Class of '73
May 2001

Dear Classmates and Friends:

Well, what did you think of Terri Ziegler’s letter? Wasn’t it great!! I hope all of you enjoyed it as much as I did. As Matt Peterson said, Terri’s personality came right through her letter. I’m going to try to incorporate some of her ideas, which I hope, will encourage you to share your experiences or ideas with our classmates. One of her ideas was to add Survivals as a new section at the back of the Gustavus Quarterly. It’s a cool idea, but I don’t think there would be enough space in the GQ. So I’m proposing that anyone who has a survival story write (or e-mail) me, and I’ll include it in the class letter. An idea for the future, which expands on e-mailing stuff to me and lets me off the hook as the eternal letter-writer (I know, I’m rambling; too much sugar, shouldn’t have had cake with chocolate frosting for breakfast) is to submit your Survivals, or whatever else you want, to our class web page. I say idea for the future because we don’t have a web page yet. And why don’t we? Because no one in our class has volunteered to develop one. Don’t look at me. My skill with computers is limited to turning them on and kicking them when they’re down.

Aside: The Country Kitchen is still in St. Peter, still in the same place. If Terri Z. and friends met there on May 19th please let me know how it went.

Okay, here’s my survival story. It’s nothing huge like death of parent, spouse, or sibling or divorce or cancer or major surgery. Fortunately, I’ve not had to deal with these issues yet. For me, it was just a job. And it happened over 15 years ago, but I think it’s a big part of who I am. I had been working in Fargo for almost 9 years, looking for a new job for about 4 years. I wasn’t unhappy there, just bored. I had a 5-year plan when I started there, and I had accomplished that and was ready to move on. I had applied for several jobs and had not been the one chosen to fill them. Then I flew to Ann Arbor for an interview at the VA Hospital. My future boss drove me back to the airport after the interview, and on that trip I had a slight doubt about our working together, but I ignored it. When I got back to Fargo, said person called to offer me the job and get my decision. She didn’t want me to take too long to think about it. Another nagging doubt again ignored. The problem, you see, was that I didn’t trust myself. I was conscious of the nagging doubts, but I rationalized that I was just afraid of the change, that I was too comfortable where I was, and this was my opportunity to move on.

It took me only a couple of weeks to realize that I’d made a big mistake. My first mistake was in believing that, since I had been hired as Chief of Library Service, I would be allowed to function as such. Wrong! The woman who hired me had been acting director for two years and was reluctant to give up control. Mistake #2, I confronted her with my naïve belief that I should be running the library. Oops! It was all over. From then on, I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. Anything I said to her was wrong, and if I tried to keep a low profile she sought me out so she could make my life miserable. And she succeeded. I started tearing out my hair (literally). I had no friends there, because I had moved there alone and couldn’t talk to anyone I worked with as we all worked for the same person. I already knew my days were numbered, so I didn’t spend any time developing any relationships. All my energy was directed toward updating my resume, looking for another job, and applying to graduate schools. I shared my unhappiness with one sister and three friends. Each of those people provided a different response to my situation, and I knew just who to call depending on whether I needed sympathy or a pep talk. I lied to my parents for the first six months, telling them everything was fine, because I didn’t want to hear my dad’s sermon about not "quitting." On New Year’s Eve, I called all my friends around the country. They had already received my Christmas letter, and some of them had sensed that something was wrong. Their support meant a lot to me, and that was the beginning of my getting through this ordeal. I wrote to my parents to tell them what was going on and to ask that there be no lectures about quitting. To my surprise, they were almost comforting. I had spent most of my life trying to get by on my own. I never wanted to ask for help. Now, I had learned that if I reached out to my friends and family, they would be there for me. I had tested my safety net, and it held strong. With their help, I survived the Job from Hell (even to this day that's how I always refer to it).

I learned to trust my instincts, to listen to the nagging doubts. And I realized that most of the problems I had with my boss were her personal problems and that she would probably be miserable for her entire life. I, fortunately, was miserable for only one year, until I could move on. I was able to find a temporary job in town for two months until I could move back to Minneapolis (where I had always wanted to be) to start a new job and go to graduate school. Now, Terri, this is what I KNOW FOR SURE: I'm a strong person, worthy of the caring and compassion of my friends and family, and I’m a survivor.

So there. If you think you can do better, I invite and encourage you to send your Survivor story to me.


  • Todd Johnson (Judy Hafemeyer Johnson), class of ‘02
  • Kjirsten A Holmquist (Julie Ofelt Holmquist), class of ’02
  • Scott Witty (Tom Witty), class of ‘03
  • William G Holmquist (Julie Ofelt Holmquist), class of ’04
  • Jill Johnson (Judy Hafemeyer Johnson), class of ‘04
  • Ryan V Litfin (Marcia Johnson Litfin), class of ’04


  • Gail Johnson Speckmann, Plymouth, MN, sponsored her 19th Annual Exhibition in March. That’s usually my first sign of spring.
  • Judy Hafemeyer Johnson, Grand Forks, MN (at least we got that part right!). The news in the last class letter contained some errors, my fault. I talked to her husband during Fall Phonorama and took sketchy notes, thinking that’s all I’d need to jog my memory when I wrote the next Class Letter. Oops, I didn’t write the next letter. Terri, bless her heart, did the best she could, but not even she could read my little mind. So here’s the corrected version: Judy is, and always has been, a nursing supervisor with Altru Health. Her husband, Bruce, is a clinical athletic trainer for Altru Health. The stuff about the boys was correct. She also has a daughter, Jill, in the class of ’02, majoring in biology.
  • Joy Johnson Heimark, Eden Prairie, MN, works for an attorney. She and her husband are building a house (literally, they’re doing the work) just outside of Cologne, west of Chaska. They have 54 acres. Sounds lovely. They hope to be moved in by the time that you read this.
  • Marilyn Arvidson, Chesterton, IN, lives on 15 acres, cares for her 84-year-old mother and is a substitute teacher. We had a very nice visit during Phonorama.
  • Steve Arundel, Wayzata, MN, is president of Brite Air, which brokers used parts to commercial airlines. His sons are in 9th and 10th grades and play hockey for Minnetonka.
  • Mark Eklund, Maple Grove, MN, works for Dayton’s Commercial Interiors. He has two sons, ages 8 and 11; they participate in traveling soccer and basketball.
  • Terry and Heidi (Lang) Cottingham, Duluth, MN. Heidi teaches art and Terry is principal of a new elementary school with an environmental emphasis. He sounded very excited about it. Their son is a sophomore in high school.
  • Bill Beslock, White Lake, MI, made a career change in 2000. He is currently substitute teaching social sciences and science at the secondary level. He has a daughter 14 and son 10.
  • Jeff Anderson, Murray, KY, says he enjoyed attending Gustavus and enjoyed teaching there.
  • Bonnie Nelson Ripplinger, Minot, ND, is a senior office administrative assistant. She and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last November. Congratulations!!
  • Mike Menning is currently posted in Geneva, Switzerland, after working in Bosnia, Cyprus and Syria for the past eight years, all with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • Nancy Youngren Liddy is an adult nurse practitioner in her fifth year working for Hennepin County Community Health Department Red Door Clinic (an STD/HIV clinic). "Never a dull moment," she says. Her husband, Chuck, is an architect with Miller Dunwiddie in Minneapolis. They have two kids in college―University of Wisconsin/Madison and Notre Dame. Says she couldn’t get them to consider Gustavus. [I guess sometimes kids just need to get away; I did.]
  • Gary Peterson, Scottsdale, AZ, remains in the venture capital business. Spends summers in Colorado in the Vail area. Says "Hi" to everybody. Hi, Gary!!
  • John Apitz, Mendota Heights, MN, continues to practice law and serve as chair of the government relations department of Messerli & Kramer, P.A. Two vibrant, talkative boys―two-year-old twins―fill in all the remaining hours of each day. Mary Magnuson, wife and mother, balances the boys and her own law practice. The first real Christmas for these guys was filled with “ho ho lights” and lefsa.
  • Stephen King, Savage, MN, remains employed as the City Administrator for Savage, one of the most rapidly growing communities in Minnesota. He also parents a daughter, Jessica (14) and two sons, Alex (11) and Adam (8) on a joint custody basis and is engaged to be married within the next year.
  • Marcia Johnson Litfin, Chaska, MN, finally got a student teacher from Gustavus.
  • Gregg and Betsy (Lee) Duncan, Mount Prospect, IL, have a daughter who is a high school freshman and a member of her school’s tennis team.
  • Julie Ofelt Holmquist, Chisago City, MN, teaches art for the Chisago Lake School District. Her husband, Kim, works for Lutheran Brotherhood.
  • Brad McMinn, Overland Park, KS, is vice president of UtiliCorp. His wife, Gail (Alexander ’75) also works for UtiliCorp.
  • Roy Zimmermann, St Paul, MN, works for Medtronic, Inc. Now he and Matt Peterson can meet for lunch, as Matt has also moved to Medtronic. Roy's wife, Amy (Suderman ’72), is a homemaker. Daughter Erica is a junior at Grinell, majoring in classics and Greek mythology. Anna is a sophomore in high school, interested in math and science. Looks like engineering might be in her future.
  • Gary Wiens, Helena, MT, is an environmental scientist with the department of environmental quality. Son, Bill, a high school freshman, plays football and is a snowboardist (I don’t know if that’s a word, but that’s what Matt wrote).
  • Noni Hove Threinen, Eden Prairie, MN, has been teaching chiropractic interns full-time at Northwestern Health Sciences University for three years. She said it was an article in the Gustavus Quarterly that got her interested in chiropractic.
  • Tom Witty, Mountain Iron, MN, is a social services administrator for St. Louis County. Son, Scott, is a Gustavus sophomore and an Eppie.
  • Gary Mundahl, Chaska, MN, is a sales representative for Minnesota Exteriors, selling siding and exteriors to homeowners in a 10-county area.
  • Timothy Blais, Cloquet, MN, is a Social Service Administrator for Carlton County Human Services. His wife, Kathy (Nelson), is a dietician for Carlton County Health Services. They have one child in high school and one at the University Wisconsin/Superior.
  • Charles Hatlestad, Fairport, NY, is a senior anesthetist and instructor at Strong Memorial Hospital/University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. He also freelances in anesthesia in the Fingerlakes area of NY. He’s still in the Air Force Reserve (33rd year) with the rank of colonel.
  • Mark Sallmen lives in Pietarsaari, Finland on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. The area is bilingual so the Swedish he learned from Roland Thorstensson is in daily use along with Finnish. His parents live with him in a condo downtown, along with his Cairn Terrier, Lumimarja, who is the only one in his family born in Minnesota. Mark says she traveled very well on the plane over to Finland. He is taking courses in rug and textile weaving. And, of course, he owns a Nokia cell phone. If you’re in Finland, you can call him at 067231415.


Judy Hafemeyer Johnson

Joy Johnson Heimark

Mark Eklund

Bill Beslock

Sondra Maruska Weinzierl

Julie Ofelt Holmquist

Brad McMinn

Gary Wiens

Gary Mundahl

A big thanks to all of you who spoke with us during Phonorama and who continue to support Gustavus. Your support is vital in sustaining the quality of education at Gustavus and the respect and recognition it enjoys among its peers, as well as nationally. The fiscal year ends May 31st, so please get your contributions in soon. Thank You!!!!

As always, if you have any feedback or ideas about class letters, Phonorama, or the Gustavus Quarterly, please let us hear from you. You can email me, Matt ( or the Alumni Office ( We’d love to hear from you.

G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors) will be held on October 13, so mark your calendars now and plan to spend a fun day with your classmates, helping others who are less fortunate than we are.


Marcia Stephens

1973 Co-Class Agent