Class of 1956 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear 1956 Classmates:

I hope all of you had a pleasant summer.  For us it seemed to just melt away.  Fall arrived very quickly here, and has, for the most part, been very cool. But we like it “up North,” and so what can you expect?

Carlyle and I did not make it to homecoming this year but understand there were the usual good feelings as people renewed friendships and memories.  He heard that Luther lost to the University of Dubuque in football, but the rest of the weekend made up for that.

The college seems to get larger year by year.  This fall there are 681 new students.  This is not too much smaller than the entire student body in our day.  The placement rate for graduates is now 96 percent; many schools are pleased with much lower results.  It is a tribute to the educational quality that Luther continues to provide.  In energy efficiency, Luther now has one of the largest solar fields in Iowa, and Baker Commons―on part of the site of the former college farm―will experience net-zero emissions.  As to the Sesquicentennial Fund which ends this December, the original goal of $50 million has now been surpassed even though some projects have not been fully funded as yet.  The thing about campaigns is that schools project specific initiatives needing funding, but donors often have other ideas about what they wish to support.  But, it is all good for the school.  On the construction front, work on the new Aquatic Center is underway; completion is planned for this coming summer.  And all residential halls have been fully renovated in the last decade.  Remember in our day, Brandt was the newest hall (we used to call them dorms) for women who also stayed in other places along that same street, and some freshmen women stayed in the east wing of Larsen.  Freshmen men stayed in the rest of Larsen and some barracks; other men mostly stayed in houses around town.  But we all got by.  Anyway, these and many other recent accomplishments are a tribute to the leadership of President Rick and Judy Torgerson, as they conclude their time at Luther this May and retire to Edina, Minn.  We all hope the next president will be as good a fit for Luther as Rick and Judy have been.

There are a few class notes to report.  Odell Bjerkness, along with Wayne Ostlie ‘83 and Wayne’s brother, Paul, published the book Montevideo, 1860-1930: Through Their Eyes and Work.  Apparently a good piece of local history.  Terence Fretheim, holder of the Elva B. Lovell Chair of Old Testament at Luther/Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, spoke at the Norwegian Summer Academy for Biblical Studies in Kristiansand, Norway, in August.  He then went on to teach summer school at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.  In September he presented at the Professional Leaders Conference of the Northern Illinois Synod in Rockford, Ill.  In the spring he will have two articles published: “The Happiness of God and Creation” in The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness (Oxford University Press) and “Genesis and Ecology” in The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation (Brill).  Dallas (Wanberg) Knutson was elected president at the Senate for the National Silver-Haired Congress at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in August.  An elected Silver-Haired Senator from North Dakota, she also won first place for a display on North Dakota at the State Night Event.  Kristi (Hendrickson) Thompson had a visit this summer from Solveig Otte, who lives in South Africa, where she has lived her whole life except for college years.  They roomed together along with Donna Olson from Lake Geneva, Wis., who joined in the reunion together with Clarie (Renslo) Streng Broste, who summers in Hanska, Minn.  Solveig worked among people with AIDS, and for the last twelve years has been a volunteer helping them make products they can sell to earn some livelihood while also doing something meaningful.  Solveig also gave a presentation on her work at the church where the Thompsons are members.  It was well received.  As for Carlyle and me, we finally retired on May 31 after almost eight years as special assistants to the president of the University of Dubuque in Iowa.  I led in the renovation and refurnishing of the University Guest House; located, catalogued, and electronically filed 1000 pieces in the University Art Collection; served on the first planning committee to determine programs to be included in the new University Art Center, now under construction at $30 million; and assisted with mentoring a young development staff to improve fund raising.  Carlyle chaired the planning committee for the Art Center and also assisted in mentoring the development staff.  Prior to that he chaired two strategic planning efforts, developed a plan for the evaluation of senior staff, directed the Wendt Center for Character Education, and did just about anything else the president requested.  More than 40 years in education seemed to be long enough.  We now spend our time managing some property, volunteering at our church, and living a few winter months in Green Valley, Ariz.  Life is good.

Sadly, some of our classmates have passed away.  Elizabeth Ann (Larson) Lackore passed away November 11, 2011.  She eventually completed her degree at St. Cloud State University.  She and her husband, Leonard Lackore ’55, lived in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Florida before retiring to Willmar, Minn., She was involved in many social service efforts and church work.  She was especially active in the arts as a supporter, board member, and occasional actor.  Kathryn (Groth) Peterson of Rockford, Ill., passed away July 18, 2011.  At Luther she played French horn in the Concert Band and taught fourth grade for 30 years.  Passionate about service, she was active at Zion Lutheran Church.  Equally passionate about gardening, she founded the Zion Neighborhood Gardens.  Her husband died just a month prior to her death.  She is survived by two children, six grandchildren, and a brother, Gaylord Groth ‘60.  Theodore “Ted” Rotto of Dallas, Texas,passed away April 25, 2012.  Following graduation he served two years in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.  Subsequently, he worked for 30 years for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, retiring in 1989 as director of investigation for the Dallas, Texas, Region.  Part of a true Luther family, Ted’s father, uncle, and all eight siblings graduated from Luther.  At Luther he met his wife, Kathy (Hermanson).  In the course of their life, they lived in Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, and Tucson, and summered in Minnesota.  He and Kathy have three daughters and seven grandsons.  Patricia “Pat” (Bushey) Salmela of Duluth, Minn., passed away April 10, 2012.  She taught at Waseca and Albert Lea in Minnesota, meeting her future husband in the latter place.  Subsequently, they worked in Iowa and other Minnesota communities.  After raising a family and doing volunteer work, including as church organist, she returned to teaching in Wabasso, Minn.,  She taught physical education, and American history, and coached girl’s volleyball and basketball.  In her retirement in Duluth, she remained an active supporter of―and attender at―arts and sport events.  She is survived by three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

In class giving, I do not have any data to report at the moment, but I fully expect our class to continue in 2012 to be among the leaders in percent of classmates making a gift to the college.  I thank you for your continued commitment and generosity to Luther.  Every gift is valued, whatever its size.  I do know that many alumni contribute as a result of class letters, while others respond to other initiatives from Luther.  Whatever works.  It is all helpful.

Finally, as fall moves along, may all of your festive days and holidays be joyful, may your Christmas be especially blessed, and may 2013 present you with abundant opportunities for living well.  And please keep in touch and send along your stories.

Your classmate and friend:

Mary R. (Kittelsland) Haaland
1956 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 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?  Only 7 more gifts are needed to reach 27% for your class.  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


Mary Haaland