Class of 1961 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Greetings to All of You,

As one of the most beautiful Minnesota autumns draws to a close; as the innumerable political ads draw thankfully to a close; and as the extreme drought in the Midwest and  “Super Storm Sandy” in the East draws to a close, I bring you news from Luther and some of your classmates.

I was sorry to have missed homecoming this year, but here are some highlights from the class agent luncheon.   A great quote by Woodrow Wilson, used by Vice President for Development Keith Christensen to open the meeting, is also my goal in writing this letter: “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.”

President Torgerson’s comments  included these highlights:

  • 681 new students exceed goal.
  • 96% of graduates are either working, in graduate school, doing internships, or volunteering, within 6 months of graduation.
  • Luther’s solar energy field is one of the largest in Iowa. In addition, with solar panels, Baker will be a net-zero-emissions facility―the largest in Iowa.
  • Luther received the 2012 Climate Leadership Award, selected by the Second Nature Board of Directors
  • Amazingly, 49% of food served on campus was locally grown.
  • All residence halls have been remodeled in the last 10 years.
  • Bentdahl Commons is finished and the new aquatic center is scheduled for completion in summer 2013.

President Torgerson also presented some challenges. He shared the view that higher education is seen more as a “commodity,” something to be purchased, not earned.  This view majorly affects the financial aid “arms race.”

The other challenge is how to use media to express TGIF, his acronym for Twitter, Google, i-phone, Facebook.  (Are any of you thinking, “it used to stand for Thank God it’s Friday!)

President Torgerson’s final comment was he is “impressed with Lutheran  higher education, and Luther definitely delivers.”

A couple more facts and one special appeal for gifts were presented by Keith Christensen.

  • Luther’s endowment is worth $117 million.
  • The Sesquicentennial Fund was begun in 2008 and focuses on building the endowment.  It has raised $51.2 million.  It ends December 31, 2012.
  • The Annual Fund supports all needs (students, endowments, scholarships, and programs).
  • The Aquatic Center needs $650,000 for completion. (Water aerobic enthusiasts, lap pool swimmers, wellness alums, take heed.)

An interesting fact about the pool itself.  It will have 8 lanes with 8-foot depth.  Known as a “Myrtha Pool,” it is built of stainless steel in parts and then assembled.  It is highly respected and used by the Olympics in trials and competitions. Luther will be the first in the Midwest to have one.  Being a lap swimmer and lover of any kind swimming, this would have been great to have!

  • Did you know there are 40 international students from 25 countries?
  • Did you know there are more females than males in the first-year class (56.4%/43.6%)?
  • Did you know there are 68 alumni children in the new class?
  • Did you know 476 students were on their schools’ honor rolls and 383 did mission/service trips or community services?  

I wonder how this data compared to our freshman year????

For your information, the presidential search committee will be checking references in November and interviewing in Minneapolis in January 2013.  They will give a recommendation to the board by mid-February.  It’s not too late to suggest a qualified candidate.  Refer to Luther’s website.

In response to the last letter requesting you to share your stories about what you are up to, Jonathan Preus sent in his story.  He is playing clarinet and baritone saxophone in a jazz combo at JoJo’s Rise and Wine on Nicollet Ave. in Burnsville, Minnesota.  You can experience this music entertainment the last Friday of the month from 7:30-10:00 p.m.

Music is Jonathan’s passion in retirement as he plays in an orchestra, concert band, two classical quintets, a jazz quartet, and three Dixieland bands.  And that’s not all, he and his wife, Mary ’62, often play for other churches’ worship services, as well as sing in their own church choir.  Thanks for sharing, Jonathan.

Please consider sending your own stories for the next letter.   I know there are lots of round robins out there who probably have stories!

Blessings for Christmas and a memorable winter,

Karin (Wolding) Abel
1961 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 of 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

CHARLES “CHUCK” BUNGUM of Alexandria, Minn., and Casa Grande, Ariz., died June 8, 2012, at age 75, after suffering a stroke. A 1954 Chatfield (Minn.) High School graduate, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving three years and playing trumpet in the band. Chuck continued to play in band after enrolling at Luther, where he met his future wife, MARLYS (STUEVEN) BUNGUM ‘60, who played French horn. Chuck transferred to the University of Minnesota and graduated from the Dental School in 1964. He practiced dentistry in Alexandria and Rochester before joining the University of Minnesota faculty, where he was hugely popular with his students. Chuck retired in 1999. He is remembered for his great sense of humor, passion for sports and music, acceptance of all family dogs, appreciation for the warm winters of Phoenix, and attending all of his grandchildren’s activities. Chuck is survived by his wife, Marlys; daughters Kirsten Driscoll and ANDREA BUNGUM ‘83; son, Brett; 6 grandchildren; and brothers, PAUL BUNGUM ’52, DONALD BUNGUM ’53, and PETER BUNGUM ’62.

ALLEN LEE GUNDERSON of Adams, Minn., died March 22, 2012, at age 76, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. After graduating from Albert Lea (Minn.) High School, he farmed for five years and married his wife, Arvis Lukens. The farm was sold in 1957 and Allen enrolled at Luther, where he majored in Greek and Latin, and graduated with honors in 1961. He attended Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., from 1961-65, attending classes by day and working at KSTP-TV by night. After graduating from the seminary in 1965, Allen was ordained into the Lutheran ministry. He served parishes in North LaMoure and Hastings, N.D., and in Adams, Minn., retiring in 2000. Allen loved camping with Arvis and their many friends and looked forward to spending each winter in Mesa, Ariz. He enjoyed photography, hunting, watching sports, spending time on the family farm, and--more than anything--spending time with his family. Allen is survived by his wife, Arvis; their 6 children: LEE GUNDERSON ’76, Vicki Kiefer, TIM GUNDERSON ’79, Janey Gunderson Murphy, Pamela Bamrick, and Kristopher Gunderson; 13 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren; 3 brothers; and 2 sisters. 

Karin Abel