Class of 1954 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Dear Classmate,

Now, sixty-four years after we graduated from Luther College, I am sitting down to write you this fall, 2018 alumni newsletter (1954-2018). And it is sixty-eight years (1950) since we came together as freshmen to initiate our college careers at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Wow!!! Where does time go??? However, this fall class agent letter comes earlier than normal. Since Homecoming will be the last weekend in October (Oct. 26-28) the class agent letter will be written, sent, and arrive earlier than normal.

With regard to keeping up with the goings on at Luther, I have several “thoughts for the day” that became part of me during my college days at Luther—and—my association with all of you:

1)    Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. BE A LEADER – GO GET ‘EM!

2)    You never lose, either you win or you learn. LIFE IS NEVER A LOSER—YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING.

3)    Inhale the future, exhale the past. BE AN OPTIMIST—LOOK AHEAD, FORWARD!


5)    I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become. JUST LOOK AT THE DIFFERENT PATHS EACH OF US HAS TAKEN, EACH SUCCESSFUL AND SATISFYING!

6)    The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem. OUR LUTHER COLLEGE EXPERIENCE TAUGHT US A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE AND THOSE THAT SURROUND US! AMEN!

It’s the start of a new school year at Luther, one that promises to be as wonderfully action-packed as ever. In August, the college welcomed 575 new students to campus. Over the summer, they read a book that many Luther grads will remember from Paideia: The Odyssey. This year’s edition comes with a twist: it’s the first English translation by a woman, Emily Wilson, and by all accounts it’s a vivid, engaging, and sprightly retelling of the classic homecoming story. If you’re up for a return to your Paideia roots, you can join the fun through Luther’s reading guide to the book:

Speaking of homecomings, this year we’ll celebrate two important milestones during Luther’s Homecoming Weekend, October 26–28. First, the Black Student Union (BSU) commemorates its 50th anniversary this fall. There are several events planned during Homecoming and throughout the year to celebrate the founding of the organization—including forums, lectures, a brunch, and a BSU reunion—so mark your calendars. Luther’s Nursing Department also observes a birthday—its 40th—this fall. Homecoming Weekend, Kris Dreifuerst ’85 will lead a workshop for nursing educators and deliver the Ironside Distinguished (Alumni) Lecture in Nursing, which will be followed by an open house at Luther’s simulation lab.

In addition to Homecoming lecturers, Luther will welcome other notable speakers to campus this season. On October 23, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt will deliver the Farwell Distinguished Lecture, “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” His book of the same name, published earlier this month, explores how the cultural climate of “safetyism” on college campuses across the U.S. interferes with the healthy development of students. He argues that recent social and cultural trends are setting children up to fail as healthy, autonomous, adaptable adults. If you don’t have time to read the book, you can get a snapshot through Haidt’s Atlantic

Finally, most have heard that President Paula Carlson will retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year. During her time at Luther, President Carlson added several academic programs to the college, renewed outdoor facilities, expanded Luther’s Career Center services, developed and launched the “Next Steps for Sophomores” program, added a dean of institutional equity and inclusion to Luther’s staff, and achieved Luther’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent by the end of 2015, among other things. Luther’s Board of Regents is taking the necessary steps in the presidential search process with the hope of transitioning leadership over the course of next summer and having a new president in place for the 2019–20 academic year.

WOW! A year from this fall, at Homecoming 2019, we’ll be 87 or 88 years old and celebrating our 65th year of graduation from Luther college. Is that a marvelous thing, or what? It is my wish and my prayer that all of us can remain healthy so that we can together celebrate our 65-year anniversary of Luther College graduation. Let’s plan on it! See you on campus in October 4-6, 2019!

Here are several more meaningful ‘thoughts for the day”:

1)    She believed she could, so she did. AND, SO DID YOU—CONGRATULATIONS!

2)    Don’t look back… you’re not going that way. THINK BACK ON YOUR LIFE AND WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHAT YOU’VE DONE!

3)    What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. THINK OF WHAT YOU WERE IN 1954 AND WHAT YOU HAVE BECOME IN 2018! AWESOME AND HEARTWARMING, YOU LUTHER COLLEGE GRADS!

Be enthusiastic, considerate, and thankful in the months and years that are to come. Let’s remember what Dr. Gerhart Frost taught us in Bible back in 1952, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you!” And let’s follow Psalm 117 in our daily lives, “O praise the Lord all ye nations; praise him, all ye people, for his merciful kindness is great towards us; and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

God Bless, Love,

Kent Finanger
15365 West Earll Court
Goodyear AZ 85395-8510
[email protected]


Helen Marilyn (Bidne) Hendrickson of Decorah, died March 22, 2018, age 86.

Marilyn V. (Thoreson) Hovey of Harmony, Minn., died Nov. 17, 2017, age 85.

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.