We had a wonderful time at the celebration of the 70-year reunion of the Luther Class of 1939! The arrangements made by Sherry Alcock and Sharon Roher of the Alumni Relations Office were superb. Our assigned host was Dr. Weston Noble ’43, the retired music professor and maestro of world-wide renown, who did a wonderful job for us. Everyone was given a chance to ask questions and speak, and we heard greetings from President Torgerson as well as from the Vice-President for Development Keith Christensen. The setting was great in the Nobel room, where we started off with a wine and cheese reception and then to a gourmet dinner of salad, pork loin roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans. After having our picture taken, we returned to have a very tasty dessert of chocolate mousse in a chocolate shell. The table servers were attentive to all our needs and all was really appreciated.
The six of us who were there had a very good time and wished that others could have attended. Maynard and Minerva Aaker, Louise Naeseth Hubbard with Barbara and Eric Greenfeldt, David Larson, Phyllis Johnson Leseth, Isabelle Collins Nasby along with her daughter and granddaughter, and Gene and Olive Nordby along with their son John all attended. Weston Noble was our host, and Katherine Ulvilden Moen '41 was a guest.
We learned that 69 alumni have resulted from our 1939 graduates; Maynard Aaker is a past Board of Regents member; faculty emeritus members are Maynard Aaker as Vice President of Development and Henrietta Torgerson as Associate Registrar; former Distinguished Service Award winners are Phyllis Johnson Leseth and Gene Nordby; former Hall of Fame inductee is Les Forde; former Spirit of Luther award winner is Maynard Aaker; Luther Honorary Doctorate is Jack Layton; and for the last 20 years your class agent is Gene Nordby.
We were also given the sad news that Ruth Jaeger Conrad, who was with us initially but graduated from the University of Iowa in 1941, died October 29, 2008, at age 90. She lived in Denver and is survived by a son, two step-daughters, four grandchildren, one great-grandson, and her sister Mary Jaeger '44. She was preceded in death by her husband Walter and a son. Our sympathy to her family.
Those of you who didn’t make it to Decorah missed some miserable weather of rain, wind, and cold, but at least Luther beat Simpson in the football game to warm some hearts. Also, you weren’t subjected to my diatribe. As a result you are being put upon now by a copy of my greeting:
Welcome to Luther and 1939’s 70th class reunion! At our age, we are blessed to be here—or anywhere. Reunions differ. Twenty-five year reunions are where you tell dozens of people they haven’t changed a bit—when you couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup if you had to. A 50-year reunion is when auld acquaintance may be forgot—which is why we had large-type name tags. But a 70-year reunion is like an extreme makeover by Father Time! Anyway, we are here.
We thank the Alumni Office and their people for making these fine arrangements and for providing the sustenance free of charges. They graciously provided a dinner instead of a luncheon originally scheduled. I guess they figured we couldn’t stay awake this late?
I didn’t ask about the menu since the price was right, but it reminds me of a restaurant menu where I had a question for the waitress. “About the salmon entre, is it a steak or filet?” “Neither,” she said, “it’s a fish.” Sometimes we get more calories than we need. A definition of obesity is that it is the past tense of “Don’t mind if I do.” For a short time, we lived in the South. I was reminded of it when I read the last line of an obituary in the Mobile Alabama Press Register the other day…it read, “In lieu of flowers, please send fried chicken.”
One of the things about being ninety-plus years old: If you steal a lot of money, get caught, and get a life sentence—who cares? On the other hand, blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt!
I don’t believe this man was in our class of 1939—or any college class—but Herman James, a North Carolina mountain man, was drafted into the Army. On the first day of basic training, they issued him a comb. On that afternoon the Army barber shaved off all his hair. On the next day, the Army issued him a toothbrush. That afternoon, the Army dentist pulled seven of his teeth. On the third day, the Army issued him a jock strap. The Army has been looking for Herman for 51 years!
As Leon Trotsky said, “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justified the end.” President Grover Cleveland said, “A man is know by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out.” President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only fear we have to fear is fear itself.” Now fear is running seventh in the present administration. Think of fear like alcohol. It impairs your judgment. You shouldn’t make any decisions while under its influence! Both faith and fear may sail into your harbor, but only allow faith to drop anchor.
Quoting these presidents recalls that President’s Day is a special day that we set aside every year to honor our two greatest Presidents. We were going to set aside a special day for members of Congress—but April 1 was taken.
You may have heard of Lars, a Norwegian from Cook County in northern Minnesota, who was an older, single gentleman who was born and raised a Lutheran. Each Friday night after work, he would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a venison steak. Now, all his neighbors were Catholics and since it was Lent, they were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays. The delicious aroma from the grilled venison was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest. The priest came to visit Lars and suggested that Lars convert to Catholicism. After several classes and more study, Lars attended Mass. As the priest sprinkled Holy Water over Lars, he said, “You were born a Lutheran and raised a Lutheran, but now you are Catholic.” Lars’s neighbors were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived and the wonderful aroma of grilling venison filled the neighborhood. The priest was called immediately. As he rushed into Lar’s yard clutching a Rosary and preparing to scold Lars, he stopped in amazement and watched. There stood Lars clutching a small bottle with water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat and chanted, “You were born a deer and raised a deer, but now you are a walleye!”
The time to get primed for the future is when you are in your prime, so I guess we are a bit late for that. But a Mrs. Johnson decided to have her portrait painted by a famous artist. She told the artist, “Paint me with diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, emerald bracelets and a ruby pendant.” “But you aren’t wearing any of these,” said the artist. “I know,” said Mrs. Johnson, “my health is not good and my husband is having an affair with his secretary. When I die, I want the bitch to go nuts looking for the jewelry.”
They claim traditions were invented by people who didn’t want to decide what to do next. It seems to be becoming a tradition to carry around a bottle of water—but you have to be smart about bottled water. For instance, I always buy bottled water from Mexico. It is cheaper than prune juice!
A dog ran into a butcher shop and stole a prime cut of meat. The butcher caught up with the thieving pooch on the street and noticed he was wearing a nice collar and tags. The butcher walked the dog back to the owner, who just happened to be a lawyer with an office on a nearby street. “Tell me something,” the butcher asked the lawyer, “If a dog steals a roast from my store, can I demand payment from its owner?” “Certainly,” said the lawyer. “In that case,” said the butcher, “you owe me $15. Your dog ate my best roast.” “That is only fair,” said the lawyer and made out a check to the butcher. “Why I thank you,” said the butcher who was gleeful at having triumphed so effortlessly and when back to his shop. But his mood quickly soured when the lawyer dropped off a letter for the butcher that evening. It contained an invoice for a $150 consultation fee!
Well, you never know. They usually get you in the end.
Thanks for coming and we’d like to hear from each of you to know what you are doing these days.
In another five years we could celebrate our 75-year reunion. At our ages, it is unlikely that there will be a whole lot of participation at that time. But you must know that you missed a wonderful experience at the 70th. Make up for it by sending a note as to what you are doing these days so I can have something to write about! I am told that we reached the 44 percent participation for the Annual Fund. That is very good, keep it up! If you haven’t made your gift please send it soon! You can even make a gift online at givenow.luther.edu.
All best wishes to you,
E.J. Nordby, MD
1939 Class Agent