Class of 1953 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear Luther College Classmates of 1953,

We’ve met here before.  Not so long ago, and quite often before that.  It started in 1998, when our 45th class reunion was in sight.  And now we look toward our 60th, at Homecoming 2013.  Permit me to adopt Wayne Rohne’s voice and say “Y’all, Come!”  (I’ll utter that with more energy when we meet again, next spring—second time around, a bigger head of steam, as we’ve witnessed recently in presidential politics.)

Fifteen years of class agent letters—Wow!  And then a few years before that in the 1970s, followed by some years of Art Lee’s letters and several of George Schenck’s.  Does someone else want to get a word in?  There is still time.  Serving as a class agent must mean that one has “agency,” and that’s a big deal nowadays.  I used to think that “agency” was a business, as in real estate or insurance.  Now it’s something that people have, a sense that they count for something, that they can make their voice heard in the world and get things done.  I hear my younger colleagues using the word a lot, especially colleagues in the humanities and social sciences.  It must be big in graduate study, and consequently now in undergraduate study as well.  The language of newly minted Ph.Ds trickles down.  “Agency,” anyone?  I don’t want to be greedy and keep it for myself.

Did I mention Art Lee?  Art regularly responds to my class agent letters.  He provides assurance that there is someone out there who receives my letters and plucks them out of that day’s bundle of junk mail before shoveling the rest into the recycle bin.  Art even wrote me a review of Transformed by the Journey: 150 Years of Luther College in Word and Image.  I had to get that title in one more time.  Did I mention that the price has been reduced to $20?  Have I been “remaindered,” or what? 

Art Lee, Walt Cherwien, Clyde Staveness, and I began the fall semester of 1953 as roommates in two upper rooms of a small cottage next to the West Side School.  We shared the bathroom with the elderly owners of the house.  No shower, only a bath tub, but that was the olden days, before daily showers were part of the routine of life.  All four of us graduated from Luther, Clyde in 1957, after military service during the Korean War.  As mentioned above, Art and I keep in touch.  The name Cherwien leaps to my eyes regularly from worship bulletins.  Walt and Marian’s (Hove) son, David Cherwien—organist, composer, choral director—is named frequently in connection with the organ music used where I worship.  And some of my favorite hymns have texts by Susan Palo Cherwien, David’s wife.  There are multiple ways for the past to reach into the present.

President Richard Torgerson is set to retire from his position at the end of the current academic year.  These fourteen years of his presidency have been good years—a lot of activity toward the improvement both of the campus and of the educational program of the college.  The pace of construction and renovation has been impressive indeed, right up to the present time—an aquatic center under construction as I write.  Now the quest is on for #10.  Luther College has been remarkably stable when it comes to presidents—only nine of them in 152 years.  Of course, the 42 years of Laur. Larsen’s presidency has something to do with that. 

What will #10 envision for Luther College?  Stay tuned.  My prediction is that planning for the near future will be closely tied to the rising cost of higher education.  The current societal focus on that issue is certain to affect planning at all institutions of higher education.  It is a challenge worthy of our best thinking and planning.  At the same time, I remain convinced that a residential liberal arts college such as Luther offers an excellent educational option for a life worth living.  Not the only option, not the best option for everyone, but an option worthy of our generous support.

Two of our members have died.  Notices of their deaths appear below.  I recall Anita Flint’s passion for the Democratic Party; she reminded us of that at our 50th class reunion.  Forensics were her strength, and that undoubtedly worked to the benefit of her clients when she advocated for them.  Alden Swensen had a gift for philosophical thought.  Gerhard Belgum commended him for that in my hearing when we were students.  That skill probably gave his preaching an engaging dimension.  Blessed be their memory!

Best wishes to you all!

Wilfred F. Bunge
1953 Class Agent
[email protected]

PS.  I received a letter recently from Ed Ulseth, one of our classmates who spent his working life as a parish pastor.  Ed is retired and living in Akron, Ohio.  Though somewhat limited in mobility by Parkinson's, Ed reports: "It has slowed my pace but I carry on."  What a pleasant surprise to hear from Ed.  I don't think we had had contact since 1954.  That's a space ago, but shared memories remain vivid.

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.  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

Anita MARIE (Flint) Lenz of Stoddard, Wis., died Nov. 26, 2011, at age 80. She graduated from Luther, then earned a master's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1958. She and her husband, Richard Lenz, moved to Tucson, Ariz., to pursue their social work careers. They returned to Wisconsin, living in La Crosse for a short time but most of their lives in Stoddard. Anita dedicated her working life to providing counseling and advocacy services to children and their families. She is remembered for her love for her family, compassionate service to children and their families, her love of the land and gardening, and all things antique. She was predeceased by her husband, Richard, in 2005. 

ALDEN G. SWENSEN of Omaha, Neb., died Nov. 3, 2011, at age 79. His lifetime passions were writing, theology, the wilderness, and family feasts. Alden was an ordained Lutheran minister, who served the church for 30 years. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, ELIZABETH (LARSON) SWENSON ‘54, and his sister, Aileen Ziemer. Alden left behind his daughters Kathryn Swensen Tollefsrud and Kristi Swensen Sabby, their husbands David M. and David O., and grandchildren Ria, Britta, Seth, and Danny.

Will Bunge