Class of '84
January 2002

Dear Gustie,

Happy New Year!  As we reflect on the year 2001, let us look forward to the coming year with renewed hope, strength and courage.

When I was first asked by Carole Arwidson to write the class letter I was both honored and frightened by the aspect of doing anything that remotely resembled “homework.”  She kindly reminded me that we had been comrades for the Weekly in ’83 and ’84, so writing the class letter was like “old times.”  I failed to remind her that I was the photo editor and I had never written so much as a word for the Weekly!  Too late now!  I accepted the challenge and I managed to shock my husband, Randy, who quickly realized that it was a package deal.  Since Randy and I were classmates it was only fair that he participate.

After consulting Randy, in between homework and carpooling to swim team, we thought it might be fun to send this letter with birthday wishes to all of the recently turned 40-year-olds and any upcoming birthday celebrants.  We figure this will cover most of the class (exceptions will be noted later).  As we bald, gray and possibly soften a little or ache in some new places as we try to work off those extra few…let’s hope that we can laugh at ourselves, and each other, and be optimistic about the next 40 and beyond!

If someone told me in my sophomore year (age 20) that I would be writing to all of you 20 years later, it would surely have seemed an unfathomable amount of time until I would be 40, 20 was only halfway there!  Now as we all reflect about where we are in our lives at 40 we certainly hope that we are not halfway done!

At this point in our lives, many of us think back to where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, who we’ve become and where we want to go.  After 9/11 many of us are finding that so many of the details in life have lost most of their meaning and the people we love and the time we spend with them has more significance.  We are reminded that each day is a gift from God.

Randy and I have contacted some of our old (no pun intended) friends from Gustavus and asked for thoughts and humorous anecdotes on turning 40.  Here are a few:

  • Jim Vos -(Golden Valley) “I’m not 40 until October!  I’m the baby of the class."  Jim is a principal at Cresa partners, which is a corporate real estate consulting company.  He is still happily married (17 years) to Ruthanne (Hedstrom ’83) and has two beautiful daughters, Stephanie (14) and Allison (11).  Ruthanne is operating her own project based consulting company, Ideal Solution Group.  Thanks for the phone call Jim!
  • Danita Ager Ballantyne –(Deep River, CT) “Life is too busy…it’s just another number…I think turning 25 was more traumatic…the good thing about being 40 is you finally have matching furniture…no more milk crates!”  Danita continues to work at Incarnation Center as the director of program and personnel.  Her husband, Timothy, is running for chief of the Deep River Fire Department.  They have two beautiful children (I’ve seen many photos), Heather (9) and David (8). 
  • Janelle Carlson Buske (New Aubern, WI) -“Thank God I made it!  I’m happy to be turning 40.  Janelle spent three weeks in the hospital this past fall with a pancreatic tumor.  Everything turned out fine.  We’re glad you’re better, Janelle!  Janelle and her husband, Ray ’83, have two children, Brianna (8) and Ryan (6).
  • Allen Shafer (Des Moines, IA) -“I think I look the same as I did in college until I see some current college students who look like they should be in Jr. High.  If 40 is the half way point of life, I can’t wait to see how the second half turns out because the first half has been great.”
  • Damon Larson (Aurora, CO) -“Really, did I turn 40?  I feel 25.  Scary, but true.  At 40, however, I think I have a much better perspective than I did at 25.   I know that working does not take precedence to family and friends.  I  KNOW that success is not measured by promotions and pay raises.  I know that 40 years down, hopefully 40+ to go means I need to climb more mountains, smell more flowers, call more friends, laugh at more jokes."  Damon is an English teacher at Chaparral High School in Parker, Colorado.   His wife, Anna-Marie, is a substitute teacher.  They have three sons:  Dan (17), Nic (12) and Sam (6). 
  • Joe Janasz (Bloomington ) -“I spent my 40th birthday smoking a pre-embargo Cuban cigar while listening to a Sinatra-like band and gambling with Brigitte at Bellagio.”  Joe and his wife, Brigitte, celebrate the birth of their first child, Max, born June 29, 2001.  Congrats!

Thanks to all who phoned or e-mailed Randy and me.  The rest of the news comes via the alumni office or has been plagiarized from recent Christmas newsletters.

  • Bret Abbott (Chanhassen) -Has a new job with Workxite and a 3rd baby on the way!  Congratulations to Bret and his wife, Tara!
  • Carole Arwidson -recently participated in a work day for Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors (G.I.V.E.), which is an annual day of community service where Gustavus alumni, parents and friends around the country work to better their communities.  Since its creation in 1996, G.I.V.E. has involved several thousand Gusties working in 20 different cities.  There will be a G.I.V.E. workday in the Twin Cities this spring on Saturday, April 27, 2002.  Way to go Carole!
  • James Christenson (Deerwood, MN) -has been teaching science for the Crosby-Ironton Schools for 18 years!  What an accomplishment!
  • Steve Dobbs (San Ramon, CA) –works for Chevron Nigeria Ltd. as a supervisor of workstation support in Lagos, CA. 
  • Igrid (Jordahl) Dornberg-has recently moved to Springdale, Arkansas.  Best wishes, as you settle in.
  • Randy Halter (Bellevue, WA) –is the new CFO for Odom Corporation, a beverage distribution in the Pacific Northwest.  Congratulations on the new job!  Laura(Tinklenberg) Halter –continues to work at home, occasionally substitute teach, volunteer at school and church and drive children to various activities. Their children are Kate, age 11 and Benjamin, age 9. 
  • Tamara Sarrack Koester -recently took a six-month leave from her position at American Airlines where she is a flight attendant.  She is enjoying her time at home with her children.
  • Susan Astrup Lundquist (Edina) –is with Target Corporation as an executive recruiter(part-time), while also enjoying time with her husband, Erik ’88, and three children Anna (7), John (5) and Peter (2).
  • Peter Markland (Birmingham,AL) -works for Southern Research Institute as a project manager in pharmaceutical formulations.
  • Greg Mazanec (St.Paul) -and his wife, Jill, celebrate the birth of their first child, Nathan Thomas, born April 18, 2001.  A belated congrats!  Greg is employed as advertising director/display sales at the Pioneer Press.
  • John D. Morris (Sunnyvale, CA) -has been appointed vice president of marketing for Embrace Networks.  Congratulations, John!
  • Annika Bengtsson Ramskold ( Saltsjo-Duvnas, Sweden) -and her husband, Bosse, welcome the arrival of their second child, Sofia Helena, born March 25, 2001.  Sofia joins brother, Magnus, age 5.  Annika has taken a leave of absence from her job at Vattenfall (Sweden’s largest power company), where she is a marketing director for electricity sales in Europe.
  • Wendy Roal Warner (Wilmington, DE) -continues her career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons as an associate warden at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, PA.


A final thanks to all those who wrote or phoned Randy and me, it was a big help.  It’s always fun to hear from friends.  This was actually a very fun project!  Who’s next?  (Damon??)  I know Carole and Ken would surely appreciate another guest writer at any time!  I’d like to close with a favorite poem that seems to have more meaning every year.

To laugh often and love much; to win the respect

of intelligent persons and the affection of children;

to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal

of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;

to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child, a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed

with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know

even one life has breathed easier because you have lived

this is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many blessings to all of you in 2002,

Laura Tinklenberg Halter and Randy Halter

1984 Guest Letter Writers

P.S.  Here's some news from the campus written by a Gustavus student:

Campus News

Hi!  My name is Tracey Hanson.  I’m a senior, double majoring in Communication Studies and Business Management.  I’ve worked in the Alumni Office all four years and can hardly believe that I’m in the middle of my last J-Term!  After a longer-than-usual Christmas break, it’s great to be back on campus.  Instead of taking a class (and doing homework) this J-Term, I’m spending my time slaving away in the Alumni Office.  It’s great to have the extra time to relax and do other activities that J-Term allows.  Having unlimited time at home each night has made for some great cooking!  And getting to watch “Friends” without worrying about the homework you should be doing instead is also a plus! 

The campus is full of life and excitement.  The theme for J-Term 2002 is "Our Global Village," and the month will be a celebration of cultural diversity as we grapple with social, political, economic and philosophical aspects of our ever-shrinking world neighborhood.  Faculty are offering 29 different classes that tie into this global theme, many of which are travel courses.  Examples include Islam and Culture, and Chinese Cooking and Culture.  This year, 2319 students are enrolled in J-Term courses, with many studying abroad, participating in internships, student teaching or studying at other domestic institutions.  I get very jealous when I read e-mails from my roommates who are studying in warm, sunny Australia.  J-Term themes for the coming years include “Service-Learning” (2003) and “Undergraduate Research.” (2004).

Winter athletics are also in full swing!  Gustie teams are off to a great start and all are near the top in the MIAC.

Gustie music ensembles are also very busy.  The Gustavus Band will embark on an international tour this J-Term.  The band is touring Sweden and Norway, presenting “Music from America.”  The tour dates are January 16 through February 10.  The tour concludes with a homecoming performance at 4 p.m. Feb. 10 in Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Choir is busy preparing for their tour of the Midwest during Touring Week in February, concluding with their home concert Feb. 16 in Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Orchestra will tour Minnesota, the Dakotas, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa.

You are invited and encouraged to attend these upcoming alumni events:

February 2      Chicago Chapter event - 6:00 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m.

Gustavus Choir Concert

                        Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 815 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL

February 16    Naples Chapter event - Naples Beach Club

                        851 Gulf Shore Boulevard, Naples

                        11:30 a.m. social, 12:30 p.m. luncheon

February 17    Vero Beach Chapter event - Dawn (Ekstrom ’67) and Ted Michael residence

                        2506 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach

                        12:30 p.m. social, 1:30 p.m. luncheon

March 7          San Diego Chapter event

March 8          Tucson Chapter gathering

March 9          Phoenix Chapter gathering

March 10        Sun City Chapter gathering

More information will be sent to alumni and friends in these chapter areas.

RSVP to Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or e-mail

As I prepare to graduate in June, I find it increasingly hard to think about leaving this place.  It hardly seems possible that four years have flown by, and that in six months I, too, will be considered an alum.  I will always carry with me fond memories of my four years here.  GO GUSTIES!!!