Class of 1961 Fall 2016 Letter

Fall 2016

Dear Classmates:

Our class’s 55th anniversary was recently celebrated at Luther’s Homecoming, September 30-October 1. Fifty-one of us were able to attend. During the weekend, classmates watched the parade, ate pizza at Mabe’s, attended the football game, walked about the campus and the buildings—seeing the changes and memorable places, attended art and other displays, learned more about courses and majors being offered—not experienced during our four years, and we all visited and visited and visited.

Saturday was the day for our class to have lunch and dinner at Shirley Baker Commons. A highlight of the luncheon was hearing a group of singers—organized and led by students—sing three remarkably beautiful songs for us. This luncheon was provided for us thanks to the college. The dinner program was organized by Karin (Wolding) Abel, our very fine class agent for the past five years. Thank you very much, Karen, for your dedication and very interesting letters over these past years. Photos from our class reunion can be viewed at

A very touching reading of the 60 names of our classmates who have died since we graduated began our dinner program. Adding grief to our time together was that Ron Fretheim died on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, and his funeral was held the Friday morning of Homecoming at First Lutheran Church in Decorah. A number of our classmates attended the very meaningful service.

For those able to stay until Sunday, the morning service was one of joyful and meaningful music, liturgy, and preaching. Sunday afternoon the Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Nordic Choir provided incredible music. I encourage you to read the fall Homecoming issue of the Luther Alumni Magazine to get more details about the weekend. In that issue, and online, you will be treated to casual pictures taken of our group. Because those formal pictures of folks lined up with hopefully correct names underneath became more like trying to herd cats, photographers now do casuals, and hopefully you’ll recognize us better when we are more natural in demeanor.

So far this year, our class donated $48,751 to Luther. You perhaps all know this, but I repeat that any gift of any amount helps the college. Giving even $5 or $10 to the Annual Fund is very beneficial when Luther applies for grants and money from foundations. It matters greatly to granters that alumni support the college. So, don’t wait until you can gather what you feel is a substantial amount to give to Luther. Give what you can, when you can. Don’t overlook the possibility of including Luther in your will. I have included Luther College and Luther Theological Seminary in my will.

This last paragraph comes from my ruminations Saturday night as I drove to my sleeping quarters after our class dinner. My friend of 55 years, whom I met in Minneapolis right after graduation, would say goodbye to me with the same phrase…CARRY ON! We raised our families together, and throughout good times and bad we continued to say this phrase…CARRY ON! When our son, Erik, died at age 33, she, her husband, and their children not only said CARRY ON, but held us up so we could. And so we continue to say CARRY ON, sometimes with laughter, sometimes soberly, as we face new challenges.

President Paula Carlson and her husband, the Reverend Dr. Thomas Schattauer, brought greetings to our class at our Saturday night dinner…not a perfunctory “hello and thank you” but two meaningful brief talks. President Carlson told of her learning more of the history of Luther as she gets more acquainted as Luther’s 10th president. She traced for us the brave beginnings of Luther College in 1861 with few staff, students, and resources. She talked about how Luther has survived, and then grown through wars, depression, and cultural and ethnic changes that challenged the college in staying the course…or as I’m going to repeat: TO CARRY ON!

Dr. Thomas Schattauer reminded us that 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Rather than focus on the more familiar history of the Reformation, he pointed out that Martin Luther and his colleagues were devoting their efforts also to developing a University at Wittenberg. They were also developing schools for both girls and boys. They CARRIED ON for education, providing us a model of encouraging and providing education to all. And so does our beloved Luther College. I found it very helpful to hear them both trace familiar history to our president as a way to encourage all of us to carry on from all that has gone before us.

As we all know, we don’t muster all by ourselves the strength to CARRY ON. It takes community where we give and receive encouragement, new ideas, and courage to move out from our fears. Soli Deo Gloria is Luther’s motto. With God we CARRY ON.

Best wishes and good health to each of you.

Karen Gulsvig Johnson
1961 Class Agent
[email protected]

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

Each year more than 10,000 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $100,000.  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: $48,750.53 FROM 33.62% OF THE CLASS*

Have you made your 2016 gift to Luther?  Please visit to make your gift today.  Thank you!

Please note: Your Spring 2017 class agent letter will include a listing of your classmates who gave to Luther during 2016.  Be sure to make your gift before December 31 to be included.

*as of October 19, 2016

Class Notes

Jake Bostrom of Menomonie, Wis., was inducted into the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Champions, becoming the first person from Wisconsin to receive the honor. Others in the five-member 2015 class included Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, and NBA star Bobby Jones.

Tom Haugen of Decorah, was selected from all nominees in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan to be honored by the National Federation of State High School Associations for his distinguished exemplary service to American high school music programs. He is a music education student teacher supervisor at Luther College. Prior to his current position, he was a high school band director for 38 years in Minnesota and Iowa. His concert and jazz bands received 1 ratings in all state, regional, and national contests from 1968-1998, and made six appearances at the IBA and MMEA conventions in Iowa and Minnesota.

James Ringlien is retired in Maumee, Ohio.

Cynthia (Vasey) Smith of Steuben, Wis., writes a weekly column, “Kickapoo Ramblings,” for


Joan (Torvick) Hayashida of Elgin, Ill., died Dec. 19, 2015, at age 76. Born in Lewiston, Minn., she grew up in Spring Grove, where performed as the majorette for her high school band, played the saxophone and piano, and sang in the choir. Joan graduated from Luther with a major in elementary education and taught in Elgin District U-46 for decades. She married Frank Hayashida in 1963. After retiring from teaching in 1999, Joan was an active participant in the Elgin Retired Teachers Association and the American Association of University Women. She is survived by her son, Michael (Jodi) Hayashida; daughter, Christine Hayashida (Charles); siblings: Ellen (Tom) Plunkett, Kathy (Jim) Lehman, Ann (David) Holland, Lolly (Orly) Maenke, Larry (Chris) Overhaug, and Jeannie DeRemer; and four grandchildren. Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Frank, in 2008.

1961 Class Agent Karen Gulsvig Johnson