Class of '86
January 2011

25-Year Reunion ― September 30 - October 1, 2011

Happy January, Class of 1986!

reconnect (riːkəˈnɛkt) Description: Click for IPA pronunciation guide]vb to link or be linked together again

The theme of this class letter is simply this:  It is time to reconnect!

With our 25th class reunion fast approaching, we are hoping to encourage you all to come back to campus to celebrate with the rest of your class on October 1, 2011.  Plans are well underway to make the reunion a great event, just as it was in 2006.  Right now the plans are as follows:

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Class of 1986 Gathering and Social in the Dive.

12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Big Tent Class Gathering in the football end zone.  Picnic food and beer available for purchase until game time.  All reunion classes are invited and will each have their own gathering area.

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. - Class BBQ and short program in the Dive.  Cash bar available.

There will be several different events for classmates and their families throughout the day.  A detailed schedule of events will be mailed this spring.  Also, on Friday the 30th, the college will celebrate its sesquicentennial with a large celebration on campus.  You will hear a lot about the big party in the months to come.  Plan to come for the weekend!

In an effort to start the reconnecting, we asked classmates for updates on their lives.  It has been a lot of fun gathering the information and we are glad to share their updates with you:


Greetings from Deephaven, Minnesota!  I hope this note finds you well as we head into 2011.  The year will bring a few adjustments for Paul ’87 and me as our youngest son follows his big brother west to college, leaving us an “empty nest.”  How did this happen so quickly?

Our oldest son, Charlie, is a sophomore at the University of Montana, Missoula, majoring in forestry.  Tommy will graduate from Minnetonka High School this spring and is deciding between Missoula and Montana State in Bozeman.  As much as we promoted Gustavus, both boys from an early age had their sights set on the mountains.

Paul continues to work in the family banking business, and I have kept busy volunteering at school and church as well as playing on a doubles tennis team.  As our household gets quieter, I will be looking for new opportunities to explore for this next chapter.

I am really looking forward to celebrating our 25th reunion next October, and I sincerely hope you will all make the effort to attend.  The campus may look a little different, and perhaps we may as well, but I bet we will gather together, share stories, renew friendships and feel like we are back in 1986 all over again!  How great would that be?!  See you there!

Ann Gesme

1986 Guest Letter Writer


Hello Folks,

I am an information technology manager at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  I manage the IT unit that supports Mayo’s human resources, finance, and supply chain applications.  We make sure all of Mayo Clinic’s 55,000 employees get paid and that Mayo has all the equipment and supplies necessary to operate.  I have been at Mayo for 10 years now.  Before that I spent three years in IT at Federated Insurance, and prior to that I was a high school science teacher for nine years.  My wife, Jackie, and I have been married for 19 years.  We live in Byron, MN, which is a little bedroom community west of Rochester.  We have three children:  Mason (16), Isaac (14), and Abigail (13).  I’m looking forward to our 25-year Gustie reunion to have a chance to get together with old friends and reminisce about life on the hill back in the day.

Tim Mettler

1986 Guest Letter Writer


Greetings ʼ86ers, from Gustavus and St. Peter!

Has it really been 25 years??  Thankfully, ʼ86 was one of those magical years when aging stopped, (in our minds anyway) and we’ll forever be twenty-something.

Julie and I celebrated our own 25th anniversary last summer and we agreed that time does indeed supersonic speed.  Our three children, Matthew, Bethany, and Grace have become delightful young adults−each uniquely gifted and each following their own paths and their own dreams.  Matt has aspirations of a career as a golf professional, Bethany will graduate with honors from Augustana, Rock Island in May and then on to dental school, and Grace has just completed her first term as a Gustie!

Julie is in her 24th year of nursing at Immanuel St. Joseph’s-Mayo in Mankato−currently a cardiac testing RN so when folks say “hey Steve, I saw Julie at the hospital the other day,” I usually respond with an “oh, oh.”  Prior to cardiology, she spent years in ICU and CCU and ER.  She really is one great nurse, well prepared by the Gustavus nursing curriculum!  I am in my 17th year back on campus and wake up every day thankful for the opportunity to be part of this great place.  Working with college students, especially Gustavus students, really helps with that “forever twenty-something” mindset!

Speaking of anniversaries−how lucky we are to be joining the college’s sesquicentennial year (that’s 150 for us common talkers) with our 25th reunion next fall!  I hope that all who are able can come to campus and join the celebration−a gala event−in Lund Center on the Friday evening of our reunion/homecoming weekend!

Peace and best wishes, classmates!

Steve and Julie (Brudwick) Kjellgren

1986 Guest Letter Writers


Hello Fellow ʼ86ers,

I can’t believe our.....”gasp!!”... 25th reunion is coming up this fall.  I am so amazed by how quickly the 4+ years have passed since our 20th reunion.  So often I find myself reflecting on my four fantastic years at Gustavus and how they helped to shape who I am today.

I have been happily married for seventeen years to my very supportive wife, Becky, who blessed our family with a daughter, Caroline (14 yrs.), and a son, Charlie (10 yrs.).

I received my doctor of chiropractic degree from Northwestern College of Chiropractic (Bloomington, MN) in 1990 and have been in practice ever since in my hometown of White Bear Lake, MN.

While at Gustavus I was never a member of any varsity teams (high school injuries).  I never pledged a fraternity (Darn GDIs!!!!).  And I was never part of any clubs, choirs, or bands.  Those opportunities just didn’t seem right for me at that time.  One might think I was quite a stick in the mud.  But because of the friendly and extremely comforting nature of the Gustavus campus (faculty, other employees, and fellow students), I always felt like I was a welcomed and a very important part of the GAC community.  No matter where I was on campus, whether it was at a sporting event, a play, a concert, the library, or an unfamiliar campus building or dormitory, I always, always, always felt comfortable and safe (Okay, maybe not at Barn Busts but technically they were off campus!!!).  What a perfect environment (not the Barn Busts!!) for me to acquire a degree and learn about myself and others surrounding me!!!

For the 20th reunion a few of my closest friends (uh hem....Whitey, Hys, Steeley) were unable, or unwilling to attend.  I was a little hesitant to make the trip by myself, but I did it anyway.  I was very glad that I did!!  The day started out with an awesome covered tent picnic in the courtyard.  Then we all headed to the football game for a few hours.  Not that it matters, but I can’t remember who won the game!  Then we returned back to the tent for the remainder of the afternoon before heading down to the good old Flame Bar (Yes, it’s still very loud in there!) to close out the day............and night!!!!  Throughout the entire day, no matter where I was, and no matter who I was conversing with, I had so many of the same fun, warm, good feelings I had while I was a student on campus!!  To reconnect, to tell old stories and to hear about people’s life experiences since Gustavus made it such a special day.

No matter how you fit in with the Gustavus community, I highly recommend connecting with as many old friends as possible and plan on making the trip to campus for our 25th reunion this fall!  You will be glad you did.  I will look forward to seeing you there.  Go Gusties!!!!!

R. Jay Sass

1986 Guest Letter Writer


This past fall we sent our oldest son off to college−our reward for enjoying (and sometimes enduring) many high school sporting events, ACT tests, college searches, graduation−and the party circuit that goes along with it!  Talk about a flood of memories.  I still find it hard to believe that it’s been almost 25 years since we finished college.  I was sad with the send-off, but beaming too.  Walking into a 12’ x 12’ dorm room, knowing he’ll spend much of his next year on campus in that tiny space; trying to navigate buildings, classrooms and schedules; feeling the energy of all the students moving around the campus…I jumped ahead years into his future and knew that this moment was the beginning of a lifetime of memories.

Later this fall, my daughter and I went for a college visit to Gustavus.  It was our first college visit together−I’m not sure she knew what to expect, but what a treat for me!  The presentation on the school−the buildings, the activities, the faculty, the honors, the STUDENTS– reminded me that I was so wise nearly 30 years ago to have chosen Gustavus.  What a great place!  We toured the academic buildings, Lund Athletic Center, and the dorm rooms.  We ate in the new café (new to me anyway), made our way back-and-forth along Hello Walk and had our picture taken with Gus.  I learned statistics about the school−the classes, the caliber of the professors and students−and saw the school in a completely new light.  Christ Chapel is as beautiful as ever− perhaps even more so with the old cross hanging above the entrance.  (The spire cross, a bit mangled but intact, survived the tornado, that destroyed so much of St. Peter in March 1998.)  Over the years, there is one thing that continues to stand out about Gustavus−the people that make up the college community.  Throughout our visit, several people went out of their way to talk to us and make a connection.  This connectedness is what unites us as Gusties.

Dan Murray asked me to write a few words about what I’ve been up to since the last reunion.  Five years ago, my two oldest were in middle-school and the college process seemed so far off.  Sending one child off and just starting the process with another, however, has kept my “college memories” strong.  I am incredibly grateful that I went to a school that not only provided me with a great education, but also provided me with lifelong memories and friendships.  Whether it’s running into fellow Gusties in the community, at the mall, or walking through an airport, we find a way to re-connect.  I am so looking forward to our 25th Reunion.  Let’s make the Class of ’86 proud−not only do we get to celebrate our reunion, but the Sesquicentennial as well “150 Years and COUNTING” I hope to see many of you in October!

Stephanie Liska Maki

1986 Guest Letter Writer


And as for me, REconnection isn’t really necessary.  In fact, my husband, Paul ʼ85 calls us Gustavus Geeks for all of our connections.  My oldest two kids are currently attending Gustavus.  Ben is a junior and Katie is a sophomore.  They are both taking full advantage of their Gustavus education.  Ben is touring with the Gustavus choir in Italy as I write this letter.  He studied in India last fall and works with the Center for Vocational Reflection.  Katie left a week ago for a semester at Uppsala University in Sweden.  She was selected to be on the St. Lucia court in December and is a member of the Campus Activities Board.  Paul celebrated his 25th class reunion at Gustavus last fall and we had a fabulous time—I can’t wait for my turn!

We’ve also heard some quick updates from the following classmates:

Sara Hansen

Today is my last day at the Coloradoan and my last official day working as a corporate journalist.  After a lot of soul searching, I’m leaving this rat race and starting a new adventure.  I’m launching my own company−SaraBee Enterprises Inc., a media strategy, writing and editing firm.  After 25 years of working in newsrooms and reading and largely rejecting press releases, I’m going to be working with clients helping them tell their stories.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I’m going to be working with a couple of creative agencies in Fort Collins and with some non-profits.  I’ve got a small start to my business already, but I’m looking for clients, so if you know of anyone who could use my services, please feel free to send them my way.  If you would like to learn more about what I’m up to, please shoot me an e-mail or give me a call: or 970-988-5615.

Chris Carlson

On December 17, 2010, I shall graduate with a master of art’s degree in the field of communications from North Dakota State University.  While it has taken me a long time to accomplish this goal, it is an accomplishment I am well proud to attain.

My thesis is a rhetorical critical analysis of a speech by Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, and proposes the process of re-identification of the nation as it integrates into the European Union and participates in meeting the challenges of the 21st Century.

Leslie Nelson Johnson

I am now working as a relationship consultant with Pairings Group in Edina, MN.

Stuart Widmark

Stuart is working at Interdyn BMI in Roseville, MN.

Joann Foster is living in Baltimore, MD, and is now married−now Joann Yoffer.

Linda Green

Still swimming, running and doing running marathons and has also completed an Ironman.

Shelli-Kae Sonstegard Foster

Lives is Alexandria, MN, and is employed by EK Go Green

Linda Wachter Boettcher

Living in Havertown, PA and is on the faculty of Villanova University.

Dean Murdakes

Lives in Burnsville and works for Xata Corporation.

Merlin Ravndalen

Lives in Prior Lake and works for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Christine Grams

Lives in Little Falls and is an English teacher with School District 492.

Dan Murray

On September 17, 2010 Dan Murray met with Volvo executives at the Swedish Embassy.  After the meeting the group attended a crayfish and aquavit dinner with Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom and Swedish Minister Karin Olofsdotter.  Karin told Dan that her visit to Gustavus last spring was one of the highlights of her travel this year (there was a photo in the Quarterly page 37).

Diane Ousley Melcher

Living in Colleyville, TX, and is director of nursing at Methodist Rehabilitation Hospital.

John Latusek

Living in Dike, IA.  He is now supervisor in tractor engineering working on Waterloo, Iowa built tractors.

Daniel Felton

Lives in Laurel, MD and is vice president of government relations at International Bottled Water Associates.

Enclosed with this letter is a reunion giving card.  In honor of our 25th reunion, we have set a goal of $26,000, which is $3,000 more than we donated as a class five years ago.  Thank you to all who have already donated, we are so grateful.  With a 25th reunion looming, we ask that everyone consider giving back this year.  If it just isn’t possible this year, please consider another way you can give back to Gustavus this year.  For example, you can wear your “G” ring or your Gustie gear!  You can help recruit a student, or you can hire a Gustavus graduate!  Or, you can donate of your time.  And, you can reconnect by attending the reunion this fall.

Wow!  Thanks everyone for reaching out with your updated information.  Please keep the updates coming and we will include them in the next letter.  Also, continue to check out our Facebook page!  We will update reunion information there as well.  I know a plea went out to share some photos….go to Gustavus Class of 1986.

See you in the fall!

In Gustie Spirit,

Melinda Moen Batz

1986 Co-Class agent

Campus News

Gustavus Choir Tour

The Gustavus Choir is embarking on a tour of Italy this month.  The 57 student musicians, under the direction of Greg Aune, will travel to and sing at various locations in Italy Jan. 13-28.  As is the case with each Gustavus international music tour, it includes an educational component.  The students are learning about the Italian Renaissance in the month-long Cultures of Creativity course taught by Chaplain Brian Johnson ʼ80.  Joining the Gustavus Choir is a companion tour of 15 Gustavus alumni, parents, and friends.

Gustavus Wind Orchestra Tour

Under the direction of Douglas Nimmo, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra will tour Minnesota and Wisconsin between the January Interim and Spring Semester.  All concerts are free and open to the public.

  • Saturday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m. – Tornstrom Auditorium, Brainerd
  • Sunday, Jan 30, 3 p.m. – Central High School Auditorium, Duluth
  • Monday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m. – Wausau East High School, Wausau, WI
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m. – Lawrence University Memorial Chapel, Appleton, WI
  • Thursday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m. – Schauer Arts and Activities Center, Hartford, WI
  • Friday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m. – St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Middleton, WI
  • Saturday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. – St. John Lutheran Church, Owatonna

The tour will wrap up with a home concert on Saturday, Feb. 12. at 2 p.m. in Christ Chapel.

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfasts

Engage with other alumni and learn something new about your alma mater at the monthly Gustie breakfasts.  New in January was the start of the breakfasts in St. Peter.  Minneapolis breakfasts are the 3rd Wednesday of the month, St. Peter breakfasts are the 2nd Wednesday of the month.

The speaker at both the breakfasts for February will be Tom Crady, vice president for enrollment management.  The Minneapolis breakfast is Wednesday, Feb. 16, 8–9:30 a.m., at the Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Blvd. Cost is $10 at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing the Office of Alumni Relations at or by calling 800-487-8437.

The St. Peter breakfast will be Wednesday, Feb. 9, 7:30–9 a.m. in a campus banquet room in the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center.  Cost is $8 per person, or $15 for two, payable at the door.  Reserve your spot by e-mailing or by calling 507-933-7512.

Upcoming breakfasts include; Kate Knutson, political science professor, in March; and Warren Wunderlich, director of the physical plant, in April.

Chapter Gatherings

This year President and Kris Ohle have many travel dates planned in order to reach out to all of our alumni and bring them an update from the College.  Please mark your calendar if you live in or near one of these locations:

  • Seattle – January 27 – Pike Brewing Company
  • Tucson – February 8 – Warren and Donna (Gabbert) Beck ’66 ʼ67 residence
  • Phoenix – February 10 – Fired Up Grill
  • Denver – February 11 – Denver Athletic Club
  • Boston – March 2 – Henrietta’s Table
  • New York – March 4 – The Birdland Jazz Club
  • Washington, DC – March 5 – Council of Advancement Support of Education headquarters
  • Jacksonville, FL – March 26
  • Orlando – March 28
  • Tampa – March 29
  • Naples – March 30
  • Chicago – April 2

Share your information

The information that is contained within this newsletter has been submitted either to Gustavus or to your Class Agent directly for publication.  If you have marriage, new addition to the family, education, career, or miscellaneous updates that you would like us to publish in our next newsletter, there is a simple method of submission.  You can send the information to Gustavus via the web page ( by clicking on Alumni and then “Your News,” and that information will be sent directly to one of your Class Agents or email us at:  So send us your info!  If you plan to graduate, get married, enroll in a new educational program, add new members to your family, make a career move, or do something else that is of interest to our class, please let us know!