Class of 1950 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019

Dear 1950 classmates,

I begin this installment of my class agent letter with a personal note. Come July, I will reach the next turn-of-the-decade in my long life. And since I had just turned seventeen when I started Luther in 1946, nearly all of you will already have reached and passed that landmark. Quite extraordinary, isn't it? And come October 9-11, 2020, it will be the 70th(!) anniversary of our graduating class. Amazing.

As I write, Luther has ended its January Term and is getting ready for the spring semester. Which means that the usual feast of fascinating J-Term blogs, written by traveling students, is now available on the college's website by doing a search for "January Term 2019 course blogs." Among the travelers have been members of the college's Symphony Orchestra on its every-fourth-year residency in Vienna. Speaking of traveling musical groups, the Jazz Orchestra will go on tour during the coming semester, and Nordic Choir will be performing with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, a plum engagement. The rich musical life at Luther goes on.

Also coming up with the advent of the spring semester are special lectures featured during the ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Student Union on campus. The first will be at the semester's opening convocation, and another will occur during the annual Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony in April. The beginning of the BSU's history back in 1968-69 was not easy; it was a tumultuous time in higher education and across the country. But its continuing presence through the years has become an invaluable part of the college's life. As has the related presence of a significant number of international students from around the world.

At this time of year there is a transition of sports seasons on campus. The basketball teams are heading into their home stretches now. The men have been having a tough time, competing well, but finding it difficult to win in the conference (now called the American Rivers Conference since Nebraska Wesleyan U. recently became a member). The women, after a rough start in non-conference games, have rebounded to be in a virtual second-place tie in the conference standings. The baseball and softball teams are beginning practice. The softball team will have to do some rebuilding after its great finish a year ago in the NCAA Division III National Tournament. That finish was another feather in the cap of Luther's conference.  Wartburg's women's basketball team was a national final four team last year while Nebraska Wesleyan's men's team was winning the National Championship in Division III.  And, no surprise, Wartburg's wrestling team is again dominating the small college scene.

The biggest event ahead of us in the coming weeks, however, is on the administrative front.  The winnowing process among candidates to become the next president at Luther has been going on since late last fall and should be in the home stretch now. The word from the search committee is that the pool is "both rich and deep." So we can look forward to an exciting announcement soon, and with that lots of anticipation for the next phase of Luther's history. Simultaneously, we will be bidding farewell and offering best wishes for a happy retirement to Paula Carlson as she completes her five-year tenure as president.

During the last days of January here in Decorah, we have experienced some bitterly cold weather, with temperatures dropping to 30 below zero. This has served as an interesting reminder of our undergraduate years at Luther, when January regularly brought weather like this.  And with that memory come warm(!) feelings for those years we shared as a class. With this in mind, let's keep up our financial support for our alma mater and in that way help Luther deal with the big challenges facing liberal arts colleges across the country.

Bless you all.  Enjoy a good spring, whenever it comes.

Richard Ylvisaker '50
702 Meadow Court
Decorah, IA 52101
[email protected]



James R. Anderson of Decorah died July 11, 2018, age 87.

Arne Brekke of Grand Forks, N.D., died June 25, 2018, age 90.

Donald L. Ellickson of Eau Claire, Wis., died June 20, 2018, age 89.

Harold Emil “Doc” Krueger of Sioux Falls, S.D., died July 2, 2018, age 90.

John Richard “Dick” Kulaas, Sr., of Wenatchee, Wash., died Oct. 22, 2018, age 91.

The full obituaries of classmates listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at:

If you would like a printout of the obituaries listed above in their entirety mailed to you, please contact us at: [email protected], or 563-387-1509.

We are pleased to announce Dr. Jenifer K. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College! For more information about President-elect Ward, visit

As you may remember from your Fall 2018 Class Agent letter, Luther has recently completed an extensive brand strategy research process.


As a result of our research and in collaboration with members of the Luther community, we have developed several statements that will guide future communications.

We know that you, our alumni, are often asked about your alma mater. What you say to prospective students and their families about Luther College can have a huge impact on their decisions to visit campus, apply and, hopefully, enroll.

You know Luther well. You matter to us and we’re interested in hearing from you.

We invite you to take a few minutes to preview some of our new statements and share your thoughts. The example statements, as well as a response survey, are available online:

Many thanks!

If you have any questions please email Catherine Dyer, Brand and Marketing Director at [email protected]