Class of '77
April 2004

Dear Friends of the Class of 1977,

I am writing to you on a beautiful afternoon on the Gustavus campus and hoping that your spring has been as beautiful and as wonderful as the past few weeks have been here in St. Peter.

It is such a privilege for me to work together with Terri Novak Delebo as your class agents, but also to work on the campus with such wonderful students.  We continue to say that the Gusties are the centerpiece of this great place on the hill and it continues to be true.  From their class work, to their volunteer service in the community, to their great work on the stage or on the field or court or track, I am daily blessed by their infectious energy and their enthusiasm for learning and for life.

As I write this, I am reminded of the past weekend and the formal inauguration of Gustavus' new president Jim Peterson '64.  I hope you all have an opportunity to meet Jim on the campus.  This is a pivotal time in the history of our college and I feel that Jim Peterson is the right person for the job.  You will enjoy meeting him.

The past weekend was filled with events for the inauguration and I'm certain they will be covered very well in one of the coming editions of the Quarterly.  A highlight was the performance at Orchestra Hall of Philip Brunele's VocalEssence Choral Ensemble with some Gustavus Choir alumni in their ranks, led by the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra. 

Now we are into the final weeks of the spring semester and hoping to reach goals with the Alumni Fund.  To make that happen, we really need to get everyone to give a gift to Gustavus by May 31.  The percentage of our participation as a class has been dropping in recent years and both Terri and I are working to see those numbers increase and any gift of any size is appreciated.  We've made some calls in the fall and more this spring, but we haven't reached everyone.  Gustavus needs your help now to continue its work with these fine young people.  The important thing is to participate with a gift of any amount.

As you consider a gift to the Alumni Fund, please remember that nearly 70% of the Gusties receive scholarship support each year that averages $8,200.  Your gifts help to make it possible for any eligible student to receive the support she or he needs to attend.

A few news notes have collected since we last wrote to you and I'll cover as many as I have.  If you have news to share, please send it to me or the Alumni Office.  We'll see it gets printed.

First of all, I have some sad news to report.  I received word that Sharon Sellie Worringer lost her battle with cancer on July 9, 2003.  She is survived by her husband, Randall and a son, Eric.  I don't have any more details, but I'm certain you can contact her family through the Alumni Office if you wish to send a message.

I will follow that news with some happier news.  Cyndee Johnson, who is an elementary education teacher in the Esko schools was married to Kevin Stevens on April 19, 2003.

Ken Simberg has been appointed provost of Hibbing Community College in November and assumed that position on January 2.  Mark Lundberg is a retired U.S.A.F. pilot and is currently flying with Netjets Aviation.  LuAnn Ward Lisell is an independent contractor in human resources in Plano, Texas, where she lives with husband, Rick, who is the vice president of technology for Citigroup.  Bruce Robb is president and CEO of First Mortgage Lenders of Florida and has had (one can guess) a rather busy year.

Lynell Frauendienst Bohrer has a new address in Lakeland, MN and is a business analyst/medical technologist with Allina Health Systems.  Cynthia Zotalis Gustafson wrote with a "great class letter - THANKS!" comment for Terri's fall letter and noted her daughter is in our contribution of second generation Gusties.  Julia arrived in the fall with the class of 2007.  And congratulations to Cynthia for your continued work at Carroll College and your efforts to combat AIDS/HIV in Africa.

Michael Dyser reports during Phonorama that he continues to do a lot of singing in musicals in the Boston area and was looking for work at the same time.  Paul Knautz and wife, Valerie, were sighted at the Simon & Garfunkel concert in St. Paul last winter, but spend most of their time at their lake home north of Chippewa Falls, about 90 minutes from Abbotsford were he teaches.  Craig and Julie (Craig) Gilbertson are living in Duluth where Craig is a physician and Julie is busy at home and with various volunteer activities.

Shannon Smith Deer, St. Paul, is director of early childhood and family ministry at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.  Sue Novak Otto continues as an elementary education teacher in the New Ulm School District and reports that her real love is enjoying her "three beautiful grandchildren."  Dorian Samskar Jordan reports that she is enjoying life and spends her full time at home with her 3rd and 7th grade children in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Pastor Dean Wolf continues his ministry at Centenary United Methodist in Mankato and is often seen on the campus.

Jon and Anita Thomsen Young are in Eden Prairie.  Anita continues her role of vice president for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Jon manages the Temporary Heroes Orchestra (  Check them out the next time you need some great music for any occasion.  Pat Anderson and Kirsten Erickson '78 told me at Phonorama that they are first year "empty nesters" with daughters at Pitzer and Lewis & Clark.  Pat continues as an attorney and Kirsten is a physician in Sioux Falls.  Robert and Connie (Benert '76) Rudelius are living in McLean, Virginia where Rob is with Noble Ventures and Connie is taking care of their twin 8th grade sons.

Pastor Joel and Marylou (Riethmiller '78) Swedberg have been in the news quite a bit in the past year as Joel recovers from injuries he sustained when his acrobatic airplane developed engine trouble and crashed near Winsted on July 16.  There is a great article in the October 13 Star Tribune to check out.  In the middle of the recovery, son, Derek, started as a freshman at Gustavus.  Linda Fredell Nelson is taking a leave of absence from her position with Sentry Insurance as she continues recovery from a kidney transplant two years ago.  And finally, the illustrious Si Matthies continues with Wells Fargo while he works to beat his 10-year-old son at chess.  (Si, Wells Fargo may be more forgiving.)

Best wishes to you all for a great spring and summer.  And don't forget the Alumni Fund closes on May 31.  Don't miss this chance to have an impact on the lives of the young people making Gustavus their college.

Al Behrends

1977 Co-class Agent

Campus News:

President Peterson inaugurated

Dr. James Peterson '64 was inaugurated during a ceremony in Christ Chapel on Friday, April 16.  Other inaugural events scheduled April 15-18, included a symposium featuring Rev. Dr. Martin Marty, tree dedication, Gustavus Association of Congregations meeting, G.I.V.E. community service day in St. Peter, music concert, art exhibition, and an alumni reception preceding the Nobel Symphony Concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

50th Anniversary Alumni Fund Closes May 31

The 2004 Alumni Fund will close May 31 with a goal of 50 percent alumni participation. Thanks to everyone who has already participated with a gift.  If you haven't given, please think about sending a gift along with your news in the enclosed gold envelope. Gustavus alumni have a long tradition of strong alumni participation.  Help maintain our national ranking by participating in the 50th anniversary year of the Alumni Fund.

Scholarships and financial assistance at Gustavus

Did you know that scholarships and financial assistance for Gustavus students totals $18M, almost 25 percent of Gustavus' annual budget?  Alumni Fund gifts, including designated and unrestricted gifts, help enable students to receive a Gustavus education.  Gustavus offers two types of scholarships to students -- merit awards given to recognize academic achievement, and tuition grants are used to assist students with recognized financial need.  Endowed scholarships are an important part of the Gustavus grant program and currently nine percent of scholarship funds come from the endowment.

Alumni survey

An alumni survey was sent to 2,000 members of reunion classes.  Approximately 600 have responded as of April 1.  Questions on the survey consist of how well Gustavus prepared them for employment and graduate education, activities involved in while at Gustavus, personal growth skills, alumni events and services, and overall satisfaction with the College.  Results of the survey will be included in the Fall Quarterly.

Winter sports summary

Women's basketball finished third in the MIAC and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Men's basketball won the MIAC regular season and playoff championship titles before losing to eventual national champion UW-Stevens Point in the NCAA national tournament. Men's hockey posted a third-place finish in the regular season and advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC playoffs. Women's hockey finished second in regular-season MIAC play, but won the post-season tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Men's swimming won its third consecutive MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing ninth at the NCAA championships. Women's swimming won the MIAC championship and completed their season by finishing 13th at the NCAA championships. Men's Nordic skiing won its first-ever MIAC championship and finished fourth at the NCAA Central Region meet. Women's Nordic skiing claimed their third consecutive MIAC title and completed their season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Central Region meet. Gymnastics posted a 6-1 dual meet record and a second-place finish at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) West Regional. The women's indoor track and field team finished second and the men fifth at the MIAC championships. 

Did you know . . .

●Nearly 80% of Gustavus students graduate in four years, compared with 56% of students from other Minnesota private colleges; the national average is 17%.

●There are seven choral ensembles and 23 instrumental ensembles, two jazz, four woodwind and three brass ensembles.

●More than 40 percent of Gustavus students volunteer through the Gustavus community service center on a regular basis.

●For student safety, the campus is well-lit, there is 24-hour Safety and Security patrol and escort service, residence halls are locked 24 hours a day, and there are blue light emergency phones throughout campus linked directly to Safety and Security.

●And looking back -- during the college's early years, students were awakened by a bell at 5:45 a.m. and all lights had to be out by 10:30 p.m.

Upcoming events

  • Phonorama - April 25-29, Central Lutheran Church
  • Mayday! Conference, The United Nations at the Crossroads - April 28
  • Cec Eckhoff Society Reception - May 1
  • Class of 1954 and 50 Year Club Reunions - May 28 & 29
  • Commencement - May 30
  • Alumni Fund closes - May 31
  • Class reunions on Homecoming & Family Weekend - October 1 & 2