Class of 1977 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017 

Dear Classmate, 

More than 130 fellow classmates attended Homecoming 2017 and our 40-year class reunion. That is a fantastic turn-out. I hope you were one of the folks there. If you were not able to attend, we certainly missed you and thought of you. The best part of the reunion for me was hearing what classmates have done over the years and the impact they have made on organizations and communities where they work and live. I also appreciated the opportunity to get to know classmates that I barely knew during our college years. Yes, it did rain some over the reunion weekend, but that didn’t cancel any of the activities.  We are a resourceful group and most found ways to work around a little precipitation.  

Snapshots from the reunion reception and dinner have been posted at Of course, there is also the Class of 1977 Facebook site (Luther College Class of 1977) which holds a large collection of pictures and memories contributed by many of our classmates. 

As incredible an event as the reunion was, it did not just happen. There are many people that contributed to its success. Major kudos go to the chief architects—Mark and Lois (Dunleavy) Finanger, who co-chaired the reunion committee and hosted most of the events (golfing, bike ride, Seed Savers tour, Friday night social, parade gathering, and walks), and to Rachel Vsetecka from the Development Office, who provided a wealth of planning expertise and experience. Mark also did a fabulous job as the dinner emcee at the De Novo Barn. A special thank you also goes to Mark and Lois who not only generously opened their home to the entire class for the Friday night social, but also hosted multiple pre- and post-event gatherings and even provided lodging for some! The rest of the reunion planning committee played a hugely important role in reaching out to personally invite every one of our classmates. Thank you to Richard Bernatz, Jim Fowler, Dan Gapinski, Tom Hansen, Dave Hennings, Ted Jacobsen, Randy Krug, Rick Krug, Tom Monson, Mary Sue (Stoneman) Oppermann, Jim Oppermann, Jill (Wolding) Osborn, Bo Rowe, Lisa (Ask) Whannel, Gene Whannel, and Deb Wiley for that. Thank you to Rick Krug, Randy Krug, Greg Fields, Jean (Williams) Johnson, and Penny (Smith) Pratt for hosting the terrific tailgating event. Additional thanks go to Deb Wiley for setting up our class Facebook page and for presenting the door prizes at the reunion dinner; Pastor Jim Fowler for providing the reunion dinner prayer; Luther President Paula Carlson and the Reverend Dr. Thomas Schattauer for speaking at the reunion dinner; and Greg Fields (regent emeritus) for presenting our class gift to President Carlson. 

Finally, thanks go to us, the Class of 1977, for contributing (or still planning to contribute) to our Class gift in honor of our 40-year reunion. As of homecoming, our class gift to Luther College stood at $301,159.82 (33.2% participation)!!!  On the way to reaching that sum, an anonymous and very generous donor offered a $25,000 triple-match-challenge – wow! Our class met the challenge and then exceeded it. Our class also launched an endowed scholarship fund which, as of early October, stood at $26,971. This fund will continue to grow and will provide support to students with financial need. Please remember, any contribution you make to any fund before the end of 2017 will still count towards our class gift total. As always, your gifts make a difference in the lives of present and future generations of Luther students by helping them obtain a quality education!

Steve Pitzenberger
1977 Class Agent
[email protected]


Peyton Moncure of Fairfax, Va., is retired.

Jill (Wolding) Osborn is executive director of external relations at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn.

Brad Schneider of Verona, Wis., retired after 38 years of teaching band in public schools in Iowa and Wisconsin. He serves as government relations chair for the Wisconsin Music Educator’s Association, and was honored to direct one of the bands at the UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic, the annual summer music camp held on the UW campus in Madison.

Marcus Thomsen of Millersville, Pa., was appointed associate dean of the faculty at Franklin and Marshall College. He is also professor of chemistry and a member of the faculty at the college.

Gene Whannel of Estes Park, Colo., is a real estate broker for RE-MAX Realty.



Debra Noble Gamboa of Gilbert, Ariz., died April 20, 2017, at age 62. She majored in management and political science at Luther.