Class of '87
September 2003

When I first told Randy Stuckey, (Director of Alumni Relations at Gustavus) that I had completed the fall class letter, there was complete silence on the phone, I said Randy are you OK, he replied, “You’re kidding right?  You didn’t actually do a class letter, because if you did, I have to notify your classmates immediately.  They will think it is a fraud or some kind of prank played by a St. Olaf grad, particularly after they see your writing skills.”

While it is true our class letters have not come with the regularity we would all like, as class agents we have a renewed commitment to helping maintain a connection between each other and with Gustavus. As testament to that I will have you know that while attending the last class agent meeting in St. Peter I had the unfortunate experience of totaling my car in an accident on Main Street, I consider it one of the many sacrifices of being a class agent. I did however try to slip my deductible through on the expense reimbursement, but was busted by Randy. 

Below you will find some reflections about Gustavus to get us all thinking and hopefully participating.  In the future everyone is welcome to contribute to the class letter whenever the spirit moves you; we will attempt to keep the letters fun and informative.  A bit of trivia for you, survey says, 90% of us read our class letters when we actually get them, this one could put an end to that successful string. 

A question unanswered.

Commencement 1987, our graduating class gathers a final time as a group in Christ Chapel, Chaplain Elvee delivers his parting thoughts for our class as only Elvee can.  Frankly though, there is not much of his invocation that I remember except for the questions he asked, nagging questions to the class of ’87: ”Who are you class of ’87?  What is your voice?  What will the class of ’87 stand for?” These were not just rhetorical questions, part of a speech given every year, these were deep, personal questions; questions that make you squirm in your seat as you go through the cold reality of introspection—Who is the class of ’87and what is our voice?

I had the privilege of visiting Gustavus three times over the past two months and in those visits I heard the ‘voices’ of Gustavus.  I heard and saw old friends reunited with hardy hugs, big smiles and the same bad jokes; I heard fellow alumni tell stories of success, of giving, of values.  I saw a college bursting with the life of new students building bunks and meeting new friends.  I spoke with administrators dedicating their lives to carrying on the tradition of Gustavus while creating a vision for a college that will lead into the future.  Most of all, I heard the ‘voices’ of the students.

One of the stories I was fortunate to hear was from a Latino student from Los Angeles who talked about the challenges of her first year of being at Gustavus (think L.A. to St. Peter in January… ouch) and she spoke of how the only support system she had was through the new and growing Diversity Center at the college, one of the many programs adding to the Gustavus experience.  What I saw and heard in St. Peter was a strong, vibrant Gustavus; but I also saw a college that needs us—needs you. 


Here are the current goals Gustavus needs our help to achieve:  The goals are simple enough that even I remember them, think 1’s & 5’s with a few 0’s.

  • ‘50%’  The goal is 50% participation in giving.  Obviously the more you give the better, but simply beginning to have a voice in supporting your college is the goal.  As a class we currently sit at 35%, in 1992 we were at 53%.  Let’s raise the bar for the whole decade of the 80’s and shoot for over 60%.  For those of you that like having Gustavus ranked high in US News & World Report, the percentage of donations by alumni is one of the key drivers in the rankings. The top US liberal arts schools average above 50% total participation.
  • ‘10,000’. The goal is to have 10,000 total donors by the end of the fiscal year, that is roughly 2,500 additional donors needed.
  • ‘$1,000,000’  The overall goal for the new fiscal year is $1,000,000 total giving from alumni. 

So what is the voice of ’87? 

We will continue to define that as we go, but I am hopeful it can be the collective ‘voice’ of leadership: Leadership in our giving, our time, and our ‘voice’ for the values of Gustavus.

If you are looking to get back to Gustavus, here are some fun things to do:

  • Homecoming—September 27
  • Granlund Retrospective in the Hillstom Museum of Art – until November 9
  • Royal Affair, Gustavus Library Associates biennial gala – November 15
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – December 5-7
  • A visit to the Flame
  • Have your own personal case day in Swede Park

Class News

Erika Strottman-Arndt lives in White Bear Lake, MN.

Julie Schwantes Boman lives in Camarillo, CA.  Works for the Lazy “B” Ranch.

Doug Burggraaff received honorable mention from the Arbor Foundation and 4H for his leaf collection.  Doug is considering a career as a florist.

Cammie Olson Dietrich lives in Edina MN.  Son named Grant Christian born 1/27/03.

Lee and Becky (Anderson) Fahrenz have children: Allisa 13, Merideth 9, Benjamin Scott 1.  Lee was named to the Presidents Club for his efforts selling the newly developed personal anti-chaffing products; in addition, Lee has been auditioning to be a model for men’s hair products. Go Lee. 

Dr. David Flaten is assistant professor of history at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Paul Gesme is pursuing his passion for music by taking up banjo.  The whole Gesme family performs together including harmonica and tambourine at the Hackensack Sportsman Lodge.

Peter Hendrickson is working as a bilingual education teacher, Salem MA. 

Steve Harstad, Eden Prairie, MN. Steve and wife, Beth, have three children: Kendall 12, Hanna 8, Grant-3.  Steve is principal of Next Packaging, Inc.

Paula Glynn-Lammers is a singing professional with Minnesota Opera and teaches at Eastview.  Jay ’86 and Paula live in Apple Valley, MN.

Linda Ieleja Gerstman lives in Chicago and works for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Trudy Johnson Mencke, married to Chris Mencke has a set of twins (4 years old) and a new boy (1).  Trudy lives in San Antonio, TX and works for SA International Church of Christ.

Sabina Kitts Ylinen and her husband, Keith, welcomed their second child, Sophia Anne, in December 2002.

Peter Krause.  Movie star.  Way to go shaggy.  See people magazine 5/12/03 page 109.

Tom Linder and Jennifer Olson-Linder’s e-mail address is

Liz Austin Niblock had a son born 3/31/03 named Mathew Austin.

Mark Riggs, in addition to coaching and teaching, is a part-time yoga and Zen instructor at the YWCA. 

Dave Spiegler is currently finishing his master’s degree in Garbology at Iowa Vocational School of the Learned.  Dave was awarded the top beer can collector in the Chicago area and in his spare time continues to be a devoted Treke.

Jill Swanson Whisler and husband, Brian, had twin sons, Thomas and Robert 3/5/03 and live in Woodbury.

Brian Wicklund,  Marine-on-St. Croix, composes, produces, records and teaches music, plays fiddle, mandolin, violin.

Todd Zabel is a CPA CITP at Technology Advisors Group in White Bear Lake, MN.

Campus News

College opens 142nd Academic Year – More than 700 new students, including transfer students and international students, joined the Gustavus community this fall, keeping the total student population around 2,515. The retention rate of students from the first to second year remains at 90 percent. These students will be taught by 198 full-time and 55 part-time faculty. Gustavus was again ranked in the top third of the 214 national liberal arts colleges by the U.S. News and World Report.

The Alumni Fund Turns 50 – On June 30, 1954, the first Alumni Fund officially closed with 1,204 donors (32 percent) and $26,013, under the direction of the executive committee of Dr. Hobart Johnson ’21, Dr. Edgar Carlson ’31, The Rev. J. Millard Ahlstrom ’34, and Ren Anderson ’34.  Dollars and donors continued to grow and, under the leadership of Cec Eckhoff ’56, alumni participation continually exceeded 50% each year, making Gustavus a national leader recognized with 17 national awards. Alumni contacting alumni has been the hallmark of success; we depend on Phonorama volunteers to make the difference. Help the alumni fund again reach over 50% participation by contributing before May 31, 2004, or by volunteering to make calls during Phonorama, October 12-16 and 19-23.  Do your best to participate in the Alumni Fund to continue the Gustavus tradition of strong alumni support and return the College to national recognition.

Sculptor Paul Granlund ’52 dies – Paul Granlund died on September 15, 2003, the same day his exhibit Retrospective opened as scheduled in the Hillstrom Museum of Art on the Gustavus campus.  He was sculptor-in-residence at Gustavus from 1971-1996.  His figurative bronze sculptures are found in private collections and public installations nationally and internationally, including 30 bronze works on the Gustavus campus.  Retrospective will be displayed until November 9.

2003 Hall of Fame inductees

Nine individuals will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on September 27. Inductees include Val Flom Ashland ’87 (volleyball), Wendy Ericksen Bachman ’87 (soccer), Karen Ahlstrom Bishop ’86 (gymnastics), Jay Coatta ’87 (basketball and golf), Marv Gunderson ’53 (football), Jim Hearn ’81 (tennis), Dave Najarian ’82 (football), Betty Wannarka Ringeisen ’84 (basketball and track and field), and Larry Shelhamer ’76 (soccer). This group will be honored at the Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet on Homecoming, Saturday, September 27.

Gustavus Finishes sixth in Directors’ Cup

Gustavus finished sixth out of 395 Division III institutions for the 2002-03 Director’s Cup announced recently by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The only all-sports competition in intercollegiate athletics, the award honors four-year institutions with the best overall athletic programs.  Last year Gustavus placed 10th.

Chapel Program

The Gustavus Chapel program is one of the strongest in higher education averaging 350 students attending Daily Chapel.  In addition, there are many student-led programs including: Apprentice - students who are interested in being part of ministry and open to see where the Spirit might be leading; Christ Chapel Volunteers - assist in the ministry of Christ Chapel by ushering, carrying the cross and candles, reading lessons, writing and/or reading prayers, and serving as assisting ministers; Community Service Center Programs - one-time and on-going service programs; Fellowship of Christian Athletes - athlete or not, time for fellowship, worship, speakers, service projects and mission trips; Gustavus Youth Outreach - committed to sharing the Gospel and providing opportunities to serve by participating in off-campus youth ministry; Habitat For Humanity/Spring Break Work Trips - Habitat works locally and Spring Break Work Trip nationally to fundraise for and build affordable housing; Jewish Organization of Gustavus - for students, faculty and staff who were either Jewish or interested in the Jewish faith; Newman Center - dedicated to building a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith; Prepare - build a new generation of believers through mentors, mission trips, Bible study, prayer and worship; Proclaim - Bible-based contemporary worship and teaching; Taizé - a contemplative worship service of music, prayer, readings and silence; Wednesday Friends – visits St. Peter Regional Treatment Center residents weekly.


Steve Harstad

Co-Class Agent