Class of 1956 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Dear Classmates,

Greetings from Northern Minnesota where the summer weather has been not too hot, humid, or rainy. This class letter is going out a little earlier than usual. The plan from Luther is to get it mailed before Homecoming, October 26-28, rather than November.  Along with the usual activities at Homecoming, this year two organizational milestones will be celebrated – the 50th anniversary of the Black Student Union and the 40th anniversary of the Nursing Department. Neither of these existed in our days at Luther, but they serve to remind us that change is inevitable and essential as Luther continues to seek ways to be attractive and relevant.

I’m sure you have heard by now that Paula Carlson is retiring as college President at the end of the current academic year. By Luther standards, her tenure as 10th president is shorter than typical, but it is marked by some important gains. I note three. In the most recent fiscal year ending last May 31, the College received gift commitments of over $20 million, the fourth largest total in history. The recently started Next Steps for Sophomores initiative is continuing to expand its emphasis on mentoring for success in college and thereafter. And the Strategic Plan approved by the Board last February is now being implemented. All good achievements.

In July Carlyle and I once again hosted the Luther Comes to the Heartland reunion in Park Rapids, Minn. This was the sixth consecutive annual event with alumni, parents, and friends from the lake region gathered to share picnic fare, stories, and memories, and to hear from two members of the College’s Development Office. Sherry Alcock ’82 commented that the College is currently assessing the ideal student body size in the future. Like many small schools faced with external threats and competition, Luther’s enrollment has drifted downward in recent years. The College has committed to setting an enrollment goal that can be achieved and sustained. Andrew Peter ’14 noted the gains made on campus to reduce reliance on carbon fuels and utilize wind and solar more rigorously.  He stated that the College has been able to shift its energy use to wind and solar by 50% with goals of 70% by 2020 and 100% by 2030. Nationally, at present Luther ranks 3rd among small colleges in solar capacity. Impressive. Andrew, incidentally, is the son of Tim and Sandra Peter, who were music faculty members and much involved with the annual Christmas at Luther before moving to another school.  Also, we were happy to welcome to the event a 2018 Park Rapids High School graduate who was admitted to Luther for the fall of 2018.  Among classmates attending the event were Elaine (Forde) Larson and Lois (Beaver) Wintersteen. Always good to see them.

Some news from classmates. Solveig Otte wrote from South Africa that in retirement she is still involved with two organizations – one dealing with AIDS-infected and AIDS-affected people; the other which serves abandoned or orphaned Zulu children in the Pietermaritzburg area. Recently, a school started for Zulu youth a century ago and still operating had a Jubilee celebration. Four in attendance, including Solveig, are direct descendants of the Lutheran missionaries involved in the founding of the school.  Solveig’s father, Carl Otte, was one of these. As a sign of gratitude for this missionary work, the four descendants were “presented with a big fat live sheep.”  An interesting custom deeply meant.

Faith (Luzum) Fretheim says that she and Terry have nothing newsworthy to report.  They keep on “pingponging between Park Ridge (IL) and Roseville (MN).”

June (Tesch) Torrison, bless her, is usually good for class information. In April she was at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro (MN) and saw Arlene (Olson) and John Nelson and Juanita (Zeman) and Russ Loven there. The theatre, which has quite a reputation and draws from a large radius was founded by Eric Bunge ’84, the son of Waldo Bunge ’53.  She also sent word that the obituaries of Jim Engebretson and Joe Nesheim were in the Minneapolis Tribune. They passed away in May and, coincidentally, their funerals were on the same day. June wanted to attend Joe’s since as pastor in Osage, Iowa many of her relatives were in that parish. But she went to Jim’s  and pronounced it marvelous. Also there from the class were Martha (Ylvisaker) and Jim Limburg (Jim spoke), Don Hommen, and Clayton Hovda. The Lake Wobegon Brass Band performed several of Jim’s arrangements.

I noticed in the spring 2018 Luther magazine that classmate Bill Losen passed away last December. If you wish, you can check on class and other obituaries by going to

I have not seen any data on our giving for the past fiscal year but expect that it continued to remain high in participation. For what you have done and will continue to do, I thank you. Ongoing gifts in whatever amount one is able to make are a sign of loyalty, dedication, and thanksgiving for a place that did so much for us.

Lastly, have a good fall and winter, and a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.  And please send via email or snail mail brief information that you’d like to share with classmates.


Mary R. Haaland
12118 County 80,
Nevis, MN 56467
[email protected]

1105 S. Alpine Circle
Green Valley, AZ 85614


James A. Engebretson recently of Hugo, Minn., died May 6, 2018, age 83.

William H. “Bill” Losen of Hazleton, Iowa, died Dec. 30, 2017, age 86.

Joseph B. Nesheim of Northfield, Minn., died May 17, 2018, age 83.

Frank Ernest Pendle Jr. of Cincinnati died Nov. 15, 2017, age 83.

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.