Class of '84
October 2001

Dear Gustie:

There are times in our lives when we understand with absolute clarity what matters most in life.  Such a time is now. 

“September 11” has entered our collective memory and has become a verbal shorthand for an event beyond comprehension, just like Columbine, the Challenger, and the Tornado.  The tragic events of September 11—and the ever unfolding aftermath—have affected us all in one way or another; no one is left untouched.  The sheer horror of that day was (and still is) unfathomable, the loss of life incomprehensible, and the destruction inconceivable.  It’s almost to much to take in at one time.

Perhaps like me, you too have in your photo collection a shot taken from a tourist boat headed to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty, looking back at Manhattan with the World Trade Center towers standing tall and proud among the skyscrapers.  I came across that photo of mine the other day, and felt an overwhelming wave of sadness come over me.  Perhaps like me you too have been to the Windows on the World restaurant atop one of those towers (I was there just last spring), or have seen the Pentagon during an approach into National.  What seemed like mundane events without great significance  at the time have now assumed more import in the wake of September 11.

As we seek solace at this time, many of us turn to music.  I know we’ve all heard the lyrics below countless times before, but perhaps at no other time in our lives have they been as poignant as they are today.  John Lennon dared to imagine a different world for all of us, and I wonder what his reaction to September 11 and the attack on his adopted city would have been.  I suspect he would have been emotionally shattered, and then indignant, and eventually inspired to make a stand.  For a moment, perhaps we could all just imagine a different world than the one we now have:


By John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today ...

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace ...

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world ...

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

As we imagine, I want to share some images with you from around the world, images of people showing their solidarity with America and expressing their collective grief over the terrorist events of September 11.  I hope by the time you get this letter that the link is still active:

Class News

As I typed up news of our classmates for this letter, I was struck by two thoughts:  that I was grateful for not having to share sad news of losing any of our classmates on the 11th, and that there is tremendous joy in simply living a good life, in celebrating important milestones, and relishing the small joys in each new day.  To life!

Richard Abele (St. Paul) started his own company, called Reborn Systems, Inc., in fall 2000.  He is a programmer/systems analyst and an independent consultant.  Good luck with the venture!  Richard and his wife, Susan, have six children, ages 2 to 17.  Susan is busy homeschooling their children.

Kristen Stoohs Babcock (Lakeville) is director of public relations at Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville.  She shared the news of Braden James, born on October 25, 2000.  Congratulations to you and Brad!

Erick Boe (LeSueur) is teaching American history and geography to 7th and 8th graders at St. Peter High School, where he is also the assistant football and track coach.  Sounds like you’ve got your hands full!  And congratulations are in order—Erick earned his master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s University last summer.

Like Erick, Cathy Macauley Burlager (Willmar) continues to teach.  Her husband, Mike ’80, is director of business affairs for Willmar ISD #347.

Leisel Hedlund (Wayzata) was married on December 17, 1999, and is now Leisel Pfleghaar.  Belated congratulations on the nuptials! 

Robert Derr (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) is a senior research statistician at University of North Carolina.

Sheryl Klatt Eckhardt (Blue Earth) and her husband, Joel, continue to farm in Blue Earth.  She is CFO at the Lutheran Home Association in Belle Plain.

Brent Erickson (Minnetonka) works in commercial office leasing for United Properties.  His wife, Katie, works in marketing and advertising for Marshall Field’s Department Stores.

Steve Erickson (Chaska) is now working at Care Facts, where he is regional account manager.

Peter Ford (Alexandria, Virginia) wrote earlier this year upon his return from Havana, where he was on temporary assignment at the American Interest Section.  This was a special trip for Peter in that during the “Elian Crisis” he met Elian and his father.  Peter says the highlight of the trip was touring the Partagas Cigar Factory.  Our sympathy also to Peter on the recent death of his father, James Ford ’53, who was the retired chaplain for the House of Representatives.

Ed Griese wrote this spring to touch base.  He wrote that he and his family enjoyed their two years in Bonn and Munich and are now living in Madrid.  They have been in Spain since January 2000.  Ed works for CIGNA International as a vice president in charge of the firm’s Spain operation.  His two children, Katharina and Alexander, speak multiple languages, which is wonderful.  As someone who grew up bilingually/biculturally, I can attest to how that enriches one’s life.  Ed mentioned in his note that a few Gusties have visited them abroad:  Jeff Sheppard and his wife, Steph, as well as Robb Gamm and his wife, Morli, and their children.

Tom Hammersten (St. Louis Park) is senior actuarial analyst at Met Life Auto and Home.  Monica is employed by Mount Olivet Lutheran Church. 

Tamara Sarrack Koester (Mahtomedi) still flies as a flight attendant for American Airlines.  Her husband, Scott, is employed by WAI Continuum.  They have two boys:  Austin, 3, and Björn, 1 ½ .

Susan Churchill Lemly (White Salmon, Washington) is also a flight attendant, only for Delta Airlines.  Her husband, Mark, is also employed by Delta.  Their son, Andrew Michael, was born on July 7, 2000.  Congrats on the addition to the family!

Michael Lund (Fresno, California) is still a financial advisor with UBS PaineWebber.  He and his wife, Dawn, have three children:  Anna, 6; Rachel, 3; and David, 3 months. 

Gordon Mansergh (Atlanta, Georgia) continues in his work as a behavioral scientist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC.

Kathryn (Peterson) Meintsma (Watertown) is now a district sales manager for RITA Medical Systems, Inc.  Her son, Phillip Knoll, is now a junior at Gustavus, where he is an honors and Dean’s List student.  Phillip was perhaps destined to be Gustie, given that he attended classes with his mom in 1982-83 when he was but an infant.  Good for you mom, to set the course!

Glenn Merrick and Karen Olson-Merrick continue to make their home in Duluth.  Glenn teaches at Lake Superior College and Karen is a social worker at the Human Development Center.  They have three children:  Kyle, Annika, and Jordyn.

Jan Mussell (Robins, Iowa) recently rejoined the working world after taking some time off; she is now an off-shift (evening, nights, and weekends) nursing supervisor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

Pete Nelson (Oakdale) is now employed by FPS Financial.  Cassandra (Weltsch) is employed by Imation.

Daina Ogrins (St. Louis Park) continues working as an associate media director with Martin/Williams Advertising.

John Pflaum (Mankato) is employed by Firepond in Kato.  His wife, Lori ’93, teaches English and remedial reading for the past three years at New Ulm Senior High School. 

Sara Schauer Quiram (Waterville) teaches kindergarten for the Waterville/Elysian/Morristown School District.

Jo Barthel Rimmereid (Plymouth) is a homemaker.  Her husband, Paul, works for the Federal Reserve Bank.

Steve Rupp (Redmond, Washington) is a software applications consultant for Maximus.

Suzanne (Tracy) Sitko (Pinetop, Arizona) left her job with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and is now employed by The Nature Conservancy.  She is the White Mountains program manager in the Arizona mountains. 

Natalie Hillstrom Sorenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is self-employed in graphics.  Her husband, Tim ’80, is a professor at Augustana College. 

Jennifer Swenson (El Dorado Hills, California) works at the California State Senate.  Her husband, John Hurst, works for the Federal Aviation Administration.  Their son, Eric, is three.

Alan Vogt and his wife, Debbie, welcomed a son into their family last Christmas.  Carter Joseph was born on December 24, 2000.  Congratulations on the addition to the family!  Carter has an older sister, Andrea, who is four.

Clark Vollan (Willmar) continues to work in commercial banking at Farmers State Bank.  Congratulations are in order, given that he was promoted to president of the bank!  His wife, Marni (Myles ’87), is teaching science at an area learning center.

News From The Hill

The Alumni Office is sending this class letter via U.S. Postal Service Mail and also e-mail to those alumni for whom we have an e-mail address.  Eventually class letters will be sent via e-mail only, when an address is available, unless you notify the Alumni Office that you prefer to continue to receive your letters via U.S. Postal Service.  Contact the Alumni Office at

As Gustavus enters its 140th academic year, the 2001-2002 year opened with an enrollment of 2,540 full-time students including 670 first-year students.  The Class of 2005, selected from a record number of applications (2,163), includes 18 National Merit Scholars and 18 international students, doubling last year’s number of nine international students.

Last year Gustavus athletic teams finished 18th out of 395 competing in the NCAA Division III national Sears Directors Cup Standings.  Standings are based on national tournament finishes.  The Gustie women athletes won the MIAC All-Sports title for the first time in its 18-year history.

Gustavus ranked among top colleges – Gustavus is ranked in the second tier and one of the top 114 best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report magazine.  Gustavus ranked in the first tier in two categories, retention and graduation rates.  Gustavus’ first-year to sophomore retention rate of 92 percent ranks in the top 15 percent of all national liberal arts colleges and graduation rate of 76 percent ranks in the top 20 percent of all national liberal arts colleges.  Alumni giving ranks in the top 25 percent, down from the top five percent and a tier one ranking five years ago.  Raising the percentage of participation of alumni giving is of highest priority for the college and the offices of Alumni Relations and Gustavus Alumni Fund.

Gustavus named Best Buy... Gustavus has been named one of the best colleges in America and a Best Buy by The Fiske Guide to Colleges.  In the 2002 guidebook, the College is one of 300 best American colleges and one of 43 Best Buys nationwide.  Within Minnesota, Gustavus is among seven best colleges and is one of two private college Best Buys.  To determine which colleges make the annual Best Buy list, Fiske researchers combine cost data with academic and lifestyle information about each college and university.  Those institutions named to the Best Buy colleges list are said to offer “remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost.”  Gustavus is also included in The Princeton Review’s 2001 edition of The Best 331 Colleges.

Nobel Conference XXXVII, What is Still to be Discovered?, was October 2 & 3.  This year’s conference included five Nobel laureates and three other experts who gave participants a foretaste of what the next big discoveries might be as we look toward the second Nobel century.  This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prizes and the conference included the premier of Steve Heitzeg’s ’82 The Nobel Symphony, two art exhibitions in the Hillstrom Museum, and an exclusive banquet with a menu recreation of the Nobel dinner 100 years ago. 

Comprehensive alumni directory – In partnership with Publishing Concepts, the Gustavus Alumni Association is publishing its fourth comprehensive alumni directory.  Surveys were sent to all alumni in August and information will be used only for publication of the directory and updating database information in the Alumni Office.  The book is available for purchase only by former students of Gustavus.  Please correct or update any information and return to Publishing Concepts in the enclosed envelope provided with the survey.

New chaplain announced - The Rev. Rachel Larson has joined Rev. Brian Johnson ’80 in the Office of the Chaplain.  Larson will work in partnership with Chaplain Johnson and the other members of the Office of the Chaplain to provide spiritual guidance, worship, leadership, counseling, teaching, and other pastoral services to Gustavus students, staff, and their families.  Larson is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and of what is now Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Christmas in Christ Chapel, A Celtic Pilgrimage, is November 30 & December 1-2.  A ticket order form was inserted in the Fall Quarterly.  Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.

A Few Final Thoughts

Hearing From Our Alma Mater:  It’s Your Choice

Some time ago you should have received a mailing from the Alumni Office in which you were asked to provide your input about communication between you and the College.  We want to be sure that we communicate with you in a way that is both meaningful and effective, whether that is by phone, mail, or e-mail.  If you returned the postcard, thanks.  If you haven’t had time yet, please do so at your earliest convenience so the Alumni Office can better serve you or let the Alumni Office know at or 800-487-8437.

E-Mail Address Updates

If you change e-mail addresses, please inform the Alumni Office of the change at the home page at   You can look for friends here as well.

About @Gustavus

Those who share their e-mail address with the Alumni Office will receive @Gustavus, a monthly e-newsletter from the Gustavus Alumni Association.  The purpose of @Gustavus is to provide alumni with updates about the College and alumni initiatives.

Community Service Center Receives State Award

The Community Service Center received the 14th Annual Minnesota Student Services Award for all Community Service Center programs.  The award honors student service learning programs that have contributed significant services to their communities.  This is the 7th governor’s student service award received by the Community Service Center for its programs during the past nine years.

Lilly Endowment Funds Center for Vocational Reflection

The Center for Vocational Reflection is intended to help the college design programs to encourage students to focus more deeply on their vocations and encourage the development of a new generation of talented, creative, and committed leaders.  Reflection is made possible by a $1.96 million five-year grant from the Lilly Endowment.  Chris Johnson ’85 has been named the first director of the Center.

Mark the Date:

  • November 17                           A Royal Affair
  • Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2                    Christmas in Christ Chapel
  • December 6                             St. Lucia Celebration
  • December 6                             Neal & Leandra in Concert
  • December 12, 13, 14               NorthStar Dinner Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
  • January 11                                Michael Johnson in Concert

As I think about this time in our lives, and what I can take away from the events of September 11, I keep coming back to a quote that appeared in the Star Tribune in the days immediately after the attacks.  The quote was from a woman who had been at ground zero in Manhattan and witnessed firsthand the death and destruction of that fateful morning.  As she considered what she had witnessed, she remarked:  “I am struck by the fragility of life and the absolute durability of the spirit.”  I find comfort and inspiration in those words.

May this coming season of thanksgiving and celebration unite our spirits, comfort our hearts, and bring us peace. 

Carole Arwidson

1984 Co-Class Agent or