Class of 1958 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear Classmate,

Reconnect…..Revisit…..Reminisce…..the theme of Luther Homecoming 2012.

(Someone at Luther thought of this clever-worded theme…..I am going to borrow the idea and have some fun here in this class letter!)

Homecoming was all of reconnecting, revisiting, reminiscing and besides that…it was very rejuvenating!

This year, on the weekend of October 5, 6, 7, many alums returned to their beloved college to rekindle friendships and recapture the spirit and feeling on the Luther campus.  Why does this happen?  I think it is definitely because we like to be reminded of those special college days in our lives as we recall the place that influenced us and molded us into the people we are today.  Even if over 50 years have changed many things, by coming back and entering the city of Decorah and being on the Luther campus, we cannot help but rewind our mental time clocks/slip back in time, and remember those days gone by.

It was the 55th Reunion of Lowell’s class of ’57.  (Next year it will be our turn!) Many friendships were renewed and happenings of days gone by were reviewed, for sure. The college generously entertains the 55-year reunion with a noon luncheon on Saturday, and there is a dinner Saturday evening.  This year both meals were held in the beautiful Shirley Baker Commons, in Baker Village, northeast of the campus.  This sounds redundant, but there were some members of the class who could attend only one event.  As we were enjoying the buffet meal at noon, arriving at the door was a group of twelve coeds…an a capella group who entertained us royally. Before leaving, one of the ladies reiterated what we already grateful the students are for the generous financial support from alumni that make possible so many things for them at Luther.

I eagerly repeated my yearly attendance at the Class Agent/Alumni Council Luncheon and Meeting on Friday of Homecoming. It was the 19th time, and remember, next year will be my last as your class agent….rethink, will YOU please consider taking this fun opportunity?!

During the luncheon President Torgerson and others spoke to us about the happenings on campus.  Luther College is doing very well…some information regarding this statement:  this year enrollment is up with 2,473 students (681 new students)…exceeding the goal….and the persistence rate for sophomores returning to Luther is at a healthy 87.8 percent.  The 2011-12 audit finances are in good shape. Ninety-six percent of the students after graduation are working, grad school, intern/volunteering.  Luther’s solar energy field is one of the largest in Iowa.  With solar panels, Baker will be net-zero emissions facility, largest in Iowa.  Forty-nine percent of the food served on campus is locally grown. Sustainability is the word!  Many upgrades have been done around campus…all residence halls have been remodeled in the past decade.  (We remember well the only dorms when we were there…Brandt, Larsen, and Campus House…imagine how much redoing has taken place to keep today’s residence halls usable!)

There are challenges:  cost of education aid is the highest expenditure in Luther’s budget , with 98 plus percent of the students receiving some form of aid…how to use media to express this TGIF world “Twitter, Google, iPhone, Facebook”…higher education is seen more and more as a commodity, not something to be earned, but something to be purchased, which leads to the financial aid arms race….this is the “final season” for President Torgerson and his wife, Judy, at Luther…after 14 years of service…..President Torgerson’s final comment was that he is “impressed with Lutheran higher education and Luther definitely delivers.” The presidential search committee is gathering candidate names and will begin interviewing soon. Learn more at

The BIG news is that construction has started on the Luther College Aquatic Center, to be finished in the summer of 2013.  The LC swim team is amazing already, and with the new Myrtha Pool (special stainless steel) it means, among other reasons, the divers will be able to actually DIVE in (been going to Rochester to do that!).  Luther will be more competitive now with an Olympic-size pool, and the facility will be used by the Decorah schools and surrounding area.  The cost for this project is 6.5 million.  The good news is that the project is only $650,000 short.  Donations are very welcome.

At the Class Agent meeting, the research had been done referring to class giving. Forty-one percent of our class…(not 50% yet!!) participated in giving something to Luther.  We ranked tenth among all the classes…Super!  President Torgerson said: “I hope alumni understand that it’s not the amount of the gift that counts most, it’s the fact that you gave something.”  I repeat: Participation is key!   I say to you:  Refigure your budget, and join with me as we respond to the opportunity to give. Use the enclosed envelope or go online. I thank you...Luther College thanks you!

Refer to your LUTHER alumni magazines…. last spring’s edition and the new fall edition. Both are packed with interesting articles, facts, and notices. Sustainability is a key subject including solar energy, reducing greenhouse emissions, and the gardens producing food and used as landscaping techniques!  Remarkable!  Notice Four recent faculty deaths from our vintage are Angeline Jacobson (library),  Orville Running (art),  Bartlett Butler (music),  and Warren Berg (econ/accounting/management).  All remembered fondly. (By the way, Helen Strand (102) was on campus for the class of ’62 reunion luncheon!)

You will also notice in the magazines some classmate news.  I hope you noticed that Ron James and Rod Ellickson and their Classic Jazz group played at Luther’s annual scholarship and endowment benefit in Minneapolis, “Get Down, Give Back.” Wonder if they would come play for us next Homecoming as our class celebrates 55 years?

Classmate Allen Hermeier, retired, but still working...celebrated 50 years of ordination this past year.  Congratulations to him! He and Helen live in Decorah.

Bud Scheib tells me he has passed the extra class exam in ham radio ranks.  His call sign is KWOLC.  His chosen mnemonic is a little prayer: KeepWatchOverLutherCollege.  (Luther has angels everywhere!)

This year’s annual Phonathon involves 325 LC students, in 36 teams, calling alumni for the Annual Fund drive.  By now you have talked to one of the students.  If you received an email from the LC Development Office in October, I do hope you watched the singing and dancing “Call Me Maybe.”  Wasn’t it clever?    Simple fact: out of each dollar you donate $.36 goes to scholarships, $.34 goes to teaching and learning, and $.30 goes to support everyday living expenses and programs at Luther.  That dollar must stretch a long way! Several dollars do the job!  Let’s be sure to help.

There are several Luther events being planned in many areas of the USA from January through May 2013.  President Torgerson will be at these events as his presidency is honored and the Sesquicentennial Fund is celebrated. Look for notices in your “spots of the country” and attend.

The Christmas at Luther performances will be televised this year.  Look for scheduled viewing times during the holidays if you cannot attend the inspiring performances at Luther.

Until my spring letter, have a blessed and joyous Holiday season and a warm winter where ever you are.

              “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”  - Pietro Aretino

Finally, have you renewed a friendship with a classmate yet? Remember to plan on coming home to Luther October 2013 to celebrate 55 years!

Sincere regards,

Leila (Hestenes) Gangstad
1958 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 2 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

Class Notes
FELICE (HAHN) BASTIAN is retired in Hubertus, Wis.

CHUCK ENGE of Downers Grove, Ill., helps Norwegian athletes who wish to study in America find the right colleges. He has visited over 750 colleges and assisted hundreds of student athletes in finding their appropriate academic and athletic “niche” in U.S. schools.

FELICE HAHN and Donald Bastian, Jan. 21, 2012



Leila Gangstad