Class of '85
September 2002

Dear Classmates,

Welcome to fall!  The new academic year has started at Gustavus with a large crop of freshman joining the seasoned upperclassmen.  It’s hard to believe that we were the freshman just 21 short years ago!  I was on campus earlier this month and no one looked as scared as I remember being that first week!

I am very proud to write that our class was honored at the recent Class Agents’ Day because we met the goal of a five percent increase in participation in the Gustavus Alumni Fund!  Way to go!  Exactly one-third of our class contributed to the Alumni Fund in the year ending May 31, 2002.  I am confident that we can increase that even further this year.  The Gustavus Fund has announced the development of the Cec Eckhoff Society, which you can become a member of by making a lifetime commitment to an annual contribution to Gustavus.  There is no dollar amount attached; you decide how you want to support Gustavus and its current students. 

This is a year of anniversaries at Gustavus.  The Gustavus Band is celebrating its 125th year.  There will be an Alumni Band event May 2-4, 2003 and Steve Heitzeg ’82 will compose a special piece to be performed as part of this occasion.  This year is also the 100th anniversary of Gustavus Athletics.  Our class was once again well represented in the athletics Hall of Fame.  Congratulations to Cameron “C. J.” Foster who was inducted for his achievements in track and field and football and Kurt Ploeger for his achievements in football.  They were both inducted on Homecoming at the Hall of Fame Banquet on September 21.

As you may know, Dennis Johnson ’60 was named interim president of Gustavus this summer upon the retirement of Axel Steuer.  Dennis was lured out of semi-retirement to lead Gustavus in this transition period.  He is enthusiastic, energetic and committed to Gustavus in the next year and beyond.  You may also have heard that “our” president, Dr. John Kendall ’49, died in July.  I remember his inauguration service the first week of our freshman year.  He lightly commented that there would not be another president of Gustavus during our time at the college.  Well done you humble servant.

Our classmates report a variety of professional endeavors and changes: 

  • Kim Olson Nelson is home educating her four children.  They live in Minnetonka.
  • John Mowlem was Board Certified in Emergency Medicine in July 2001.  He practices at the Hutchinson Community Hospital in Hutchinson, MN.
  • David Bergquist is a partner with McKenna Long & Aldridge, an international law firm based in Washington, D.C.  David has lived in San Diego for 10 years.
  • Chad Olinger is a group leader for nuclear safeguards at Los Alamos National Lab.
  • Jon Pieper is the CEO of the Lanesboro (MN) Development Corporation.  He and his wife, Sarah, have two children.
  • Bruce Eaton practices medicine at the Rapid City Medical Center in Rapid City, SD.  He runs marathons in his spare time.
  • Julie Dee Weisenhorn earned a Master’s of agriculture in horticulture from the University of Minnesota in June 2002.  She is a teaching specialist in landscape design in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
  • Kelly Thomton is the director of human resources/compensation for the CentraCare Health System in St. Cloud, MN.
  • Jo Nord is a first year medical student at Oregon Health and Sciences University/School of Medicine, Portland.
  • Cathy Villars Harms is the fund manager of Saint Paul Capital Fund, an early stage equity fund targeting high growth companies in Saint Paul.
  • Jon Hyers is a commercial video producer.  He makes special effects videos for theme parks, haunted houses and Halloween time home decorators.  In 2002 his company developed a 3D special effects kit that creates ghosts in thin air!  Hyers Video continues to videotape the Gustavus commencement ceremony as it has done since 1985.
  • Shawn Dahl is the founder/director of Axena with locations in the United Kingdom and the United States.  Shawn and his wife, Lisa, live in Windermere, Florida.
  • Beth Ewald Damman is employed by Sibley County Public Health.  She lives in Hutchinson, MN, with her husband, Randy.
  • Lisa Dahill completed her Ph.D. in May 2001 from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.
  • Ashwini Keswani is employed with Medtronic, Inc.  He and his wife, Sue, live in Mahtomedi, MN.
  • Doug Carlson is a regional manager for Arrow Electronics.  He and his family live in Eden Prairie, MN.
  • Three babies to report:
  • Tryg was born 10-26-00 to Sarah (Bailey) and Ryan Solberg
  • Doug Carlson and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed Jacob Samuel on 2-15-01.
  • A fourth child, Joseph Kincaid, was born to Gary and Sandra (Bouley ’86) Jeans on 10-10-01.  Congratulations!

Campus News

Gustavus named a “Best Buy”

The Fiske Guide has again named Gustavus one of forty-three “Best Buys” in the country.  This is based on an exceptional investment of tuition money for an exceptional education.

Hello Walk Online Community is featuring several discussions this fall including Nobel Conference Director Tim Robinson discussing nature vs. nurture, and Political Science Professor Don Ostrom discussing the upcoming elections.  Join the conversation by going to <>

Gustie students start new community service initiative called the AMIGOS program.  The 65 Spanish speaking volunteers serve the growing Chicano-Latino population in St. Peter by providing after-school tutoring, teaching ESL classes to adults and serve as big partners.  This program is in addition to the other on-going and one-time service opportunities that 75% of students participate in while at Gustavus.

Building a Great Gustavus Campaign

was launched to the public on Saturday, September 7.  Since the tornadoes of 1998, the campaign has raised $77 million toward a $100 million goal.  The focus of the remainder of the campaign is on funding renovations in Old Main, growing endowment, and increasing gifts and participation in the Gustavus Alumni Fund.  Your personal financial support  and your leadership are needed and greatly appreciated.

Minnesota Legislature Cuts Financial Aid

Due to cuts with the Minnesota State Legislature, Gustavus lost $400,000 in money for student employment.  The college continues to work hard to meet financial needs of students since nearly 80% of Gustavus students receive financial assistance.  This includes $14 million from the colleges own budget.  Your support of the annual fund goes directly to help these students and is especially needed to help make up the financial gap for these current students.

Christmas in Christ Chapel

December 6 & 7.  The theme this year will be songs, stories and legends from Scandinavia.

Best wishes to you and yours in these last months of 2002! 


Susan Johnson Chwalek

1985 Co-Class Agent