Class of 1974 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Classmates, 

Despite the rainy weather, Homecoming weekend in Decorah this year was very enjoyable. As usual, there was lots of shopping, eating, and coffee-drinking going on in the unique restaurants and shops downtown. The crowds were overflowing at Toppling Goliath, Pulpit Rock Brewery, T-Bocks, and of course Mabe’s Pizza. The new Fairfield Inn and Suites, built on the site of the former Cliff House, was open for business. And to top it all off, there were 65 different activities going on at Luther! 

The Homecoming football game was delayed mid-game because of lightning, giving alumni the chance to mingle in the Union, perhaps seeing familiar faces they may have otherwise missed.  When the game resumed (on Luther’s new BLUE turf field), the Norse went on to beat Nebraska Wesleyan University in overtime play. They know how to please a crowd! Typical of Iowa, the rainy Saturday was followed by a glorious Sunday. Glorious is also the best word to describe the music coming from the CFL Sunday morning and afternoon.  Mark your calendars for next year’s Homecoming, Oct. 26-28, 2018.  But don’t wait until then to visit.  Spring and summer are also great times to visit Decorah! Wintertime – well, “Christmas at Luther” is certainly worth coming for in early December.

I gathered with other class agents on Friday afternoon to hear updates on the mission and activities of the college. I always come away with a renewed appreciation for the dedicated faculty and staff. They are people who really care about shaping the characters and futures of the young people entrusted to them. During their presentations they asked us to talk with you about the new Alumni Ambassador Program.  Like other small colleges, Luther is struggling with enrollment and needs our help. They are asking that we share our favorite Luther experiences with either young people we know (even grandkids!), help host an Admissions reception in our home areas, or attend a college fair. If you refer high school students to Luther and they attend, they will receive a $1,000 scholarship each year just because you recommended them. That’s significant! There’s detailed information in the Luther magazine and on the Luther website.  Not receiving the Luther Alumni Magazine? You can view it online or go to this link to update your information in Luther’s database:

We lost our college president, E.D. Farwell, in May. I had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with him this past decade and admired his strength and character to the end. His challenges in the 1970s were many, but so were his many accomplishments. His wife and partner, Helen, passed away only two months later. There’s a wonderful article in the latest Luther Alumni Magazine written by his friend, Professor Wil Bunge ’53. 

Now that many of you are retired, do you find yourself spending time browsing through social media sites and email? You might choose to use some of that time to check out the Luther website -  I think it is amazing and worth spending some viewing time. The homepage is primarily intended for prospective students, and the videos, blogs, and current student and faculty stories found there are cool. In the blue navigation bar you’ll see a box marked “Info for.”  Hover over that box and choose “Alumni & Friends” from the dropdown choices.  There you will find many interesting choices including alumni stories that humbled me and made me cry. Luther alumni have made a difference in this world. You can also view digital versions of our Pioneer yearbooks, Chips newspapers, and Agora that will remind you of what was happening during our days on campus.

I’m proud to tell you that the Class of 1974 was #2 in the listing of top ten total dollars given to all funds.  Hurray and thanks!  Let’s try for #1 next year!  Please don’t forget to make your annual donation to the college, of any size.  It’s easy–just go to AND say “Yes” when you receive a call from a Luther student during Phonathon, AND join in the fun next March during Luther’s 3rd annual Giving Day!

I hope to see some of you on campus or in Decorah during the coming year. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sue (Ness) Johnson


1974 Class Agents:

Sue (Ness) Johnson
[email protected]

Julie Wall
[email protected]



Terry Bizzell is president and CEO of Asset One Foundation, LLC, in Lovejoy, Ga.

Ele Clay is a pastoral intern at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Renate (Fabricius) Hunter retired from teaching social studies after 19 years of full time teaching and 23 years as a substitute teacher with South Winneshiek Schools. She still substitutes once in a while and is a social dance and country western teacher at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar.

Kari (Yung) Saba is Deputy Chief Development Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority in Chicago.



Ellen (Peters) Dennis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died Jan. 12, 2017, at age 64. A Spanish major at Luther, she is remembered by her friends as the best listener, supporter, and cheerleader. Ellen was a world traveler who maintained friendships across the globe and regaled her friends locally with stories of her journeys. Her passion for life and humor was unmatched; there is not one person who does not have humorous anecdotes or vivacious memories of time spent with Ellen. She fiercely adored and loved her family; she enjoyed caring for all of her pets, playing with her grandchildren, teaching her kids to be adventurous and respectful, and being a supportive wife every day. Ellen was intelligent, strong, and compassionate, and her vigor for life will be missed. She is survived by her husband, David; daughter, Hannah Robertson (Will); son, Peter Ilten ’06 (Katie); four grandchildren; half-sister, Janet McMillan; niece and nephews; and two birds and two cats. Ellen served as a class agent from 2003-10.