially closed with 1,204 donors (32 percent) and $26,013, under the direction of the executive committee of Dr. Hobart Johnson '21, Dr. Edgar Carlson '31, The Rev. J. Millard Ahlstrom '34, and Ren Anderson '34. Dollars and donors continued to grow and, under the leadership of Cec Eckhoff '56, alumni participation continually exceeded 50% each year, making Gustavus a national leader recognized with 17 national awards. Alumni contacting alumni has been the hallmark of success; we depend on Phonorama volunteers to make the difference. Help the alumni fund again reach over 50% participation by contributing before May 31, 2004, or by volunteering to make calls during Phonorama, October 12-16 and 19-23. Do your best to participate in the Alumni Fund to continue the Gustavus tradition of strong alumni support and return the College to national recognition.
Alumni Board members selected -- Seven alumni have been selected to serve a three-year term on the Alumni Board. They are Liesl Batz '90, Minneapolis, senior vice president and director of marketing, Lakeside Investment Partners; Jan Eiffert Hoomani '62, Raleigh, NC, Realtor, JB Realty; Jim Malmquist '53, Scandia, MN, retired athletics director, Gustavus; Jan Ledin Michaletz '74, Edina, volunteer/homemaker. Incumbents to serve a second term include Vivian Foyou '02, Mankato, graduate student, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Jason Sawyer '93, Plymouth, vice president, Cronin & Co.; and Dan Currell '94, Alexandria, VA, director of corporate leadership council, Corporate Executive Board.
2003 Hall of Fame inductees -- Nine individuals were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on September 27. Inductees were Val Flom Ashland '87 (volleyball), Wendy Ericksen Bachman '87 (soccer), Karen Ahlstrom Bishop '86 (gymnastics), Jay Coatta '87 (basketball and golf), Marv Gunderson '53 (football), Jim Hearn '81 (tennis), Dave Najarian '82 (football), Betty Wannarka Ringeisen '84 (basketball and track and field), and Larry Shelhamer '76 (soccer).
Gustavus Finishes sixth in Directors' Cup -- Gustavus finished sixth out of 395 Division III institutions for the 2002-03 Director's Cup announced recently by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The only all-sports competition in intercollegiate athletics, the award honors four-year institutions with the best overall athletic programs. Last year Gustavus placed 10th.
Chapel Program -- The Gustavus Chapel program is one of the strongest in higher education averaging 350 students attending Daily Chapel. In addition, there are many student-led programs including: Apprentice - students who are interested in being part of ministry and open to see where the Spirit might be leading; Christ Chapel Volunteers - assist in the ministry of Christ Chapel by ushering, carrying the cross and candles, reading lessons, writing and/or reading prayers, and serving as assisting ministers; Community Service Center Programs - one-time and on-going service programs; Fellowship of Christian Athletes - athlete or not, time for fellowship, worship, speakers, service projects and mission trips; Gustavus Youth Outreach - committed to sharing the Gospel and providing opportunities to serve by participating in off-campus youth ministry; Habitat For Humanity/Spring Break Work Trips - Habitat works locally and Spring Break Work Trip nationally to fundraise for and build affordable housing; Jewish Organization of Gustavus - for students, faculty and staff who were either Jewish or interested in the Jewish faith; Newman Center - dedicated to building a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith; Prepare - build a new generation of believers through mentors, mission trips, Bible study, prayer and worship; Proclaim - Bible-based contemporary worship and teaching; Taizé - a contemplative worship service of music, prayer, readings and silence; Wednesday Friends -- visits St. Peter Regional Treatment Center residents weekly.
Don't miss A Royal Affair . . . pa rum pum pum pum - Gustavus Library Associates is presenting their biennial benefit for our College's Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library on Saturday, November 15, at the Radisson Hotel South in Bloomington, Minnesota. If you have names for invitations (reservations are due by October 31), an auction item to donate (no later than October 15 please), volunteer time to offer, or if you wish to contribute financially to help defray expenses, we welcome your call today; Marty Penkhus, 507/388.5474 and Susan Wilcox, 952/944.5972, Co-Chairs.
Upcoming Events -- call the Alumni Office at 800/487-8437
- Charlotte, NC, Gustavus Gathering - October 18
- Phonorama -- October 12-16 and 19-23, Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington
- Our Story Conference, The Growing Gender Gap in the African American Community -- October 24-25, Campus
- Reformation Festival featuring the Gustavus Choir, Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis -- October 25
- JFK Assassination 40 Years Later, presented by David Jones '83 and Political Science Professor Chris Gilbert at Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington-- November 4
- A Royal Affair, benefit sponsored by Gustavus Library Associates in the Twin Cities -- November 15