Class of 1939 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear Classmate,

Well, our Alma Mater has had another successful homecoming this year.  And with President Richard Torgerson announcing that he will end his tenure as Luther next June, they are busy searching for a replacement.  He has done a very good job these past dozen years or so and knowing him has been a pleasant experience.  We hope a suitable successor can be found.

I didn’t get to the homecoming activities but am saving my energy and resources to be able to attend our 75th reunion in 2014, Lord willing.  Our numbers continue to dwindle.  My wife, Olive, and I have just returned from a 2-month stay at our cottage in northern Wisconsin.  We were blessed with good weather, good fishing, visiting with friends, and surviving my cooking!  Olive’s arthritis limited her activities and comfort, but she manages in spite of the lack of effectiveness of any medication, etc.

As usual, I have no first-hand news of or by any of our classmates.  The Alumni Office sent me a copy of obituaries of those recently passing, but I believe I have notified you of all of them.  If not, they will be appended to this letter.

We are on the threshold of election day―when the promises end and the excuses begin!  Presidential candidates always say they will hit the ground running but the only time elected presidents hit the ground running is when they are looking for a bathroom.  At least the phone should stop ringing and the television programs should return to usual timing!

Retirement goes on―31 years for me.  One secret is to remember you’re no longer a first responder.  You should come when you are called, but you don’t have to be the first.  I read of some good advice from a farmer and will pass it on:  1) Life is simple when you plow around the stump.  2) A bumblebee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.  3) Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.  4) Do not corner anything meaner than you are.  5) The biggest trouble maker you’ll ever meet watches you from the mirror.

The belief that youth is the happiest time of life is founded on fallacy.  The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, and we grow happier as we grow older―except for possible physical and mental problems.

I guess I don’t look too good.  The other day I went to the insurance office to pay my premium and they tried to settle up with me!  My doctor doesn’t tell me to stick out my tongue.  He tells me how much I owe him and my tongue hangs out by itself.

The future belongs to the things that grow, whether it be a tree, or democracy, or an institution.  He who believes that the past cannot change has not yet written his memoirs.  Everyone points to being a success.  There is a saying, “If the love of work you do exceeds the effort of doing it, success is inevitable.”  But humility leads to strength and not weakness.  It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them.

A male acquaintance of mine arrived home the other night from work and was greeted by his wife, “I have good news and bad news,” she told him.  “Give the good news,” he said.  “The air bags work.”  In such a situation if your outgo exceeds your income, the upshot may be your downfall!  Speaking of such, it’s funny how all the people who hate the rich buy lottery tickets.  I guess for every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.  The truth remains that if you are not generous with a meager income, you will never be generous with abundance.

A taxi driver and a minister arrived in Heaven at the same time.  The taxi driver was shown to a palatial suite and the minister given a small room.  “I don’t get it,” said the minister.  “All he did was drive a cab around and I served in the ministry for decades.”  “Up here we go by results,” said St. Peter, “while you preached, people slept; while he drove, people prayed!”  Which brings to mind the present economy:  We know the economy is in a slump when even the wages of sin are frozen.

While giving his patient a physical exam, the doctor noticed several dark bruises on the man’s shins.  He asked, “Do you play hockey, or rugby, or any physical sport?” “No,” the man replied, “I just play bridge with my wife.”  They say a retired husband is a wife’s full time job!

Another doctor confided in an attorney friend, “I have a problem,” he said. “Whenever I’m at a social gathering, people tell me about their medical problems.  I don’t mind giving advice, but I feel they are taking advantage of me.  Would it be legal or ethical for me to charge them?”  “Absolutely,” the lawyer responded.  “That will be $200.”  I had a simpler solution back in my practice days.  I would just say, “Sure, just get undressed and let’s have a look at it.”  That usually took care of it.

The Luther Class of 1939 is to be thanked and congratulated, as we did very well in donating to the Annual Fund this year.  We are lesser in numbers still living, but have done well in giving.  Keep up the good work and plan to be at our 75-year reunion at Homecoming 2014.  If you’d drop a note so I had something of interest to tell our classmates, you wouldn’t have to put up with my drivel.  Or you could replace me as I will have done this job for 21 years at that anniversary. 

For those of you who have a real winter, I present an Arctic Proverb:  “May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamps, and peace in your heart!” And don’t forget to contribute to the Luther Annual Fund!


E. J. Nordby
1939 Class Agent
[email protected]

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 participation goal of alumni giving to the Annual Fund.  Here’s how your class is doing so far this year:


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.

*as of October 18, 2012

REDERICK HALVERSON of rural Stoddard, Wis., formerly of West Prairie, Wis., and North Branford, Conn., died Nov. 13, 2011, at age 94. After graduation from Luther, he joined Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore from 1939-43 as a Pfeiffer Fellow; from 1943-46 he served as a chemistry department faculty member at the university. Frederick began a long career at the American Cyanamid Co. Stamford Research Laboratories, working as a chemist in 1946 and later as a senior research fellow, before retiring in 1982. He also served as a visiting scientist at Cambridge University from 1957-58. Frederick was a member of the American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, American Physical Society, and Optical Society of America; he also received the American Cyanamid Co.'s Senior Award. Frederick was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Stamford for many years, serving as a deacon and elder. He and his wife, Edith Lynn, enjoyed traveling in the U.S. and many trips abroad through the years. They were lovingly committed to Frederick's nephews and their families, and Frederick had lived at the home of nephew DAVID FELDE ‘68, in rural Stoddard, for the past three years. He is survived by his nephews David and ROBERT FLELDE ’72. Frederick was predeceased by his wife, Edith, in 1994, four sisters, and two brothers. 

WILLIAM D. NESSET of Gulf Shores, Ala., died April 30, 2012, at age 95. A native of Canby, Minn., he graduated from Luther, then the University of Minnesota Medical School, before practicing medicine in Minneapolis for 31 years. William retired to Fairhope, Ala., in 1984 and moved to Gulf Shores in 1993.  He was an avid skier, golfer, and traveler and loved the mountains, beach, and family. William is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Mary T. Nesset; son Eric Nesset; 3 daughters--Carrie Tietz, Laurie Ellis, and Joan Wilson; 9 grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. He was preceded in death by his brothers, LAWREN NESSET ’33, ELDRED NESSET ’36, and PAUL NESSET ’40. 

EVELYN (THOMPSON) ROGNESS of Hills, Minn., died Nov.14, 2010, at age 96. After attending Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, she earned a certificate in education from Luther. Evelyn taught in rural schools in Maynard and Knoxville, Iowa, for a time, then attended Radio Operators School in Alameda, Calif., and later worked for United Airlines as a radio operator in Chicago, Boston, and New York, for eight years. She and her husband, Alfred, lived in Sioux Falls, S.D., for a number of years and were members of First Lutheran Church. They moved to the Rogness farm near Hills and became members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Evelyn also worked at Luther Manor in Sioux Falls for several years. She was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred, in 1993, and six brothers.

PATRICIA (DARLING) VIEBROCK of Palm Harbor, Fla., died May14, 2011, at age 92. She attended Luther and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1942. Patricia loved her family and her cats, and she was a donor to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She is survived by her sons, John and Charles; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. She was predeceased by her husband, Vernon VIEBROCK ’37, in 1993.


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