Classes of ’81 and ’80

September 2012

Hello Gustavus Class of '80 and '81,

It's time for a good old-fashioned class letter again!  It seems we managed to overflow the Gustavus Quarterly with Alumni news notes.  In order to save some trees and that nice glossy paper, the Alumni Office has given us the green light to start putting much of our class chatter back into newsletters.  Thank Heavens!  Now I can tell you what I've really been doing without worrying about my mother reading about it in the Quarterly!  Yeah, I know.....the likelihood of me doing something all that scandalous is slim - but just in case I decide to really go wild, I appreciate the peace of mind in knowing I can tell you all about it without fearing a good motherly lecture.

So, now that we're back on track with our class letters, Steve Heim (Heimer) and I decided to try a little inter-class communication and have invited the Class of '80 to share their news with us as well.  So here it is - the Classes of 1980 and 1981 Class Letter!  Thanks to all of you who responded!

We'll start with the Class of '80 - they are our elders and we want to show appropriate respect.  Furthermore, being a full year older, I assume their eyes tire more quickly and we certainly don't want to wear them out with all the Class of '81 news before they get to their own good stuff.

Headline news:  Class of '80 needs Class Officer volunteers!  If you are interested in being part of a great team which includes Class President, Vice President/Reunion Planning, Annual Fund Chair, Communication Chair or Student Recruitment, please contact the Alumni Office (  These are great volunteer jobs, and the Class Officers from the Class of '81 would love to work in tandem with you.  More fun for everyone that way!

Class of ʼ80 News

Denise Schmitz Anderson '80 has recently accepted a call as pastor with Salem Lutheran Church in Lake Mills, IA.  Her husband, Kevin '81, serves as Registrar and Assistant to the Academic Dean for Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA. She reports this has put some distance between them but they are making it work! Bad time for the price of gas to go up now that the Andersons have to spend so much time on the road!

Scott B. Swanson, aka one of the "Swannys" from our era - the one who was in the Phi Alpha Fraternity - is living in Waco, TX, and is married to Susan Summerfield Swanson '82.  Scott owns a financial marketing company called Capital Keystone Group (  Sue is an RN and clinical manager of Providence Wound Care Clinic.  They have two daughters - one married and the other engaged.  The Swansons get back to Minnesota a couple of times per year to see family so we know they haven't forgotten about the North Country completely.  Swanny told me he'd love to hear from classmates - you can connect with him via email at:

Mike Sperl is a partner in Direct Export, a company specializing in lovely silk flowers (yes, I have bought them for my store!) in Dallas, TX.  He and his wife, Kathy, have two adult children - Nick graduated from A&M in May and has joined Mike at Direct Export full time.  Kait is 24 and has been working since graduating from Oklahoma University in 2010 for a doctor/nursing recruiting service.  The company has been expanding significantly in recent years, but the Sperls still find time for golf and travel.  They were recently in the Twin Cities to visit family - if you were at the State Fair or the Vikings game and thought you saw your old Gustie-turned Texan pal, Mike, you were not hallucinating!

The Class of 1980 supported the Gustavus Annual Fund in a very significant way this year; 31% of your class contributed to the fund and the total from the Class of '80 was $68,042.77.  Nice work!

Class of '81 News:

Barbara Nelson Hutson has accepted a new position as Advancement Services Management at William Mitchell College of Law.  She's delighted with the prospect of finally being able to wear her Gustie gear on casual Fridays - she had to hide all of that while working at Augsburg College where maroon was the color of the day!  Go Black and Gold!  Barb continues to be part of the Class of ʼ81 team with her work in the Annual Fund.  In her spare time, she managed to squeeze in three adventures this summer.  Barb and husband, Dick Hutson '81, went to Hat Island in the Puget Sound.  They golfed, dug clams and filled their crab pots every day.  I’m not totally sure if one wants one's crab pot full or not - but from the tone of Barb's email, I'm guessing it's a good thing.  In July, Barb and her daughter canoed 14 miles from Minneapolis to St Paul.  She wound up swimming in the river at the second lock and dam due to turbulence from high water.  A good Samaritan bridged their canoe so she could climb the ladder in the lock wall and back into the canoe.  Whew!  Apparently this was no deterrent for Barb - she got back in the canoe for a women's trip to the BWCA.  She learned how far a mile-long portage really is and also learned some good tips to make the way back easier - candy bars for energy and full water bottles!

Cindy Rule Gardner has also been spending time outdoors this summer.  She reported enjoying her new paddle boards (I just write these letters, I don't necessarily understand them - the only paddle boards I know about are those which the aforementioned Alphs might have used on their pledges....perhaps I need to get out more).  Her family is very active!  All three kids went to YMCA camp Widjiwagan and enjoyed trips on an artic river, Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains or in the BWCA.  Her oldest graduated from Mounds Park Academy last spring and has an exciting gap year planned in Patagonia with NOLS and then Panama to improve his Spanish.  Her junior is almost always in training for Nordic Skiing (they are hoping for snow this year.......) and her 8th grader is a cross-country runner, a dancer and a Nordic Skier.  Cindy's husband, Jamie, works at 3M and enjoys the chance to escape to work in his woodshop.  They are enjoying life in Stillwater, MN.

Marta Simon Knick lives in Shakopee, MN, and is looking forward to a new school year with her 4th grade class at Sun Path Elementary School. She enjoyed a getaway this summer to visit relatives in Utah.  While there, she attended three plays in three days at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City.  I think Marta is on a personal mission to Save the Arts in Utah!

Nancy Fleming Nelson reports her eldest son is now an Eagle Scout!  Her second son is underway on his own Eagle Scout project - a traditional project which involves lots of dirt and laying sod at his school.  Nancy told me there's nothing much new in her own life - I think we can all assume that's because she's spending a lot of quality time with bottles of Shout, Tide and her washing machine, trying to get all that dirt out!  Congrats to the Eagle Scouts in the Nelson family - an accomplishment to be proud of.

In the Scandinavian Studies portion of our class letter, I can report that Tom Skold, a full-blooded Swede from a Gustavus family, has recently moved to Decorah, Iowa - a place he tells me is the most Norwegian Place on God's earth and home to Luther College.  He is the executive chef at the Hotel Winnesheik.  I promised him that I was sure some of us must have reason to visit Decorah soon and would pop in to enjoy his creations in the hotel restaurant.  Please note, I am VERY Danish - so this paragraph now has all three Scandinavian flags flying.  I never know if the Finns are feeling Scandinavian at the moment or not so I think its okay we don't have them covered.

When you get back from visiting Tom in Decorah, I have another offer to relay to you:  Lisa Mundstock Mansell has checked in with all sorts of news.  She lives in Lino Lakes with her husband, Colin (whom you might recall she met in England while doing her student teaching).  They will be celebrating their 30th anniversary next May.  They have a son, Graham, who is a sophomore at SDSU - a Jackrabbit.  They also have a daughter, Laura, who graduated from St. Olaf in 2011 (I bet St. Olaf thought they were the most Norwegian Place on God's earth - but now Tom Skold has straightened that out!).  Lisa has been a kindergarten teacher in the Forest Lake School District since she graduated from Gustavus.  But here's the really fun news:  After spending many years visiting her parents in Lake City on summer weekends, they decided to buy themselves a sailboat - and they are loving it!  Being Rolling Stones fans, they named her GIMME SHELTER and she is docked at the Lake City Marina from mid-April to late-October.  They sleep, eat and sail on the boat.  They will welcome any Gustie friends to stop by and they will take us sailing - look for them on the 900 dock.  How nice is that?  Thanks, Lisa and Colin!!!

Sandy Samuelson Thompson is living in Tucson, AZ, where she is the lead school psychologist in the Vail School District.  She also does some educational consulting on the side.  I read all of that and thought about Sandy's life and how serious and academic it all is....until I continued to read on.  She has taken up motorcycling and has been riding for about two years.  She owns a Harley Street Bob and a Triumph Thruxton.  She also gets around by riding bicycles and running.  But her first love is still scuba diving whenever she can get out of the desert.  She's on her way to Kona to dive aboard the Kona Aggressor for a week in October.  She lives with her boxer dog, Louie and her "wonderful beau," Steve.  What a fun life - enjoy every moment, Sandy!

I was delighted to hear from my old pal, Miriam Anderson.  It’s clear - she loves being a Gustie mom!  She just got home from moving her daughter, Kelsey Abele, back to campus - an early move in as Kelsey is on the Forensics Team.  The team starts traveling to weekend tournaments the last of September and their season doesn't end until the middle of April.  Wow - these forensic kids have stamina to keep up that schedule along with all the rest of their studies.  Kelsey is living in the new Carlson International Center.  Miriam described this new dorm to me....a suite of four single rooms sharing a bathroom - it sounds lovely.  This is yet one more example of how things are continuing to evolve at our alma mater.  Students submit an essay to get into this awesome new dorm!  Miriam is looking forward to attending Christmas in Christ Chapel this year as Kelsey has also made the Gustavus Choir.  Hopefully many of us will also get to CCC so our favorite Missourian (is that what you guys call yourselves, Miriam?) will get to see some familiar faces.

However, I've checked into holiday concert etiquette - I'm pretty sure we need to stay in our seats and not break into an impromptu flash mob in the middle of Christ Chapel; even if the Class of ʼ81 is there in force - we need to contain ourselves!  Amy Linner Quarberg - that means you, too!

Julie Videen Finch has recently sent her daughter off to college in Missouri (Julie and Miriam have managed to keep the population of the states of Minnesota and Missouri constant with the exchange of their daughters!).  The excitement and trepidation of this college adventure has Julie thinking a lot about her college years.  As she points out, it seems that no time at all has passed, and yet somehow some of us seem to have some gray hairs which tell us otherwise.  She and her husband have just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.  Julie is still running her solo law practice, focused on business issues, trademarks, copyrights and social media.  She's involved in 4-H programs and the equestrian community.  She almost had her first ride with the Windy Ridge Riders Drill Team at the State Fair this year but was injured in a fall at the Washington County performance and broke a rib.  Bummer!  Not one to be stopped by little set-backs like a broken rib, she is already looking forward to trying it again next year - this time perhaps with a seatbelt on the saddle.  I think she's kidding about that...but if not, hopefully she also knows something about patent law so she can have a saddle seatbelt business going on the side!  Her favorite motto is this:  "Take Chances.  Make Mistakes.  Get Messy."  Just what we did in our college years!  And now she's encouraging her daughter to do the same, while continuing to follow the same advice herself.

I've been waiting a long time to include a little piece of news I found in the Hastings Star Gazette a year or so ago.  Please note, Kathy did not send this news in - I think she’s far too humble for that!  Kathy Leibbrand Swanson won FIRST PLACE in the Hastings Chocolate Chip Cookie Baking Contest!  Way to go, Kathy!  I think we now know who to call when we need to bake something special!

Julie Morton Vizanko was married a year ago and is happily living in Duluth, MN.  She has two "excellent adult children."  She is working at Park State Bank in Duluth.  She sends her greetings to all of us!

Scott Dee is continuing to make his mark in the world of Swine Veterinarians.  He continues his work at the University of Minnesota, both in teaching and in research.  There is no doubt his work is extremely important nowadays, with swine diseases often making front-page news.  Scott has recently been awarded the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Citation from Gustavus, one of many prestigious awards which also include Swine Veterinarian Practitioner of the Year and Pfizer Award for Research Excellence.  He has been a swine consultant in 34 U.S. States and 23 counties in MN.  He is a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists and has undertaken over 300 speaking engagements in 25 countries.  Our friend, Scott, is one very busy man.  Congratulations on your most recent award, Scott!

As for me (Leslie Nielsen), nothing has changed much - still in the retail floral industry where there's never a dull moment as we work with people on many of the most emotion-filled moments of their lives.  My own emotions were put into action this August when I had to watch my beloved niece, Bumperdoodle (and yes, she is still allowing me to use that nickname even though she's all grown up now), go off to college.  You know me well enough to know that I had really, really hoped she would be a Gustie.  But apparently when one wants to be a physical therapist and there is a school called St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, which has a PT program which admits freshman with a promise to have them through their Ph.D. in six years, even an aunt's begging, bribing, pouting might not bring a new Gustie into the fold.  The six hour drive to Davenport is precisely 4 hours and 40 minutes more than I had hoped for (but the good news is, she also didn't go to St. Olaf which would have been only 30 minutes from Hastings!).  Bump and I had a grand time during the heat wave in New York City in June, doing our usual Broadway marathon.  That trip was followed up by me taking the four nephews to Chicago.  Fabulous musicals with her - looking at thousands of jellyfish at the unbelievably overcrowded Shedd Museum and listening to non-stop Fantasy Football discussions with the boys - which "vacation" do you think was more my speed?  But the boys amuse me to no end and a good time was had in both adventures.  I continue to be very active in supporting education through Hastings Public Schools Foundation and am in the midst of co-chairing a gala to raise significant dollars for our endowment.  Love that kind of work!

Steve and Susie (Bjorling ʼ83) Heim have very exciting news:  They are just weeks away from acquiring new names:  Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Papa, Mopsy and Popsy - or whatever they and the new little Miss Heim choose to brand them.  They are going to be such amazing grandparents....this baby is going to know her way around Target Field, JoAnn Fabrics, American Swedish Institute, garden centers and St Peter before she can walk!

All of us on the Class Officer team, Lori Rutter Anderson, Linda Norman Reding, Denise Connly Fleming, Barb Nelson Hutson, Betsy Schaller, Steve Heim and I are so proud of the Class of '81 (we love you, Class of ʼ80, too.......but since the award could only go to one class and we got it, our pride is focused on the ʼ81ers) - as we received a Decade Award from Gustavus at the recent Class Leadership gathering.  Decade Awards go to classes with the greatest number of dollars donated to the Annual Fund and with the greatest percentage of donors per class.  1981 won the Cec Eckhoff Award for our decade for largest percentage of classmates contributing.  37% of our class contributed, together giving $78,30.13 during the last annual fund year.  Thank you for your generosity!  Giving to Gustavus is a joy - because our College continues to give to us in so many ways.  Let's do it again next year - perhaps we can even start a friendly competition with the Class of ʼ80.

There’s a brand new way to connect to old friends through Gustavus - the Online Gribly!  Visit and log in.  If you don't remember your password, go to  Your user name is the first letter of your first name followed by the first seven letters of your last (maiden) name, followed by an underscore and then your full class year.  For example, mine is lnielsen_1981....because my ancestors were clever enough to limit our last name to precisely seven letters!  You can add a new photo and "star" your friends.  I have to admit, I have not done this yet - but it sounds really cool and as soon as I meet my class letter and Quarterly deadlines, I'll be on it!

The best way to connect is still in person though.  And in that spirit, we’re planning another mini-reunion and hope to see lots of lots of you from the Classes of '80 and '81!  It'll be a great chance to see classmates - but also those from the other class who we so rarely get to see.  Watch for an email to announce a date and time!  These mini-reunions are so much fun - just a casual night out with friends, enjoying a glass of wine or beer, a little something to nibble on and lots and lots of laughter.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.  Please keep in touch - we'll be doing class letters on a regular basis again now and can't do it without your news!

Leslie Nielsen

1981 Co-Class President

Campus News

Alumni Career Exploration

Where Dreams Meet Reality: Alumni Networking and Transition” will be offered again with support from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Catherine Beyer Breet (  This program is designed for anyone who is unemployed, underemployed, or unhappily employed.  It takes participants through the process of naming gifts, talents, and passions and finding where to use them in the world.  This event is scheduled at St. Mary’s University this fall on Tuesdays Sept. 25, Oct. 9 and 23, and Nov. 6, from 6–8 p.m.  This four-part classroom series includes full access to the Online Job Hunt Coaching System.  The series is being offered for $199 (Gustavus alumni $149).  Live outside the Twin Cities metro area?  The series will be offered in webinar format for $149 (Gustavus alumni $99).  Register at:

Nobel Conference – “Our Global Ocean”

October 2-3 – Nobel Conference 48 examines, “Our Global Ocean” as a source of inspiration, danger, and knowledge.  The conference will examine our oceans as a source of inspiration, danger, and knowledge.  We know less about our own oceans than we do about the surfaces of other planets hundreds of millions of miles away.  Top researchers in biogeochemistry, oceanography, deep-sea biology, molecular genetics, and coral ecology will discuss the most relevant topics concerning our mysterious oceans.  Tickets for this year’s Nobel Conference are available at:

The Royal Visit

Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden will visit Gustavus in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the College by Swedish immigrants in 1862.  The Royal Visit to Gustavus will be Friday, October 5, 2012.  For the full schedule of the day’s events, visit visit.  Many events require tickets.

Hall of Fame

The Gustavus Adolphus College Athletics Department has selected nine individuals for induction into its Athletics Hall of Fame.  The 2012 class of inductees include Rhonda Gorseth Alberts ’93 (Gymnastics), Brian Brekke ’95 (Football),Kara Bloomquist Drekonja ’96 (Cross Country),Brett Gross ’96 (Track & Field),Brock Guettler ’92 (Basketball),Mark Kruger ’86 (Tennis),Jason Lesteberg ’96 (Hockey),Scott Stoneking ’96 (Soccer), and Donald Swanson ’55 (Benefactor).  This group will be honored at the Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet, which will be held in Alumni Hall at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, following the Hall of Fame football game between the Gusties and Hamline University, which is set to take place at 1 p.m. at Hollingsworth Field.

Homecoming 2012

October 12-14 – Homecoming 2012 will include the Sesquicentennial Closing Dinner, reunions, a football game, a performance by The Bend of the River Big Band, and more.  For information on reunion registration and the entire homecoming schedule, visit

Alumni Travel Opportunities

2013 Friends of Music Salzburg choral Tour

Gustavus Friends of Music has arranged for a Gustavus Alumni choir tour to Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague June 23 – July 5, 2013.  Singers and non-singers alike are welcome.  Once in Salzburg, the singers will join the Mozart International Choral Festival and perform Mozart’s Coronation Mass in the Salzburg Cathedral on June 29.  Not a singer?  There is space available for non-performers as well.  For more information contact Jackie Neeck Peterson ’77 at or 800-726-6192.

2013 Pearls of Central Europe

Experience Central Europe with Gustavus professor emeritus of history Dr. Tom Emmert from September 10—21, 2013.  This 12-day Gustavus study tour combines learning, exploring, leisure, lecture, food, and arts with special touches, all led by a faculty expert.  The journey is focused around three showpiece cities of Central Europe:  Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.  For more information, contact Tom Emmert at

Gustie Breakfasts - Twin Cities – New time and place

Engage with other alumni and learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Twin Cities Gustavus alumni breakfast.  Please join us at the American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis), on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 a.m.  Cost is $10.  Gustie breakfasts are also being held on campus the second Wednesday of each month.

September 19 – President Ohle

October 17 – Nobel Conference

November 21 – Donald Ostrom

December 19 – Terry Morrow

Upcoming Chapter Gatherings

National Chapter events for alumni, parents and friends are scheduled for the 2012-13 academic year and will focus on the College’s pillar of “Teaching and Learning.”  Please save the date for the event in your area.  Tim and location details will be forthcoming

Nov. 8 – New York City

Nov. 10 – Boston

Nov. 10 – Dallas

Nov. 11 – Houston

Nov. 13 – Washington, DC

Jan. 29 – Phoenix

Jan. 31 – Tucson

Feb. 3 – Los Angeles

Feb. 4 - Palm Springs

Feb 13 – Tampa

Feb. 15 – Naples

Feb. 28 – Seattle

Mar. 2 – San Francisco

Mar. 9 – Madison

Mar. 12 – Denver

Mar. 14 – Chicago

Apr. 11 – Atlanta