Class of 1953 Fall Letter

Fall 2013

Dear Luther College Classmates of 1953,

Mellow!  That was the prevailing mood at our 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, October 5.  The attendance was impressive, from great distances as well as close by.  We have a substantial presence in Decorah: Donna (Haugen) Bahr, Gene and Ruby (Totman) Hermeier, Richard Simon Hanson, Joanne (Gray) Kolstad (in residence now and then), Ellen (Rotvold) Ward, and I.  Homecoming weekend classmates from Hawaii, Montana, New York, Texas, Washington, and a lot of Midwestern neighbors joined us. 

President Ylvisaker often used the metaphor of family to describe those identified with Luther College; in the Sesquicentennial history I argued that a more appropriate metaphor for the Luther College of today is community or perhaps even cluster of communities.  We have outgrown the intimate boundaries of family.  However, the Luther College Class of 1953 was family this Homecoming 2013 weekend.

Several classmates sent regrets.  Roger Weberg had planned to attend, but health issues intervened.  Art Lee, my faithful correspondent, is experiencing vision problems, which make driving problematic.  Dale Henning is still active in his field of anthropology.  He gave a paper at the annual meeting of the Plains Anthropological Conference the weekend of Homecoming, but he looks forward to our next reunion in 2018.

David Preus, Class of 1943, was here for his 70th anniversary.  Weston was also a member of that class; he was in Decorah, but unfortunately could not be on campus for his reunion, since he was recovering in our local hospital from a fall in South Korea.  I’m not going to suggest that we start planning our 70th in 2023 just now; we have the 65th in 2018 to deal with first.

Should you wish to wander through the Luther College past sometime, all issues of Chips and the Pioneer yearbook are now available on the Luther College website for your perusal.  Visit and choose “Digital Resources” on the left side.  The first link will take you to the digitized copies of the college Chips, Pioneer, and Agora (an occasional, usually two or three issues per year, journal that I started in 1988 as director of our PAIDEIA program and edited for the first ten years—faculty essays, chapel talks, poems, guest essays, etc.).  You can also use the shortcut:

If you experience problems with access, contact [email protected].  There are far more elaborate instructions available; I have included the bare minimum.  Going beyond that leaves me dizzy.  I am hanging on for dear life in this digitized world; I have the impression that I may have successfully completed Kindergarten.  Though I in no way wish to devalue the wonders of our digital age, I confess to a certain satisfaction when I come upon opinion essays that make the case that the digital path alone is not sufficient for a good education or the pursuit of wisdom.  Face to face interaction with others, peers and teachers, is still essential.

All is well at Luther College.  David Tiede, retired president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, is the interim president this year, while the presidential search committee locates the 10th president of Luther College.  David is an excellent choice for the interim.  If only we could erase ten or so years from his age; he would then be high on my list to be the 10th.  Age matters, a little.  I shake my head in disbelief when I reflect that the first-year students who entered Luther this fall were preschoolers when I retired.  So it goes.

You may have heard during phonathon about the matching gift to Luther College of Arne Sorenson, Luther ’80, and his wife Ruth for the purpose of developing alumni/ae response to the Annual Fund campaign during phonathon.  Arne was born in Japan, where his parents were missionaries (his father, Bo Sorenson, was Luther College ’49), and spent his childhood years there.  Arne is now president and chief operating officer of Marriott International, as well as a member of the Luther College Board of Regents.  It would be disingenuous to suggest that the total amount raised for the Annual Fund is unimportant.  However, it is the case that the percentage of alumni/ae participation is also important.  The Class of ’53 did quite well last year, at 43 percent participation.  Let’s move that closer to 100 percent.  Any amount counts toward the percentage of participation.

There, I said it, and there’s even more.  Don Bungum offered to work with me on our special class project, the Class of 1953 Scholarship Fund.  Could we set as goal of $100,000 by our 65th?  We’re halfway there already. 

Difficult though it may be to believe, I am a heavy-footed driver, fussing about those old folks holding up traffic ahead of me.  Ruth, my wife, frequently cautions me about this.  And now here I am, playing the heavy-footed fundraiser.  What next?


Wilfred F. Bunge
1953 Class Agent
[email protected]

PS. More photos from our class reunion can be found at

Your gift. Every year. Put to work, right away, where it is needed most. 

Each year nearly 10,000 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $75,000.  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.  Here’s how your class is doing so far this year:


Have you made your 2013 gift to Luther?  Please visit to make your gift today.  Thank you!

Please note: Your Spring 2014 class agent letter will include a listing of your classmates who gave to Luther during 2013.  Be sure to make your gift before December 31 to be included. 

*as of October 18, 2013


ILA MAE “MICKEY” (HJELLE) SCHUMACHER of Hudson, Wis., died at age 81 on Feb. 6, 2013, with her daughter Karen at her side. Born in Fargo, N.D., she graduated from Spring Grove (Minn.) High School in 1949. She enrolled at Luther, where she met her husband, NOEL SCHUMACHER ’53, and they were married in 1951. From 1953-55, Ila Mae taught second grade in Caledonia, Minn. After moving to Hudson, she focused on raising their children before resuming work, holding positions in banking and at the Hudson Hospital. Ila Mae is survived by two children, Michael Schumacher and Karen Rohlfs; a son- and daughter-in-law; five grandchildren; two brothers, PAUL HJELLE ’58 and KEITH HJELLE ’68; a sister, RUTH ANN HJELLE ’73; two sisters-in-law; and a brother-in-law. She was preceded in death by her parents, Alice and ALBERT HJELLE ’24; her husband, NOEL SCHUMACHER ’53; and a son, Timothy Schumacher.

ALICE SKAAR of Primghar, Iowa, died August 26, 2012, at the age of 89. After graduating from Primghar High School in 1942, she attended Waldorf College for two years. Alice graduated from Luther in 1953 and went to work for Augsburg Publishing in Minneapolis, working there until her retirement in 1990. She moved back to Primghar to live with her brother, Harold, and sister, Bernette. Alice was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Primghar; she enjoyed cooking and baking and was known for her Kringla. Other hobbies she enjoyed included reading, quilting, fishing, and traveling, especially to Israel, China, and Norway. Alice is survived by two brothers, DONALD SKAAR ’49 and HAROLD SKAAR ‘53; a sister- and brother-in-law; six nieces and nephews; four grand-nieces and nephews; three great-grand-nieces and nephew; and other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters, Arlet Baustian and Bernette Skaar; and a brother, Arnold Skaar, in infancy.

EDWARD ULSETH of Akron, Ohio, died December 15, 2012, at age 83. He was a certified social worker and worked as a Lutheran minister for 55 years. Edward was devoted to his family, parishioners, and faith. Preceded in death by his wife, Glenna (Blinn) and step-son, Timothy Blinn, he is survived by nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.

Members from the Class of 1953, Homecoming 2013