Class of 1961 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Living/ Reading Outside our Comfort Zone

Warm greetings to all members of the Class of 1961. 

I know many classmates were able to attend Homecoming at Luther this fall. The Luther Magazine and online information await your reading of the 2017 Homecoming and other events occurring at Luther this year. You will find a very diverse and exciting number of events offered by various departments and professors, along with profiles of students who are succeeding in a vast array of Luther programs and experiences. We alumni can be very proud of today's Luther College.

The Minnesota Public Radio program The Thread had a very interesting round-table discussion recently. The focus was on challenging ourselves to read outside our comfort zone. There were many reading genre examples from these folks which, if you are interested, you can find at MPR Archives. I got some good ideas, but know that I won't be reading zombie books.

There are those who say that the best education is one of the liberal arts, but today there is a great emphasis on teaching students skills in order for them to be hired in jobs requiring those skills. Good that is happening, but let's continue to also focus on learning and thinking from the liberal arts as well. We need the challenge of learning from new ideas, new experiences, and "the other" in literature and classrooms, as well as speakers at events we might normally avoid. Christians are always out of their comfort zones… by God's grace through Jesus we are strengthened to be uncomfortable in this world.

This idea of moving out of one's comfort zone fits with my struggle these days. And perhaps it is something you are facing as well. All around us are disturbing events and experiences that 50 years ago we would have found impossible. I know some of you have lived your lives outside your comfort zone: military service; participating in organizations against war; living in countries with sparse amenities; learning to live with great success in business or nonprofit groups; teaching/administrating in schools serving students of very different ethnic, financial, religious, or language backgrounds; preaching and teaching Christ's Gospel of love; addressing voices of hate and rage. Even so I believe we can find more ways to live outside our comfort zone. I know that is what I'm seeking and invite you along.  Let's share books and experiences with each other for encouragement. You may send your thoughts and experiences to me, and I'll find ways to share them with the rest of our class. 

Another way to live out of our comfort zone is to examine our financial picture in new and different ways. There are many ways to give to Luther College that you may not have considered. You don't need to be wealthy to give. Consider visiting  to learn how you might donate to the part of Luther College that you value the most… music, athletics, buildings, trees, art, professors, departments, staff.

As Thanksgiving and the Christmas season arrive, we are called out of our present complacency into zones of discomfort. 

God be with you in your journeys.

Karen (Gulsvig) Johnson
1961 Class Agent
[email protected]


Jon Wogen of Olivia, Minn., died Jan. 16, 2016, at age 77. Born in Lake Mills, Iowa, he enrolled at Luther after graduating from Lake Mills High School. Jon majored in biology at Luther and went on to receive a master’s degree in biology from the University of South Dakota. He married Jan Putz on Sept. 5, 1964, at Fountain City, Wis., and they were blessed with two sons. Jon taught science at schools in Norway, Iowa, and Olivia, Minn., where he and his family moved in 1977. He retired from teaching in 2001 from BOLD (Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian District) School and is remembered for teaching others how to appreciate nature. A member of Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church, Jon enjoyed Friday morning ecumenical Bible study at Masters Coffee Shop. His community involvement was extensive; he was a member of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Friends of Renville County Parks, Tatanka Bluffs Corridor Group, National Rifle Association Renville Rangers Shooting Club, Prairie View Bike/Hike Trail Committee, Olivia Parks and Recreation Team, and Buffalo Lake Rod and Gun Club, and he served on the county park/trails board. Jon also assisted the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and 4-H youth groups with outdoor activities and lure making. He is survived by his wife, Jan Wogen; two sons: Matthew Wogen and Erik (Sheila) Wogen; two grandchildren; brother, Phillip (Mary Jo) Wogen; and two brothers-in-law: Harry (Judy) Putz and Donald (Dorothy) Putz. Jon was preceded in death by his parents.