Class of '43
January 2007

Greetings to the Class of ’43 Gustavus Adolphus College,

This is the middle edition of this year’s class letters. My name is Elmer Anderson and I am once again sharing the role as class agent with Bernie Erling.  I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to Bernie who has been a class agent “forever.”  He did the job alone back when our numbers were considerably higher.  I can only imagine the many hours of time he donated to the Alumni Association.

I did have the opportunity to visit Gustavus last April as a delegate to the church Associations of Congregations assembly.  As usual the campus was in splendid array.  I took the occasion to walk through “Old Main.”  As you know it has been completely refurbished.  It had the look of a completely modern building but still retained the charm of an edifice that once was the whole College.  I do meet an occasional student that has enrolled in our alma mater and I am always delighted at the positive response I get when I ask their reaction to the College.

We are 64 years beyond graduation.  Our class numbers have dwindled to a little over 60.  There have been many changes in every aspect of life.  I expect most of us have been retired 20 years.  But that does not mean those years have been wasted.

Our nation now has reached 300 million people.  I believe in 1943 the number was about 137 million.  The color of our society has grown darker and perhaps a little younger.  Communications and travel have gained momentum.  Technology of every type has continued to have a tremendous impact on our lives.

Of course education has been the driving force of all our progress.  Institutions like Gustavus have played a major role.  One thing impressive about our College is the wide range of studies available.  Students have many options to pursue a variety of careers.  It has been the support of alumni over the years that have been a catalyst that has helped to propel the College to the status that it enjoys today.  You are to be commended!

In making Phonorama calls it is always a joy to connect with many of you who seem to be in a positive mode.  We hear it often said and I truly believe that having a sense of humor adds to your sense of well being and in turn improves your health.  A few years ago the late Norman Cousins wrote a book, “The Healing Heart.”  In it he stresses the importance of putting a positive spin on everything that comes your way.  UCLA was so impressed with his idea that they put him on their staff to teach student doctors that one extra ingredient of a joyful attitude might be beneficial in treating future patients.

I don't know if this is appropriate, but back in my farming days I used to subscribe to a farm publication called “Wallaces Farmer.”  As you might expect it contained ideas for profitable farming and the usual collection of little items of interest to rural people.  Each issue contained a small inspirational piece written by an Iowa pastor.  One that I recall was a story about a girl named Millie.  She might have resided in the town Garrison Keillor made famous “Lake Woebegone”.  It seems that Millie was a very reliable person who sang in the choir, helped out at the library and did all kinds of volunteer tasks.  You could always rely on Millie.  One day she disappeared.  No one had a clue about what happened to her.  After several months she returned and needless to say the town folks were delighted.  Her pastor greeted her and inquired as to what had happened.  “Oh,” she said, “I got married.”  “Wonderful,” said the pastor.  “No, not so wonderful,” replied Millie, “my husband was a cruel person.”  “That was too bad,” said the pastor.  “Well not all bad,” said Millie “he was quite wealthy.”  “That was good,” said the pastor.  “No,” said Millie, “he turned out to be very selfish.”  “That was too bad,” said the pastor.  “Not all bad,” said Millie, “he did build me a new house.”  “That is good,” said the pastor.  “Not so good,” said Millie, “the house burned.”  “That was awful,” said the pastor.  “Not really awful,” said Millie, “he was in it at the time.”  This is a nonsensical story, but the thought the writer wanted to convey was that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world and things are seldom as bad as they appear and never quite as good as we think they are.  Perhaps this story might bring a smile to your face and with it your spirits will be lifted…  And that is something!

On the note of giving, our class of ’43 has had two major gifts which help to bring the combined total over the years to $1,137,982!!  Congratulations!  Below are some additional notes from Phonorama.

Class News Notes

I received an obituary of Helen Sundholm Vikner who died on January 23, 2006.  A native of Ely, Minnesota, she was the wife of Dr. C. Filip Vikner, professor of education at Gustavus.  Helen was employed as a social worker and received special recognition for 25 years of volunteer work at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.  She is credited with one of the larger gifts to the College of any member of the class of ’43.

The death of Marlin Hedberg  (St. Anthony Park) August 22, 2006 was reported in the winter Gustavus Quarterly.  During WWII (1943-46) Marlin served at the Des Moines Ordinance Plant and at the Pentagon.  He then pursued graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Minnesota.  Thereafter he worked as an analytical chemist at various locations for General Mills Chemicals, Inc., until his retirement in 1983.  Marlin is survived by his wife, Opal, and two daughters.

Judy Anderson Dove has decided to sell her home at Starbuck and will move to Texas to be with her daughter.

Rosalie Brahee Anderson lives in farm country at Hillsboro, N.D.  She reports that this year was a productive year for their farm.  Crops were surprisingly good.  Her daughter and son-in-law operate the farm.

Gen Jensen Deggendorf resides in Salisbury, Maryland.  She recently traveled to Paris. 

Warren and Ardene (Claude) Friest are in good health.  They still volunteer at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, IL.  Over the years they have each logged over 13,500 hours.  Amazing!

Zola Zieske Blake recently lost her husband, Art, class of 1946.  They have lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dewey Buck enjoys hunting and golfing near his home in Detroit Lakes, MN.

Dean Engstrom, Windermere, FL is recovering from a broken kneecap, suffered as the result of a fall.

Robert Freeberg, Inver Grove Heights, has two granddaughters who are completing their education, one to be a medical assistant, the other a nurse practitioner.

Arthur Glass, St. Peter, has been writing his memoirs.

Burton Gustafson, Ocala, FL is planning the building of a labyrinth in the center of a peace park.  The first part of the project is the installation of the irrigation system.

Alvar ’42 and Viola Holmes Gustafson, New Britain, CT have a granddaughter, Krista Kirchoff, who is a senior at Gustavus.

Gordon Nelson, West Barnstable, MA had a knee replacement last summer.

Theda Benson Olson, Winnepeg, MB, Canada traveled in Sweden with a granddaughter.  They visited the province of Västergötland, Uppsala, and Stockholm.

Lawrence and Shirley Overn, St. Peter, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on New Year’s Day 2007.

Ralf Runquist, Minneapolis has had heart surgery and has received a pace maker.  He volunteers playing a grand piano at an elementary school.  The children hear pop tunes and also some classical music.

Arlyne Kuehl Siehr is grateful for good health.  She drives her car, reads The New Yorker, and says that she doesn’t like Rush Limbaugh.

Walter Spidahl lost his wife, Elizabeth, a year ago.  He operated his food concession stand at the Minnesota State Fair last fall.

Robert Wettergren's wife, Renee, died December 13.  They had been married nearly 60 years.  In addition to Robert, Renee is survived by five children and an older sister, Shirley Overn.

Eleanor Hedman is a class member that defies tradition.  She still is active in her Christian Book store in Detroit, MI.

Wayne Haglund, International Falls, recently had surgery for hernia.  Wayne, one of the stalwart athletes of our class, heard about the final football game on Hollingsworth Field and has made a substantial gift for the building of the new football stadium at Gustavus.

Jim and Mary Jo (Helmerson ’49) Breneman celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2006.  They still do a significant amount of traveling including a trans-Siberian train trip, a trip to Mexico and a New England fall viewing of the hardwood colors.

A note from yours truly, Elmer Anderson.  Our granddaughter, Briana Anderson, graduated from De Pauw University in Green Castle, Indiana last May and has recently settled in Namibia, Africa where she will teach English as a volunteer in the Peace Corps.  Her dad, Erling Anderson, class of ’73, successfully completed the Iron man Triathlon in Madison, WI last August.  His time was just under 15 hours.  He was in the upper 30% of 55 year old men.

Respectfully yours,

Elmer Anderson

1943 Co-class Agent

Campus News

Alumni Starring in The Cherry Orchard

The Department of Theatre and Dance is celebrating 75 years of theatre at Gustavus this year with two featured events:  Theatre Reunion May 11-12 and a gala performance of The Cherry Orchard followed by admission to the cast party on February 10.  The Cherry Orchard will be Professor Rob Gardner’s final directing work before retirement.  A cast of professional theatre alumni will join the student actors for this very special production.  The alumni cast includes:  Peter Breitmayer ’87, Karen Esbjornson ’80, Kevin Kling ’79, Scott Novotny ’75, and Michael Glenn (Waldhauser) ’97.  A sold-out performance is expected for this unique celebration, so order your tickets soon.  For more information and to order tickets, go to the Cherry Orchard site from <>.

Gustie Pages

Looking for a dentist, doctor, lawyer, pastor, Realtor, or other professional?  Make it a Gustie!  Look in the Gustie Pages, an online database of Gusties who have submitted information about their profession.  Use the Gustavus network to meet your needs, or submit your professional information if you would like other Gusties to become your customers.  Go to the Gustie Pages at the alumni website at:  <>.

Career Connections with Students

Sign up now for the 2007 Gustavus Career Connections Reception.  The reception will be Monday, February 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Hilton.  The gathering allows Gustavus alumni to provide advice, encouragement, and career networking opportunities to Gustavus students seeking internships and career opportunities.  Alumni are invited to attend and assist current students in their career search.  You do not have to be hiring at your company to attend – just willing to share your experience.  E-mail the Career Center at or call 507/933-7586 if you can attend or want more information.

Give Every Year to Gustavus?

Do you give to Gustavus every year and plan to give every year in the future?  Then you should become a member of the Cec Eckhoff Society.  Members of the Cec Eckhoff Society simply make the public commitment that they plan to give financially to Gustavus every year.  It does not matter how much you give and this is not a formal pledge for a certain amount of money.  Cec Eckhoff ’56 led the alumni office from 1963-1994.  Cec believed that part of being an alum of Gustavus was to give monetarily each year to the College.  To become a member of the Cec Eckhoff Society, please call The Gustavus Fund office toll-free at 866/487-3863 or e-mail <>.  Thank you for your support of Gustavus!

Summer Sport Camps at Gustavus

Gustavus’ strong athletic tradition is evident with numerous summer sports camps featuring knowledgeable coaching staffs, acclaimed athletic facilities, and quality dining service and housing accommodations.  Camps offered this year include: golf, hockey, basketball, tennis, volleyball, soccer, throwing, and swimming.  For more information go to <> or contact the Athletic Department at 507/933-7617.

Upcoming Music Tours

This year nearly 300 students will participate in music tours as members of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Gustavus Choir, Gustavus String Orchestra, Gustavus Jazz Lab Band, and Choir of Christ Chapel.  The Gustavus Choir will tour Spain and Portugal January 11-30.  Performances are scheduled for Lisbon, Seville, Malaga, Grenada, and Madrid.  The Wind Orchestra will tour Minnesota, Madison and Milwaukee, WI and Chicago.  The String Orchestra will be in Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • The Cherry Orchard Gala Performance – February 10
  • Orlando Gustie Gathering – February 13
  • Tampa Bay Gustie Gathering – February 15
  • Naples/Marco Island Gustie Gathering – February 17
  • Tucson Gustie Gathering – March 16
  • Phoenix Gustie Gathering – March 17
  • Sun City Gustie Gathering – March 18
  • Celebrating 75 years of Theatre Reunion – May 11-12