Class of '81
April 2005

Dear Class of ’81:

Here I am again writing the class letter that I was hoping to start three or four months ago.  I used to pride myself in the way I kept in touch with people.  I remember at Gustavus, writing my high school buddies, and checking my p.o. every day hoping for something personal.

It’s amazing how things have changed in that department.  Twenty-seven years ago, I was happy I lived at the far end of Sorensen Hall, so when the only hall phone rang and some upper classman would yell “Freshman!!!” it was usually not me who had to run down the hall and answer.  Now we have a freshman at Gustavus and if we want to reach him, we just call his cell phone or send an email.  Instant communication – not that it means he’ll tell us much.

I know Susie (Bjorling ’83) and I aren’t the first to have college students, or a Gustie offspring, but I’ll share a little of the road that got him there.  It has been quite a ride for us so far.  Our oldest, Peter is a great kid.  Like a lot of seniors, he didn’t put a ton of effort into his college search.  We tried hard to not push Gustavus on him, but did voice our bias toward small liberal arts schools.  Peter didn’t visit or apply to Gustavus.  His field got narrowed to Concordia, UMD and Iowa State.  The winner was Iowa State.  The stated reason was because the Admissions Office there had jellybeans in the Cyclone school colors.  There was also some influence from a friend of his from high school, who became his freshman roommate.

Things started out pretty well at Iowa State.  Susie and I were very impressed with the campus and the orientation process.  Peter seemed to like it too.  When we’d ask, he’d say things were going just fine.  Then just a couple days before parents’ weekend we got an email.  A long one.  Things weren’t going as well as we thought.  Poor kid probably spent the whole night writing this email.  It was a remarkably well-written, well thought out argument for why he should transfer to Gustavus!  That caused his parents to have mixed feelings.  We talked that weekend and decided to explore a transfer.  He visited, liked it and moved forward.  We moved him in for J-term and now the second semester is flying by.

Peter lives in Norelius (Co-ed).  His roommate’s name is Michael Johnson.  Two doors down from him there is a kid named Michael Johnson.  Good old Gustavus!  We’ve already enjoyed the trips down to St. Peter.  We are looking forward to experiencing Gustavus all over again.

I don’t have a lot of class news, but here goes.  ARNE KILDEGAARD is associate professor of economics at the University o Minnesota – Morris.  Athena (Owen ’83) is executive director of the Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance and a roster artist with the COMPAS/WATTS program.  JULIE (ALTMAN) SIMACEK and husband, Mark, have a daughter they adopted in November of 2004 named Charlee Ann. 

CHRISTY (KIMZEY) RICHMOND married Ernest Richmond on September 4, 2004.  She is an application support analyst at Lane Limited in Tucker, Georgia.  MARTA SIMON KNICK is teaching fifth grade at Sun Path Elementary in Shakopee.  She led an EarthExplore student group on a two-week trek out west last summer.  DEAN STAMBAUGH is information technology director for Merrill Communications in St. Paul.  In his spare time, Dean is in his 15th year of involvement with EXALT contemporary Christian music ministry and coaches the Irondale girls B-squad basketball team.  RICHARD WALLER is pastor at Millenocket Church of the Nazarene (in Maine).  He is also enrolled in the master of divinity program at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Editor’s note – if Millenocket is spelled wrong, it’s because I’m going to need bifocals before too long and the writing was kind of small.

SANDY NIELAND taught as an adjunct professor at Winona State University last fall.  She taught education majors a human relations course.  MARY (ROLF) BODIN is a part-time transplant coordinator.  Her children are now 5 and 6 years old.  SUSAN GAMBILL-READ and husband, Patrick, adopted a girl from India named Jyoti.  ERIC HEDLUND is senior vice president with Sundt Construction and manages commercial construction in Arizona.  His wife, Julie (Ellwein ’80), is substitute teaching in the Mesa district.  Their children, Andrew (16) and Lisa (13) are active in music in their schools. 

I recently got my annual donation in to Gustavus (I used to be more prompt with that too), so I can with a clearer conscience plead for yours.  If you haven’t sent in a gift yet this year, now is the time.  The fund year ends May 31, so please act soon if you want to be counted this year.  The latest tally gives your class agents a mixed report card.  We had a total of 108 donors this year (compared to 138 for last year) and $21,596 (compared to $22,797).  It looks like we’re on track to zip past last year in total dollars, but our donor number has been slipping.  Thank you to all who have contributed, and if you haven’t yet, please consider making a donation before the end of May.

Have a great Spring!


Steve Heim

1981 Co-class Agent


Campus News

Gustavus has been known for its strong tradition of alumni participation in annual giving.  Gusties support their Alma Mater in many ways and show their pride with their gifts.  All alumni and current students have benefited from previous and current support.  Gustavus will be as strong as its alumni want it to be.  The 2005 Alumni Fund closes May 31.  Make sure you are included with many members of your class and other alumni that have chosen to keep Gustavus strong.  Three easy ways to give – send your check to the Alumni Office (by using the enclosed envelope), call 866-487-3863, or on-line at 

Alumni Awards

The Gustavus Alumni Association has announced 2005 award recipients.  The Greater Gustavus Award to George Torrey ’55 for his lifetime volunteer service and philanthropy to the College. Distinguished Alumni Citations to G. Barry Anderson ’76, Apple Valley, MN, associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court; Deanna Nelson ’64, Cary, NC, president/founder, BioLink Life Sciences, Inc.; Rick Webb ’73, Edina, MN, owner of Ciao Bella, Zelo and Bacio Restaurants; and John Wirth ’75, Pacific Palisade, CA, writer/executive producer, Paramount Studios.  First Decade Awards to Joe Gaugler ’95, Lexington, KY, assistant professor, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine; Debbie Lightly Mascaro ’95, Fargo, ND, research scientist, North Dakota State University Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.


The Gustavus women’s hockey team finished third at the NCAA national championship after winning the MIAC title, the men’s basketball team won the MIAC regular season title and conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA national tournament, the men’s swimming and diving team won the MIAC title and placed seventh at the NCAA national tournament and had seven swimmers earn All-America honors and the women’s team had four swimmers earn All-America honors.

Extraordinary Students

Senior Rachel Batalden, a double major in mathematics and secondary education with a 3.898 grade point average and two-time MIAC All-Conference selection at setter for the women’s volleyball team, has been selected as one of 56 student-athletes from across the country to receive a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Senior Paul Fraser, a music and computer science major has been selected as the winner of the second annual Caltech-Occidental Composition Contest for new music for concert band. The contest drew entries from all over the world, and as the winner, Paul will receive a cash award and a recording of the world premiere of the work at a concert by the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band in Pasadena, Calif., in May.

Bricks and mortar

Southwest Residence Hall is being constructed across the Campus Drive from the arboretum on the west side of the campus and is scheduled to be finished by June.  The L-shaped facility is configured with apartments for four and six and will accommodate nearly 200 students.  A hostel space for summer programs and confirmation retreat groups is included in the residence’s plans.

With the new Southwest Residence Hall coming on-line, the College will be taking down Wahlstrom Hall to make way for future residential construction.  Crews will start the dismantling process in July with asbestos abatement, and the Kasota-stone residence hall will be razed in August.  Alumni returning for reunion and commencement festivities on May 27–29 will be able to take a last tour through the building’s public areas, stairwells, and walk-through sections following a “decommissioning” ceremony to be held on Saturday morning, May 28.

Construction crews working on the renovation of Old Main discovered a cistern under the basement flooring in March.  Gutting the interior has provided evidence of layers upon layers of remodeling done over the years, including an old stairwell in the middle of the building and what appears to be an attempt to raise the third-floor ceiling.  The Old Main project, which includes the installation of an elevator in the northwest corner of the building, is scheduled to be completed in August.

The education and nursing departments have been relocated to the newly erected Mattson Hall, which is sited just west of the Schaefer Fine Arts Center and Prairie View Residence Hall, on the south side of the campus.  These departments will remain there until a new social science center is built at some point in the future.

Upcoming Events

  • Association of Congregations Meeting – April 23
  • G.I.V.E. Community Service Day – April 30
  • Class of 1955 and 50-Year Club Reunions – May 27 & 28
  • Commencement – May 29
  • Alumni Fund closes – May 31
  • Reunions on Homecoming – October 7 & 8
  • Nurses Reunion – October 8