Class of 1958 Spring 2017 Letter

Dear Class of ’58,

Yes, Luther College was Weston Noble ’43, and Weston Noble was Luther to me during my years of attendance there and time following. No doubt this was true of many of you and other Luther grads.

Mr. Noble helped many of us realize who we were and what God called us to be. Mr. Noble helped us to be self-confident and supported the fact that we were put on this earth for a reason, and worthy of God’s love. Thank you, Mr. Noble! Soli Deo Gloria!

Since Mr. Noble’s death, I have realized that Luther College IS still here, even if he is not. However, his presence will always be felt. Luther was always a part of the conversation in our home while I was growing up, but I did not exactly know why or how it started. Thank goodness, it is much easier to look up information on any topic now! The death of Mr. Noble and present day politics pushed me into finding out more.

Luther College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located in Decorah, Iowa, United States, established as a Lutheran seminary in 1861 by Norwegian immigrants. The school today is an institution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Have you ever looked or read this description of Luther College on the official site of Luther College? There it is in the first sentence! We have been hearing that word very much lately—IMMIGRANTS! Yes, we have all been or descended from immigrants and therefore, in some ways, immigrants ourselves. In April 1861, at the start of the Civil War, NELC decided to open its own college in Wisconsin after students had been studying at Concordia Seminary in Missouri. During these years the Civil War was happening. What was the Civil War all about? Yup! Slavery was a big part of that national event. Notably, in 1866 a group of students signed a “bill of rights” criticizing the rigid schedule and not enough freedom at Luther. Immigrants and freedom are still a large part of national conditions and discussions.

Lately, it was brought to my attention about the good that immigrants also bring. There was a concert called Circle of Sounds, which took place at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul on February 1, 2017. It was pointed out that this piece somewhat paralleled the current political situation banning immigrants and refugees. The piece was about migration, people moving from place to place. Musicians included a guest flute soloist and three professional flutists, plus 189 flutists from all around the city and territory—ages 10-80. Two of the 189 flutists turned out to be graduates of Luther College. Mary Preus ’63 and I were surprised to see each other, but we were able to connect as both of us have immigrant relatives who were part of Luther. Mary has a strong Luther history in her family, and many of my ancestors have also been a part of it.

A major part of Luther life for Mary and me was being members of the Luther College Concert Band, even if we didn’t play in it at the same time. Thank you, God, for our immigrant ancestors who found their way to Luther College. The Luther College Concert Band, developed by Dr. Carlo Sperati, was very successfully led by Mr. Noble when he became conductor. Along with Nordic Choir, he built the music department into international fame. It is to his credit that now 40 percent of the students at Luther participate in musical groups. He was a friend to all of us. Hope to see many of you at Weston Noble’s Celebration of Life service on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., in the Center for Faith and Life.

It is good to hear that Andrew Last ’97 was named conductor of Nordic Choir and will begin that position in the fall of 2017.

This summer, the Admissions Office will be rolling out a new book voucher program for prospective students. Stay tuned for details.

We send our congratulations to Al Heggen ’58 and Helen Christiansen for their marriage on October 26, 2016.

We are sorry to hear about the deaths of Raymond Rovang on October 19, 2016, and Russell Rulon on November 22, 2016. You can read their obituaries below.

It would be most interesting if some of you would send in memories of Luther to include in our next class letter. Our reunion will be here soon!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Marilyn Sorlien Skatrud
[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. Carl Aanonsen
Loleen (Leland) Anderson
Sigurd Anderson
Lois (Moe) Anderson Ursin
Ann (Ferden) Austad
Donna (Christianson) Baalson
Ronald Barth
Felice (Hahn) Bastian
John Beaver
Dorothy (Knutson) Bergsgaard
Gene (Flom) Calgaard
Jean (Flom) Carlson
Anita (Ekern) Dahlquist
Marjorie (Olson) Dehmlow
Wayne Dotzenrod
Rodney Ellickson
Marcia (Borreson) Engebretson
John Ericksen
Elizabeth Fiskerbeck Bruening
Harold Forbes
Leila (Hestenes) Gangstad
Arne Grangaard
Marjorie (Johnson) Gray
Myrthis (Lage) Griffith
William Griffith
Dalton Gross
Alan Heggen
Elson Heggen
Paul Hjelle
Martha (Weselmann) Huinker
Ronald James
Kathryn (Garrison) Johnson
Eugene Kamin
Kathryn (Ness) Kelly
Karen (Johnson) Knutson
Barbara Kraabel
Russell Loven
Ruth (Rotto) Lyngaas
Dorlan Mork
Irma (Meyer) Mulder
John Nelson
Joy (Olson) Nelson
Janelle (Johnson) Nevermann
Le Allen Nevermann
Joan (Dahlquist) Nolte
John Nordgaard
Beverly (Hjelmervik) Norland
Darlene (Thorson) Olson
Barbara (Neumann) Parker
Colleen (Voehl) Peterson
Dorothy (Davis) Peterson
Lois (Erickson) Peterson
Lowell Peterson
Anthony Preus
Marit (Running) Pudas
Philip Ramsey
Patricia (Schmidt) Richardson
Carl Rognholt
Benjamin Roisen
Waldron Rosheim
†Russell Rulon
Marlin Scheib
Linda (Shoemaker) Schmidt
David Schneider
Marilyn (Sorlien) Skatrud
Bette (Hall) Sloat
Eugene Soland
James Solem
Arlen Solie
†Daniel Sorenson
John Suby
Waldemar Sundet
Ronald Thomley
Robert Tollund
Luther Tolo
Carol (Diederichs) Wahl
Marion (Trondson) Wetherell
Warren Wind
Beata (Romness) Youngdahl
Duane Youngdahl
Carol (Freshwater) Zaiser 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)


Raymond Rovang of Decorah died Oct. 19, 2016, at age 83. A native of Decorah, he graduated in 1951 from Decorah High School, where he participated in football, basketball, and baseball. Ray loved spending his high school summers working on his uncle Merlin Moe’s farm in Glenwood Township. At age 18 Ray enlisted in the Marine Corps and was deployed to Korea, where he was seriously wounded by enemy fire and shrapnel. After many months of rehabilitation, Ray entered Luther, majored in English and sociology, and graduated in 1958. He completed graduate work at U.N.I., Mankato State University, and University of St. Thomas, and spent 30 years teaching high school social studies and language arts in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. Ray retired early to return to Decorah to assist his aging parents. During retirement, he took up gardening in a big way and enjoyed golf, music, reading, writing, and fishing. Ray was a loyal member of First Lutheran Church and generous to many charities. He was dedicated to his family and attended yearly family reunions and many luncheons at the Cliff House. Ray is survived by his brother, Donald (Estrella, deceased) Rovang; two sisters, Nancy (Rovang) Lee ’61 (Lance) and Betty (Bob, deceased) Chapman; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, Melvin, in 1990; his mother, Esther, in 1993; and two sisters, Ethel Rovang in 1944 and Linda Rovang in 1996. Memorial gifts may be directed to Luther.

Russell Rulon of Decorah died Nov. 22, 2016. Born in Hamburg, he spent most of his formative years on the Gurney Nursery Farm in Yankton, S.D., where his love of the outdoors began. Russ attended Yankton High School and graduated in 1954, before enrolling at Luther, where he majored in biology and chemistry. He continued his education at the University of Iowa, earning a Ph.D. in physiology in 1961. Russ met his wife, Joan, while in Iowa City and they were married June 8, 1963. The couple moved to Decorah soon after their marriage when Russ chose to return to Luther to teach in the biology department. He loved to teach—and he loved his many colleagues and students at Luther. Russ was known for his incredibly detailed physiology handouts and his ability to intricately dissect within his physiology laboratory. Wherever he was in Valders Hall, he could usually be tracked down by listening for his characteristic whistling. For many years, Russ was the health career advisor at Luther, and he wrote countless letters of recommendation for students heading on to graduate degree programs. It was a great sense of pride for him knowing that he helped inspire hundreds of individuals heading into health-related careers. Just prior to his retirement from Luther in 2000, Russ was deeply humbled when colleagues, friends, family, and former students contributed $1 million to Luther to establish the Russell Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology. When not at work, he loved to be outside gardening, fishing, or hunting, and he and Joan enjoyed spending time at their summer cabin in northern Minnesota. Russ was able to use his whistling skills and his hands to imitate the sounds of many species of birds, and watching him filet a fish was like watching a skilled surgeon. After retirement he was diagnosed with dementia, which steadily progressed for many years. Russ is survived by his wife, Joan; his daughters, Brita (Rulon) Loynachan ’86 (Tim) and Amber Myers (Eric); his son, Ryan Rulon ’95 (Elizabeth); and 8 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Janet Sue (Rulon) Pipho ’60. Memorials may be made to Luther.