Class of 1959 Spring 2017 Letter

Spring 2017

Dear Classmates,

We hope our letter finds you well and looking forward to new adventures with family and friends. A recent column in the Des Moines Register suggests we are living in the “Age of Anger” and, sometimes, it could even be called the “Age of Rage.” In this year of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation we are reminded that the 1500s were also a tumultuous time filled with confusion and change. We hope you will have a chance to watch the Rick Steves PBS special devoted to Martin Luther called “Luther and the Reformation.” A good article on the PBS special is in the March 2017 Living Lutheran (pp 46-47). You can watch the program online at

It would be great if you would share adventures in your life with your friendly class agents. We could then share your travels, volunteer work, or special memories of Luther days with classmates. If you plan to visit Antarctica or travel to the moon with Elon Musk, your classmates should know about it. Please keep us posted.

Class Notes

Milt Kramer of Manchester, Iowa, was inducted into the Iowa League of Cities Hall of Fame at the group’s annual meeting in Des Moines. Kramer is the state’s longest serving mayor with 43 years of service to the City of Manchester. Milt’s original impetus for seeking public office in 1970 was to improve his teaching skills. “I was a social studies teacher and everyone thought it would be a good fit,” he explained. “I figured it could help me teach my class.” A popular council member, he was encouraged to run for mayor in 1974. He won, and was sworn into office on Sept. 16, 1974, and has held the position ever since. In 13 elections, he has run unopposed 10 times. (Kramer is pictured with the “Iowa Nice Guy” actor, writer, and producer, Scott Seipker, who emceed the event.)

Wally Smeby of Mason City, Iowa, is advisor for the “Jan Again” Foundation, an organization named in honor of his late wife, which supports mental health education and outreach. The foundation awarded grants totaling $68,000 to six organizations in North Iowa in 2016.

Class Giving: A list of class members who made a gift to any Luther fund during the 2016 calendar year is listed below. If you have any questions or uncover an error, please let us know and we will follow up and get back to you. Thank you so much for your loyal support for Luther students and faculty. Your gifts for the Annual Fund, scholarships, faculty chairs, and future needs make a huge difference for Luther in these very challenging times for colleges of the church. Luther’s new Loyalty Society recognizes anyone who made gifts at any level for three or more consecutive years.

Prospective Luther Students: If you know the name(s) of students who you think should be at Luther, please share the information with the Admissions Office at 563-387-1287 or [email protected]. Thanks for any names you can provide.

Obituaries: Brief obituaries are included for Joan (Ehlers) Mork and the Reverend John C. Estrem.

Joan (Ehlers) Mork of St. Cloud, Minn., died Aug. 29, 2016, at age 79. Born in Worthington, she attended Luther for two years before receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Iowa in 1959. Joan married John Mork on June 12, 1960, at First Lutheran Church in Worthington. At age 12 she began serving as a church organist and continued throughout her life. Joan taught music for the Worthington School District and Worthington Community College, and she gave private piano lessons. For 10 years she directed the Worthington Chamber Singers. Joan and John lived in Worthington until 2008, when they moved to the St. Cloud area. They wintered in Arizona. A faithful member of First United Methodist Church of Sartell, Minn., Joan stayed active, enjoyed reading, and was an amazing cook. She is survived by her husband, John Mork; sons and daughters: Allen (Mary) Mork, David (Jane) Mork, Bill (Volda) Mork, Anna (John) Roberson, and Karin (Brent) McKendrick; brother, John (Linda) Ehlers; sister, Joyce (Eugene); 13 grandchildren; and six great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and daughter, Susan Mork.

John Estrem of Mahtowa, Minn., died Dec. 1, 2016, at age 79. Born in Waukon, Iowa, he grew up on a farm and graduated from Decorah High School in 1955, before enrolling at Luther, where he majored in English. John married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn (Johnston) Estrem ‘60, on Aug. 24, 1958. After graduating from Luther, he enrolled in education classes at Mankato State University and taught high school English in St. Francis, Minn., for four years. John felt a call to ministry and studied theology at Luther Seminary, in St. Paul. He graduated from seminary and was ordained in 1967. John’s first parish was St. John’s Lutheran in Jamestown, N.D., where he served as co-pastor. After four years, he accepted a call to the four churches in the Sheyenne Lutheran Parish and also served on local, regional, and district boards and committees. Marilyn was diagnosed with MS in 1978, which progressed rapidly. In 1985 John accepted a call to Zoar-St. Ansgar Parish in LaMoure, N.D., where he served for 22 years. During this time he developed creative confirmation programs, taking students on retreats to reservations, backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, canoeing in the Quetico and Boundary Waters, and sailing in the Apostle Islands National Park. In 2008 John retired from parish ministry, and he and Marilyn built an accessible home in Mahtowa, adjacent to the Munger Trail. John did supply preaching and helped out at several area churches. He was also active in the Lions Clubs of LaMoure and Carlton, and in Carlton County Restorative Justice. John enjoyed gardening, baking, jogging, and biking, riding the Habitat for Humanity 500-mile bike ride several times. He and Marilyn traveled extensively, attended plays and concerts, took classes at the Fond du Lac Tribal College in Cloquet, and enjoyed other local activities. John is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Johnston) Estrem ‘60; children, LeAllan Estrem ‘81 (Beth), Karla (Mitch) Estrem Booth, and Jonis (Mary) Estrem; daughter-in-law, Karla Estrem; four grandchildren; sister, Lilah Estrem Aas ‘67; sisters-in-law, Doris (Johnston) Brooks ‘55 and Lois Estrem; and nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Elizabeth Estrem; parents-in-law, Stanley and Gladys (Chalmers) Johnston ‘52; son, Ethan; brother, Paul Estrem ‘63; brothers-in-law, James Brooks and Gordon Aas; and nephew, Peter Estrem.

Weston Noble ’43—Celebration of Life service will be held on the Luther campus at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Center for Faith and Life. Weston died December 21, 2016, at age 94. Information on Weston’s life is available at www./ id=739476.

A far cry from our days in Decorah: Decorah now has two breweries: Toppling Goliath and Pulpit Rock. Also, three coffee shops: Java John’s, Magpie Coffeehouse, and Impact Coffee. Classmates have been spotted at Java John’s a number of times. Nordic Fest is July 27-29, and Homecoming is October 6-8, if you want to come and check things out.

Alumni Tours: 2017 tours include a Holocaust tour in Europe in July, New England coastal cruise in September, and Vietnam and Cambodia tour in November. Call 563-387-1861 if you are interested in these tours or alumni events in your area.

New Memory Brain Teasers:

1. Esteemed classmate editors of the Pioneer yearbook our junior year?

2. What year did the Asiatic flu play havoc with our classmates?

3. What “special” Norwegian foods were included in the Boarding Club Christmas banquet in our student days?

4. What issue labeled “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire” dominated campus discussion during our junior year?

Memory Brain Teasers: Answers to Fall 2016 teasers.  

1. Olsons in our freshman class: 8; Olsons in our senior year: 6

2. Name of combined members of all music organizations: Musical Union

3. Registrar and Latin teacher: Ruth Mostrom

Do keep in touch.

Best regards,

David J. Roslien 
[email protected]                 

Walter Rugland
[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.


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.

Charles Aase
Louis Accola
Gerald Anderson
Iler Anderson
Karen (Veldhouse) Anderson
Charles Austad
Marva (Paulson) Baldwin
Janet (Jorgenrud) Barlow
Paul Beck
Loren Behm
Shirley (Klingsheim) Bentdahl
Jerome Brophy
John Brugge
Ronald Calgaard
Caryl (Peterson) Chornow
Anita Coverdale-Paulson
Audrey (Hovden) Dahle
Jeannine (Schroeder) D'Orazio
Janet (Natvig) Dotseth
Martha (Gilderhus) Egeland
Gurine (Whitlock) Eggen
Frances (Smith) Ellefson
Gary Embretso
Keith Erdahl
†John Estre
Malinda (Moklebust) Evans
Wilbur Fishe
Ardis Fiskerbeck Christen
Leslie Fjelstul
William Fowell
Elaine (Ask) Fox
Leland Fretheim
Jane (Stetzer) Gorton
Rosalie (Grangaard) Grosch
Barbara (Novak) Groth
Darvin Hacker
Richard Halverson
Eugene Hanson
Walter Hanson
Layne Haugen
Judy (Walke) Havener
Joan (Wharram) Hayes
Carol (Tangen) Hills
Marilyn (Miller) Holland
John Holten
Joyce (Tesch) Jaspers
Louise (Knudson) Jones
Ruth (Benson) Kamin
Sara (Severson) Kittleson
Lowell Kleppe
Helen (Legler) Kneubuhler
Paul Knutson
Milt Kramer
Linda (Switzer) Lasota
Thomas Lee
Lois Leffler
Borgne (Braaten) McClelland
Jeanette (Leean) Melby
Vera (Lange) Miller
H. Richard Mullen
Peggy (Baumgardner) Mullick
Diane (Iverson) Nordgaard
Geraldine (Mosby) Nottleson
Neal Nottleson
Francis Odden
A. Richard Olson
Joyce (Kompelien) Olson
Martha (Smith) Olson
Richard Olson
Coleen (Sinclair) Orwoll
Charles Paulson
Benny Pederson
Larry Pinnow
Faye (Brandt) Polivka
Janice (Egeberg) Quass
LaVerne Quass
Mary Lou Rakowicz
Paul Ranum
Arlene (Riegel) Rosheim
David Roslien
Walter Rugland
George Running
Paula (Freese) Sisler
Karlton Skindrud
Waldo Smeby
Lorraine (Leirmo) Smith
Shirley (Stockwell) Sorenson
Lenita (Johnson) Stark
Franklin Steiner
Donna (Ferden) Suby
William Tjaden
Howard Tollefsrud
Carol (Kaasa) Turner
Larry Weigle
Ronald Westby

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)