Class of 1981


September 2005


Dear Classmates,


Hang on to your hats!  We’re off on another adventure together.  It won’t be quite as life changing as our first adventure of moving into dorms and becoming students at Gustavus in 1977, but on the other hand, there is also no studying involved and we are all of legal drinking age (and then some) now!  Of course, for some of us, there was not all that much studying involved in the first adventure either…but that’s another story.


We are fast approaching our 25th reunion.  Gustavus has a new user-friendly system being put into place with our class and the other class years ending in a 1 or a 6.  No longer will the Alumni Office be planning reunions for us with their usual templates.  Instead, they are supporting us as we form reunion committees to plan the perfect gathering for OUR class and then helping us to implement our plans resulting in some very fun parties.  Steve Heim (better known as Heimer) and I are being rejoined by our 15-year veteran first class agent, Mike Potter, to work with (and be entertained by) the fantastic volunteer committee.  When I share the following list of names with you, you will understand why the class of ’81 table was the most rambunctious and enthusiastic group at the first organizing meeting.  Barb Nelson Hutson, Barbara Halverson Pierson, Karen “Scharmsie” Scharmer Hendrickson, Jane Breckner Pederson, Sandy Erickson Hasse, Allison McCormack Lee, Beth Onkka Stuckey, Betsy Schaller and Karen Aaze Holcomb were all present.  Greg Langmo, John Anderson, Darcy Winter, Denise Connly Fleming, Pat Boline, Sharon Bartelt Bridges, Tom Opsahl and (hopefully) Roger Smith and Karen Himle Westlund will all be joining us at the next meeting.  Then the plans will really start to take shape!  If you are interested in helping with the planning and communication during the next year, please send us an email or call and we’ll get you on the list.


The group is excited to share with you our decision to make this a two-day event in the St. Peter area.  Please mark your calendars for Friday-Saturday, Oct 6-7, 2006.  We’re planning parties and pre-parties (remember those?) in Mankato for Friday night and are working on reserving a large block of rooms for classmates.   Saturday will be spent on campus with a variety of activities.  We hope to secure a location, which will bring back great memories for a Saturday night gathering.  With the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of this reunion committee, I know this will be an event not to be missed.


They will soon start calling all classmates to share more reunion news.  We realize that the more classmates who are able to attend, the more fun we will all have―so please, please mark those calendars―we hope to see each and every one of you.  You will hear more about the reunion as the months tick by.  Members of the reunion committee will be contacting old friends to keep them up to date on plans and to invite them to contribute to the class gift.  Our continued support of Gustavus sustains the legacy of the college that we all love.  Now, let’s get on with the class news!



We’ll start with Heimer.  He doesn’t look much older than he did in 1981 and Susie (Bjorling ’83) certainly doesn’t look one day older than her graduation photo.  Nonetheless, they are parents of a Gustavus student.  I could not possibly do justice to Steve’s thoughts on moving his son to campus so I will cut and paste his own words to you:


Well, the Heims have a sophomore at Gustavus now.  It was fun for Susie and me to be back on campus for the move.  It’s an exciting atmosphere, as students reconnected with their classmates.  I couldn’t help but go back a few years (or maybe 27!!!) to when I was the student.  It hit me (as I carried in two carloads of stuff) that there are a few differences between my son’s dorm room and mine (with roommate Bob Nartonis).


Heim Dorm Rooms



Moving In Day 1977

Moving In Day 2005



3 (2 cell phones)




Electronic Game Devices















Pictures of girlfriend



Cases of beer



Fortran Textbooks**




*These aren’t exactly the same (the Ipod can’t get KRBI), but I wanted to get another point.

**Yes - another point!


It is fun reliving my college days.  I’m sure many of you are doing the same thing – or will be before too long.  I’m looking forward to reliving those days at our 25th reunion!  Hope to see a lot of you there!




And in other class news:

Richard Waller, Millinocket, ME is pastor at Millinocket Church of the Nazarene.  He has been a student enrolled at Nazarene Theological Seminary since October 2004 and achieved district licensure in May of this year.  Peter Lundell, Walnut, CA has published his second book, When God Bursts In:  Revival Then and Now.   Wow, that’s impressive!  Heimer and I struggle just to get class letters written while Peter is churning out books right and left.


Sherilyn Jonson Johnson, Almont, ND is making my head spin just typing about her busy life.  I’ll continue on, but be forewarned that you will need to take a nap after you hear how many things she fits into a week.  She is in her 10th year serving as the elementary principal at Almont Public School.  She also teaches 7th and 8th grade science, math and health as well as K-8 music and 5th/6th grade instrumental music.  Her husband, Grant, farms/ranches with his dad.  They have a 14-year-old son, Andrew, who is really into sports and music.  They also have recently adopted a daughter, Claire who has charmed her parents with her beautiful big blue eyes.  Sherilyn serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Camp of the Cross Ministries and as a member of their local church council.  Both she and Grant are EMT-B volunteer members of the Almont Ambulance squad and rural fire squad.  How lucky are we?  The Class of ’81 will have trained emergency personnel on site for our reunion just in case…  Sherilyn is an active member of the Woman’s Life Organization as well as the Delta Kappa Gamma Fraternity for women educators.  She is looking forward to a trip to St Peter (hey, I have an idea – how about Oct 6-7, 2006?) and a tour of the campus.  She is worried that she may not recognize the place.


After the reunion committee meeting on campus last weekend, most of us took the time to tour the campus.  Those of us who have been on campus since the tornado certainly have our bearings and know where we are going but still struggle to keep up-to-date on all the beautiful new buildings.  The people who had not been to Gustavus since the tornado had a little more trouble getting their orientation.   But all the most important things have not changed one bit.  The Chapel sits in the heart of the campus, as a guidepost for all of us, wonderful old memories are brought to life at every turn, and the gift of the nearly three decades of friendships is more appreciated than ever.


Roger Hanggi, Duncanville, TX is employed at Wycliffe Bible Translators.  I believe Roger is in contention for having one of the most interesting jobs of our class.   Fill us in more for the next class letter, Roger.  I’m willing to bet that none of us know anyone else in the Bible translation business!


We are proud to have many educators amongst our ranks who do amazing things with and for students every day.  They are changing the world as they broaden the young minds in their classrooms.  There is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of our teacher friends deserves accolades.  I’m proud to share with you that Sandra Nieland, an English teacher at John Marshall High School in Rochester, MN has received one of the greatest honors her profession bestows.  She was named as one of twenty-nine semifinalists in the Minnesota Teacher of the Year program.  When reflecting on her teaching, Sandra wrote, “In a world where we are becoming more and more distanced from each other – email, cell phones, video games – I think it is very important for my students to develop and use their interpersonal communication skills.  I know public speaking can be a scary thing for a lot of students, so it is my job to create a positive environment where students learn and grow yet still think speech is fun.”   Sandy, if you are making speech fun for high school students (or class agents), you must be one heck of a wonderful teacher.  Keep up the amazing work!


Another classmate with similar interests and talents, Scott Klein, Lawton, OK was awarded the College Educator of the year by the Okalahoma Speech Theatre Communication Association.  Good heavens, Professors Robertz, Brown, Alexis, Suderman, Mason and Owen must be very proud of the two of you!


Michael Zea, Onamia, MN is an elementary teacher.  I’m certain your class adores you, Mike.  Have you taught them any of your old football moves and strategies?  If nothing else, I trust the old blocking maneuvers must come in handy when the class gets rambunctious.


Jerry and Carol (Robinson) Nettleton, Oakdale, MN are keeping busy.  Carol is a homemaker.  Jerry is a software engineer and a Cub Master for 40 Cub Scouts.  Perhaps Mike Zea could give you some tips on how to keep those boys in line!  Brad Schaffner has been awarded the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University, Bloomington.  This award is presented annually to an alumnus who is making, or has made, an outstanding contribution to the Library Science/Information Science profession.  Brad will have to fill us in at the reunion as to what these contributions are!  Gerald Ross, West Richland, WA is a principal research scientist at Fluor Hanford.  EEEEKKKK!  In addition to that, he is also a grandfather 6 (soon to be 7) times over.  Holy bibs and pacifiers, the years must be zooming by.  We have grandparents in our midst!


Kevin Anderson, Dubuque, IA is the registrar and assistant to the academic Dean at Wartburg Theological Seminary.  His wife, Denise (Schmitz ’80), continues to serve as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Cuba City, WI.  Their oldest, David will graduate this year from Dubuque Senior High School and will be attending the University of Iowa this fall.  Their twins, John and Emily, are completing 9th grade this year, also at Dubuque Senior High School.


In addition to being a volunteer extraordinaire with the Class of ’81 - 25th Reunion Committee, Barbara Halverson Pierson has been keeping busy in a whole host of areas.  She has two children; Karl in fourth grade and Kristen in second.  Karl is already being trained to consider Gustavus for his future education.  Kristen is learning about all the most important things in life with her American Girl dolls and books.  I know from first-hand experience that Barb is probably enjoying that play/reading time as much as Kristen.  Barbara recently graduated from Leadership Douglas County, a 10-month program that provides training on various aspects of the county.  Its scope covers government, education, open space, water (a critical topic for all of Colorado), law enforcement, transportation, economy, etc. to potential community leaders.  Douglas County, CO was the fastest growing county in the U.S. during most of the 1990’s.  She participated in the Allard Capital Conference in Washington, DC.  Hosted by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) for his constituents and co-sponsored by Denver University and Colorado State University, it is a bi-partisan conference on Capitol Hill with presentations by government leaders and Senate colleagues.


Jonathan Granlund sent in all sorts of interesting tidbits.  He and his wife, Susan (Taylor ’79), recently married off their first-born, Joshua ’03.  Jonathan reminded me that Joshua was almost born in the Anderson Theatre in 1981 during a comedy performance by Scott Novotny ’75.  This fact continues to “gross out” daughter Taylor ’08 who played Popeye in the Miss Firecracker Contest at Gustavus last fall.  Jonathan is an independent contractor building custom homes on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  He seemed less than enthusiastic about roofing projects, but extremely interested in the bald eagles, which fly by as he is on the rooftops!  Before heading north, he built the Marvin Window Regional Showroom at Shaw Lumber Company and the interior of the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Minnetonka, which graced the cover of Architecture Minnesota, Sept-Oct ’04 issue.  Jonathan was involved as the Faith Community Representative on the St. Paul Police Chief Candidate Selection Committee.  He remains very involved in his church, First Lutheran in St Paul.  Always finding a Gustavus connection, Jonathan pointed out to me that this is the church Eric Norelius (1895) started before he founded our college.  It is also the church in which Gerhard Alexis was baptized, confirmed, married and buried.  (Dr Alexis has now made it into this class letter twice.  I hope he is watching the Class of ’81 with fondness from above.  I trust it is too late for him to change my grade.)  And finally, Jonathan is active in fundraising (yes, he did manage to solicit a gift from me – but was then kind enough to give me tickets to a great event) for the Perpich Center for Arts Education, the statewide public high school for the arts.  Eric and Julie (Ellwein ’80) Hedlund, Chandler, AZ have two teenagers who are active in music in their respective schools.  We know that means Eric and Julie are also busy with music activities!  Eric is senior vice president with Sundt Construction and manages all commercial construction in Arizona.  Julie is substitute teaching in the Mesa School District and is active in their church, including serving as secretary on the executive council.


Jon Cooper won my cafeteria trivia contest in the last class letter – that man recalls details with the precision of a 20 year old!  He recently hosted the Gustavus Band for dinner.  Certainly this dinner brought back great memories of band tours in the good old days.  Scott Dee has not sent any news, but he did entertain me with a wonderful story from the Lonestar Band days.  As you may recall, the band was comprised of Scott and Andy Dee ’83, Rich Aune, Ron Hobart ’69 and Keith Soring ’80.  It seems that on one occasion, Keith experienced an electrical surge after pouring beer over his head and then grasping his electric guitar with both hands and placing his lips on the microphone to sing.  Scott pointed out that Keith must have missed Dr. Fuller’s lecture on the right hand rule―or, perhaps, due to the fact that he had been drinking hot brandies in the ski lodge all day, he became confused and used his left hand to figure out the flow! 


Well, gang, that just leaves me.  My biggest news is that I am very, very excited about my next trip.  I am taking my beloved niece, Bumperdoodle, age 11, to Copenhagen next month.  As some of you will recall, my family is Danish by heritage and we continue a very close relationship with our Danish relatives.  She has met a few of them as they have come to visit us here but she has not met the younger generation―her peers.  I was lucky enough to meet my Danish cousins, aunts and uncles when I was just about her age and know that it is a wonderful time in one’s life to embrace extended family.  She is incredibly excited about the prospect of playing with new cousins and also traipsing around castles, shopping in the cool Danish design stores, seeing Little Mermaid, doing all things Hans Christian Anderson, etc, etc.  I am thrilled to be able to share this little country, my second home, with this child I so adore.  You might want to avoid me at the reunion if you see me with hundreds of photos in hand.  Or just humor me for a few minutes and listen to my vacation stories.  I have recently learned that Betsy Schaller (another Reunion Committee Member Extraordinaire) is also an enthusiastic aunt.  If no one else will listen to me, I know Betsy will!


Since I last wrote to you, a major milestone has been achieved in my world.  The Hastings Public Schools Foundation, of which I am an active board member, has surpassed its first million dollars in endowed funds.  I’ve always heard that the first million is the tough one.  I can vouch for that―now I am hoping to find out that the subsequent fundraising somehow becomes easier.  Incredibly exciting things are happening in classrooms because this foundation is funding teachers’ imagination.  There is nothing new or different with my business, but fortunately, it continues to grow enabling me to make gifts to worthy non-profits!  Hope all is well in your worlds.  Heimer and I love to hear news from all of you – keep sending in those e-mails and we’ll make sure the old gang stays current.


Please join me in marking our calendars for a very special reunion.  Twenty-five years of friendships since graduation are worthy of a very big celebration.   Here’s to us!



Leslie Nielsen


1981 Co-class Agent


Campus News:

A New Year Begins

The 144th academic year began September 7 with 2,600 students and approximately 710 new students, the largest enrollment and new class in college history.  Some changes in the general education curriculum will also be implemented this year, including a foreign language requirement for graduation.


Class Reunions/Homecoming

Class Reunions and Homecoming Weekend will be October 7-8.  This is reunion time for the classes of 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000, but all alumni are invited to attend the events, even if it is not a reunion year.  There is a full schedule this year with athletic events; seminars on aging, Living CSI, and the Linnaeus Arboretum; dedications and tours of Mattson Hall and renovated Old Main; as well as performances by comedian Scott Novotny ’75, many Gustavus musical ensembles and the Rockin’ Hollywoods.  The schedule is designed to provide activities for alumni and families.


Wind Orchestra Tour

Join Gustavus alumni and parents on a companion tour with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra to Eastern Europe January 17-27, 2006.  The trip includes visits to the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria and will be hosted by Tom Emmert, professor of history, and Jon and Anita (Thomsen) Young ’77 ’77.


Nurses Reunion

All Gustavus nurses are invited to the 45th anniversary of the nursing program at Gustavus on Saturday, October 8.  Events will include the dedication and tour of Mattson Hall, the facility that houses the nursing and education departments, a luncheon with keynote speaker Dr. Donald Swenson on “Celebrating Our Roots,” and a slide show presentation of the history of the college's nursing program.


Announcing the Gustavus 2006 Alumni Fund Campaign

“When you get your invitation in the mail or receive a call from a Gustie student or classmate, commit to making your gift to the Alumni Fund this year,” encourages Jan Michaletz ’74, alumni board member, class agent, and 2006 Alumni Fund Chair.  The Michaletz family―Russ ’74, Mara ’02, Annie ’05, and John ’08―have agreed to chair this year’s alumni fund drive.  The 2006 Alumni Fund goals are to achieve 9,000 donors and $1,185,000 dollars in alumni giving.  The 2006 fiscal year began June 1, 2005 and ends May 31, 2006.  Gifts to the Alumni Fund will immediately support current Gusties in the classroom, in labs, on the playing field, in the library, and more.  Tuition does not cover the real cost of educating students today, nor did it when you were a student at Gustavus.  Since its inception in 1954, the goal of the Alumni Fund has been to help keep the Gustavus educational experience accessible for current students.  Give the gift of Gustavus to a current Gustie by making your Alumni Fund gift this year.


The 2004-2005 Honor Roll of Donors is now available online at:  The Honor Roll of Donors recognizes those who have made gifts to Gustavus between June 1, 2004 and May 31, 2005.  To find your name or to check out your class results, point and click from your home or office computer.  To have your name included in the 2005-2006 Honor Roll of Donors, go to to make a gift online.


Nobel Conference

The College’s 41st Nobel Conference, The Legacy of Einstein, will be held September 27-28.  The panel will consist of scientists in the areas of statistical physics, relativity, cosmology, and unified theories, who will discuss current work in the areas of Einstein’s greatest contributions.  In addition, a historian of science will explore the impact that Einstein’s discoveries and his social and political views have had on science and humanity.  Also, a play, Clockworks:  Einstein Time, will be premiered, the Physics Force group will perform, and a symphony orchestra concert will celebrate Einstein through music.


Alumni Directory

In partnership with Publishing Concepts (PCI), a comprehensive alumni directory is being produced and will be released in 2006.  PCI will be contacting alumni to get current information.


First Frost * A Royal Affair

Since 1977 Gustavus Library Associates has helped raise funds for the endowment of Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library located at Gustavus.  Over 1,000 guests will attend First Frost * A Royal Affair, the biennial gala dinner/auction benefit at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington on Saturday, October 29.  This year Evelyn Young ’33, a long-time GLA supporter, is being honored.  The program will feature tenor Mark Thomsen ’78 and will be hosted by former Miss America Gretchen Carlson and physician and Gustavus parent John Najarian.  Contact the Office of Public Relations at 800/726-6198.


Athletics Hall of Fame

On Saturday, September 24, Gustavus will induct the following people into the Athletics Hall of Fame:  Holly Brodmarkle Cervin ’87, track and field; Marc Illies ’85, baseball and football; Marc Iverson ’89, football; Gretchen Koehler, coach; Jay Rooker ’85, soccer; Rich Skanse ’84, tennis; Dick Walters ’75, hockey.  Mary Mansour ’85, softball, has also been selected but will be inducted Fall 2006.


Campus Progress

Whether it’s planning for brand new buildings or renovating old ones, the Gustavus campus is always changing.  A new web site has been designed to keep you updated on the changes taking place on campus.  Check it out at:


Upcoming Alumni Events

Gustavus Heritage Partnership Luncheon — September 24

Athletics Hall of Fame Induction — September 24

Nobel Conference — September 27 and 28

Washington, D.C., Gustavus gathering — October 7

Class reunions for 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 — October 7-8

Nursing reunion — October 8

Homecoming — October 8

Family Weekend — October 7-8

Black Student Organization/Pan Afrikan Student Organization Reunion — October 14 – 15

Washington, D.C. Gustavus gathering — October 23

A Royal Affair * First Frost — October 29

Wind Orchestra Companion Tour to Eastern Europe — January 17-27