Class of ’81
April 2010

Hello Classmates,

I’ve been procrastinating for two months getting this letter written.  I have been thinking about all of you and wanting to communicate with you; however I was hoping if I waited long enough someone would actually send some class news to write about!  Thankfully, a few of you had sent in little snippets of an update when mailing in a gift to Gustavus, but most of the class seems to have been too busy to keep in contact with their class agents.  I’ve never been one to enjoy being ignored for any period of time─but it’s particularly disconcerting for me to know you’re all doing wildly fascinating things which obviously take so much time you don’t have enough minutes left to tell your class agents about these exciting adventures.

I attempted to write an interesting letter around the precisely four sentences you had collectively sent our way.  It didn’t work.  Then I tried to elaborate on all the exciting details of my life.  I filled the pages with high drama highlights like running into Tom Opsahl while Christmas shopping at the Galleria, spotting Linda Norman Reding at the fabulous Kevin Kling ’79 one-man holiday show at the Guthrie, or meeting up with Debbie “Petey” Petersen Pasvogel on the grand staircase at the Minneapolis Club.  These chance encounters, while delightful at the time, hardly were the backbone of a riveting class letter.  Desperate to find subject matter for this letter, I resorted to sending an e-mail to a random, eclectic group of classmates, begging them to help me out.  You’ll be glad to know this random sampling of ’81ers saved the day─and saved you from reading many, many pages about my nieces and nephews and the life and times of a florist in Hastings, MN.

Before I get into the findings from my e-mail research, I’ll fill you in on what’s new in my life.  Bumperdoodle, the infamous niece, has managed to acquire her driver’s license.  Oh my goodness.  I began fearing for her life, as well as the lives of all Hastings residents, I also had to face the reality of how quickly the years flew by since she was a little girl.  The fearing for everyone’s safety has been put on the back burner because her father rarely lets her get behind the wheel (is this resonating with any of my over-protective classmates?).  Originally, he barred her from driving during icy conditions, and then expanded the moratorium to all winter driving.  Now he just ignores her when she points out that its spring and the roads have very little ice on them (for you who live outside Minnesota, we have enjoyed a glorious early and very warm spring this year!).  Normally, I would help her fight her battles─but this time, I’m with my brother…it’s hard to protect her from every little thing that could happen if she’s out there driving here, there and everywhere.  Don’t worry─by the time she’s 24 and her youngest brother is ready to get behind the wheel, I’m sure we’ll have all gotten used to the idea and she’ll be able to start driving.  The four nephews are all in cahoots.  They harass Bump about her driving skills, or their perception of her lack thereof.   Not one of these four clowns seems to have figured out his teasing words will be coming right back to bite him very soon when each attempts to figure out how to put the car into gear in just a very few years.

In other parts of my life, I find myself focusing on the economy almost as much as the newspapers and television news does.  When we graduated from college, right smack into the Great Recession of 1981-82, we knew no different.  This time, we do know exactly how life has changed.  I, for one, am ready to move onto the next phase of the economic cycle─the upturn!

My business remains strong─but it takes so much more effort and hours on my part to ensure that nowadays, than it used to.  My “second job,” District 200 School Board, reminds me daily how much of an effect the economic winds have on our lives.  Like all schools in Minnesota, we are bracing for some serious reductions in the 2011-12 school year.  To adequately prepare for the shortfalls which are just around the corner, we spend a lot of time planning now, trying to make thoughtful reductions wherever we can.  It’s just so frustrating though…kids are coming to school with more and more needs─academically, socially, physically, and emotionally.  Funding cuts will not only preclude us from meeting these additional needs, but also force us to cut some of the programs currently in place.  I have heard that some of the rest of you are also serving on your local school boards─please send an e-mail to – I’ll create an e-mail group so we can chat together about what’s going on in our various schools and learn of great new opportunities from each other.

Let’s move on to news from classmates who certainly did not disappoint me with their responses about their active lives.

Susan Seiwert Conner has celebrated her 25th year at Cassiday Schade LLP.  Recently, she was recognized once again as an Illinois Leading Lawyer in medical malpractice defense.  She is the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, IL.  Chicago Lawyer Magazine plans to interview her later this month.  On the home front, Sue is experiencing mixed emotions about having an empty nest next year.  Her oldest daughter, Clare, has just finished her first year of college at St. Louis University and her youngest daughter, Ann, will be graduating from high school this spring and will attend Loyola Marymount University’s film school in the fall.  In preparation for this change, Sue has made a list of goals, which include getting at all those jobs we put off until tomorrow─baby books, photo albums etc.  She is also quite diligent at the gym, which is helping to fight the battle against gravity we all found out exists as we’ve turned 50!  Better yet, she feels great!  Sue sent two messages…classmates are welcome to look her up if we find ourselves in Chicago─she enjoys being out, taking in all her beautiful city has to offer.  She also sends a big “congrats” to the Gustavus Political Science Department anniversary.  The article in the Quarterly about her former professors quickly brought Sue back to her junior year in Washington, DC─the fall of 1979, in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis.  Her recollection is despite the severity of that crisis, visitors could walk easily into any building in Washington with none of the security we encounter today.  The world has indeed changed since then.

And, speaking of the Washington, DC crowd, Jeri Bedient Buchholz, Silver Springs, MD, is associate director for human resources operations and policy at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  She recently spoke at the Washington, DC, Telework Exchange Townhall Meeting promoting Telework for all segments of the Federal workforce.  Well, that’s impressive!  However, I’m even more inspired by the fact Jeri has obviously not lost any of her zest for living away from work too…did you know she celebrated her 50th birthday by renting a villa in Sicily and inviting 10 of her closest friends to join her for two weeks?  Now, that’s what I call a celebration!!!

There’s never an obvious segue into a news clip about Rick Saruna, so I’ll just interject tales of his current activities into the letter here, while we’re all thinking about how awesome it would be to fly off to Sicily to relax for two weeks.  From what I understand about Rick’s work, he could keep us all in that relaxed frame of mind if we would just take a little trip to Canada to visit him.  He is teaching Hypnosis Certification classes…  Yes, we could all become hypnotists!  Rick is teaching NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming – sorry, I really don’t know what that is so you’re on your own figuring out what that’s all about).  He continues his work at his clinic, Body & Mind in Windsor, Ontario where he specializes in weight loss, smoking cessation, and stress work.  In addition, he is teaching his Rapid Emotional Release (RER) method, which quickly removes “stuck” emotional issues, usually within minutes.  Can you believe this guy?  Is there anything he can’t do?  If all that were not enough, Rick will also be found presenting his Thought Shifting Technique at a conference this summer, teaching people how to remove the negative inner voice.  He is almost done writing the Thought Shifting book.  In his spare time, he is working on completing his MBA and has set up a non-profit called Body and Mind Youth Outreach Services, which is a service for “at risk” youth, helping them gain confidence, self esteem and confronting issues of bullying.  Rick assures me he always looks forward to connecting with classmates and invites all of us to add him to our Facebook…never one to do anything in a small way, he is hoping to hear from each and every one of us from the Class of ’81.  For those of us who have not made the Facebook plunge (I know, Barb Nelson Hutson, I did promise you I would do it─I haven’t made the leap quite yet but I will!), we will be able to find Rick at our next class reunion, an event he is already looking forward to very much!  I’m with him─ here’s to an awesome reunion, filled with the joy only seeing old friends can bring, in 201l.  We’ll get dates to you as soon as we have them!

Now, bringing you all back from your states of hypnosis after reading the last paragraph, we’ll come back into U.S. borders by checking in with a couple of old friends in Colorado.  Roxanne Fie Anderson and her husband Ed, have a lovely “yours, mine and ours” family, totaling seven kids ranging in age from 26 to 10.  They also have two daughters-in-law and assorted boyfriends/girlfriends which all add up to a lot of family fun.  Roxanne recently completed six years on the Board of Trustees and Board Chair for the last two years at Colorado Academy.  The family volunteers and supports the efforts of The Salvation Army in Denver and are working on an adult rehabilitation center which will be named in honor of Roxanne’s parents.  This sort of philanthropy seems to be common in our Gustie friends and yet, it never ceases to amaze me how giving all of you are.   In addition to all the above-mentioned activities, Roxanne and Ed own Precast Concepts which manufactures reinforced concrete pipe and box culverts for infrastructure.  Under the name StoneBilt Concepts, they produce concrete paving slabs which look like stone.  As she and I were exchanging emails recently, they were still hoping to fly to Munich the next day for business─but I’m not sure the plane has taken off as this was in the midst of the volcanic ash, European airport shut-down mess.  Were any of the rest of you stranded on one side or the other of the ocean during that dramatic shut-down?

Another Colorado friend, Craig Kozak, lives his life “up in the air” and probably understood the whole volcanic airspace shut-down deal better than I did.  He and his wife, Sue, live in Ft. Collins, CO.  Sue is a physician (OB/GYN) with the Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado.  Craig is a flight instructor in Greeley with Poudre Aviation.  He flies charity missions for Angel Flight and Lifeline Pilots in his Piper Saratoga.  These two groups provide free transportation to folks going to or from treatment (or to visit someone in treatment) for whom regular airline service is either unavailable (for his Minnesota pals, he points to small towns, without an airport, like St. Peter) or financially not feasible (huge medical bills, lower income, etc).  Craig and the other pilots donate all costs of the mission and receive no reimbursement other than the heartfelt thanks of the people they feel fortunate to help.  Passengers often need to go further than a typical small plane will go in 2-3 hours, in which case the mission is split into legs with different pilots taking part.  Last week he met a passenger in Lander, WY and flew them to Denver after another pilot had flown them from their home in rural Montana.  As he points out, there is no easy way to do that on scheduled airlines and it replaced a 12+ hour drive with a couple of 2 hour flights.  What outstanding work you’re doing, Craig!  The Class of ’81 can be proud to claim you!

Another classmate who spends his day helping others is Mike Potter.  After 25 years working for a for-profit food distributor, he decided to stick his toe into the non-profit world.  I think it’s safe to say he is now into that world with both feet and he’s making a difference!  As you will recall, Mike has never been one to toot his own horn, so he neglected to tell me what role he plays with his new employer, Second Harvest Heartland.  I happened to catch him on one of the news shows before Christmas, I am pretty certain he is at or near the top of the organization.  The extraordinary thing about Mike is that he is equally talented working side by side with all the individuals who make the place run and in creating a vision to constantly improve the organization and bringing all the others along to help him make the vision a reality.  So, regardless what his job title is, I know Second Harvest Heartland is a better, more effective place because he is there.  For those of you outside the area, this non-profit warehouse donated food and delivers it to the food shelves and community kitchens throughout a large area.  They also run some food distribution programs for the federal government.  Second Harvest is accomplishing their mission of ending hunger through community partnerships.  In the last three years their volume has increased from 37 million pounds per year to almost 60 million pounds this year.  They also work closely with a national organization of 200 other food banks called Feeding America.  As he always manages to do, Mike has connected with several Gusties who are adding their own skills and resources to make Second Harvest Heartland even stronger.

Nathan Sager is celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination in June.  He is in his 14th year of serving as senior pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Virginia, MN, and 10th year of teaching classes in ethics, world religions and philosophy at Mesabi Range Community College in Virginia.  He meets annually with a gathering of Lutheran ethicists.  I recently attended a Garrison Keillor event where he had the audience in tears of laughter describing gatherings of Lutheran pastors.  Perhaps Mr. Keillor should connect with Nathan and attend a Lutheran ethicists event…something tells me those folks might soon find themselves floating on Lake Woebegone on a pontoon, enjoying a bland lunch of hot dishes and jello.  Nathan is expecting to become a grandfather for the first time very soon─now the fun really starts!  And, just in case he has a few spare minutes to putter around, he plans to renovate a bathroom in June.  I would not normally throw powder rooms into a paragraph with such important life events as professorships, Lutheran gatherings and grandparenthood, but anyone who has lived through a bathroom renovation, much less actually been involved in the actual task, knows he’s embarking on an ambitious project!

Ann Bergstrom is also in ministerial work.  She continues to work for Walker Methodist in the Twin Cities as chaplain with the elderly.  She serves five Walker communities which include skilled care, assisted living and independent senior living with services.  She was clever enough to keep any plans she may have for bathrooms out of her e-mail response to me, knowing I might well share details with all of you!

Matt and Sandy (Hinker) Ammentorp are overjoyed to announce the arrival of their first grandchild, Connor James Ammentorp, on June 1, 2009, in Madison.  As he was the first baby born on the home opener, he won lifetime season tickets to the Madison Mallards baseball team.  Can’t you all just see Steve “Heimer” Heim and Jim “Mort” Mortinsen’s faces turning green with envy right now as they are reading that?  If they had only known how important offspring birth dates could be…

I tracked down Curt Shellum, knowing he always has some new twist in life we’d be interested in.  Sure enough, since we last wrote about Curt, he has embarked on Career #3, renewable energy.  He works for Innovative Power Systems, a St. Paul based solar energy business.  He is in technical sales and system design and it has turned out to be a perfect fit for him.  He still owns the property investment business, CLS Homes, which is on year nine since incorporation.  His wife, Jane, is the director of technology in medical education─or at least that’s what Curt thinks her title is.  Unfortunately, I don’t have Jane’s email address to confirm details with her so we’re going to have to take his word on this one.  For those of us who live close enough to Rochester to take in the local music scene there, be on the lookout for Curt.  He plays trumpet in a local jazz combo.  He assures me their fame is growing (he’s obviously so busy signing autographs he can’t quite keep track of Jane’s professional title).  I’m going to try hard to get to Rochester to see this act.  Curt believes if their fame keeps growing at its current rate, they’re going to be really big in another 10-20 years.  Just in time for our 40th or 50th class reunions─I’m thinking we should book them now.

Mark and Sue Broberg are spending their evenings dividing and conquering the demands of two kids in traveling sports by acting as taxi drivers and coaching some of their various teams.  I’m told they run into Karl and Sue (Ruchotzke) Self doing much of the same thing with their very active children.  The Broberg kids are in fifth and seventh grade in the White Bear Lake School District and keep their parents out of trouble by scheduling themselves into a variety of tournaments most weekends.  When he’s not coaching or driving kids to the competition du jour, Mark runs the agency-wide project management office at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.  He humbly suggested to me that he’s not sure all of this is “interesting.”  From what I read in the newspapers, anyone who is responsible for any budget in Minnesota state government right now is most certainly having an interesting and challenging life.

Dave ’80 and Karen Himle Westlund, Hutchinson, MN, can relate to the concept of spending time in the stands watching offspring participate in sports.  Alec is in 9th grade and is active in tennis, hockey and cross country.  Laura is a sophomore at Gustavus, majoring in chemistry (Yeah, Laura!  Have you made it through organic chemistry labs yet?  And, more importantly, do they still have the ice machine outside the chem labs with which to make daiquiris for a few close friends?).  Dan graduated from Gustavus last May and started with Mutual of Omaha in Bloomington the next day.  Whew!  Karen and Dave, you certainly have something to be proud of in that young man to find work in his field so quickly after graduation despite the weak job market.  Karen continues her work at Hutchinson Technology Inc.  She is a sales coordinator working with Toshiba and Hitachi in the disk drive business.  Dave is still self-employed (Westlund Associates) selling insurance and investments.  They spend quite a bit of time in Colorado and also at their cabin which is just north of Hutchinson.

In my “two for the price of one” category, we have the scoop on two classmates from the same household, Jon and Linnea Leaf Asp.  They are empty-nesters since last fall when Emily ventured off to Oberlin College in Ohio.  Their oldest, Kris, is a sophomore at Carleton College.  The Asps are getting around─ they had a wonderful adventure in Peru in September and plan to visit Bhutan and Angkor Wat next October.  By the time they get there, I will have dug out my atlas and figured out where in the world they are going.  Jon keeps very busy as an orthopedic surgeon with Northwest Orthopedics, particularly with the new clinic and hospital in Maple Grove, MN.  He is also an avid biker, putting in thousands of miles a summer……Good Grief!  Did you catch that?  THOUSANDS OF MILES!  By the time you read this, he will have biked the Ironman again on April 25th.  Linnea continues her volunteer work as a docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and as a board member of Frank Theatre in Minneapolis.  Although she does not rack up as many miles as Jon (does anyone?), she enjoys biking near their home and around the lakes of Minneapolis.

JC ’82 and Lori (Rutter) Anderson are loving the empty nest phase of their lives.  Both kids are in college which leaves more time for travel and other fun adventures.  Lori continues as a manufacturer’s representative with Anderson Marketing.  Approximately four years ago, she bought Euro Nest, a store specializing in interior design, reproduction furniture, European antiques and home décor accessories.  Purchasing for the store keeps her on the go as she finds furniture and products at large markets here in the U.S. and also antiques in Europe.  It sounds like the store is doing great as she has recently added more design staff.  Most importantly, she is having a great time in this new venture.

Nancy Sanda Christianson is soon to be an empty-nester too.  Her only son, Adam, is graduating from high school in May and will be attending University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  It sounds like she’s enthused and excited for Adam─and yet still trying to get used to the idea of him being so far away.  I know many of you can relate…although from the emails I’ve been reading, it sounds like once the kids fly the nest, life really isn’t bad at all!  Nancy will still have her two hairy children─her Boxers, Harley and Suzie, home to keep her company.   She also keeps herself busy and active at work, Minnesota Oncology in Woodbury, where she is an RN.

And, now a little potpourri of newsclips from classmates…..Dale Martin, Naperville, IL, has a new position with TFCinfo.  Patti Grammer Kirkham was married to Joe Kirkham on November 7, in St. Pete Beach, FL, at her sister’s house.  They are living in Houston, TX.  Kathy Current Kleen, Bertha, MN, has changed jobs and is now working at Tri County Hospital.  Terri Hobson Horn is now employed by Cigna Behavior Health.  Deb Doak Zabel, Edina, MN, is a volunteer in the development department at  Terry Meyer, Urbandale, IA, is self-employed, making and selling jewelry.  Peter Lundell, Walnut, CA, has a new book published, Prayer Power.  It was published in early 2009 so look for it in bookstores…when you find it, be sure to loudly announce to all around you that you know the author!  Richard and Barb (Nelson) Hutson have contributed another second generation Gustie to campus.  Doug Hutson is finishing his freshman year, living in Sohre.  Apparently Sohre has gone co-ed since our day!  Jean Andreasen, St. Paul, MN, is a consultant with Dairy Innovation Center.  Walter Pavel, Seabrook, TX, is a systems engineer with Space Systems.  Sue Beck Olson, Bloomington, MN, is employed at Minnesota Society of CPAs.  Julie Bening Carroll, New Ulm, MN, is public health director in Nicollet County.  Dean Stambaugh, New Brighton, MN, is the basketball coach for the Breck’s women’s team.  Phillip Baldwin, Stony Brook, NY is working as an associate professor at Stony Brook University in New York.

That’s all the news I could drag out of the Class of ’81─here’s some news from campus:

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 with a large 3-story atrium at the center providing natural light to many of the spaces.  It will qualify for a “gold LEED” qualification as a green building.  This will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  It will house the largest departments on campus (economics and management, psychology, and communications).  Also, plans are under way to renovate 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.

Alumnus, Kurt Elling ’89, Wins Grammy Award

Kurt Elling, a 1989 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, took home his first Grammy Award Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.  Elling won the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category for his album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. This year marked the ninth time Elling was nominated for a Grammy.  Elling typically performs annually at Gustavus and did so most recently on Oct. 10, 2009 in Jussi Björling Recital Hall.  He has also had the distinct honor to perform in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their 350 guests at the White House State Dinner on Nov. 24, 2009.

Gustavus Forensics Wins Nationals

The Gustavus Adolphus College forensics team took first place in the individual events portion of the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament March 19-21 in Minneapolis.  Gustavus amassed 306 points to narrowly defeat Ohio University, which scored 305 points.  A total of 57 colleges and universities participated in the tournament.  Gustavus sophomore Chloe Radcliffe won the Pentathlon competition, which recognizes the top 10 students who compete in at least five events.  First-year student Kate Bissen took first place in Informative Speaking and senior C.J. Hunt also took home a first-place trophy in the Program Oral Interpretation event.

Fantastic Winter for Gustie Athletics

The Gustavus winter athletic teams had great success including MIAC championships in men’s and women’s hockey, women’s basketball, and women’s swimming.  The Gusties finished second in men’s basketball, men’s swimming and diving, and women’s indoor track and field.  Gustavus also played in and hosted the NCAA Div. III Women’s Frozen Four National Hockey tournament in March.

Admission News

Applications for next year are ahead of where they were last year at this time which makes Mark Anderson ’66, the director of admission, very happy.  We graduated two very large classes in the last two years so we need to have somewhat larger classes in order to maintain our enrollment at about 2,500.  Mark Anderson will retire at the end of the academic year so a search is going on to replace him.  Gustavus has had only three directors of admission since 1950 (Howard Holcomb ’49, Owen Sammelson ’58, and Mark Anderson ’66) which is quite an amazing track record.

Health Insurance Available through Alumni Association

During this time of economic uncertainty, many of our alumni, new graduates, and their family members are in need of health insurance.  Short-term and permanent health insurance options are available through the alumni insurance program.  The program is typically promoted to new grads just before and after graduation, but in response to the rising unemployment rate and in an effort to help all of those in need, we’re spreading the word more broadly this year.  This is also perfect for children of alums who are graduating (even if they did not attend Gustavus Adolphus College) and aren’t yet covered under an employer’s health plan.  For more information, individuals can contact the alumni office or contact the program manager directly or 800-635-7801.

New “Make Your Life Count” Website and Facebook Page

Gustavus has created a new “Make Your Life Count” website that includes a variety of feature stories exemplifying the College’s new brand position launched last month.  The stories celebrate Gustavus students, alumni, faculty, staff, programs, events, and organizations.  The website may be accessed from the Gustavus homepage by clicking on the “Make Your Life Count” brandline (in the upper right hand corner) or by visiting  The “Make Your Life Count” stories are also posted on a new Facebook page.  Become a fan and share your own Gustavus story.  When new feature stories are published, they will be communicated on the Gustavus News Twitter, and you may also subscribe (on the Make Your Life Count website) to receive e-mail updates.  To submit a “Make Your Life Count” story suggestion, click on the “Submit your story” link or e-mail the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at

“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 speaker, May 19:  Al Molde ’66, athletic director and Tim Kennedy ’82, director of sports information.

Upcoming Events

  • May 1 – Gustavus Choir Home Concert
  • May 3 – Chicago Chapter Event – The Chicago Club
  • May 4 – Denver Chapter Event – Denver Athletic Club
  • May 28-30 – Reunions/Commencement Weekend
  • June 4-6 – Nurses Reunion - 50 Years of Nursing

I can’t wait to see you all at the 30 year reunion next year.  Until then, please remember to send in your Annual Fund gifts to Gustavus.  The fund year closes on May 31, 2010.  Please send in a little news at the same time so Heimer has lots of material to write a fascinating letter soon.  Also, if we don’t have your email addresses, please send them to

We love to hear from you!

Leslie Nielsen

1981 Co-class Agent