Class of 1956 Spring 2017 Letter

Spring 2017

Dear 1956 Classmate:

Greetings from southern Arizona, where it is currently about 80 degrees and very sunny. It was not as warm in late January and February; unusually cold and rainy. But Carlyle and I will take it since the alternative was northern Minnesota, which was unusually cold and snowy. One sight we enjoyed up north before leaving, though, was a flock of about two dozen wild turkeys that frequented our property. Unafraid of humans, they simply looked at us and went about the task of finding food. These creatures are fairly new to our locale, being prolific reproducers and migrating north in search of more range. I don’t know where most of you spent the winter or what you saw, but wherever it was, I hope that it was enjoyable and that you had good health, especially avoiding the nasty flu. Alas, I did not, but at least it did not lead to pneumonia, as is often the case in our age group.

Perhaps the biggest news from Luther involves the Music Department. I’m sure many of you have heard of the passing of Weston Noble ’43 in December. He was 94 and had been in a care facility in Decorah for some months. He was one of those who will be well remembered in the annals of the college. There is a celebration of his life scheduled for Saturday, May 13, in the CFL. It is bound to be an impressive event.

Also, Andrew Last ’97, assistant professor of music, has been named the next Nordic Choir conductor. In very few years at Luther, he has distinguished himself as conductor of the Collegiate Chorale and the first-year men’s chorus, Norsemen. He starts his new responsibilities in the fall and will do very well upholding the Luther choral reputation and tradition.

Other news from Luther notes that President Carlson and the Board of Regents are in the process of developing a strategic plan to guide the college in the next three to five years. This is an activity that good schools undertake periodically to keep abreast of changing times, rather than drifting from year to year with no clear sense of contemporary relevance. These are challenging times for colleges and universities, and Luther is not immune. Competition from other educational institutions, as well as new ones, and rising costs are real. It is to the credit of Luther that it is facing this challenge head-on.

Also, since 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, the college has planned a series of events in observance. You can find more information by going to

As part of the observance of the Reformation, this winter the Minneapolis Institute of Art offered a major exhibit with artifacts from Germany dating to the days of Martin Luther. Carlyle and I were able to attend. It was exciting (since Carlyle’s doctoral field is Reformation) to see original woodcuts, altar art, the pulpit from which Luther preached, and the table from his home where he often (as the lore has it) sat and drank beer and discussed religion and life with his fellow Reformers. There was much more, too, from everyday items to written material on the major events of this 16th century period.  

Recently I sent out an email requesting news notes from classmates. Alas, a large number returned undelivered, suggesting that many email addresses have changed. It would be helpful for the future if you could send me your email address so I can update my file (and the college’s), as well as any information to share. Classmates say they enjoy the personal items. We all do things that can be shared. It may even encourage others. Send something! My email address is at the end of this letter.

A few classmates have some information to share. Marian (Carlson) Balch indicated that she has now moved permanently from her home in Verona, Wis., to her other place in Scottsdale, Ariz., an area she much enjoys. Faith (Luzum) and Terry Fretheim are spending time in Atlanta, Ga., where Terry is lecturing at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Faith says that the school environment and culture are inviting, a nice place to be. Kristi (Hendrikson) Thompson is now spending most of the year in Green Valley, Ariz., with summers in Minnesota. She is in good health. Elaine (Forde) Larson also spend most of the year at her home in Green Valley with summers in the northern Minnesota lake region. She continues her involvement in the choir at Desert Hills Lutheran Church in Arizona. Juanita (Zeman) and Russ Loven continue to live in Guttenberg, Iowa, where Russ is in the last year of his current term as mayor. Juanita continues to lead a weekly book discussion group, a venture she began while owning and operating a bookstore there. They continue to enjoy the arts in the area—the Dubuque (Iowa) Symphony and Christmas at Luther. Janet (Campbell) Tweed keeps her hand in music teaching, currently working with a wind ensemble at the Waunakee (Wis.) school with a goal of competing at the state level.

Carlyle and I spend nine months in Minnesota at our lake home and three months in Green Valley, Ariz., about 45 miles from the Mexican border. The scenery here is in contrast to back home—high mountains and desert valleys with cactus, mesquite, and flowering plants of all sorts, especially if there have been good fall and winter rains. We get back to Luther two or three times year, but missed Christmas at Luther this year due to a nasty cold. We stay active with swimming, biking, walking, exercising, and visiting historic sites, museums, galleries, and other points of interest. We also take the lead in hosting a Luther reunion each July in northern Minnesota. Each year the crowd gets larger—close to 70 last summer. Then, periodically we sort through the accumulation of stuff from 61 years of marriage. Lots of memories. I am working especially on sorting family and travel photos. Carlyle is working on converting years of 35 mm slides to a computer file. He is also working on a family history, for the benefit of the next generation. I encourage you to do the same. If nothing else, start a journal with your earliest memory and then add key memories one year at a time. It will be your lasting footprint. Think of it as family roots. If you don’t do it, who will?

As always, I remind you (though I don’t need to) that Luther needs, and continues to welcome, your gifts to the Annual Fund or any other fund which is near and dear to your heart. There is no need for me to go into detail with members of the Class of 1956, among the most generous of classes in percent of members making gifts. Thank you for your past and continuing support. It is greatly appreciated.

Have a good spring, a happy Easter, and a pleasant summer. Keep in touch.


Mary R. Haaland
[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.

WITH SINCERE GRATITUDE: 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.

Gerald Anderson
Ardelle (West) Askegaard
Harlan Bang
John Barstad
Donald Berg
Marilyn Bohl
Ronald Brandt
Roger Dahlen
David Ellefson
Eldon Ellefson
Ahna (Paulsrud) Ericksen
Eugene Evans
Arnold Fredriksen
Faith (Luzum) Fretheim
Terence Fretheim
Donald Gandrud
Colleen (Smedstad) Gandrud
Betty (Nyhus) Gollnik
Donna (Kumm) Green
Gordon Grimm
Mary (Kittelsland) Haaland
Berneil (Rust) Hanson
Judith (Sauall) Hoffman
Donovan Hommen
Harris Hostager
Clayton Hovda
Charles Hulsether
Donald Jensen
Sheridan Johnson
Helen (Erickson) Kissel
Charles Kloster
Helen Knutson
Marlys (Nordgaard) Koursh
A. Thomas Kraabel
Harold Kurth
David Landswerk
Jeanine (Johansen) Landswerk
Elaine (Forde) Larson
Joyce (Everson) Lee
Irene (Runningen) Lehrke
Verna (McCaustland) Lewison
Nels Lillejord
James Limburg
Martha (Ylvisaker) Limburg
Norma (Wahlstrom) Lionberger
William Losen
Juanita (Zeman) Loven
Mary (Stoen) Marquard
Priscilla (Mikkelson) Moore
Arlene (Olsen) Nelson
Joseph Nesheim
Donna Olson
Nancy (Beggs) Oren
Donna (Weiser) Owen
Thomas Robinson
Conrad Rolland
Mary (Kraabel) Rolland
Sharon (Ronning) Smith
David Solomonson
Barbara (Nasett) Spilde
Kristi (Hendrickson) Thompson
David Torrison
June (Tesch) Torrison
Henry Tressel
Malcolm Tuve
Patricia (Haraldson) Urberg
Arline (Bohl) Walter
Genevieve (Fosdahl) Wilberg
Vincel Williams
Lois (Beaver) Wintersteen

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].


H.O. “Hub” Christen of Decorah died Aug. 17, 2016, at age 82. A Decorah native, he enrolled at Luther in 1952 and majored in music. Hub met his future wife, Joyce, the summer following his Luther graduation, and they were married Aug. 2, 1958, after he returned from military service as a chaplain’s assistant during the Korean War. Hub’s primary career was in selling insurance, and he and Joyce made their home in several Midwest cities before returning to Decorah in 1973, when he began the Viking Insurance Agency. In 1983 Hub opened the Crystal Hearth Jewelry Store but returned to insurance when it closed a couple of years later. He was employed as a real estate agent for Friest Realtors toward the end of his working career. One of Hub’s greatest joys was to sing and offer others an opportunity to hear God’s messages through song. He sang for weddings and funerals as well as in choirs, theatre productions, and concerts. Hub enjoyed home and business remodeling projects and spending time with anyone who wished to chat. He also continued his wife’s tradition of taking rommegrot around to businesses in Decorah. Hub is survived by his children: Tonda (Christen) Kirton ’81 (Ken), Todd Christen ’84, Teela (Christen) Totten ’85, and Troy Christen (Anna); nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and sisters, Darlene Rosholt and Chris Wharton. He was preceded in death by his parents and many relatives and friends.

Thomas “Tom” Kraabel of Decorah died Nov. 2, 2016, at age 81, after a 28-year journey with Parkinson’s disease. Born in Portland, Ore., to Marie and Alf M. Kraabel ’17, he attended schools in Oregon, Minnesota, and California before graduating from Oakland (Calif.) Technical High School. Tom excelled in the study of Latin in high school and majored in classical languages and literature during his four years of study at Luther. After his Luther graduation, he continued the study of classics at the University of Iowa for two years, with the support of a Danforth graduate fellowship, and earned a master’s degree in 1958. Tom married Janice Hanson in 1956. From 1958-61, Tom studied theology at Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and offered instruction in New Testament Greek for seminary students. On completion of a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1961, he was ordained as a Lutheran pastor and served as assistant pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for two years. In 1963 Tom began a doctoral degree program in New Testament and early Christian literature at Harvard Divinity School, completing it in 1968. While working on the degree he received a Rockefeller doctoral fellowship in religion and the Harvard Divinity School’s Pfeiffer Fellowship in archeology. Tom also served as assistant in Greek and lecturer in New Testament at Episcopal Theological Seminary, Cambridge, Mass., from 1966-67. He served several churches in the Boston area as supply pastor while at Harvard. It was at Harvard that Tom’s lifelong interest in archeology began. This interest continued in his experience as field archeologist, in 1966, for the Harvard-Cornell archeological exploration of the site of ancient Sardis in Turkey. From 1969-73, Tom was associate director, along with Eric Myers of Duke University, of the Joint Expedition to Khirbet Shema’, Israel, an archaeological project of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Institutional partners in the project were Duke, University of Minnesota, Harvard, Princeton, Luther College, Dropsie University, and the Smithsonian Institution. In 1967 Tom began his teaching career as a member of the faculty of the Department of Classics at the University of Minnesota. He enjoyed the rank of full professor in that department from 1976-82, including three years (1978-81) as chair of the department. He also served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies from 1969-76. While on the University of Minnesota faculty, Tom spent the 1977-78 academic year as a visiting fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford University, England, and in 1981 as a visiting fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. In January 1983 Tom was named vice-president and dean at Luther, as well as a professor of religion and classics, and he continued in this position through the 1995-96 academic year. In 1988 Luther named him to an endowed professorial chair, Qualley professor of classics, a position he occupied until his retirement. Tom taught religion and classics at the college until his retirement at the end of the 1999-2000 academic year. Knowing that the Parkinson’s disease was advancing, Tom and Janice continued to travel after his retirement, returning to Israel in 2000. Their journeys took them to Singapore, Spain, Portugal, England, and Norway over the years.

Tom is survived by his wife, Janice; two sons, Allen Kraabel (Debra) and Thomas Kraabel ’89 (Kristine); daughter, Sarah (Kraabel) Kriewall ’87 (Dan); five grandchildren, including Andrew Kraabel ’11 (Lindsey); three great-grandchildren; and brother, Paul Kraabel ’58, and his family. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Martha; parents; nephew; and many family and friends.  Memorials can be made to Luther College.

Robert Sanden of Hudson, Wis., died Oct. 5, 2016, at age 82. A native of Rio, he majored in sociology at Luther and enlisted in the U.S. Army after his Luther graduation. Robert served two years of active duty at Brooke Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. After completing his military service, he began a 31-year career in social services for St. Croix County, Wis., serving as social worker, assistant director, and as director, administering and developing public assistance and social services programs and juvenile court services. Robert also served on several county, regional, and statewide planning committees for the development of human services for the State of Wisconsin. He retired in 1990, and he and his wife enjoyed traveling, family celebrations, sporting events, and visiting presidential libraries. Robert is survived by his wife, Connie; brother, Jerry (Jan); children: Debbie (Scott), Randy, Rick (Peggy), Judy (Joe), and Dan (Laura); and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents.