Class of 1954 Spring 2017 Letter

Thoughts for the Members of the Class of 1954

I’ve learned that it doesn’t cost anything to be nice. I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it. I’ve learned that enthusiasm is caught, not taught.

Spring 2017

Dear 1954 Classmate,

For me, this is class agent letter #6. I am thrilled to know it is time to share news and facts of Luther College with my college classmates of 1954, now 63 years ago.

This fall it will be 67 years since we ‘set foot’ on the Luther College campus as freshmen. Wow! We are getting closer to celebrating our 70-year reunion –let’s look forward to that time. “SEE YOU THERE.”

Since last summer, I have talked on the telephone, corresponded by letter, or visited personally with some of you, our classmates. For instance, Roald Nelson, Marvin Mews, Curt Reiso, and I have talked on the phone, because we buy a couple of tee signs for one of the Luther College Alumni Golf Outings. Of course, we talk about far more than the golf outing.

Hamlet Peterson and I have shared news on the telephone and by letter. (Hamlet still plays tennis—“Bless His Heart.”)

Marvin Mews and his wife, Pat, stopped by the house for a visit in early February. Marvin and I were high school and Luther College classmates.

Then, I want to include in this letter, that Karl Ahrens and I visited on the telephone in early December about all kinds of things—then—his wife, Myra, called in late December and said that Karl had died of his illness on December 21, 2016. That is so sad because Karl (and Myra) was a dear friend. Karl was not only a classmate, but a roommate off-campus at Gunnies on North Street, a teammate in both basketball and track and field, and went out from Luther to coach in Chatfield, Minn.

Dave Fadness and I have shared news by letter. Dave is in Austin, Minn., where his son, Kris ’87, coaches the high school basketball team. Dave says they are good enough to maybe make the State High School Basketball Tournament. “Good Luck,” Kris Fadness!

Maynard Anderson of Alexandria, Va., writes that he has pretty well recovered from his major back surgery--laminectocy and lumbar fusion--of a year ago. He's hitting tennis balls again but says he's not competitive yet. A few months after his back surgery Maynard needed to have a pacemaker implanted, which is working fine, monitored electronically by a home device, and causing no restrictions in activity. But with metal in his back and the pacemaker, he sets off all sorts of alarm bells when venturing into restricted areas like airports. Following a medically eventful 2016, Maynard says the year 2017 has been boring so far.

Thoughts for all of us of the Class of 1954

I’ve learned that generous people seldom have emotional and mental problems. I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people, it’s what they do about it. I’ve learned that success is more often the result of hard work than of talent.

You probably heard the news about our beloved Weston Noble ’43, who died Dec. 21, 2016.  A celebration of his life will be held on campus at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Center for Faith and Life, Main Hall.  More details about Weston’s life can be found in the Winter 2017 issue of the Luther Alumni Magazine and on Luther’s website.

It was announced in January that Andrew Last ’97, assistant professor of music and conductor of Collegiate Chorale and Norsemen, has been appointed to the post of Nordic Choir conductor and director of choral activities at Luther. He will begin his new duties at the beginning of the 2017 fall semester.

You can read more about Andrew Last on Luther’s website, and you can find lots more as well, including students’ J-term course blogs and other course blogs, Alumni Office travel tours and events, links to alumni profiles, comparisons and rankings, life after Luther, etc. It’s easy to find web content that interests you at by clicking the search button next to the “info for” drop-down box at the top right of the page. Type in the word “news,” click on the search button, and you’ll get all of the Luther news, for your reading pleasure.

Three alumni tours are scheduled for this year: In July, Holocaust History in the 21st Century, hosted by Norma Hervey; in September, New England Coastal Cruise, hosted by Lois and me; and in November, Vietnam and Cambodia: A Cultural and Historical Adventure, hosted by Ann Highum and Jerry Freund. The Vietnam/Cambodia tour is already full, but the other two are still available.

Luther alumni Greg Lonning '84 and Luther assistant wrestling coach Jeff O'Gara ’05 were inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III Hall of Fame March 9. Lonning was inducted for his accomplishments as a coach and O'Gara for his efforts on the wrestling mat. Congratulations, Greg and Jeff! You can read more about Luther athletics and the Norse in the Alumni Magazine and on Luther’s website.

The list of all from the Class of ’54 who made gifts to Luther in calendar year 2016 is included with this letter. Thank you for your generosity! Did you know you can sign up for monthly giving to Luther? It’s a great way to ensure a gift is made each year. Those who make a gift at any level for 3 or more consecutive years become members of Luther’s Loyalty Society. More information about this giving club can be found on the web, at I’m confidant you’ll agree with me that regular giving to Luther is a great habit to cultivate.

Do you have memories of past Luther experiences you’d like to share? I’m sure our classmates would enjoy reading about them; please send me your stories.


Karl Ahrens of Avon, Ind., died Jan. 20, 2017, at age 85. Born in River Grove, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, he majored in physical education and sociology at Luther and was named Athlete of the Year in 1953. Karl served in the U.S. Army as a radio operator in Germany during the post-Korean War era, and he received a master's degree in education administration from the University of Northern Iowa in 1959. He taught and coached in Harmony, Minn., and Waukesha, Wis., and, later in his career, mentored many teachers while serving as junior high school principal in Oregon, Wis., before retiring in 1988. Karl was named Athlete of the Year at Luther in 1953 and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 for his achievements in football, basketball, and track. He enjoyed the outdoors and sports activities of all kinds--especially softball, basketball, and golf--and reading, traveling, and bird feeding. Karl also enjoyed attending all of the many sports activities of his three sons and seven grandchildren and was an avid follower of the UW Badgers, IU Hoosiers, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and Pacers, the old Milwaukee Braves, and World Champion Chicago Cubs. A devoted Lutheran church member, he served in leadership positions on many church councils and committees in Wisconsin and Indiana. Karl also served as a volunteer for many community organizations including Special Olympics of Indiana, the Hendricks Regional Health center (receiving the 2000 Hour Award), and Brownsburg Health Care nursing home, where he called bingo. He donated at blood centers in Wisconsin and Indiana for many years and held memberships in the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and American Legion Post 331 in Brownsburg, Ind. Karl is survived by his wife of 63 years, Myra (Aafedt) Ahrens ‘55; brothers, Robert Ahrens ’55 (Nancy), Phil, and Ben (Kim); sister, Lenore (Bob) Christensen; sons, Daniel (Tammy), David (Karen), and James (Diann); seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Elizabeth, and two brothers, Norman and Harold.

Eilene (Baalson) Busch of Maquoketa, Iowa, died Oct. 16, 2016, at the age of 84. Born in Minneapolis to Dora and Elmo Baalson ’26, she moved with her family to Hayward, Wis., and to Waterville, Iowa, where her father was the minister to two small country churches. Eilene and her siblings grew up on the small parish farm allotted to the minister's family to supplement his salary. Before graduating from Waterville High School in 1950, Eilene played forward on the school’s 1948 State Championship girls basketball team. Having no divisions at that time, the tiny school played against much larger city teams. Eilene enrolled at Luther College, where she majored in sociology and religion, sang in Nordic Choir and in Handel’s Messiah, participated in women's intramurals, was on the yearbook staff, and was part of the Dorian Society, the frontrunner to Luther's Dorian Festival. After graduation, she earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Minnesota, and her first social work position was at Lutheran Social Services in Mason City, where she also served as choir director for St. James Lutheran Church. Eilene met her future husband, Emmett Busch, when he was serving as the church’s new ministerial intern, and they were married Sept. 1, 1957. Eilene continued her social work career with the Department of Human Services in Alison and Dubuque; while her children were in school, she substitute taught in the Bellevue and Andrew school systems. For 20 years, she served as the Jackson County Hospital social worker. An avid volunteer, Eilene also served as a board member for Families of Northeast Iowa, Iowa Board of Social Work, Jackson County Board of Health, and Jackson County Regional Health Care Center. She directed church and community choirs for 40 years, and, in later years, the days revolved around her piano and organ students' lessons and activities. Often described as the "Energizer Bunny," Eilene made the most of each day: she was an avid golfer, quilter, and bowler; her vacations took her fishing and cruising to foreign ports; she made dozens of Norwegian cookies at Christmas for gifts to her friends; and she learned rosemaling, a Norwegian decorative painting, in 1976 and painted year round, giving her art as gifts or donating the items as fund raisers for the church, hospital, and Ohnward Fine Arts Center. She is survived by her four children: Brian Busch, Cheryl Busch ’82, David Busch ’85 [Lora (Larkin) Busch ‘88], and Eric (Cindy) Busch; five grandchildren; two sisters, Clarice (Baalson) Smoot ’55 (LaTrelle) and Marilyn Baalson ’64; a brother Clarence Baalson ’55 [Donna (Christianson) Baalson ’58]; many nieces and nephews; and hundreds of current and former piano/organ students and their families. Eilene was preceded in death by her husband, Emmett; parents; baby sister, Doris Elmira; and daughter-in-law, Kayla (Rasmussen) Busch. Memorials may be given to Luther.

Leif Flugstad of Fremont, Calif., died Sept. 5, 2016, at age 83. A graduate of Westby (Wis.) High School, he attended Luther for several years before spending two years of active duty in the U.S. Navy. A talented musician, Leif played flute in the concert bands throughout his years in high school, college, and military service. He married once and fathered a son and daughter. In 2007 Leif had a stroke; he had been in a nursing care facility. Leif is survived by his daughter, Carolyn; son, Arn; brother, Rolf; aunt; and five cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, and a sister, Swanhild Dobaj.  

Thoughts for all us in closing this class agent letter

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that kindness is more important than perfection.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t look back except to learn.

I’ve learned that it’s best not to quit at quitting time.

Kent Finanger
[email protected]

Your gift. Put to work, right away, where it is needed most.

Last year more than 10,000 alumni, family, and friends supported Luther’s Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $100,000. Your gift makes a difference for each and every student at Luther, and we are grateful for your support.


This list includes all gifts received January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016. Making a gift each and every year is an investment in the lives of Luther students and a show of support for the Luther College community. Thank you for your support of Luther College through your giving.

Marion (Nelson) Aaker
†Karl Ahrens
Gloria (Falk) Ambroson
Maynard Anderson
Joan Bedessem
Robert Benson
James Bergquist
Lorraine (Herman) Bergquist
Alvin Brekken
†Eilene (Baalson) Busch
Evelyn (Hall) Cole
Helen (Paulsrud) Cornwell
Eunice (Fortun) Dahlen
Joan (Rod) Engquist
James Field
Kenton Finanger
Benoyne Greseth
Janet (Hanson) Hellestad
Helen (Bidne) Hendrickson
Renee (Aust) Hermanson
Richard Hoff
Gladys (Johnson) Jones
Alice (Hogenson) Kienberger-Iverson
Lawrence Kipfer
Helen (Mart) Martinko
Beverly (Bernhard) Mazuk
Marvin Mews
Lucille (Sween) Moe
Roald Nelson
Frieda (Mindrum) Nowland
Ronald Nowland
Paul Ofstedal
Gertrude (Kolstad) Olson
Hamlet Peterson
Marilyn (Grangaard) Preus
Curtis Reiso
Norlin Rober
Donald Sandberg
Jacqueline (Miller) Storby
S.S. Urberg
Jean (Cooper) Weymiller

Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list. If an error has been made, please accept our apology and contact the Luther Development Office at 800-225-8664, or email [email protected]. (deceased)