Class of '81
November 2007

Dear Classmates,

I’m a bit late in getting this class letter out.  What happened to the fall?  It seems school just started last week and here it is, Thanksgiving time already!  In my case, I actually do know what consumed my last few months―I found myself in the midst of yet another school board campaign.  Let me tell you, school board elections, even in Small-Town America, are NOT for the faint of heart!  After many speeches, interviews, lit drops, flyer inserts, letters to the editor and answering countless questions while grocery shopping, the election is finally over and I will remain on the District 200 school board.  I’m a little worse for the wear but I am certain that the students will soon reenergize me and make me remember why working on their behalf has been such fulfilling work.

Recently, I had an interesting reminder of how our four years together made an impact on our individual lives.  My mother decided that if she was going to wait for the dollar to strengthen against the Euro, she may never again leave our shores.  So, off she went to Tuscany.  She once again chose to travel with a WCCO group and as usual, had a fabulous time.  While on the trip, she met up with the nicest couple from Litchfield.  Their conversation soon turned to their delightful children (that’s not quite the word she uses to describe me when she is speaking to me directly, but I hear that if I’m not in the room she actually seems to think I turned out ok)―and quickly discovered that not only were their children Gusties but also classmates!  Mort (for those of you who have not spoken to me for awhile―“Mort” is our family’s pet name for our mother ―derived from the Danish word for Mother) could not recall their names but she remembered their son, my classmate, is in the turkey farming business in Litchfield and he has a lovely wife who graduated a year after us.  They didn’t select me as co-class agent for nothing…I could guess those names right away!  Greg and Karen (Setterberg ’82) Langmo.  My point in all of this small-world story is that from the moment we set foot on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, the phenomena of “Gustie-hood” started to define who we are and also who our families are.  We are Gusties.  And we all know and celebrate the wonderful ties that bind us.  I’m hoping that the next chapter of this story will be that Greg and Karen and I somehow all find time to get away from our exciting careers and travel someplace fun ourselves…we don’t want to just live vicariously through our retired parents.


  • Dean Stambaugh, New Brighton, just finished his 14th season as assistant varsity and head JV girls’ basketball coach. 
  • Jan Klingman is a propulsion engineer at Boeing.  Get this:  his current project is integrating turbofan jet engines into the new Boeing 787, specializing in cabin noise and engine vibration.
  • Brian and Kim (Beyer ’83) Fragodt, Andover, are keeping themselves quite busy these days.  Brian is a pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, East Bethel.  He was recently elected to a three-year term on the Gustavus Adolphus Association of Congregations Board of Directors.Kim is also an instrumental (get it?) force at Our Saviour’s Lutheran as she is the church music director.  She is also currently working on the release of her first jazz CD.  How awesome is that?  We wish you great success with your CD.
  • Renae Crosby is a senior scientist working in the area of Infectious Diseases at Glaxo Smith Kline, Research Triangle Park, NC.
  • Deborah Henry Diskerud is working as a project manager at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.  Thanks for all your efforts.
  • Jim Swanson wrote to us from Big Bear Lake, CA, which is somewhere in the mountains east of Los Angeles.  He is a partner with Unique Mountain Development, a land development/construction firm which specializes in high-end second homes and condos. 
  • Carrie Armstrong, St Paul, is a territory manager at Ecolab.  She won a national sales achievement award for her work last year. 
  • Tim Swanson, Woodbury, is a senior vice president with Prime Bancshares, Inc.
  • Glen Norton is an attorney with Jensen, Anderson and Sondrall.
  • Lia Andreassen Ferrell has taken a new job as a legal secretary with Legal Aid Society.
  • Patrick Boline continues to work for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dawn Ebeling wrote, “I cannot believe it will be 30 years since I started my attendance at GAC.”  Isn’t that the truth?  Doesn’t it seem like moments ago we were all sitting in Christ Chapel for the first time, listening to Dean Karsten telling us about all the valedictorians, salutatorians and National Merit Scholars in our midst, wondering how on Earth we would be able to hold our heads above water with those people swimming all around us?  And yet, in a blink of an eye, here we all are, 30 years the older, wiser and more experienced―but still young enough to have more than a little “fun” left in us.  Dawn is busy with her job as a tax manager at Gross Mendelsohn in Baltimore.  She is looking forward to trips to Minnesota, Buffalo and Ohio.  In preparation for our next reunion, Dawn is also finding time for wine tastings!  We’ll put her in charge of choosing the right vintage.

 On Volunteer Leadership Day this fall, Steve Heim and I were fascinated to sit in on a conversation with Grady St. Dennis ’92, the new director of church relations at Gustavus.  He is a delightful man who has embraced the task of keeping Gustavus close to the hearts of the associated churches and their spirits and faith at the heart of Gustavus.  Brian will thoroughly enjoy working with Grady in this new role.  I also encourage all of you to find Grady next time you’re on campus―his energy and enthusiasm for all things Gustie and Godly will invigorate you. We are proving to be a prolific class in the CD production department.  Neal Hagberg and Leandra Peak ’83 have several delightful offerings, Brian and Kim have collaborated to produce recordings, and now Kim is in the studio again.  If anyone else is out there recording music, let us know so we can spread the word.  If we keep up this pace, soon we can have a Gustie section at the local record stores.

Marci Mannella Wills has lots of interesting news.  She married Robert Wills on June 3, 2006.  After teaching for 19 years in the St. Peter school system, she is now teaching at Parkside Elementary School in Buffalo.  She was named the 2006 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at its annual fall conference in November.  The award is given to practitioners who are members of MAHPERD and AAHPERD who demonstrate exemplary teaching abilities in their respective grade levels and disciplines.  She also recently received her National Board of Teaching Certificate in Early and Middle Childhood Elementary Physical Education.  To date, she is the only person in the state to have accomplished this certification.  I have watched educator friends go through the process of national certification―it is an extremely rigorous program.  Anyone who attains this goal is truly to be commended.  Not only is it important to be a strong teacher as you start the program, but I have witnessed the profound growth attained along the way by great teachers interacting with other amazing educators and all involved become even better instructors for their students.  Congratulations, Marci!  Clearly, your students are very lucky to have you in their school lives.

Marilyn Weigt McGreevey, Boiling Springs, CO, has taken the plunge and returned to school.  She is a graduate student at Urskin Theological Seminary.  Marilyn can call Corliss Robinson Vadner to get some insight into seminary work.  Corliss graduated last June from Bethel Seminary with a master’s degree in theological studies.  She is now working as an admissions representative at Minnesota Teen Challenge in Minneapolis.  I did a little research on MTC.  Their mission is to help teens achieve a chemical-free lifestyle through Biblical teachings.  What a fascinating job to use one’s theological studies degree!  Corliss’ work sounds extremely rewarding.  As I write these letters and hear about our classmates continuing their education, it always makes me pause for a moment to wonder if it’s time for me to go back to school.  Do you think I could get myself into a turbofan jet engineering program somewhere close to Hastings so I can continue to be a florist during the day?  I’ve really become fascinated by that field since starting to write this letter.

Kathy Roe Shipley has two children, ages 13 and 14.  She continues to teach kindergarten.  As a testament to the fact we’ve all been at our professions for quite some time now, Kathy found that one of the new teachers in her school was a former student.  The young woman insists on continuing to call Kathy “Mrs. Shipley.”  I wonder if she also is inexplicably tempted to ask for milk break and to take a little nap while in staff meetings with her old kindergarten teacher.

Jane Breckner Pederson and her family are off on the adventure of a lifetime.  Her husband had a dream of sailing a boat on the waterways of our nation.  Jane probably thought he would forget about this dream as the reality of home schooling (or would this be called boat schooling?) triplets, moving the boat over land here and there as they make their way around, weather issues etc. hit him.  But the dream lived on and is now a reality.  Jane has continued to work at her job, here in the Twin Cities, three days a week and then flies to meet the boat wherever it happens to be.  The woman is going to have a lot of career options after this is over.  She will certainly know a whole lot about boating.  She will understand the geography of this country better than anyone we know and she will have learned all the tricks of the travel agent trade.  Jane and her family are planning to basically travel all areas of the country south and east of here.  They have cleverly decided to be in the warm southern states during the winter months.  When I last talked to Jane, they planned to complete their travels in time for the kids to start school next fall at home in Wisconsin.  However, she did admit they have considered continuing their water travels for another year which would allow them to travel west as well.  I strongly encourage you to visit their blog at: to follow their journey.  They post often on the site and I promise, you will learn some lessons in history right along with their kids!  We can also communicate on the site to let Jane know we’re thinking about her during this exciting, yet exhausting year.  I think it’s possible that some of you will read about their travels and decide to lock up the house and hit the water too.  In this day of being able to work in so many jobs from remote locations, perhaps we should all follow the Pederson’s and get our feet wet.  Jane, be sure to tell people around you on your frequent flights that you have a classmate who understands turbofan jets and is working to reduce cabin noise and engine vibration!

We have a star in our midst…John Erickson was inducted into the Gustavus Athletics Hall of Fame November 3.  He is our own private hockey and soccer hero.  Congratulations, John!  We’re proud of you!  John is in great company with other classmates in the Hall including:  Joyce Detlefsen Komorouski, Cynthia Wentworth Kraemer, Dave Najarian, and Ron Straka.  I’m still waiting to be inducted into the Daiquiri Queen Hall of Fame.

On that note, I’ll leave you to read some news from Gustavus about what’s happening on campus.

Campus News

President Peterson Announces Retirement

President Jim Peterson ’64 announced in August that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the current academic year, capping a five-year term.  His early announcement will provide the Board of Trustees enough time to undertake a thorough search process and assist in a smooth transition to new leadership.  Peterson will serve through June 2008 and has offered to assist in an orderly transition beyond that date if needed.

Moes provide gift for Kendall Center

Gustavus parents Robert and Karin Moe have made a $1 million commitment to the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning. This leadership gift brings the College closer to its goal of fully endowing the center, which is dedicated to advancing active and interdisciplinary learning across the campus. When fully funded, the endowment will generate funds to support two main areas: faculty development and student-faculty research.

New football stadium opened

On September 8, the football team played its inaugural game at the College’s new football stadium.  The synthetic-surfaced field is recessed below ground level and features an earthen berm surrounding the entire field.  The field will continue to be named Hollingsworth Field after the late Lloyd Hollingsworth, who served as the College’s football coach from 1942-1960 and athletic director from 1961-1978.

Athletics Hall of Fame Induction

On Saturday, November 3, Gustavus inducted the following people into the Athletic Hall of Fame:  Tim DeJarlais ’91 (golf), John Erickson ’81 (hockey), Dave Hultgren ’92 (baseball), Craig Miller ’91 (cross country), Mindy Mayerchak Oosten ’88 (softball & soccer), Mike Schumacher ’91 (football), Ann Sommerness Simms ’92 (swimming), and Ryan Skanse ’92 (tennis).

Twin Cities Gustie Breakfasts

Join other Minneapolis/St. Paul area Gusties for a once-a-month morning cup of coffee and breakfast while getting an update on Gustavus. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100), 8:00-9:30 a.m., $10 per person.  Reserve by calling Don Swanson ’55 at 763/533-9083

Wednesday, December  19

Margaret Kelliher ’90, speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives

Alumni Fund

The 2008 Alumni Fund has a goal of $1.95 million from 8,000 donors.  Continue a Gustie tradition ― join other alumni to reach the goal with your participation in the 2008 Alumni Fund.

Refer a Gustie

As the school year starts, many high school seniors are getting serious about their college selection. If you know of high school seniors or juniors who may be a good fit at Gustavus, please send their names to the Office of Admission at Gustavus to help recruit the next generation of Gusties.  Contact the Admission Office at 800/GUSTAVU(S).

Calendar of events:

Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2        Christmas in Christ Chapel

December 6                 St. Lucia Day celebration on campus

Wishing all of you a warm holiday season,

Leslie Nielsen

1981 Co-class Agent