Class of 1960 Spring 2017 Letter

Spring 2017

Dear 1960 Classmates,

Greetings from Decorah and Luther College!

Pablo Picasso (the famous Spanish painter and poet) has written: “The meaning of life is to find your gift” and “the purpose of life is to give it away.” I find those two statements a great description for the mission of Luther, past, present, and future. It was our quest back in the late 1950s, and it is the quest of students today and in the future, as each one seeks meaning and purpose in life.

I would dare to say that it would be hard to find someone who better exemplifies Picasso's comments on “finding your gift” and “giving it away” than Weston Noble ’43. Born November 30, 1922, in Riceville, a small farming community in Iowa, west of Decorah, Weston began his quest learning to play the piano at age four. He already was in the process of “finding his gift.” The quest continued when he played in the band and sang in the choir at Riceville High School, and at age 16 enrolled at Luther College. There he nurtured “his gift,” even to the point of leading rehearsals for the Schola Cantorum in his second year. His quest was delayed when he was called to active duty in the army as a tank driver, where he saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and the allied attack on Nazi Germany in 1945.

After the war, in 1948, he was asked to fill a one-year appointment as interim director of band and choir at Luther College. The rest is history as he proceeded to fulfill his “purpose in life giving his gift away,” influencing thousands upon thousands, not only at Luther but worldwide as conductor of the Luther College Concert Band for 25 years, and the Luther College Nordic Choir for 57 years. His amazing legacy in music includes being a guest conductor for more than 900 all-state bands, orchestras, choirs, and festivals across four continents and receiving numerous awards and honors for his contributions to choral music. Weston found his gift and spent a lifetime giving away his gift. Soli Deo Gloria!

Perhaps you know that Weston Noble died on December 21, 2016, at the age of 94. A visitation and prayer service was held on December 29 at First Lutheran Church in Decorah, and a private family graveside service was held the following day at Riverside Cemetery in Riceville. Many alumni came for the prayer service, which was a meaningful tribute to Weston's life. Impressive was the end of the service when the congregation stood and sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel's Messiah (without music in hand and with no direction). It was touching to watch the faces of joy and sadness as that service ended. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on campus at the CFL at 1:00 p.m. on May 13, featuring both the Luther College Concert Band and the Luther Nordic Choir.

I suspect many of you “found your gift” at Luther College and since that time have proceeded “to give it away” in your chosen vocation. I know that was true for me! And now it is great to know that thousands of students and graduates continue “to find their gift” at Luther and then “to give their gift” for the sake of the world in each of their chosen vocations. That's why Luther needs our support as much or more than ever. No gift is too small in order to support those life-changing decisions for students today. As I said in last year's letter, giving an annual gift each year is a way to “pay back” what Luther College meant for you and a “pay forward” to help students today achieve a high quality liberal arts education.

In a recent travel brochure entitled “Visit Decorah,” Luther College was featured in the center section. I was pleased to see the following data about our alma mater called “Extraordinary Outcomes” regarding the 2015 graduates: 98-99 percent of the grads are employed, attending graduate school, or engaged with an internships, volunteer experience, or student-teaching within eight months of graduation; 67 percent are employed, 16 percent in graduate school, 6 percent are continuing education, 5 percent are volunteering, and less than 1 percent are still seeking eight months after graduation. I trust that such results make all of us say: “I am a proud member of the alumni of Luther College” for “this is my Luther.”

Now for some news notes:

  • Luther, as well as many private colleges in Iowa and around the nation, experienced a drop in enrollment for 2016-2017. The competition for prospective students has greatly increased in the past few years. One thing we can all do is encourage young people in our families, churches, or communities to contact the Admissions Office and make arrangements for a visit to Luther. The issue of the comprehensive fee may come up, but assure them that Luther does its best to work with prospective students to develop a financial plan that will make it possible to fit their budget and receive a high quality educational experience. The Admissions Office will be rolling out a new voucher program this summer where students who show promise and are nominated by alumni will receive a voucher from the bookstore when they enroll at Luther. Stay tuned for more details.
  • Andrew Last, a 1997 Luther graduate and current assistant professor of music and conductor of Collegiate Chorale and Norsemen, has been appointed as the new conductor of Nordic Choir and director of choral activities at Luther. He will begin his new duties at the beginning of the 2017 fall semester. Many alumni have voiced a very positive response to this appointment. Last has done a remarkable job at his alma mater since returning to Luther in 2012 and will be a gifted conductor to carry on the Nordic Choir tradition.   
  • Live Stream at Luther: I mentioned last year the availability of seeing athletic events, music concerts, chapel services, and many other events through Luther's live stream site. You can see them live or on-demand at your own leisure. Google: and it will take you to the site. For the first time, Luther offered to anyone the chance to view the 2016 Christmas at Luther concert for the weeks before and after Christmas. This was a great opportunity for those unable to attend the concert or get tickets. It was a great concert, and I hope you experienced it!
  • In celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation, a special event is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m., in the CFL. J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor will be presented with Nordic Choir, Symphony Orchestra, and soloists from the artist-faculty and distinguished music alumni. This promises to be an exciting and memorable event! Order your tickets soon! (It will also take place on Saturday, April 2, 7:30 p.m., at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.)
  • Oh how things have changed since the late 1950s–Decorah is now becoming known for two breweries in town: Toppling Goliath and Pulpit Rock both have put Decorah on “the beer map.” For those who don't like beer, the town boasts three coffee shops: Java John's, Magpie Coffeehouse, and Impact Coffee. Also, a new burrito place–B.A. Burrito–opened a couple of months ago in the former gas station near the bridge on College Drive. Go Decorah!
  • Finally, the old may soon need to be replaced by the new: We all remember the old cottonwood tree out in front of Main. It was a special meeting place for many activities, class sessions, or a gathering place to study or sit with a special friend. The tree was first planted in 1909 by the Danish-American landscape architect Jens Jenson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Luther. The maintenance staff has determined that the old tree is dying, and there is concern about the tree's future in relation to Main's expansion. About seven years ago, the maintenance staff decided to plant a new one from a healthy offshoot and currently there is a new tree that is 15-20 feet tall a short distance away from the old cottonwood. Next time on campus look for this new cottonwood tree that will create new memories for future students. Perry Halse, a grounds staff member, said that 50 more cuttings have been sent to Powell Gardens in Kansas City, Mo., for preservation and 50 have been planted on the Luther farm. They may take even more cuttings, which the Development Office could use to sell as “a piece of Luther College's history.” Order yours today! Just kidding, of course.

It is my hope that all of you are well and that we will see you sometime in the future on Luther's beautiful campus. If that is not possible, check out Luther's website where there is a wealth of information about your alma mater. Please support Luther College in any way you can!

Ken Melby 
[email protected]  

Karen Julesberg
[email protected]


Janet (Block) and Jack Jarmes ’61 live in Muskego, Wis. They are retired and run a civic education program called Project Citizen. Jack is the Wisconsin state coordinator. Jack also took first place in the 100-meter dash in the 75 to 79 age group at the USA Track and Field Meet at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis.

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.

Dean Anderson
Elaine (Hagen) Anderson
Gary Anderson
Gerald Anderson
Lorna (Haugland) Anderson
Fred Arnold
Paul Baardseth
Gary Baldwin
Donna (Nyhus) Benrud
Roger Benrud
Lydelle Bentz
Glenn Berge
Marlin Bergerson
Gary Berkland
Warren Boe
Charles Boebel
Nancy (Wirkler) Brandt
Jerrold Buerer
Marlys (Stueven) Bungum
Karen (Thorson) Conzemius
John Crawford
John Dahle
Ruth (Dallman) Delf
Wayne Doeden
Shirley (Wermager) Eiken
Carolyn (Nagel) Erickson
Marilyn (Johnston) Estrem
Carolyn (Cowan) Evenstad
Robert Fett
Terry Fields
Ruth Gilbertson
Ingeborg (Bader) Goessl
Carol (Mithum) Grow
Constance (Hill) Guetzke
Benjamin Harring
Carol (Williams) Hasvold
David Haugen
Janice (Johnson) Hegge
Ruth (Nielsen) Heggen
Agnes (Grevstad) Hjelle
Betty Hoff
Bradford Hustad
Saundra (Throndson) Hustad
Lois (Steffenson) Johnson
Karen Julesberg
Mardean (Mehlert) Kinsella
Karin (Kloster) Knobel
Betty (Burton) Launer
Richard Lind
LaRoy Luther
Trygve Mathison
Myrna (Johnson) McNatt
Kenneth Melby
Connie (Jolstad) Nelson
Nicholas Nelson
Jerome Oswald
Darleen (Morken) Pacovsky
William Peterson
Armin Pipho
Adrian Ploegstra
Joann (Christian) Ramsey
Kathleen (Fjone) Richardson
Eloise (West) Rist
Michael Ritland
Janet Robertson
Robert Roble
Kenneth Roen
Curtis Rotto
Beverly (Forkrud) Ryan
Sonja (Hohertz) Selboe
Jean Severson
John Sime
Beverly (Hoops) Solberg
Karl Solberg
Joseph Soley
Allan Solomonson
Robert Stoskopf
Marlyn Sundheim
Dorothy (Disrud) Tostengard
Naomi (Thompson) Towson
Gale Vathing
Megon (Opfer) Vertanen
Gerald Wallace
Rolland Wilson
Sharon (Jacobson) Wilson
Marlene (Nesheim) Winkie

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].