Classes of 1934-1938 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear Friends,

It’s been a terrific fall semester here at Luther! New enrolled students total 681 and come from throughout the U.S. and 25 other countries. Construction on the new Aquatic Center is well underway and will be completed in the summer (you can search on the Internet for “Luther Aquatic Center” and check out the YouTube video). A stunning solar array, the largest in the state of Iowa, now supplies energy for Baker Village and propels Luther even closer to its carbon reduction goals. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute selected Luther to receive a $1.5M grant for its science education Preparing Future K-12 Teachers program—an amazing accolade for the college, and Luther is now ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. 

But if you put any stock in the adage all good things must end, you won’t be surprised that President Torgerson will end his service as Luther’s president this summer.  The college is incredibly fortunate to have had his and Mrs. Torgerson’s leadership since 1999, and a celebration to honor the Torgersons is set for sometime in April.  The search for Luther’s next president is in progress, with plans to name the college’s new leader, its 10th president, in February 2013.

Another great honor for Luther was announced recently, when senior Georgianna "Annie" Whiteley of Wayzata, Minn., was named a Rhodes Scholar.  Annie was selected from a pool of 838 candidates nominated by their colleges and universities. She was the only student from an Iowa school selected for the honor. We are especially thrilled with Annie’s selection, as it affirms the type of education Luther offers—one that moves students beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may allow funding in some instances for four years. One of 32 outstanding scholars selected, Annie will begin studies at Oxford in October 2013. She has maintained a 3.988 GPA while majoring in chemistry and pursuing a minor in biology at Luther. Annie is Luther’s 8th Rhodes Scholar.

Please stay in touch with Luther. If your name hasn’t been on the classmate updates list in awhile, let the Alumni Office know where you are and what you’re doing these days. Your classmates, and all of us at Luther, would like to know!

Thank you for your past support to Luther students,

Sue (Franzen) Drilling ’78
Director of Special Programs

Don’t forget your Annual Fund giving!

Each year nearly 9,500 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $50,000.  Strong support from alumni helps Luther secure additional funds from foundations and corporations, and your gift each year helps us to reach our goal of 27% alumni giving to the Annual Fund.

Have you made your 2012 gift to Luther?  Please visit to make a difference for Luther students.  Thank you!

Please note: Your Spring 2013 class agent letter will include a listing of your classmates who gave to Luther during 2012.  Be sure to make your gift before December 31 to be included.

MARJORIE (SCHWINEFUS) LANSING of Ossian, Iowa, died April 13, 2012, at age 94, at Ossian Senior Hospice, where she had lived since 2005. She attended the Decorah College for Women and graduated in 1939 from St. Joseph School of Nursing (affiliated with De Paul University) in Chicago. Marjorie married Philip Lansing in 1941, and she stayed home to raise their two daughters. In the mid-1950s Marjorie returned to the nursing profession, working part-time at Decorah Memorial Hospital, where she was known for her compassion and concern for others. She and Philip retired in 1976, and they enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and Canada. Marjorie loved to play cards and belonged to a bridge club for many years. She also taught her grandchildren how to play cards. A lifetime member of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Marjorie was also an honorary member of the Rosary Society. She is survived by her daughters, Marilyn Cook and Maureen Wong; six grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Marjorie is survived by many nieces and nephews, and grand- nieces and -nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Phil; her parents; two sisters, Marion Cunnane and Audrey Welby; and a brother, John.

GEORGE A. PFISTER of Decorah, Iowa, died March 2, 2012, at age 97, at the Aase Haugen Home. Survivors include his children, KAROLINE PFISTER ’67, Philip, JANET (PFISTER) HALL ’71, and Lynne Lamp; a sister, Luella Young; a brother, GORDON PFISTER ‘49; six grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. George was preceded in death by his wife, Anna, on Sept. 22, 2008; his parents, Alwin and Caroline Pfister; a sister, Elsie Osmundson; and three brothers: Walter, Lester, and Norman.  George graduated from Luther in 1936 with majors in mathematics, physics, education, and music, and he toured Europe with the 1936 Luther College Band. George taught high school math, physics, biology, general science, and vocal and instrumental music in Fessenden, N.D., and in Alton, Atlantic, and Clermont (Iowa) schools.  In 1941 he entered the U.S. Army and served in the Philippines, Australia, and New Guinea. After receiving his commission in 1943, George was assigned to a position as an instructor at the Officer's School in Australia. While teaching there, he wrote and taught a remedial math course which was later used by the U.S. Coast Guard. When George returned to the States in 1945, he set up an office for General MacArthur's headquarters in California. During his tour of duty, George met and married a nurse, Second Lieutenant Anna Cunningham, in Brisbane, Australia. After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1945, they settled on the Pfister family farm north of Locust, Iowa. George served as St. John's choir director and on the church board. He also served on the county election board, the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, the Winneshiek Co. Board of Education (1948-1959), and the Decorah Board of Education (1960-1973). One of his great pleasures was in awarding all four of his children their high school diplomas. George enjoyed singing with the Luren Singers and attended several Sangerfests. He was a member of the Iowa Historical Society, where he was active in adding the Locust School to the State Registry. After retiring from farming in 1973, George was recruited to establish the Nutrition Program for Seniors in an eight-county area, serving as the director from 1974-76. He was named director of the Area Agency on Aging (now Northland) from 1975-1981. He served for ten years as Decorah's city forester. George was a member and officer of the Winneshiek Co. Genealogy Society; Decorah Area Chapter of the AARP; the Senior Citizens Hospitality Center; and of the Winneshiek Co. Historical Society, giving school children tours of the Locust School and sharing his memories of childhood in an earlier era. One of George's great joys was woodworking, completing scroll saw projects well into his 90s. George felt strongly that it was important to give back to the community. Among the many letters of commendation he had received, including a Special Citation for Outstanding Service to the Community from the AARP in 1993, George received the State of Iowa Governor's Volunteer Award from then Gov. Terry Branstad in 1986, and a Partners in Aging Award from Gov. Branstad in 1994.

JOHN CHRISTOPHER of Baraboo, Wis., died Oct. 19, 2011, at age 97. After graduation from Luther, he farmed for several years before moving west to work for North American Van Lines. John married Roma Hasey in 1945 and they had two sons, James and Robert. John married two more times, to Helen Holland, and to Elva Staveness. He is survived by his son, James Christopher; two granddaughters; and special friends, Norb and Cindy Moy. John was predeceased by all of his wives; his son Robert; and a sister, Valborg Caldwell. He was a member of Luther’s Heritage Club.

HAZEL (HOYT) MARKOVETZ of Des Moines, Iowa, died Jan. 8, 2012, at age 95. She earned a certificate in education from Luther, and a bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University in 1966.  Hazel was a longtime elementary school teacher and retired from the Des Moines Public Schools in 1985. She worked for 13 years in the business offices of Iowa Methodist Medical Center and the V.A. Medical Center. In retirement she was a private tutor. Hazel visited every state in the continental U.S. and most of the Canadian Provinces, and she made ten trips to Europe, including Scandinavia and the British Isles. Hazel was a friend to many and a lover of lifelong learning. For several years she was a regular on campus each summer at Lutherlag, but in recent years was no longer able to attend due to health issues. Hazel was a member of the Westkirk Presbyterian Church. She is survived by her daughter, Carol Dixon; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Markovetz, and her son, Alton.

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