Class of 1998 Fall Letter

Fall 2012

Dear ’98 Alumni,

Okay, I am starting to feel popular by proxy (meaning we’re all just a little bit cooler because we also graduated from Luther in 1998)! Did you see the inset in the latest Alumni Magazine that featured Joe Grimstad and the connection his family-owned bank has had with Luther and the greater Decorah community? The Class of 1998 has had some representation in the Luther magazine this year—the story of Amy (Engler) Nelson and her continuing connection with the Japanese host family who hosted her on a J-term trip, and now this story about Joe’s leadership in giving back to the community and environmental stewardship. It is really nice to see stories like these celebrated in a public way…thank you.

Here are just a couple bullet points to share before I let you know what is on my mind:

  • 681 new students began at Luther this fall, which exceeded the college’s enrollment goal
  • Last year, 49% of the food served on campus was locally grown
  • Dieseth Hall was renovated this summer—now all residence hall have been upgraded over the past 10 years
  • A presidential search is underway as this is President Torgerson’s final year at Luther.

What is on my mind is our 15-year reunion next fall at Homecoming―Saturday, October 5, 2013!  We may be congregating at the Elks Lodge in Decorah. We likely will not have audio/video support (so no slide show set to music), so in lieu of that, I would love it if you wanted to send me

  • Pictures
  • Favorite songs
  • Luther trivia-type questions.

If you don’t have access to a scanner, I would be happy to take your original photo, scan it, and mail it back to you. Maybe Sarah and I could create some photo collages, or a playlist for background music, etc. I was not able to come back for the 5- or 10-year reunions, so I’m really looking forward to seeing you next fall!  Check out area lodging.

As always, we thank you for all of the ways in which you support our alma mater. All the best to each of you!

Kyra (Rusch) McCool
1998 Class Agent
[email protected]    

Sarah (Kipling) Lightner
1998 Class Agent
[email protected]

And, here's your Question of the Letter:

If Luther’s school colors are blue and white, why is the stone in our class rings red?

  1. The garnet symbolizes strength, healing, and protection (necessary for surviving an Iowa winter).
  2. The color red is a sign of danger (anyone at Luther or the upper Midwest for that matter, is in danger of adopting a sing-songy way of speaking).
  3. Laur. Larsen began his position with the Norwegian Lutheran Concordia Seminary in January 1860. The garnet is the birthstone for the month of January.
  4. The garnet is thought to prevent bad dreams (and Luther is in the business of fulfilling dreams).

Answer: I don’t know! If you have any information on the Luther College class ring, please share!

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 goal of 27% 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?  Only 85 more gifts are needed to reach 27% for your class.  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
KOJO AMOO-GOTTFRIED is the managing director of Cargill in Tema, Ghana. He assisted Cargill with the donation of $1 million worth of books, nearly 90,000 titles, to Ghana via Books for Africa.

JENNA (ZALK) BERENDZEN is a family nurse practitioner with the Black Hawk County Health Department in Waterloo, Iowa.

KARLA (BERG) FOSSAND is a regional health office director at USAID West Africa in Accra, Ghana.

JENNIFER HOSSLER is a clinical social worker at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

MICHAEL JACKSON is director of properties at Olmsted Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

BLAKENEY (NICHOLS) JONES of Denver is an account executive at the Integer Group in Denver.

KELLY (TIKKANEN) LANG of Plymouth, Minn., is a dentist at Metro Dentalcare.

KRISTI (CARLSEN) ’97 and CHRIS McConnell live in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Chris is a national and major accounts sales manager at The Patriot-News.

STACEY NALEAN-CARLSON is pastor at Glenwood Lutheran and Canoe Ridge Lutheran churches in rural Decorah.

JENNIFER (RODELL) and MATT PRESTEGAARD ’96 live in Newport, Minn. Jennifer s a counselor in the Stillwater schools.

The band Six Mile Grove, composed of BRANDON SAMPSON, BARRY NELSON ’01, BRIAN SAMPSON ’01, and their friend Dezi Wallace, released their sixth album, The Secret Life of a Quiet Town.

NATE STEWART was named one of the “Forty under 40” by Des Moines Business Record magazine. Nate is president of Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI), Hy-Vee Inc.’s largest subsidiary in Ankeny, Iowa.

JARRAD WALTER is the inside sales director at Adometry in Austin, Texas.

JOEL ZYLSTRA is a trial attorney at Farmers Insurance Group in St. Paul, Minn.

SONJA (JOSEPHSON) and Jeremy Beyerlein welcomed a son, Ezekiel, in September 2011.  Ezekie joins sister Ariella and brother Malachi.

MICHELLE (LAHTI) and Michael Colbert welcomed a daughter, Lauren, in August 2011.  Lauren joins brother Jonathan.

ANDREA (MOSS) and JASON ELGIN welcomed a son, Eli, in December 2011.  Eli joins sisters Kaitlyn and Jadyn and Alexis.

GAYLE (DUNKEL) and Rolf Gort welcomed a daughter, Magdalena, in July 2011.       

BETH (LARSON) and Tony Gretillat welcomed a daughter, Millie, in December 2010.  Millie joins brothers Raymond and Michael.

ALISON (HATCH) and Chad Heltemes welcomed a daughter, Lauren, in September 2010.  Lauren joins brothers Andrew and Lucas.

KELLY (TIKKANEN) and Greg Lang welcomed a son, Nickolas, in November 2011.  Nickolas joins sister Rebecca.

KAISA (ULLSVIK) '00 and JED MILLER welcomed a daughter, Maibrit, in November 2010.  Maibrit joins sister Sulia.

KRISTIN (STROMBERG) and ADAM NAFSTAD '99 welcomed a son, Jakob, in December 2011.  Jakob joins sisters Allyson and Kathryn.

KIRSTEN (OLSON) and John O'Quinn welcomed a son, Oliver, in July 2011.  Oliver joins brother Timothy and sister Emily.

JENNIFER (RODELL) and MATT PRESTEGAARD '96 welcomed a daughter, Maren, in September 2010.          

JILL HOCKEMEYER and Rob Prendergast welcomed a son, Ryan, in December 2011. 

VANESSA (FOLZ) and Phil Royer welcomed a daughter, Elyse, in April 2012.  Elyse joins sister Olivia.

Bethany and KEVIN SCHMOLL welcomed two daughters―Peyton in October 2010 and Chloe in November 2011.

LISA (JOHNSON) and DAN SHAW '97 welcomed a daughter, Abigail, in December 2011.  Abigail joins brother Tyler.

JENNA (ZALK) and Peter Zalk Berendzen welcomed a son, Maxwell, in June 2011.

AMANDA DREWS and Bennett Deacy, Jan. 14, 2012
STEPHANIE SPEAR and Joe Filigno, Sept. 10, 2011
ANDREA TEKIPPE and Mark Gerber, Aug. 20, 2011

Kyra McCool