Class of '75
February 2010

35-Year Reunion ― September 25, 2010

Greetings to the Class of 1975:

In the interest of being all inclusive you will be receiving letters from a variety of your classmates this year as we prepare to celebrate the 35 years that have come and gone since we graduated.  This first “guest” letter comes to you from Kristin M. Peterson.  (Not to be confused with Kristin Joy Peterson.  We shared a post office box for most of our time at Gustavus.  I think the right person usually got their mail.)  I thought I would begin my telling you a little about my memories of Gustavus and my life over the past 35 years.

GUSTAVUS….  I grew up in St. Peter (some of you probably took accounting classes from my dad, Ellery Peterson ’49 who is still living in St.Peter).  My dad graduated from Gustavus and it was logical for me to follow in his footstep.  I even briefly entertained the notion of also majoring in math, but Calc II changed those plans.  I remember orientation…square dancing with Doc Glass ’43 calling out the steps, music auditions, campus tours, lectures, buying books...a blur of activity.  So many new people!  But somehow we made it through the first semester, adjusted to dorm life, enjoyed our first January term experience, and for many of us that included a wonderful couple of weeks in California and Hawaii with the band, choir, and stage band.  It was my first time flying.  What a great experience!  Does anyone else remember the game of volleyball we played on the beach at the camp in Hawaii where we had to whisper while we played so we didn’t disturb the neighbors?  Or the lizards whose tails came off if you grabbed one?

And getting sunburned?  I’m glad I had that experience of flying before I traveled first to Sweden for the summer and then to Vienna for fall semester my junior year.  As those of you who lived abroad can attest, it was a life changing experience.  Then back to Gustavus and another new organ teacher.  I had five over the course of four years (that should be a record for teachers of one instrument) and still managed to complete the Church Music major.  Finally, there was the tension during the spring of our senior year as we waited for news about graduate schools, medical school, or jobs.  Would the envelope waiting for us be thick or thin?  For many of us we knew what we thought the future would hold for us.

And then it was Baccalaureate, Chaplain Elvee speaking to us:

Something unripe stood around here four years ago checking into a room…That something unripe, ripened!  Grew up, filled out, cheered and checked by the seasons—increased, came on, came painfully, leafing out, branched, flowered, fruited.  Something was planted in those first days that grew, and though by storms shaken, remained through the long winter in to the long afternoon, mellowed.  That was you….

Good-bye, mellow.  It was good.  You can come back when you need to.  We won’t even remember how unmellow you were sometimes.  We will always remember you and the life and the beauty and the goodness you brought here in your time.  We thank you for that.  The Lord be with you, mellow as you go.

(“Mellow 1975,” Gustavus Adolphus College: Kingdom of Identity. Richard Quentin Elvee. 1987. pp. 123-124,)   

And so, mellow classmates, come back to Gustavus, and share with the rest of us how you have continued to flower, bear fruit, and to ripen.

If you haven’t been back to Gustavus since the tornado in 1998, be prepared for many changes.  Some buildings are gone and some new ones have been built.  Many of the great majestic trees were demolished by the tornado, but new ones have been planted.  The landscaping is lush.  The new football stadium is impressive.  Many of you, like myself, have returned to campus to watch our children attend and graduate.  My oldest, Brian, class of ’01 and youngest, Jenelle, class of ’07 brought me back to campus many times.  Brian was one of the few students actually on campus during the tornado.  He had stayed over break to work.

It is hard to believe it was almost 35 years ago that we all gathered together for the last time.  An event that will never occur again as we have already said farewell for the last time to some of our classmates.  The birth of my first grand-daughter last year reminded me of the passing of years, as does the youthfulness of the faces I see in my classrooms at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, having assumed the role of teacher twenty years ago, introducing philosophy (and occasionally music or mythology) to today’s college students.

I look forward to spending time with you on September 25th and sharing in the events of your lives over the past 35 years.

An ad hoc reunion committee has been gathered to prepare for this 35th Reunion.  In this and upcoming newsletters we will be introducing ourselves to you.  We would also like to hear from the rest of you.  As of this date the committee members are Cindy Durbahn Bowers, Barbara Day, Steve Griffith, Paul Heckt, Sue Busch Leaf, Betsy Bloomquist Lundgren, Terry Tesarek Narr, Kristin M. Peterson, Philip Richardson, Karen Sundal, and Gail Matthius Wirth.  Here are some of their reflections on Gustavus and/or comments about their life.

Cynthia Durbahn Bowers

I am not a good correspondent, and having moved to California in 1979, I have lost touch with many of my old friends.  Since leaving Gustavus I went to medical school at the University of Minnesota and then went on to finish my training in internal medicine in California and have pretty much been here ever since.  I married in 1977, divorced in 2005, had 2 children, one of whom is now a local lawyer and the other married and is in graduate school at Cal Tech (my, aren’t we getting old).  Since my tenure in Santa Barbara, I spent 17 years at UC Santa Barbara’s Student Health Service and from 1991-2005 was our campus public health officer and director of student health.  I have now retired twice (the second from a stint as executive director of our local nonprofit health care provider) and am in private practice working mainly with adolescents and young adults who are suffering from eating disorders or other mental health problems.  I love my practice working part time and spending the rest of my time at my most recent passion, ballroom dancing.

I must admit that of all of the moral, ethical and service oriented beliefs that I was taught at Gustavus, my most memorable moment was when I should have been on my last day on campus January 10, 1975 before I went to an off campus science program.  Being a music minor, I shared a recital with a junior trombonist, Greg Swanson ‘76.  It turns out that on that day, Minnesota had one of its worst blizzards ever.  Since I was supposed to leave the next day for Chicago, we didn’t cancel the concert, even though everything else was cancelled.  Bjorling Hall was packed because there was nothing else to do.  About halfway through the program, the power went out.  After a few awkward moments, the stage crew arrived with multiple candelabras and we went on to finish the concert, part of which was done only with candlelight.  To this day, it was one of the most magical moments in my life.

Obviously, no one moved for several days and the night of the recital, we all went to Diane Johnson’s room in Uhler (who hasn’t returned a message since she did the sermon at my wedding) and pooled our resources, leading to a fondue of cocktail weenies.  The next morning, since no staff made it to campus to feed us, our same little group of rebels went in the kitchen and made food available to the students on campus.  The next day, the kitchen crew arrived by snowmobile and we made ourselves scarce.  Since I left as soon as the roads were open, I will never know how angry Mrs. Young was about us raiding her kitchen.  What a weird, but wonderful way to leave the place that turned from a kid into an adult.

Barbara Day

I've always wanted to play electric bass guitar.  I have my first lesson in two days.  I’m really pumped.  My kids don’t know quite what to think.

Steve Griffith

The people!  For me, the years 1971-1975 are about the people I met.  The friends I made.  The mentors I had.  It was an intense time.  The Vietnam War was ending, the upheaval of the 1960s was just starting to fade.  Gustavus was its own little island.  A place set apart.  It is hard for me to honestly talk about my college experience with the students I work with today.  It was such a different time.  Pressure to find a job existed, but not nearly what it is today.  It was expensive, but not nearly what it is today.  The relationship between faculty and students was much different.  It was a time of personal exploration.  Going places.  Doing new things.  A college campus in the ’70s wasn’t the serious place it is today.  I can’t help but smile and shake my head when I think of the crazy people and the crazy things we did together while at Gustavus.  My time at Gustavus gave me confidence that I could make my way in the world, and anything was possible!

Paul “Hecktor” Heckt

My favorite memory from Gustavus is hard to pick, because I had so many of them.  But I think being elected president of the OK’s and then kidnapped and flown to Ashley, N.D. and dropped off with no money, no ID, lipstick on my face and a tail with a balloon at the end was certainly right up there.  Not the kidnapping so much as the fact that, armed only with my mouth (an albeit formidable weapon), I beat my kidnappers back to Gustavus by 15 minutes. They had money, an airplane and a car. I just had my mouth. The looks on their faces when they walked into the OK-TM Informal and saw me sitting there was just priceless.

Sue Busch Leaf

When I was a freshman, my frugal parents drummed into me how expensive Gustavus was (tuition was, I think, $3,150 a year--insert groans here, current Gustie parents!).  So to be worthy of their financial sacrifice, I spent every possible minute in every class, including labs.  In Bio 101, the lab prof, Fred VandeVusse, mistook my diligence for actual deep interest, and spent a lot of extra time with me─which went a long way towards making me a biology major.  I sometimes think:  if my English 101 prof (who will remain nameless, but those of you in that 8:00 a.m. class, sitting there half asleep as he droned out role call─role call!—know who he was) had taken as much interest in me; would I have been an English major?

Betsy Bloomquist Lundgren

As I ponder 35 years ago─what comes to mind are mostly my living arrangements!

  • Wahlstrom (May it rest in peace) - Living in close proximity to five girls is emotional!
  • The Link – living between two boy dorms is emotional!
  • Off Campus ─ living above a bar is emotional!
  • Japan – Living in another country is emotional!

But emotions aside, the times brought laughter, strength, tears and wisdom and most of all friendships that have lasted throughout the years as none other.  Please join your classmates to revel in the memories on September 24 and 25─we promise to have something for everyone!

PS:  Tom Leaf - do you know you are on Facebook as a young man peering into a coy pond in Kyoto?

Terry Tesarek Narr

Since the Class of ’75 is quickly approaching its 35th reunion and I am participating on the reunion committee this round, I have spent some time thinking about the great times we had at Gustavus.  A flood of memories come to mind, but I will just share one for now.  Hopefully in the coming months some of you will send in your own favorite Gustie memories.In the spring of junior year, a group of my RGFs (really good friends) decided we wanted to make the move from Valley to Uhler for our senior year.  (Does calling it Valley View date us?)  It was a first come, first served method of signing up, so we decided to camp out in the Student Union to assure ourselves a coveted spot in Uhler.  We spent days living in the Union, taking turns going to class and eating, studying, playing cards, and sleeping on the floor so our place in line would be saved.  We all ended up in the same section, so it was definitely worth the effort!  Who needed sleep back then?

Phil Richardson

Being on the GA campus is special─the people are warm and genuine.  This was true during my college years and is true today when I return for a visit.  I remember my first class with Professor Montague ’34 and his booming voice.  I can still hear it today.  He helped instill confidence in a kid fresh out of high school.  So many lessons were learned that would last a lifetime.  It wasn’t just the academics, but the friendships that were created that have been so important throughout the years.  Gustavus was and is a special place.

Karen Sundal

Right now it is winter and this season triggers memories:

I remember fondly the wide open campus up the hill.  Walking across campus was a chance to be close to nature every day.  There were scads of trees─there may be more trees today─or at least they are bigger.  Does anyone else remember walking to Christ Chapel on a mild winter day with large snowflakes gently tumbling on your face, enticing you to stick out your tongue and catch a few?  How about “traying?”  (I swear I never took one myself.)  Remember those old cross-country skis that you buckled on with leather straps─my first X-C ski experience was at Gustavus.

I also remember falling asleep pulling an all-nighter studying in the lounge─more than once.

There were great times getting together with friends and a guitar or a piano─Thor Langsjoen ’73 taught me a few licks on the guitar one year─and later I taught them to my son!

Look for more updates in future letters.  Please continue to share information about recent events in your life and e-mail pictures to  for the reunion slide show.

Reunion Plans:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

11:30 a.m - Class Tent Gathering

 5:30.p.m. -  Class BBQ

A block of rooms has been saved at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson in Mankato for those of you interested.  Call 507-388-8555 and ask for the Gustavus Alumni room block.  Or log onto:

Reunion Giving:

We hope you’ll consider making a special gift to Gustavus during this, our 35th reunion year.  In honor of our class, our committee has decided to establish the 1975 Class Endowed Scholarship to support the current and future students of Gustavus.  With your help, a minimum of $25,000 will help this Scholarship live in perpetuity and create a legacy for our class.  As it grows, more and more students will be able to share in the experience of becoming a Gustie!

We hope we can count on everyone’s participation─together we can continue the legacy of Gustavus.

Campus News

Gustavus Announces Major Building Projects

At its Monday, Jan. 25 meeting, the Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with three major building projects.  The College will erect a new 125,000 square foot academic building.  It will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  Also, it will renovate its A.H. Anderson Social Science Building.  Construction timelines for the projects are not yet finalized, but the College expects to break ground on the new academic building late this spring.

The effort is a significant early implementation step of Commission Gustavus 150, an innovative, constituent-based strategic planning process that has engaged hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders over the past year.  “These projects will greatly enhance learning and teaching, student recruitment, and institutional advancement for many years to come,” said President Jack R. Ohle.

“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.  Upcoming speakers:  Doug Minter ’79 Director of Student Financial Aid and Kirk Carlson ’95, Associate Director of Student Financial Aid – Feb. 17.

Upcoming Events

  • Feb. 9 – Destin, Florida brunch – Another Broken Egg Cafe
  • Feb. 17 – Twin Cities Breakfast – Gustavus Financial Officers
  • Feb. 19 – Tucson Chapter Event – Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’67 ’66 residence
  • Feb. 20 – Phoenix Chapter Event – Larry and Deone (Nordquist) Cartford ’59 ’59 residence
  • Feb. 27 – Reunion Committee Winter Retreat
  • Mar. 6 – Breakfast with the Easter Bunny
  • Mar. 14 – Naples Chapter Event