Class of 1949 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear 49ers---

It is time for my fall letter, which generally happens after Luther’s Homecoming. The campus is beautiful, particularly the new blue carpeted LEGACY FIELD in Carlson Stadium.  Also just to the west are the totally newly remodeled tennis courts. I visited the area many times this past summer to “inspect” the construction. Thanks to past Luther students, the cost for both projects was totally funded.

The homecoming weather was far from being nice, except for Sunday. Luther defeated Nebraska Wesleyan in overtime on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The game began at 1:30 pm and finished at 5:45 pm because of weather delays. The new carpeted field was perfect. A grass field would have been “plowed”!!!

Friday evening Marilyn and I attended the alumni banquet, a great event. Eight alums received a Distinguished Service Award. To my knowledge I was the only 49er in attendance and there were none from any class earlier than 1949??? The fifty-year anniversary class presented Luther with a gift of 1.2 million dollars. On Friday I attended a noon luncheon for class agents and members of the Alumni Council. There were presentations by several staff members concerning the condition of our college. All items were of great interest and I believe all is well, except for declining enrollment, which is now just a little more than two thousand students.

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day. Marilyn and I attended the annual Homecoming Concert. Three numbers that I really like are the Orchestra’s playing of The Star-Spangled Banner; the Band playing Stars and Stripes;  Nordic Choir singing O Lord God with many, many former choir members joining the Choir.  I also note that after many, many decades of attendance, three persons were absent. They were Weston Noble ’43 plus Helen and Elwin Farwell.  The entire concert was great, but not quite the same.

In my opinion, all is well at our college. However, as I have written many times before, finances are tough. So----if you can, please remember our college with any sort of money gift, in any amount.

Francis Peterson
1949 Class Agent
[email protected]


Nancy (Ellison) Bufford of Greensboro, Ga., died Oct. 20, 2016, at age 88. Born in Chicago, she graduated from high school in 1945, before enrolling at Luther, where she majored in elementary education. Nancy married Harry Bufford on July 11, 1952. His military career took them all over the United States and to Italy, and she taught in Minnesota, Michigan, California, Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, and Guam. After twenty years of teaching, Nancy retired in 1979. She was a member of the National Teachers Association and Walker United Methodist Church, served as a Pink Lady volunteer, and enjoyed needlepoint. Nancy is survived by her husband, Harry Bufford, Sr.; daughter, Brenda Stainback (Frank); sons, Joel Bufford (Deborah), Harry Bufford, Jr., and Randy Bufford (Susan); brother, Joel Ellison ’58 (June); nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a sister, Grace Ellison ’60.

Frederick Miller of Midland, Mich., died Sept. 12, 2016, at age 89. Born in La Crosse, Wis., and raised in Brownsville, Minn., he graduated from high school in 1944, before enrolling at Luther. Fred’s studies were interrupted in 1945 when he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. After his military service, Fred resumed his studies at Luther, majoring in chemistry and mathematics. In 1953 he earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Iowa State University, where he had met his future wife, Elaine. Fred and Elaine were married in 1951, and they raised their four children in Midland. Fred began working for Dow Chemical Co. in 1953 and enjoyed a 33-year career as a research chemist in the synthetic latex field. He and Elaine were charter members of Midland’s Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where Fred served as financial secretary and sang in the church choir. He also loved flower gardening and wrote a memoir of his childhood. After retiring from Dow in 1986, Fred and Elaine pursued volunteer activities, doted on their grandchildren, and travelled frequently, and he enjoyed watching the Detroit Tigers play baseball. In 1998 Elaine died. Fred married Joan Pfruender on Sept. 11, 1999, and she provided much love and support in his final years. They celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary the day before Fred died. In addition to his wife, Joan, Fred is survived by his children: Steven (Cheri Fulton), Betsy (David) Hoggatt, Julie (Charles) Dukes, and Mary Miller; eight grandchildren; two great-granddaughters; two brothers, Marvin (Etta) and Melvin (Lorene); two sisters, Marian Lowrey and Marlene (Ron) Levendoski; Elaine’s sister-in-law Diane Peterson; and Joan’s children and their families: Daniel, Richard, David, Dean, Diane, and Dawn. In addition to his first wife, Elaine, Fred was predeceased by a brother, Donald Miller; Elaine’s siblings: Eleanor, David, Margaret, Charles, and Elizabeth; brother-in-law, Donald Lowrey; and by Joan’s son, Donald Pfruender.

Ruth (Stoll) Peterson of Prescott, Ariz., died Jan. 5, 2017, at age 87. Born in Decorah, she graduated from Cresco High School in 1946 and attended Waldorf College in Forest City before enrolling at Luther, where she earned a certificate in education. Ruth taught school at Fremont Township #7 from 1947-48 and at Lime Springs Elementary from 1948-49. She married LaVerne Peterson on April 24, 1949, and they lived in Grundy Center and Locust before moving in 1953 to a farm in northeast Iowa, just south of Harmony, Minn. Here Ruth and LaVerne raised their seven children, farmed crops, and milked cows, and Ruth was an active member of the Fremont Lutheran Church and 4-H. In 1971 the family moved to Prescott Valley, Ariz., where they started L & H Building Center with Harold and Donna Stoks. Ruth was instrumental in creating the Prescott Valley Library; she also served as a Girl Scout leader and was an active member of the American Lutheran Church. After LaVerne retired in 1983, the couple moved to Lake Havasu City, where they lived until LaVerne’s death in 1992, and in 1993 Ruth moved back to Prescott to be near family. She served as a volunteer at the Prescott V.A. hospital and was a member of the Mountain Spinners and Weavers Guild, Thumb Butte Quilt Guild, and Prescott United Methodist Church, where she also sang in the choir. An avid reader, Ruth loved to travel, work in her garden, sew, and quilt. She is survived by her step-sister, Clarissa Hein Sutton; step-brother, Arnold (Norma) Hein; sister-in-law, Luanne Peterson; and brother-in-law Willard Peterson; her children, Anne (Gerald) Worner, Lee Peterson (Bridget Harrington), Joan (Albert) Robles, Loren Peterson (Cheryl Largent Hanks), Bonnie (Phil) Raney, Sharla Peterson (Robert McBurnie), and Carrin (Alan) Jacoby; 18 grandchildren; and 40 great-grandchildren. She also had many nieces and nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, great-great nieces and nephews, and many friends who will miss her every day at morning coffee. Ruth was preceded in death by her husband; mother; father; step-father; half sister, Annette Emily Hein Rasmussen; daughters-in-law, Tracey Lee Larson Peterson and Jean Marie Skelton Peterson; and a great-granddaughter.

Maxine Swiggum of Decorah died April 14, 2017, at age 91. Born in Soldier’s Grove, Wis., she enrolled at Luther in 1945. After graduating from Luther in 1949 with a major in sociology, Maxine earned a master’s degree in business education from the University of Northern Iowa. She taught business education at Minnesota schools in St. Peter, then Chatfield, followed by 26 years at Decorah High School until her retirement in 1987. During retirement Maxine enjoyed traveling, attended many Elderhostels, and loved playing Scrabble. A member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, she often said that athough she had no children of her own, she really had hundreds, because she considered her office education students her children. Maxine was also a good aunt to her nieces and nephews. She is survived by her two sisters-in-law, Jean (Nesheim) Swiggum ’48 and Eunice (Johnson) Swiggum ’50; seven nieces and nephews, including Mary (Swiggum) Monroe ’72 (Mark Monroe), Lois (Swiggum) Appel ’75 (Tom Appel ’73), Joanna (Swiggum) Petersen ’77 (Norman Petersen ’77), and Margaret (Swiggum) Little ’77 (Keith Little); 14 grandnieces and grandnephews; and 12 great-grandnieces and -nephews. Maxine was preceded in death by her two brothers, Peter Swiggum ’49 and Buel Swiggum.