Class of 1961 Fall 2015 Letter

Fall 2015

Greetings, Classmates,

The awe-inspiring colors of this beautiful fall landscape seem to make God’s presence even more glorious. I have been thinking about this verse: John 14:13, “I will do whatever you ask in my name….”​ Recently I attended a vigil with seven prayer stations. One of the stations was called “The Empty Chair.” I found it a powerful way to experience God’s presence.

This Christian exercise by Anthony de Mello is an especially meaningful way to pray to Jesus. The story came from a pastor who visited a patient in his home and wondered why an empty chair was beside his bed. The patient had trouble praying until a friend told him to imagine Jesus sitting in a chair close by. He told him to talk to Jesus and listen to what he says. Now he has no difficulty praying! Start by telling Jesus about your day and then comment on each happening. Then listen for Jesus’s response – such a simple way to pray, yet such a comforting way to feel God’s presence.

In August Arlan and I toured the Luther campus with our daughter, her husband, and our grandson. He was checking out Luther as a possible choice for college. We were very impressed with the process, including a complete tour of all the buildings and several interviews. I think the Admission Office did a wonderful job. I was very proud of our college!

During the tour, we looked in Brandt Hall (where I stayed, and many of you did as well). Many first-year students are housed here. Most rooms had bunk beds, which I don’t remember from back in our day, but the feel of the place is much the same. However, Brandt Hall is now coed, definitely not the same as our day! When we walked through the lower level, several students were playing video games. I recalled one small TV in the room, which was the only one in all of Brandt Hall. Have you been watching the presidential debates this fall? Imagine trying to tune in with one TV for all. I truthfully don’t remember following much of the Kennedy campaign and debates with Nixon. Did anyone watch them on our “one TV”?

CONGRATULATIONS, CLASS OF 1961! Once again you are on the All Star Team when it comes to “giving.” Our class ranked in the top ten in several areas. There are 80 classes included in the ranking list starting in 1934 and ending in 2014. Each class lists the number of living members, the total amount of money given, the number of donors, and the percentage of participation. We ranked number nine – class of 1961: 245 members, 126 donors, $113,347.45 given, and 51.43 participation percent.

In the category Total Gifts Annual fund, we ranked #3 with $57,885.98.

In the category Percentage of Participation Annual Fund, we ranked #3 with 48.16 percent.

In the category Number of Donors Annual Fund, we ranked #8 with 118.

In the category Percent of Participation All Funds, we ranked #5 with 51.43 percent.

I’m pretty sure most of you have been involved in a stewardship pledge drive at one time. This year our church has approached it with the theme Joyful Generosity. To me, this describes how our class responds to supporting Luther – your “joyful generosity” results in us being in the top ten of all the classes since 1934. Our “giving” perception of being generous with a joyful heart is a blessing! It implies that we believe it is as important today as it was for us to facilitate the continued growth and development of a student into a mature, Christian, educated young adult. That is a goal worth supporting!

As a follow up to the spring letter about continuing to exercise the brain to maximize the growth of new brain cells that help us keep more fit in our aging process, I read another article supporting this same idea. The summary statement of these authors is simple, “T​hinking keeps your brain young.”

Two Twin Cities doctors, Dr. Henry Emmons ’81, a psychiatrist, and Dr. David Alter, a psychologist, have collaborated on the book Staying Sharp, a guide for creating a youthful brain. The book is structured around nine keys to brain health. One key is to keep the brain active. ​While curiosity is often quoted as killing the cat, for humans, it can actually help one live longer. Curiosity reboots the brain according to the book, and that in turn helps you live a longer more fulfilled life.

Another key is to change things around. This forces the brain to focus. The doctors propose that a brain that is focusing is one that is functioning. Even changing your route to the grocery store can help. I’ll mention one more: ​movement, which they describe as “a wonder drug for the brain.” Movement in any form, even getting up and stretching, or walking around every hour increases the brain power. I guess our couch potato days need to end if we want to stay sharp. Dr. Emmons concludes that “aging is neither good nor bad. It is something that happens to everyone. It’s what you do in response to it that matters.” Happy reading.

In closing, I submit that the class of 1961 is not only an All Star Team financially, but also a class full of curiosity, focus, and movement. Happy aging!

Blessings and peace,

Karin Abel
1961 Class Agent
4104 S. Sheridan Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55410
[email protected]

P.S Check out the online Alumni Directory and Luther’s Career Network on LinkedIn.

Your gift. Every year. Put to work, right away, where it is needed most. 

Each year over 9,000 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $75,000.  Strong support from alumni helps Luther secure additional funds from foundations and corporations, and your gift each year helps us to reach our goal of 27% alumni giving.  Here’s how your class is doing so far this year:

CLASS OF 1961 TOTAL GIVING: $36,717.75 FROM 31.82% OF THE CLASS*

Have you made your 2015 gift to Luther?  Please visit to make your gift today.  Thank you!

Please note: Your Spring 2016 class agent letter will include a listing of your classmates who gave to Luther during 2015.  Be sure to make your gift before December 31 to be included.

*as of October 1, 2015

Class Notes

RICHARD LARSON of Castle Rock, Colo., served as an adjunct professor teaching advanced graduate choral conducting at the University of Colorado-Boulder College of Music last summer. He is also artistic director and conductor for Kantorei.

LAVONNE (LENG) and ALLAN SOLOMONSON ’60 are both retired and live in Wausau, Wis.


ROBERT ROHNE of Lyle, Minn., died Feb. 13, 2015, at age 75. Born in Austin, he graduated as valedictorian from Lyle High School in 1957, before attending Luther for a year. Robert married Mary Lou Fletcher on Oct. 1, 1966, and they became the parents of three children. A dairy farmer his whole life, he served in the National Guard for six years, on the Stacyville Creamery Board, as a Nevada Township 4-H leader, and as a softball coach for many years. Robert enjoyed bowling and playing horseshoes, cards, and pool with family and friends. His passion was collecting toy tractors (mostly red ones) and traveling, especially to Connecticut to see Troy, Amy, and Harry. Robert was a member of Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church. On June 2, 2013, he suffered a brain aneurysm and had been convalescing at the Adams Health Care Center. Robert is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Rohne; a daughter, Connie (Tracey) Murphy; two sons: Scott Rohne and TROY ROHNE ’95 (Amy); four grandchildren; two brothers: Eugene Rohne and Terry (Nancy) Rohne; sister-in-law, Jan Rohne; brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Bonnie Fletcher; and many nieces, nephews; cousins, other relatives, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Harlan.

LYNN STEEN of Northfield, Minn., died June 21, 2015, at age 74. Born in Chicago, his father died when he was an infant, and his mother married SIGVART STEEN ’23, who adopted him. After spending a year in Decorah, the family moved to Staten Island, N.Y., where Sigvart became chair of the music department at Wagner College and his mother, a contralto, sang with the New York City Opera. Lynn graduated from Luther with majors in mathematics and physics, and a minor in philosophy, and he served as co-editor of CHIPS with another student, who would later become his wife—MARY (FROST) STEEN ’62. In 1965 he received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the mathematics department at St. Olaf College. During his 44 years on the St. Olaf faculty and before he retired as an emeritus professor, Lynn built St. Olaf’s math program into one that receives national recognition for serving large numbers of majors, many of whom go on to doctoral programs. He also worked with colleagues to make the department’s curriculum more accessible to students with a broad range of interests, and to involve undergraduates in research. Lynn taught of variety of courses, not only standard math classes like calculus and topology, but also an introduction to computer science and a course called, “Down the Rabbit Hole: the Mathematical Excursions of Lewis Carroll.” For a decade, he and his wife Mary, who taught in St. Olaf’s English department, co-taught a course on science writing. Lynn also served as president of the Mathematical Association of America, chairman of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, executive director of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Research Council, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Seeking to broaden the audience for mathematics through his writing, in 1971 he published an article in Scientific American—the first of many articles on mathematics for the broader scientific community or the general public. Lynn wrote or edited scores of papers, books, and journal articles and was sought after as an expert consultant and speaker. He lectured to mathematical societies in more than a dozen countries, including Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, China, Russia, and Hungary, and was an assistant leader on the U.S. Delegation on Mathematics Education to China in 1983. Lynn received an honorary degree from Luther in 1986. He is survived by his wife MARY (FROST) STEEN ’62; his brother, Richard Steen (Robin Cameron); two daughters, Margaret Steen (David Webster) and Catherine Wille; six grandsons; and numerous sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews. Lynn was preceded in death by his parents, Margery Mayer Voutsas, Dietrich George Berthold, and SIGVART STEEN ’23. Memorials may be made to the Lynn Arthur and Mary Frost Steen Fellowship at Luther College.

CHANDLER VOORHEES of Park Ridge, Ill., died July 28, 2015, at age 76. Born in Chicago, he graduated from Taft High School before enrolling at Luther, where he majored in history. Chandler’s early career was in management for Sears Roebuck & Co at various locations in the Chicago area. After 22 years in retail, he spent the next 11 years in road construction with Allied Asphalt. During retirement, Chandler enjoyed traveling to Florida in the winter, gardening, and visiting with friends. Fond of traveling with family—including his wife of 54 years, JOAN (SCHNEIDER) VOORHEES ’64—he took many trips to Walt Disney World, and his love of American history brought him on travels around the country to visit lighthouses, national parks, and historic sites. An active member of Edison Park Lutheran Church, Chandler taught Sunday school and participated in church activities. He also enjoyed time with the Men’s Garden Club of Villa Park, stamp and coin collecting, and working on a garden railroad with his grandchildren. Chandler is survived by his wife, JOAN (SCHNEIDER) VOORHEES ’64; three daughters: Joan (Steve) Cummins, KAREN VOORHEES) SHAFFER ’91 (John), and SARAH (VOORHEES) HERSCHBERGER ’96 (Chad); six grandchildren; and mother-in-law, Marge Schneider.

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Luther College Campus, View of Main
Karin Abel