Dear Luther College Class of 1953,
Here I am, back again so soon. The fall class agent letter has been moved to an earlier date, and thus I have yet another opportunity to encourage you to attend our 65th reunion at Homecoming in October. In addition to the luncheon, there will be a late Saturday afternoon reception to continue our conversations following the football game. An attractive venue is in the works.
The Sunday of Homecoming weekend is a favorite of mine. The morning worship service features at least four student choral groups. It is similar to a worship experience at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, except that St. Paul’s has only one choir, and they are all boys and men. The acoustics at the Center for Faith and Life are also better for choral definition. Were it not for the printed bulletin, one would scarcely recognize that the St. Paul’s choir was singing words. Granted, we cannot match the visual experience of St. Paul’s, but we can close our eyes and savor the sound.
Top it all off with the trio of music groups on Sunday afternoon. Nordic Choir, Concert Band and the Symphony Orchestra will have additional weeks this year to prepare for what is always the splendid opening of the music ensemble year at the college. We were great of course, back in the day, but great has moved on to greater. And the Orchestra has emerged virtually ex nihilo. That is, there didn’t used to be one, and the one that is now is first class.
The academic year, 2018-19, is a year of anticipation. President Paula Carlson reaches normal retirement age at the end of the year and has announced that she will then retire. The search for a new president always arouses a special dynamism in a college community. Presidents cannot do everything, but they do have a platform from which to set the tone of a college. Luther College, in its first 158 years, will have had ten presidents, a remarkable record of institutional stability.
We are among those who have known eight of those ten presidents. Oscar Olson was a bit younger than we are now when we entered Luther in 1949. He lived on the edge of campus, a campus which edged out his home some years ago. I recall President Olson wandering on campus, gathering groups of students about him and reminiscing about earlier days of the college. He did the talking, since he couldn’t hear well, a condition many of us can now match, the hearing that is, not necessarily the talking. O. J. H. Preus, then recently retired, offered a course on Norwegian culture. Ylvisaker was in the second year of his presidency. And so on. No one has yet matched the 41-year presidency of Peter Laurentius Larsen. We can safely label than one matchless.
A notable development at the college over the past several decades has been the globalization of the community, especially in the student body. This came to my attention in a special way recently. Some of our international students are unable to return to their distant homes during the summer break, so they stay in Decorah and find work on campus. I had gotten into the enterprise of dismantling my personal library, a task that involved the movement of heavy boxes of books, thirty at latest count, down two flights of stairs. Surely, I mused to myself, I could manage this myself. That was an unreliable “Muse.” So I employed a very nice young man from Lesotho (I had to check out where that was). I learned on good authority that he was into a regular program of body building exercise. He did indeed move up and down those stairs with ease, and I rewarded him handsomely. I haven’t inquired, but I may well have ruined his contentment with the minimum wage he is earning for his summer employment at the Help Desk at the college (That has to do with computer services; he is majoring in computer science.).
The opening of a new academic year is always a refreshing, hopeful experience, even after nineteen years of retirement. The summer reading this year at Luther is Homer’s Odyssey. I read that epic each year of the twelve years I directed the Paideia Program. One makes new discoveries with each rereading. Those ancient mariners, wandering about the Mediterranean, finding their way home after a long war, navigated the choices of life along with the geography of that vast sea. Reading is a wonderful gift. One can travel far and wide while sitting in a comfortable chair at home.
Comfort. A good place to close.
Cheers and best wishes!
Wilfred F. Bunge
1953 Class Agent
902 W. Pearl Street
Decorah, IA 52101
Christine Ann (Rotto) Hefte of Fergus Falls, Minn., died May 16, 2018, age 86.
Gene H. Hermeier of Decorah, died June 17, 2018, age 86.
Glenn V. Highum of New Richmond, Wis., died June 20, 2018, age 86.
Lorraine Alice (Kittleson) Hoover of Santa Paula, Calif., died Oct. 12, 2017, age 85.
Oakley J. Stockdale of Ostrander, Minn., died Dec. 8, 2017, age 86.
The full obituaries of classmates listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at: luther.edu/in-memoriam/
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.
A Special Thank You
Each year, our class scholarship provides much-needed funds to one (or more) Luther student(s). And, many send thank you notes! Please take a look at a note from last year’s recipient(s). We are making a difference!