Class of 1962 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Greetings to the Class of ’62,

So the big five-O reunion is now history. One word floats to the top of my consciousness: gratitude.

Gratitude―for those who came to celebrate that festival.

Gratitude—for those who participated in planning and organizing the weekend. The three co-chairs are Glenn Austad, Jon Lee, Tom Vaaler. Then there are the many who contacted the class members to encourage them to attend and urge them to contribute to the class gift: Carol (Odegard) Adams, Karen (Swain) Austad, Anne (Marking) Christopherson, Judith (Ream) Davis, Ronn Farland, Bruce Goetsch, Jan (Engle) Gray, Rolfe Johnstad, Ken Knutson, Gary Lee, Lois (Aaker) Lexum, Dottie (Nybroten) Lind, Mirium (Strum) Odden, Judith (Miller) Ranheim, Will Schmid, Terry Sorum, Dorothy (Erickson) Stoskopf, and yours truly.

We want also to thank the Luther staff who helped keep us on the ball: Sue Drilling, Sherry Alcock, Tracy Elsbernd, and Maria Smith. I regard these four horsemen (P.C., horsewomen) as true reunion professionals. They were indispensable to a reunion free of glitches and embarrassments, as well as displaying a uniformly helpful and pleasant demeanor. (Check out some photos from our weekend!)

I want to make a couple of additions to our class letters. You know that I have occasionally written that I won’t help in bringing memories of those who participated in athletics. Of course, I would be the one who needs help in this endeavor, since I always found a place to hide out when Kent Finanger came to teach phys. ed. class. So I prevailed on Ken Knutson to be the one to help me here. Skip Austad also volunteered. Ken is at 10784 Tyler Ct. NE, Blaine, MN 55434 and email is [email protected]. Skip is at 13606 w. Greenview Dr., Sun City West, AZ 85375 (winter) and 4707 Black Lake-Belmore Rd. #4, Olympia, WA 98512 (summer) and his email is [email protected]. If you want to send either a memory or an athletic-related theme, the deadlines for the newsletter are the end of September and the end of February.

There were 101 classmates, along with many spouses and special guests, who were able to attend the Class of 1962 Golden Anniversary celebration events during Homecoming this fall.  Many memories were shared and acquaintances renewed.  Tours of the campus were popular during the afternoon, especially for some classmates who made their first visit back to Luther since graduation!  My how things change over fifty years!  

One of the highlights of the weekend was presenting our class gift (to date) to President Torgerson for Luther.  A total of $488,891.04 has been raised SO FAR in outright gifts, pledges and planned gifts.  We're just shy of our goal to reach $500,000 and we have until May 31, 2013, to reach (or exceed) our goal.  Keep an eye on your mailbox for information about how YOU can help us reach our goal with an additional gift, or a planned gift commitment.  We are very close and we appreciate ALL who have made a contribution so far!  Every gift counts, no matter the level! Thank you!

Here is a story some of you already know. Karen Austad prepared for the big celebration by selecting three outfits to wear for the weekend. Since they were moving to their winter home in Arizona, the confusion left the outfits hanging in their Washington home. Sure, it could happen to anyone. So Karen needed to buy replacements in Decorah. The downtown store was so helpful that it even went next door to a competitor to complete an outfit. As everyone said, “only in Decorah could that kind of co-operation take place.” It certainly was successful because Karen looked great. Now everytime she wears one of these she can think about us.

Leaving campus did you have the same perception as I did? I was both full and empty. I was full because I had anticipated this event for a long time and it was so completed and well-done. I also felt empty because this event will never happen again in the same way with the same people. One of the pre-Socratic philosophers declared that one never steps into the same river twice—both trivial and profound. Nevertheless I anticipate our 55th, let’s go for it.

I had memories coming from church service at the CFL. Right at the bottom of the steps I encountered Dr. and Mrs. Tom Kraabel, the former academic vice-president of Luther. His wife Janice had brought him there; he was in a wheelchair and, on account of advanced Parkinson’s disease, was unable to communicate, at least as far as I could tell. Tom (LC ’56) has a special place in my life. When I came to St. John’s University as Luther exchange professor, he was the chair of classics and religion at the University of Minnesota. I don’t remember when we met, but it was soon after I arrived and my Ph.D. diploma was still dripping wet. He put me in touch with the University of Tuebingen and got my academic career in gear when they published my dissertation and an influential article. Tom was my first real mentor, and I told him how he in so many ways was responsible for my success. It is so sad because I don’t know if it registered when I told him that, but Jan heard it. So I have tried to imitate Tom’s capacity for mentoring. When he walked through the door of success, he held it open for me and a number of other younger scholars, both from Luther and others as well.

Also as I stood there at the foot of the CFL as services were dispersing, I thought about how I was standing on the ruins of CK Preus multipurpose, or if not that, Norby Court and the rehearsal studios. And the memories came, Dr. Getchell’s patiently teaching me some really hard stuff, but then out of memory’s mist, Jeanetta Qualley with her trusty bucket and mop. She was O.W. Qualley’s sister, but from there the relationship seemed to travel different paths. She had her own ideas of cleanliness and order, often getting in the way, from time to time a real pain in the butt. Often student janitors would delight in putting her on, sometimes, sorry to say, with a cruel edge. Enter Weston Noble. It was always that he treated her with respect, though I’m sure she got in his way also. After the fire she just seems to have disappeared. But this lesson remained and Noble taught it. I have tried to avoid deifying Noble over the years, but here it seems to creep in. He never took her dignity and threw it out; he treated her with kindness and respect. So often it is not what we say but what we do that speaks volumes. He taught music, but so much more. In Jeanetta’s case the message to us was, “at Luther we do not throw people away,” no matter how inconvenient.

After half a century, I am still trying to understand the good things that happened to us there, at that place and at that time. When it comes to the topic of soul, I suppose I am more like the ancient Hebrews than the Greeks, that is, we are a soul, we don’t have a soul. Try this on for size: what happened at Luther for us was the construction of our souls. All the lessons in humanity, discipline, curiosity, knowledge, tenderness, and love became the ingredients of our souls. Did you not feel it also at our reunion? Like fine wine or aged Scotch, what we saw that weekend was the maturing of the capacity for love. Several classmates are in a position of providing constant care for their spouses who suffer various diseases, an example of love in agape style. We are a long way downstream in the fifty years since we left Luther, more generous and more compassionate.

A colleague of mine in our NDSU history department, Mark Harvey ’86, came to Luther this summer hoping that one of his sons will choose LC for his college. They were all stunned by the architecture, Mark especially since he had not set foot on campus for twenty years. Perhaps some of you had a similar surprise. What does a building say? What does a symphony of buildings say? Architecture has a language, too, but it is one that is quietly eloquent and speaks to us in our subconsciousness. When archaeologists unearth a building, or temple, or tower, or whatever, their expected question is, “What kind of people were these?” We must answer the same question posed by the impact of these buildings. As with people we do not throw buildings away. We are not embarrassed by our old buildings, Larsen Hall, Loyalty Hall, Campus House, Koren Library. Some of these extend more than a century into the past, they tell history to everyone who strolls by them. They all have a shared history of faith and purpose, both the oldest and most recent. All of us associate stories of our time here with these buildings. We are not disembodied spirits but real people who lived and worked in these very buildings. Anyhow the question remains: What kind of people are these? I think these people are the Soli Deo Gloria people.  This is our destiny for centuries to come.

Sic semper,

John Helgeland
1962 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

Class Notes

JERRY AAKER published The Spirituality of Service, which is based on Jerry’s 40 years of experience in international development and relief work with faith-based organizations. He is retired in Sheridan, Mont.

KLAUS DAHLKE is retired in Springfield, Va.

JOHN NESSET was featured in Taunton’s Fine Wood Working magazine. He is a furniture designer and builder in Minneapolis.

JUDITH (MILLER) RANHEIM is president of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young People Symphony Concert Association in Minneapolis.

LOUIS ROTANDO―professor and mathematics department chair at Westchester Community College, State University of New York (SUNY)―holds the Joseph and Sophia Abeles Endowed Chair in Mathematics at Westchester. He was recently named Distinguished Service Professor by the SUNY system for his extraordinary service to his school, students, and community.

LAVONNE SHARP retired in 2004 and moved back to Decorah. She currently is involved in volunteer work for the Winneshiek County Historical Society.

GARY THOMPSON is retired and serves as a volunteer at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., as part of their job transition and visitation ministry programs. He also volunteers at St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee and drives for four area Meals on Wheels programs.

CHARLES RONALD DAVIS of Woodinville, Wash., died Dec. 5, 2011, at age 71 after a valiant four-and-a-half-year struggle with cancer. Chuck’s father died when Chuck was just eight years old, and he and his sister, Betty, were raised by their mother. Chuck found a spiritual home at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in San Diego, where he became active in ministry and sang in the choir. At age 16, he felt God’s call to prepare for the ministry, and he was encouraged to enroll at Luther College by Weston Noble ’43, who heard Chuck sing a solo with the church choir. At Luther he sang in Nordic Choir and was a Messiah soloist. After graduation, Chuck attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and transferred to Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif. He was ordained in 1966 and served a congregation near Brenham, Texas, before becoming certified in clinical pastoral education. He was called to be chaplain at the Monroe (Wash.) Reformatory; after leaving prison work, Chuck founded Pacific Northwest Yokefellows and became the executive director of an agency in Seattle and Lynnwood, Wash., which provided care for individuals in times of transition. In 1986 he launched Counseling Associates, with an office in Lynnwood and later in Bothell. Chuck earned a doctor of ministry degree in pastoral counseling from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1987. His passion was one-on-one counseling, and he started a men’s gathering to work through issues common to men, conducting many retreats for this group. Later, recognizing the circumstances of boys who needed fatherly nurture, he founded the Boys Project. Chuck and his wife, NANCY (JOHNSON) DAVIS ’63, moved to Woodinville, where they raised their two children. They were active members of First Lutheran Church, and Chuck continued to have a heart for the parish ministry, helping during pastoral vacancies at First Lutheran, as well as doing interim ministry in other congregations. He loved visiting the senior adults of the congregation and wrote a monthly column featuring many of their stories. He often taught classes at First Lutheran and other area congregations. Outside his work, Chuck enjoyed his children and grandchildren, traveling, time with Nancy at their condo in Whistler, visiting the Southwest to see his sister’s family, and returning often to his beloved San Diego. He enjoyed the Seattle Sounders soccer games with his son, Paul; painting; creating leaflets for his work; and writing for his many projects. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his son, Paul Davis; two grandchildren; his sister, Betty Mooney; and stepfather, Robert Wielage. He was predeceased by a daughter, Barbara. 

DENNIS A. CHARLSON of Maple Grove, Minn., died April 23, 2012, at age 71.  Born in Forest City, Iowa, he was baptized at Winnebago Lutheran Church, rural Lake Mills, and confirmed at Bethany Lutheran Church in Kensett. After graduation from Luther, he completed a master’s degree at Northeast Missouri Teacher’s College at Kirksville, Mo. Dennis married Bonnie Broitzman in 1963;  he taught English at Garner (Iowa) High School, Moundsview (Minn.) High School, and Naperville (Ill.) High School before changing careers and becoming an insurance agent.  Dennis married Barbara Duzynska in 2011.  Those left to cherish his memory include his wife, Barbara Charlson; his mother, Alice G. Charlson; his children, Christopher and Rebecca; three grandchildren; two brothers and a sister; and nieces, nephews, and other extended family members and friends. Dennis was preceded in death by his father, Herbert Charlson, and a sister, Shirley Charlson.

ALLEN J. RUDIN of Hilliard, Ohio, died Dec. 31, 2010, at age 72. Retired from Travelers Insurance Company, he was a charter member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and a former member of Rivera Golf Club. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Donna; daughters, Renee Castellon and Laura Rinaldi; twin brother, Eugene Rudin, and brother, John Rudin; and three grandchildren. A memorial service was held Jan. 22, 2011, at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, in Dublin, Ohio.

1962 Check Presentation