Class of '69
40-Year Reunion ― October 9-10, 2009
For those of you who have left Minnesota, we’re now enjoying the summer we didn’t quite get earlier. We’ve had clear, sunny days reaching into the eighties followed by cool evenings in the 60’s. While a few trees host leaves beginning to change color, in late summer and early fall the soy bean fields take the lead as they glimmer like burnished gold. I can see one field from my classroom window, and drive past more fields on my way home―endless golden fields to the horizon.
As perhaps the oldest parents of a college freshman, we enacted a scene many of you have already experienced. We helped move Karlie into Norelius (Co-Ed) on September 4th to begin her own Gustavus journey. We were lucky to have a day free of rain and serious heat. “Gustie Greeters” were everywhere, full of energy and enthusiasm that helped put anxious newcomers at ease. One of the Greeters recognized Karla from high school and proceeded to get her out of the car and surround her with her friends to welcome her. We were grateful for the football players who helped us with the hauling as a fundraiser for their program. I wonder if they will be around in May when it’s time to haul it all back home.
This day was the end of a month of fitful preparation that found us spending enough time at IKEA to earn points for a night in the model apartment of our choice. I tried to convince Karlie that one of the genuine futons, a contraption out of basswood with a mattress for sleeping on the floor would be a good idea, but I wasn’t successful. She chose a bigger, heavier model much different from what I remember. We hoped it would fit under her bed, “lofted” with the benefit of spindly tubes and rods gathered from a semi-truck trailer parked nearby. Once the bed was raised on its spider-like legs, the futon fit under it with an inch to spare.
When my roommate and I decided we wanted bunk beds for our Sohre room, we traded beds with people on fourth floor to get posts with pins and returned with them to our first floor room, pleased at our ingenuity. That was quite some time ago, accomplished without the motivational benefit of the song, “I am woman, hear me roar!”
Always sensitive about my grandmotherly image, I reminded Karlie that in a new place she could tell her roommate that she’s being raised by her grandparents because her parents were killed in a tragic hang gliding accident over Baja. It would be a good cover if she could get the few kids from Paynesville who enrolled with her to promise not to give her away.
After three hours of toting, pushing, lifting, and shoving, along with a few trips under and behind the bed by her roommate’s younger sister, most everything we unloaded on the lawn in front of Co-Ed was crammed into her new home. I had just put away the oxygen mask and tank when it was time to take lunch in Lund, spend a little time in the bookstore, then join the crowd of once and future Gusties for a walk along Eckman Mall to Christ Chapel for the welcoming ceremony that would end an era for us while beginning a new one for Karla.
She would become a member of the last class of first year students recruited by Mark Anderson, class of 1966, who will retire this fall after 32 years of serving Gustavus. During those years Mark and his colleagues enrolled the parents of many of the first year students seated in the pews of Christ Chapel on this day. Mark received a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd before symbolically turning the entering class of 2013 over to the colleges’ academic dean to guide them through the next four years. At the end of that final step, we parents were “excused” and sent on our way. Gustie Greeters were at every campus exit to offer Kleenex to departing parents.
Instead of heading home to our empty nest we slipped away for a quick trip to Westwood on Lake Washington for a little Moose Drool and debriefing. We talked at the last minute about heading to Jan Horak’s Cobblestone Cabins in Tofte, but there was no room in his Inn. Fortunately, the Blue Fin Bay resort did have a cheap room for us to help us celebrate our entry into a new phase of life—“kid in college.”
As we were packing that week, Karlie wondered if I would be as excited about her starting her college career if she had selected another school. I didn’t hesitate. While I’m certain that she would have found Saint Olaf, Concordia, Luther, or Saint Benedict’s to be good choices for friends and challenging opportunities, I let her know that I was very pleased that she entered my community of nearly 26,000 who call themselves “Gusties.” I enjoyed talking with her about my beginnings, about walking out of Sohre to head for the Classroom Annex for my first class, Western Civ, just a mere 44 years ago. I promised that she would be welcome to my green rubber swamp coat if I should find it buried in the bottom of a long-lost box in the basement.
The phone calls home during the following week grew in frequency as she sought advice about balancing courses with extras like choir, band, and theater. Karlie is a member of the “instant communication” generation. Where we might have written letters, she values the immediacy of texts and calls that seek advice or comfort. By Friday most of the crises of the first week were resolved. When we returned to campus on Saturday, only a week after climbing the Mount Everest of dorms with tons of essential supplies, Karlie stopped by the campus guest house to visit briefly before rushing off to a furious game of “laser tag,” greeting other kids in her section as she left us behind to continue her journey.
We have gathered a few bits of news about our class in the past few weeks, but I’ll hold off on sharing that until after we visit with many of you during our fortieth reunion. Our gathering, coinciding with Homecoming and Parents Weekend, begins on Friday, October 9th, at noon with golf followed by a 5:30 dinner at Shoreland Country Club. Among the many events on campus that weekend, we’ll gather on Saturday “on the hill” for lunch and conversation at the class tent, have a chance to watch Gustavus beat Pacific Lutheran in the 1:30 football game, and conclude the day with a “fifth quarter” on the old football field. No doubt we’ll marvel at how young we all feel as we come together again as classmates to share our memories, drawn by common experiences that gave root to what we’ve become.
I might remember more clearly those last days before graduation when some of us were frantically finishing our final requirements. For me, those days included a swimming test, as I had somehow postponed meeting that graduation requirement. Later I walked down the hill to Cec’s home and got the word that college might be ending, but being a Gustie was evolving into new role—an alum. I hope each of you will be able to join our shared reunion of memories and friendships. Open the Gustavus Alumni page to register on-line or return the post card that’s sitting on your desk.
I looked at old notes from a ’69 reunion past and found these words:
There is that beautiful fall room at the hill’s summit in the centre, shining out there tonight like a prism among the trees. I never ceased to chide old ’69 for not being there, and then being there, and then, not being there again in the damp autumn room, where you prayed sometimes, or prayed before examination, or prayed after breaking-up with someone, or prayed after losing someone dear to dark death, or prayed when you should have been reading. The house of prayer which, if infrequently visited, you couldn’t avoid in your dreams, because those canny ancestors stuck it in the center of the campus mall where you had to slip in, out of the cold or the rain, or stumble over it at night, on your way back to your room, when the dipper swung low and the spirits swung high: o’ sure, the way we were, the loveliest autumn room in America and the lovliest Gusties coming in, and then, going out a long time ago. Love, Elvee
Many thanks for the gifts that you have given to Gustavus in recognition of our fortieth year as well as in years past. To date, 44% of our 368 class members have given a gift in honor of our reunion. Those gifts are so very much appreciated by today’s students and the college they have come to love as have we.
Jane Norman Leitzman
1969 Co-class Agent
All of us remember the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library. It was a place for study and, depending on your era, finding a “coffee date.” But, in the 21st century, it has become much more. It is a technology-rich laboratory for learning and a storehouse of culture and recorded knowledge. It must constantly be strengthened to ensure excellence in education. The Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) provides financial support for the library and a program of events to its members. Join this year and immediately make a difference. Whatever membership gift level you choose, 100% goes directly to the library’s acquisition budget. Join today at www.gustavus.edu/GLA!!!
Homecoming and Family Weekend – October 9 & 10, 2009
Join us for Homecoming and Family Weekend festivities this year! Parents, alumni, and friends of the College are invited to return and reconnect on this great weekend. Check out all the activities on the Gustavus alumni web site (www.gustavus.edu/alumni
A Walk in the Arb
As part of Homecoming Weekend, the Linnaeus Arboretum will be hosting its annual Fall Fest on that Saturday, October 10. Come enjoy a guided hike through the arboretum and browse its many beautiful flower gardens and tree collections. Maple trees will be in their fall peak this weekend. Master Gardeners and tree care experts will be available to address your questions and concerns, so bring a branch! Bring your kids (accompanied by an adult) for a hayride through the arboretum. Have a look at this year’s scarecrows around the Borgeson cabin! Enjoy cookies and lemonade, purchase an arboretum t-shirt. There will be books available for purchasing and signing by two local authors, Jan Dunlap (Birder Murder Mysteries) and Jim Gilbert (Minnesota Nature Notes). Join Us!
“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast
Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker. All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard. Cost is $10 at the door.
President Jack R. Ohle – Oct. 21
Chaplain Brian Johnson ’80 – Nov. 18
Thomas Young ’88 – Dec. 16
- Nobel Conference: H²0 Uncertain Resource – October 6-7, 2009
- Homecoming/Family Weekend – October 9-10, 2009
- Athletics Hall of Fame – October 17, 2009
- Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – November 14, 2009
- Farewell for Steve and Barb Wilkinson, Minneapolis Hyatt - December 12