Class of ’69
45-Year Reunion ― May 30-31, 2014
The class of 2017 is planted and putting down strong roots! I have special affection for this class—one of my favorite students from Paynesville and I “graduated” together last spring. It’s pretty exciting to watch him already thriving and loving our college. He made it particularly fun to have an opportunity to address the incoming freshmen (I learned we now call them “first years”) and welcome them to the greater Gustavus family. I’ll start this note by sharing my message to them.
I am Jane Norman Leitzman, a ʼ69 grad and a member of the alumni board. I’m here on behalf of the alumni association to welcome you and to mark this auspicious occasion. You’ve taken the first step to becoming Gustavus alumni.
You’ve proven yourselves accomplished students to get here and you’re going to accomplish much more in the next four years. You will be students of Gustavus for the next four years. You’ll be Gustie alumni for the rest of your lives.
We alumni span several generations. When my classmates and I came as freshmen, ever so many years ago, computers were bigger than double-garages, had to be spoken to in odd languages called Basic and FORTRAN, and ate decks of punched cards to do useful work.
And now if I give directions clearly enough to the woman who lives in my phone she will tell me when I’ve arrived at my destination and whether it’s on the left or right. For us, reading a book on an Ipad wasn’t even imaginary. By now it’s likely hard to envision a time when there were only paper books and highlighting was done with a felt tip pen. My first semester’s books cost just under sixty dollars—and that included the prerequisite new pens, a highlighter, and spiral notebooks! I fear those of you who have already been to the BookMark or gone on line with your list have found that today sixty dollars only buys a few chapters of one textbook!
It’s only been four years since I arrived with my daughter to help her move to the fifth floor of Co-Ed. I’m still ever grateful to the football players who helped carry futons and lofts for donations for their fundraiser. And, I noted that when we moved into that building it was brand new and “state of the art” in college residence halls. While it offered “co-ed” meeting areas, men and women lived in separate towers divided by crash gates lowered during the evening. This division offered the television room to the men while women retained possession of the laundry.
You’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed having just moved your stuff into a hot dorm room, and then grabbed a bite to eat with your two thousand new friends. In a short time your parents will drive down the hill using Kleenex offered by Gustie greeters. You have a whirlwind weekend ahead. It’s right and appropriate to feel overwhelmed—you should. This is going to count among the most significant days of your life. You will get through and thrive.
On Tuesday morning, when you head off to your first class, officially starting your journey through this place toward becoming a 22-year-old adult, there will be 26,237 alumni thinking about you, wishing you well: “We have your back!”
- Along that precious journey be sure to stop and partake of everything you possibly can.
- Go to parties.
- Go to movies on campus.
- Play laser tag.
- Do swing dancing on Wednesday evenings.
- Be in study groups.
- Do homework in academic buildings at night.
- Meet friends in the caf at ten in the evening to share the day’s events.
- Go to the arb.
- Sit in the Adirondack chairs.
- Have campfires.
- Be of service to others through one of the many opportunities to learn by helping others that you will find here.
- Go to class. Study. Stretch and expand both mind and body.
- Take advantage of all the incredible music that will be made here.
- Go to every live theater performance that you can.
- Witness the creative spirit embedded in the art work of your peers.
- Go to the Nobel conference.
- While you’re here, regardless of your faith or belief, learn about our college’s Swedish, Augustana Synod, Lutheran tradition.
- Find out why the official name of Co-Ed honors Eric Norelius.
- Learn about Dr. Edgar Carlson; read the poetic sermons offered by Chaplain Richard Elvee. They’re both an important part of the foundation of this glorious space.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to learn of the world’s other religions and cultures.
- Enrich your soul.
You’re going to be kept pretty busy with all that will happen here, on the hill, but don’t overlook the vibrant life of the community that lies below Rundstrom Hall.
- Go to Rock Bend.
- Spend time in River Rock, the Co-op, and Swede Park.
- Learn about the history of this bend in the river; make time to go to the Treaty Site Museum. When you’re there, step out into the surrounding patch of prairie, sit down, close your eyes, and listen to the silence.
- Your wonderful journey of exploration will pass by very quickly. Stop and savor each precious experience. May your joys far outnumber your sorrows, but learn from both.
- You’ve no doubt heard your grandparents lament that each year of life seems to pass by more quickly. They are my peers. I first noticed this phenomenon when Time magazine started coming to the house three times a week. I’m hoping that now that I’m retired I’ll have an easier time keeping up with the news.
- In a few months shy of four years you will once again gather in this space. You’ll be helping each other put on black gowns and mortar boards, adjust cords and stoles, and line-up for your final walk to the stadium as Gustavus students.
- You will impress the joyous audience as you walk down into the stadium to take your seats on the field. You’ll listen to a classmate, a faculty member or two, and the college’s president.
You will listen to, or perhaps sing, our informal college song. You may get through it dry-eyed, but don’t count on it.
Remember the times you had here
Remember when you’re away.
Remember the friends you made here
And don’t forget to come back someday.
Remember the hills and valleys
The sky so heavenly blue.
For you belong to GA College
And Gustavus belongs to you.
Finally, you will walk across the platform, shake the hand of the president and chairperson of the college trustees, and accept your diploma. You will step off the platform as a Gustavus graduate, to join us as a worker in the broader Gustavus alumni community, endeavoring to pave the way for the Gustavus students who will follow you.
God speed your way on your most magnificent journey.”
When I submitted news from our classmates for publication in the Quarterly there was some question as to whether all could be included, owing to the need to publish the college’s annual report. In case we’re cut out, our class news follows.
Cheryl Maley Gelbmann will be retiring from St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation on the 4th of October. Her husband Jim will join her in retirement on the first of December, concluding 38 years as a family practice physician. Having sold their home, they are making plans to move to Grant Park complex in Minneapolis. They’re looking forward to new adventures to come—and I’m looking forward to meeting Cheryl in “the Cities.” Congratulations and many good wishes for the great times ahead!
Janey (Davis) and Ted Zimmerman will not be back in the United States for this spring’s reunion, but are already thinking about our next. Jane noted that “together, we share a deep love for the lifelong values and guidelines we found at Gustavus. Those are not written in the curriculum; rather those values emerge in the daily life of Gustavus and in presence of the chapel in the middle of the campus. There is no obligation to attend, but the cross remains in the chapel and regular services continue. We felt warmly invited to chapel and to study religion. We have come to realize that is very special.
“Ted is beginning his last academic year at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong and I am a seminary volunteer. We have been with the ELCA Global Mission since 1980, first in Taiwan and then in Hong Kong. We are blessed with three children who live around the world now. We will retire from our work in 2014 and move to Allentown, Pennsylvania.” That move will bring them closer to family in a town with a Lutheran college, which is much valued. In closing her note, Jane concluded, “Thank you, Gustavus!”
Dianne K. Johnson and Gene Hallberg were married on March 27, 2013, in Park City, Utah. Gene's daughter, Melissa, was a 1996 graduate of Gustavus and her granddaughter, Nicole Tetrault, graduated in 2011. Dianne’s parents, Edsel, ʼ42, and Mignon (Carter ʼ41) also met at Gustavus. Each of them had a parent who went to Gustavus in the early 1900's, Henry A Johnson and Augusta Carter. Dianneʼs brother, Scott Johnson, graduated in 1973. “GO GUSTIES!”
I have fond memories of watching and listening when Ward Moberg would sit down at the piano. Retirement presently finds him giving piano lessons through Osceola's Community Education program. “Since the lessons are at the school and scheduled before and after the school day, I tell people that I work an eleven-hour day with a seven-hour lunch break.” Ward, I’m quite sure your students have a good time. When David’s mother’s baby grand piano moved to our living room I decided that I would start taking piano lessons this fall—it’s been much too long for the word “resume” to apply in my case. I wish you weren’t such a long commute away.
Mike Simonson attended a ten day family reunion on Kimble Lake in Brainerd earlier in the summer. “I ran into Jay [Anderson] while playing golf with my brothers—it had been forty years since I’d seen him! Small world!” On the way back Mike stopped in St. Peter with his brothers and two nephews for a quick tour. “It was surreal.” Mike presently lives in Denver, near his brothers and other extended family. Previous homes include Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle for 23 years. Retired for a while, he’s now brokering oil around the world for two friends with Recovery Oil Services and reports that he’s “having a blast!” Mike’s work, as well as his wife’s position as a flight attendant for United Airlines, made for great travel opportunities to “about thirty countries.”
Jay Anderson retired from teaching and coaching football in Burnsville. He spends winters in Arizona and summers on the Whitefish Chain in Cross Lake, does some substitute teaching, and is finding “a work and play balance.”
Recalling something that happened “earlier this summer” reminds me that I’m in denial that we’ve crossed over the mid-point of September and are quickly sliding into autumn. When did that happen? Last night, while finishing an errand and coming out of the grocery store, I was surprised to notice that twilight had been pushed ahead to 7:45 to accommodate some special event—and tried to recall if I’d read about what it was. Then I remembered that there were mums everywhere when I passed Home Depot. I’d just walked by big piles of pumpkins and David [Leitzman] noted that there were lots of red apples on our trees. And then, I felt the sixty degree evening air instead of the recently passed humid 93. If those things hadn’t been enough, on the way home, Venus revealed herself to me in a sky that still had traces of orange at its base. Wasn’t it just a week ago that the star had to wait until 9:30 p.m. to emerge?
In a recent note Cathy Nelson Feste made a connection to David’s work at St. John’s and Saint Benedict’s; “Our son is a Johnny!” Kathy continues writing and speaking. The third edition of her book, The Physician Within, is about to be launched as an eBook. She will be speaking at the International Diabetes Federation’s World Congress in Melbourne, Australia this coming December. After that four day conference she and her husband plan to tour New Zealand for a couple of weeks. “Most important news is that we are Nana and Papa to 3-year-old Frank and 1-year-old Jane. And, after 56 years of Type 1 diabetes I am very healthy and so grateful for today’s technology like blood glucose meters and insulin pumps.”
Michael Dobbs wrote of the importance of Gustavus connections, first sharing his “FANTASTIC visit with Steve and Rosemary (Lange) Guttormsson in May. Steve has been a very dear friend since I met him in inorganic chemistry, as we were both chem majors. Rosemary and I were in an English or religion class when I first met her.” His relationship with Steve and Rosemary is one that has deepened over the years “despite the fact that I dumped them in a canoe into a northern lake back in the late ʼ60s. It was an accident and the only time I recall tipping a canoe.” Mike also had a great visit, though brief, with John Knox ʼ68 and his wife Karen (Matteson). “John is a great example of the type of well-rounded student that Gustavus develops. He has a doctorate in physics, a warm personality, and is able to converse with ease on any subject. You don’t have to be an expert on quarks and other physics terms to find a common footing with John. And John is not unique in that respect. We received a liberal arts education. We learned to further educate ourselves. I have assured parents whom I have met on campus that they are leaving their children in a safe and warm place, well equipped to develop their minds, souls, and bodies. In that regard, Gustavus has not changed since I left there.” Mike remarked that when sitting in the dining hall with faculty, students, or families he feels at home, almost as if he’d never left. Walking around campus he found that “there is so much that is new and exciting. None of my nephews or nieces attended Gustavus, but I have given every year so that others could share in the Gustavus experience.”
Ann Parkhurst Wolff lives in Stillwater, retired for 11 years, confirmed that “life is good.”
Carol Johnson Blackwell is “mostly retired” from nursing, picking up 6-8 shifts a month in part time. Cheryl Maley Gelbman and Darlene Ruhoff surprised her for her retirement—for which she had but “moderate warning.” Her description was a great deal of fun. Carol’s husband retired five years ago and when not fishing and doing other “Montana outdoorsy stuff” she says his main job is “taking care of me.” They have a new grandbaby who’s six months old and “a drooler.” He lives with his parents in Missoula, which is 350 miles away. I sometimes think that Montana people have a different take on distance. Carol noted that other grandchildren live 1500 miles away in Norfolk, Virginia, where their son, a recent dental school graduate, has an Air Force commitment ahead. When we spoke they were getting ready to start on a car trip to visit a five year-old grandson who recently concluded, when he’d failed to hear something, that his “listening ears needed their batteries charged.”
As for Jane Norman Leitzman, who put away her chalk and cleaned out her classroom closet for the boards for the last time in June, she confesses that she does miss much about teaching, but reports that she’s taken to this next stage of her life, retirement, rather easily. It is as wonderful as her friends have told her. She realizes that it will be ever so long before she takes for granted the simple gift of being outside in the daylight on a week day.
A future letter will include impressions of this year’s Nobel Conference. In the months ahead I’ll share plans and news of our May reunion. Meanwhile, remember to reserve May 30 – 31, 2014 on your calendar for our gathering. Enjoy the final days of autumn.
One of the speakers during our recent class officers meeting recently joined the Gustavus faculty from “that other college over in Northfield.” Since one of his assignments is to serve as the defensive end football coach, he shared his enthusiasm that day’s upcoming game. I want to close this note with a part of his message. He spoke in favor of Gustavus’s low faculty-to-student ratio and the many opportunities our students will have to make significant connections with their instructors. He made it clear that the reason he gives to Gustavus, like many of us, is that “our money pays for professionals who care.”
Jane Norman Leitzman
1969 Communications Chair
Gustavus Networking Event
Register now for our second Gustavus Networking Event on Wednesday, Oct. 23. All alumni and current students are invited to the Westin Galleria Edina from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. for networking, appetizers, a seated dessert and short program. Registrants will be asked to select a career area from business, finance, marketing/communications, public service, law, technology, and biology. Cost is $15 for alumni, $10 for students. For more information and to register, visit ustavus.edu/go/networking.
President Ohle Announces Retirement
Jack R. Ohle, the 16th President of Gustavus Adolphus College, has announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2013-14 academic year when he will complete his sixth year as president of the College. He began his service to Gustavus on July 1, 2008, and will officially retire on June 30, 2014. Ohle submitted, and the Board accepted, a letter announcing his retirement to the Board of Trustees at its June. The Board of Trustees has initiated a search to find President Ohle’s successor who will begin serving the College in the summer of 2014.
Gustavus Library Associates - A Royal Affair
On Saturday, November 16, Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) will host its 18th biennial benefit...A Royal Affair. More than 500 guests are expected to attend this gala dinner/auction benefit at the Radisson Blu Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota. Realized proceeds are designated for the GLA endowment of the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.
Networking Event – Westin Galleria, Edina – Oct. 23
Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet – November 2
Gustavus Library Associates – A Royal Affair – Radisson Blu, Bloomington – Nov. 16
Lifelong Learning Event – JFK Assassination by David Jones ʼ83 – Nov. 19
Christmas in Christ Chapel – Dec. 6, 7 and 8.