Class of 1980 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Greetings from Viroqua, Wisconsin, part of the Driftless Area across the Mississippi, a place I now call home!

Over Homecoming Weekend I attended the Class Agent luncheon. It was a bit overcast, yet there were more than 65 events that weekend. As I sat in Peace Dining Room amongst new and seasoned class agents and Alumni Council members, I felt extremely proud to be a part of such great company. We had a special guest that day, Nora, a 6-month-old sweetheart, whose parents, both Alumni Council members who were unable to find a sitter, graced us with her quiet, humble spirit, a glimpse of God’s Kingdom, and a possible future alumna.

As I sat overlooking Legacy Field in Carlson Satdium, with the vivid, beautiful blue transformation, I was reminded how each of us long ago were brought to Luther, to look and see, if this would be the college for us, the place where our lives could be transformed. I remember my parents bringing me here years ago and, while on the ride home, I knew I would be attending Luther College. 

In chapel this morning, Pastor Heidi shared a special thought in saying, “Jesus knew we would need a place to come home to.” On this Homecoming Weekend and every time I have returned to Luther, I have always felt like I have come home. In light of the devastation of floods and fires destroying homes around the country, I am even more grateful to have a ‘place to call home.’

‘Home’ really was the theme for me this day at Luther. While wandering around the campus, I discovered a little art gallery not far from the SPO boxes (which have been moved, by the way) that had great art work donated by professor emeritus of religion, Will Bunge ’53 and others. Several pictures stood out in my mind. One was of an elderly man playing his violin. It spoke to me of the beautiful musical programs at Luther and how its participants strive for perfection. The second was a picture of three fisherman walking home from the wharf after a long day’s work laughing, smiling, and having a great time with their friends…reminding me of friendships that have been forged and created here at Luther throughout the years. The last picture was titled, ‘Our Town,’ with couples strolling the streets, people enjoying the day; but what was enticing about that picture was a little sign partially covered by a gentleman standing in front of it, yet you could make out what it was saying… ”Something Old, Very Interesting, FREE.”  I thought that really summed up for me how I came to know Luther. It did not cost my parent a thing to bring me to Luther just to take a look. 

With this in mind, I encourage each of you to think about your friends and family, and I challenge you to bring just one child to Luther to take a look and see the beauty of Luther.  If you have been following the messages sent out by Luther, or read about the Alumni Ambassador Program in the Luther Alumni Magazine, you know that students we refer to Luther who attend will receive a $1,000 scholarship in our names each of the four years they attend. What a wonderful way of spreading our excitement and love of the very old and interesting place that Luther is. Let our "old" become their "new.” 

May God bless you and yours,

Barb Linnell


1980 Class Agents:

Barbara (Forde) Linnell
[email protected]

Kris (Skoglund) Tjornehoj
[email protected]


Keith Bruening is vice president and treasurer at Bruening Rock Products in Decorah. He is also the head bowling coach for Decorah High School.

Mary (Christianson) Hansen is chief executive officer and administrator at Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union in Rochester, Minn. She was honored as the Outstanding Professional of the Year for 2017 by the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s Awards Committee.

Mark Lamb is executive vice president at JLL Valuation & Advisory Services in Dallas.

Barbara (Hodge) Miller of Edina, Minn., is executive assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota.

Arne Sorenson received the Leadership in Diversity Award at the Committee for Economic Development’s 2017 Distinguished Performance Awards Dinner in New York City. Sorenson was cited for leading programs that foster diversity in the workplace and champion underrepresented groups, including supporting women and their advancement across the full spectrum of private enterprise.

Jeff Papke retired from Federal Service (U.S. Army) after 35 years, 11 months, on April 1, 2017 after serving at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Ford Hood, Texas, as a health systems administrator.

Tim Ruff Welch is minister of music at St. Andrews Mexican Anglican Church in Chapala, Mexico. He is also the choral director of Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, conductor of Coro Municipal de Zapopan, and director of Los Cantantes del Lago.

Mark Werning is chief operating officer and board secretary at American Bank and Trust Company, N.A./AmBank Holdings, Inc., in Davenport, Iowa.