Class of 1956 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019 

Dear 1956 Classmates, 

Well, by the time you received this letter, hopefully spring will have arrived. I hope that if you spent the winter in the Upper Midwest you managed to deal with the Polar Vortex in January. Carlyle and I left for Arizona just before it arrived. People from the Midwest who winter down here (locally known as “snowbirds”) were congratulating themselves on having avoided that blast but then complained about the snow on New Year's Day and the several nights of freezing temperature. How ironic. 

Campus news has prompted me to think of the changes that have occurred since our days there. Back then, January highlights were the fall semester finals, the start of the spring term, and bidding Nordic Choir members farewell as they boarded buses for the annual tour. Now, students take a single course on or off campus, including internationally. Back then, other than the Dorian band and chorale events the College did little or nothing to attract and serve secondary students, and summer school was for college students. Now, the Oneota Film Festival is sponsoring, on campus, the first annual Iowa Student Film Festival for students 11 years or older. In the summer, a variety of programs are offered for elementary and secondary students. And once again, the Dorian Choral Retreat for Adults in July is available for alumni who wish to gather, socialize, and sing. Back then, competitive sports were for men only.  Now, there are many women's teams and many are very successful. Back then, there were few students of color whether U.S. or international.  Most were not only white but Lutheran. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Student Union, and there is a large international presence with many faiths represented. Back then, the student body numbered less than 1,000; today it is over 2,000.  Still, some things remain the same. People still greet each other as they pass on campus.  And the emphasis on linking faith, learning, and vocation is still strong.

Over the holidays I heard from a few classmates. Faith (Luzum) and Terry Fretheim report that this spring they will leave Park Ridge, Ill. and relocate to the St. Anthony Park area of St. Paul, Minn. where Luther Seminary is located and Terry taught for many years. For them, it is like going home. Rhys Hanson still lives in Olympia, Wash. at the Colonial Inn, occupying a studio apartment.  Downsizing was a challenge. He was able to visit the campus last spring, and while there donated his father's 1911 college annual to the archives. He noted that his father attended both Luther Prep and College for a total of eight years with many family members following. Rhys said he had hoped to visit Norway last summer, but a bout with shingles made that impossible.  Juanita (Zeman) Loven and Russ continue to live in Gutenberg, Iowa. Never one to be idle, she has started a new venture, Juanita's Folly. The impetus was the need to downsize, so she opened a repurpose, reuse, resale outlet for excess personal items.  Others thought it would be a good place for them to dispose of some possessions as well, so she took in consignments. Upon sale, the owners can choose to receive funds from the sale or have the funds donated to a local not-for-profit. Two other classmates have permanent homes in Green Valley. Elaine (Forde) Larson is still active in the Lutheran church choir.  She spends the summer in Northern Minnesota. Kristi (Hendrikson) Thompson is also here having relocated from Mankato, Minn. several months ago. It is nice to see them from time to time. 

As for me, I fell down a flight of stairs last summer. Fortunately, nothing was broken, but some bruises lingered for a long time. One interesting event last summer was having a local Nordic carver execute carvings on an eight foot Norway Pine stump on our property. The carvings were based on those from farmsteads in Norway, including three from the area from where my grandparents came. Most of my days are occupied with knitting, reading, doing puzzles, playing solitaire, downsizing, exercising, and taking care of estate matters. 

You probably know that this academic year will be the last for President Paula Carlson. She has done well during a challenging period for small colleges, including Luther. Much has been accomplished, however, most recently an excellent strategic plan to guide the College into the future.  As will many, Carlyle and I will miss her at Luther events. We made her acquaintance in 2004 at the University of Dubuque where she was a faculty member and also served as Associate Academic Dean and where we served a number of years as Special Assistants to the President. 

I have not received word on the passing of any classmates. You can also access obituaries for our class and others by logging on to if you wish. 

Once again, it is good to know that our class remains near the top of all classes in terms of the percent of members making a gift annually to the College. Please do continue your generosity as you are able.   

It is vitally important in these challenging times. 

Finally, please send along information on yourself and/or another class member. I am more than happy to include it in the next letter in the fall. This is another way of staying connected which is important as the years pass by.

Have a Blessed Easter,

Mary R. Haaland
1956 Class Agent
12118 County 80,
Nevis, MN 56467
[email protected]

1105 S. Alpine Circle
Green Valley, AZ 85614

We are pleased to announce Dr. Jenifer K. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College! For more information about President-elect Ward, visit

As you may remember from your Fall 2018 Class Agent letter, Luther has recently completed an extensive brand strategy research process.


As a result of our research and in collaboration with members of the Luther community, we have developed several statements that will guide future communications.

We know that you, our alumni, are often asked about your alma mater. What you say to prospective students and their families about Luther College can have a huge impact on their decisions to visit campus, apply and, hopefully, enroll.

You know Luther well. You matter to us and we’re interested in hearing from you.

We invite you to take a few minutes to preview some of our new statements and share your thoughts. The example statements, as well as a response survey, are available online:

Many thanks!

If you have any questions please email Catherine Dyer, Brand and Marketing Director at [email protected]