Class of 1950 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Ah, to now be a Class Agent!  Not quite like being a special agent or a secret agent.  But think of "class" as an adjective, then it sounds pretty important.  In any case, I am happy to be stepping into the shoes of my illustrious predecessors:  Arlan Knutson, the Christiansons, the Andersons, and all the good folks before them.  Who can forget Bob Eggleson's performance as emcee at our 50th reunion dinner!

Speaking of which, it is only three years until our 65th!  So it's not too early to be making plans.  I know:  we're old and getting older.  But a great way to affirm life would be getting together one more time to celebrate our longevity, re-live our youth, and show our love for "alma mater dear."  Distance and health will prevent some from coming.  But those of us who can come, let's start thinking about it.  I would love to see or hear from you all when the time arrives.

Speaking of which, here is my initial request as your novice Class Agent.  Let us know what you are doing to stay engaged (I was going to say "up and running" but, knowing my own limits, thought better of it).  Something I would find especially interesting is whether you are still keeping at things you did years ago.  For example:  I still manage to play trumpet in several Decorah groups, thankful that younger and better players tolerate my presence.  Or what new activities have you taken up later in life?  And how about favorite books you think the rest of us would enjoy?  In short:  I'll be writing again in the spring and would love to have news from you to pass on.

The 2012-13 academic year is going to be one of transition at Luther.  With President Torgerson preparing to step down, the process of selecting a new president is under way, with a goal of announcing Torgerson's successor in February.  Events honoring him, on campus and off, will be a prominent feature of the months ahead.  One of the major initiatives of the Torgerson administration―deepening Luther's commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship―has brought the college national recognition as one of ten college and university winners of the Second Nature Climate Leadership Award.

Another major achievement of a different sort:  Kelsey Kittleson '12, super student and star catcher on Luther's Final Eight softball team, has recently been chosen as one of nine finalists for the NCAA's Woman of the Year Award.  How's that for impressive!  And check out the amazing stories about some of last spring's graduates in the current issue of the Luther Alumni Magazine.  Keep in mind, too, the name of an exceptionally gifted young musician, current senior Phuc Phan from Hanoi, Vietnam, principal cellist in Luther's terrific Symphony Orchestra.  We will be hearing more about him, I'm pretty sure.

Enrollment at the college is holding steady, around 2,500.  The number of new students is up for the second year in a row.  Roughly 8 percent of the student body consists of international and U.S. minority students.  The international cohort is now overwhelmingly from Asia and Africa, with no Scandinavians (!) and hardly any Europeans. History has moved on.

The Sesquicentennial Fund project, which concludes in December, has now exceeded its overall goal of $50 million.  An impressive achievement for a drive focused primarily on endowment needs.  Thanks to all of you who have contributed.  Some portions of the project are still in need of additional funding - e.g. the multipurpose Aquatic Center now under construction.  And student scholarship aid is a continuing and pressing need.  So if you have some disposable income . . .  Our class has one of the better giving records when it comes to the % of us who are giving (43% most recently).  Let's see if we can sustain and even improve on that.

One of the highlights of every academic year - Christmas at Luther - will be here before we know it.  This year there will be a new videotaping of the performance to be televised nationally.  Be alert for that.

It's great to be in touch with you and an honor to be a member of the class of '50 and now your Class Agent.  Best wishes to you all.  And let us keep our recently deceased classmates in our thoughts and prayers.

Richard (Dick) Ylvisaker
1950 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 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

ELEANOR (JOHNSON) KLUNGTVEDT of Rushford, Minn., died Jan. 11, 2012, at age 85. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Luther and completed a master’s degree in counseling at Winona State University in 1970. Eleanor taught school in Alma, Wis.; Mabel and Peterson, Minn.; and in Winona, Minn., at the Vo-Tech. She had a love for music and enjoyed playing the guitar and accordion, and singing; she was also part of her family band, the Country Melodies. Eleanor was a member of Grace Lutheran Church and WELCA in Peterson, Minn. She is survived by a son, Kevin Klungtvedt, and a daughter, Kerry Klungtvedt; two grandchildren, Kate and JOHN KLUNGTVEDT ‘13; and a brother, Glen Johnson. She was predeceased by her husband, Orrin.  

MYRON W. "BUD" LARSEN, JR. of Sioux Falls, S.D., died suddenly on Nov. 13, 2011, at age 85, after his daily afternoon walk. As a high school senior in 1944, Bud enlisted in the U.S. Navy and left for boot camp the day after graduation to serve two years on the USS Natrona during World War II. After graduating from Luther, he attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., for one year and decided the ministry was not his calling. Bud attended South Dakota State University in Brookings and earned a degree in pharmacy in 1956. He worked as a pharmacist in Yankton, Huron, McLaughlin, Sioux Falls, Madison, Brandon, and Redfield, S.D., thoroughly enjoying meeting and serving his many customers. After retiring, Bud lived in Dell Rapids and Sioux Falls. He enjoyed attending yearly reunions with USS Natrona Navy buddies in various locations in the U.S. and singing with Mandskor and many church choirs. He loved his Lord and Savior and devoted much time to studying scripture and prayer. Bud is survived by his children, Judith Peterson, STEVE LARSEN ’81, and John Larsen; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. He was predeceased by his wife, Elaine, in 2006; his father, Myron Larsen, Sr.’19; and grandfather, Christian Larsen (LC ‘1883).

GENEVIEVE LaMAE (THOMPSON) MIKELSON of Onalaska, Wis., died Dec. 9, 2011, at age 83. At Luther LaMae was a member of the Sigma Alpha Phi sorority and graduated with a major in elementary education. She married her loving husband, Waldo Leon Mikelson ’49, in 1952 and they lived in Lake Preston, S.D., until 1995, when they moved to Onalaska, Wis.  LaMae taught school in Cresco, Iowa; Blair, Wis.; and Lake Preston, S.D. In 1991 she was awarded a certificate for “Teachers Who Make A Difference.” Upon her retirement she received a letter from the Governor of South Dakota for her years of service.  LaMae was a member of First Lutheran Church in Onalaska, where she served on the church council and was an active circle member.  She was a volunteer at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center for 17 years and appeared on the Service Excellence Honor Roll – she touched the lives of many in the Family Waiting Room/ICU. When LaMae was a member of Lake Preston Lutheran Church, she taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She was active in Ladies Aid, a church council member, and served on the call committee.  A passionate sports fan, LaMae loved to cheer for the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Milwaukee Brewers. She loved to bake, travel, visit with friends, and most importantly, laugh.  Those left to remember LaMae include her daughter, Dawn Stroh; son-in-law, Jeff Stroh; two grandchildren; and her sister, Beverly Solberg. She was preceded in death by her father, Arthur Thompson, in 1980; mother, Mildred Thompson, in 1990; and husband, Waldo Mikelson, in 1999.

Lower campus with wind turbine