Class of 1939 Spring 2011 Letter

Spring 2011

Dear Classmate:

Well, the Alumni Office at Luther thinks spring has come--so it is time for another letter.  The sad news is that our number one classmate, Maynard Aaker, died on March 16th at age 93. I will append his obituary. Luther was always on his mind and he did a great job in development. Our sympathy to his wife, Minerva, and his four daughters.

Since this is my thirtieth year of retirement, I have been out of a job for a long time! I wonder if Methuselah ever thought of early retirement?  I think retirement was a good decision. I’ve been busy every minute! A bad decision is when you know what to do and don’t do it.

Another good decision is to include an informational letter direct from campus so you get some news for a change: 

Greetings from Luther, where we are celebrating our sesquicentennial—the 150th anniversary of the college’s founding.  Just as it was in 1861, Luther continues to be a community of faith and learning, with a steadfast appreciation for the land and community that helps sustain us. 

We kicked off the Transformed by the Journey-themed sesquicentennial celebration Feb. 3 at opening convocation for spring semester, with an address by Ole Petter Ottersen--president of the University of Oslo, where most of Luther’s founders and early faculty members were educated. Dr. Ottersen spoke highly of Luther College, noting the foresight and hardiness of its pioneers, and the prestige our beloved institution has garnered. A reception honoring the descendants of our founders followed convocation.

During the rest of the academic year and through the summer and fall, the celebration will comprise an impressive lineup of special events and projects that reflect the holistic nature of a Luther education, and celebrate its Norwegian heritage, curriculum, music and the arts, worship, athletics, location, environmental stewardship, and service ethic.  The goal for the sesquicentennial is to honor Luther’s past while also looking outward and forward, paying tribute to the ways Luther has and will continue to contribute to the broader world by preparing students to lead and serve on behalf of the common good. 

While we’re in a celebratory spirit, let’s acknowledge the Luther Norse men’s basketball team, who completed an impressive season this semester. Having made their first appearance in the national tournament in 27 years, the Norse wrapped up the season with a record of 19-9, the third best win total in school history.  Along the way the Norse were crowned the Iowa Conference regular season and tournament champions. Luther's league title was its eighth in school history, while the tournament title was its first ever.

And be sure to mark your calendar for Luther’s Sesquicentennial Homecoming Celebration the weekend of October 14-16, 2011. Look for more details later this summer.

For additional information about the sesquicentennial celebration, including commissioned works, commemorative items, tours, and the mission and history of Luther College, visit the website.

Soli Deo Gloria    

We have to take what we get. Old age takes away from what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned – if we haven’t spent it all.

With all the troubles in the world these days, we wonder what will come of it. If it’s true that insects will take over the world  (or what is left of it), we hope that they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics. That should help some. With summer coming up, there are thoughts to consider when trying on your bathing suit for the first time: one, bathing suits can shrink; two, there might be more calories in pizza than they are telling us about; and three, the more comforting thought of all - mirrors do lie!

“Women are a problem, but they are the kind of a problem I enjoy wrestling with,” according to Warren Beatty. I don’t know who makes these surveys, but they claim that 25 percent of men kiss their wife goodbye when they leave the house. But 95 percent of men who leave their wives kiss their house goodbye!  They also claim that a man with pierced ears is better prepared for marriage. He has experienced pain and has bought jewelry. As Ruth Rudner said, “I love being married. It’s so great to find the one special person you want to marry and annoy for the rest of your life,” Another claims that marriage is like a highway robbery. “Brigands demand your money or your life – women require both.” These days many say that marriage is for a little while. It is alimony that is forever! 

My experience has been none of that as Olive and I are noting our 70th wedding anniversary in June. We can’t vie with Luther College though as it is celebrating 150 years this year!

It is not in everyone’s power to secure wealth, office, or honors; but everyone may be good, generous and wise. A good reputation is a fair estate to leave.

In closing, let me leave you with this wish.  May the Blue Bird of Happiness always take Imodium when flying over your Mercedes… particularly if Mercedes is your wife!

Don’t forget Luther’s Annual Fund and all good wishes!

Gene Nordby
E.J. Nordby, M.D.
1939 Class Agent

Maynard Aaker of Decorah died March 16, 2011, at age 93. Born and raised on the family’s Centennial Farm in rural Kenyon, Minn., Maynard was fiercely proud of his rural Minnesota roots and Norwegian heritage. At Luther he majored in English and economics, sang in Schola Cantorum, was a member of the Irving Society, and served on the college CHIPS staff.

Maynard began his career with Skelly Oil Company and retired after 27 years. During this time he served Luther College as president of the Alumni Association and as a seven-year member of Luther’s Board of Regents. He left Skelly in 1967 to serve the college as director of special projects and later as assistant development director. Maynard and his development team, along with then-President E.D. Farwell, were instrumental in funding and completing Preus Library, the Center for Faith and Life, the Salisbury Live Animal Center addition to Valders Hall of Science, and Jenson (now Jenson-Noble) Hall of Music. He retired as vice president emeritus for development in 1982. In 1984 Aaker was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding achievement, leadership, and dedication to the professional fields served by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). In 1995 Maynard and Minerva were recognized as life members of Luther President’s Council, the college’s most prestigious giving club, and Maynard was honored with the Spirit of Luther Award in 2004.

Maynard’s love of music motivated him to join the Luren Singing Society in 1967, and he also served as president of the National Norwegian Singers of America.  Always involved in community service, Maynard was a 70-year member of Lions Club International, a 25-year member of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum board, and he was active in Norseman’s Federation, Sons of Norway, the Symra Literary Society, and the Decorah Chamber of Commerce. Maynard chaired the Winneshiek County United Way campaign in 1984 and served as president of the Scandinavian Club of Sun City, Ariz.  His faith was enriched through membership in the congregations of Holden Lutheran (Kenyon), Nokomis Heights Lutheran (Minneapolis), Bethel Lutheran (Madison, Wis.), Decorah Lutheran, and American Lutheran Church Sun City (Ariz.). Maynard sang in church choirs, taught Sunday school and the Bethel Series, served on church councils, and served on the Luce Bergeson Endowment Committee at Decorah Lutheran.

Maynard is survived by his wife of 70 years, Minerva; four daughters, including Karen (AAKER) Chellevold ‘65, Ann (AAKER) Naslund ‘66, and Linda (AAKER) Ritland ’68; ten grandchildren, including David Casperson ‘90, Michael Naslund ‘92, Jennifer (Naslund) Numedahl ‘95, and Laura (Naslund) Ready ’01; and fifteen great-grandchildren.

Don't forget your Annual Fund giving!  

Each year nearly 10,000 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $3 to $50,000. Strong support from alumni helps Luther secure additional funds from foundations and corporations, and your gift each year helps us reach our goal of 30% alumni giving to the Annual Fund.  Here’s how your class—and surrounding classes—did in 2010: 

Class of 1938  Total giving in 2010:  $11,175 from 27% of the class


Class of 1940  Total giving in 2010:  $2,663 from 43% of the class

Your gift can boost the impact your class has on current students!  Please visit to show your support. Thank you!