Class of '85
April 2005

Dear Classmates:

It has been my pleasure to talk to many of you over the last few months.  I am pleased that many of you have marked your calendars to attend our 20th class reunion in October.  We (Tom Johnson, Rick Straka, Martha Barnes tenSythoff, Jann Eichlersmith, Cathy Villars Harms and Susan Johnson Chwalek) are still working through the class list (452 people on that list!) in order to extend a personal invitation to the reunion and to make a gift to the Alumni Fund.  I am confident that we can achieve the goal of 50 percent participation in the Alumni Fund.  Remember to meet your pledge or make your gift by the end of the fund year on May 31.

The reunion planning committee (Lori Engelking Huckle, and Stacey Sjoquist Straka) are planning some great events for the weekend of October 7 and 8.  The gathering in Bloomington on Friday evening will be full of memories from the early 1980's and our years at Gustavus.  Saturday on campus we'll have a chance to gather with our families and members of the classes of 1984 and 1986, as well as take in the Gustie football game and the many new places on campus.  I sincerely hope to see you as we celebrate the last 20 years and recall the Gustavus experience.

News from classmates:
Lois Cordes recently opened Legacy Dry Cleaning in Lino Lakes, Minnesota.  Carol Dallman teaches all areas of the social studies curriculum at Wellstone International School in St. Paul.  She and her husband, Paul Cousin, adopted Lia Jane Cousin on 5/11/04.  Lia was born 2/23/03.  Rene Vadnais Cronquist and her husband are the proud parents of Cooper who was born 7/27/04.  Rene works for the Minnesota Board of Nursing.  John Jankowski is attending United Theological Seminary.  Paul Lindberg is going to Ethiopia to start a "Partners in Africa" mission.  Rebecca Halvorson Sonmor, Dalton, Minnesota, is a private voice instructor and teaches private lessons one day a week at two area high schools.

Jeff Braun was killed in a snowmobile accident in Michigan on Friday, March 11, 2005.  He is survived by his wife, Mary Beth, and three school-age sons, Travis, Kyle and Eric.  Memorials which will be used to establish an educational fund for his sons may be sent to:
Braun Boys Educational Fund
C/O Mary Beth Braun
12703 Lincoln Drive
Huntington Woods, MI 48070

Please keep Jeff's family in your thoughts and prayers.

Campus briefs

Gustavus has been known for its strong tradition of alumni participation in annual giving.  Gusties support their Alma Mater in many ways and show their pride with their gifts.  All alumni and current students have benefited from previous and current support.  Gustavus will be as strong as its alumni want it to be.  The 2005 Alumni Fund closes May 31.  Make sure you are included with many members of your class and other alumni that have chosen to keep Gustavus strong.  Three easy ways to give – send your check to the Alumni Office (by using the enclosed envelope), call 866-487-3863, or on-line at 

Alumni Awards

The Gustavus Alumni Association has announced 2005 award recipients.  The Greater Gustavus Award to George Torrey ’55 for his lifetime volunteer service and philanthropy to the College. Distinguished Alumni Citations to G. Barry Anderson ’76, Apple Valley, MN, associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court; Deanna Nelson ’64, Cary, NC, president/founder, BioLink Life Sciences, Inc.; Rick Webb ’73, Edina, MN, owner of Ciao Bella, Zelo and Bacio Restaurants; and John Wirth ’75, Pacific Palisade, CA, writer/executive producer, Paramount Studios.  First Decade Awards to Joe Gaugler ’95, Lexington, KY, assistant professor, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine; Debbie Lightly Mascaro ’95, Fargo, ND, research scientist, North Dakota State University Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.


The Gustavus women’s hockey team finished third at the NCAA national championship after winning the MIAC title, the men’s basketball team won the MIAC regular season title and conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA national tournament, the men’s swimming and diving team won the MIAC title and placed seventh at the NCAA national tournament and had seven swimmers earn All-America honors and the women’s team had four swimmers earn All-America honors.

Extraordinary Students

Senior Rachel Batalden, a double major in mathematics and secondary education with a 3.898 grade point average and two-time MIAC All-Conference selection at setter for the women’s volleyball team, has been selected as one of 56 student-athletes from across the country to receive a $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Senior Paul Fraser, a music and computer science major has been selected as the winner of the second annual Caltech-Occidental Composition Contest for new music for concert band. The contest drew entries from all over the world, and as the winner, Paul will receive a cash award and a recording of the world premiere of the work at a concert by the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band in Pasadena, Calif., in May.

Bricks and mortar

Southwest Residence Hall is being constructed across the Campus Drive from the arboretum on the west side of the campus and is scheduled to be finished by June.  The L-shaped facility is configured with apartments for four and six and will accommodate nearly 200 students.  A hostel space for summer programs and confirmation retreat groups is included in the residence’s plans.

With the new Southwest Residence Hall coming on-line, the College will be taking down Wahlstrom Hall to make way for future residential construction.  Crews will start the dismantling process in July with asbestos abatement, and the Kasota-stone residence hall will be razed in August.  Alumni returning for reunion and commencement festivities on May 27–29 will be able to take a last tour through the building’s public areas, stairwells, and walk-through sections following a “decommissioning” ceremony to be held on Saturday morning, May 28.

Construction crews working on the renovation of Old Main discovered a cistern under the basement flooring in March.  Gutting the interior has provided evidence of layers upon layers of remodeling done over the years, including an old stairwell in the middle of the building and what appears to be an attempt to raise the third-floor ceiling.  The Old Main project, which includes the installation of an elevator in the northwest corner of the building, is scheduled to be completed in August.

The education and nursing departments have been relocated to the newly erected Mattson Hall, which is sited just west of the Schaefer Fine Arts Center and Prairie View Residence Hall, on the south side of the campus.  These departments will remain there until a new social science center is built at some point in the future.

Upcoming Events

  • Association of Congregations Meeting – April 23
  • G.I.V.E. Community Service Day – April 30
  • Class of 1955 and 50-Year Club Reunions – May 27 & 28
  • Commencement – May 29
  • Alumni Fund closes – May 31
  • Reunions on Homecoming – October 7 & 8
  • Nurses Reunion – October 8

The grass is turning green and the ice is out (or going out) of Minnesota's lakes.  I hope spring is enjoyable wherever you are this year.  See you in October for an early autumn weekend in St. Peter.


Susan Johnson Chwalek

1985 Class Agent