Class of 1962 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019

Greetings Class of ’62,

I have been trying to find time to write this letter. No doubt you, too, have felt crowded for time with the activities of the Christmas season. It was neat when we were kids and all we had to do was wait for the moment of opening presents. Now we are the ones who scurry to make certain that everyone on the list gets the right thing/model/make that has been the focus of hints for perhaps a month or so. A sign of aging is that the same care is often not taken with what we get. Matters not, the role for us, when presents are opened, is to sit, smile and pass the jackknife for those items most cleverly packaged. 

It is a lovely outcome to find that we had guessed approximately right, registered by squeals of delight. 

My squeal of delight was receiving the Pulitzer Prize-winning book: Jon Meacham’s, The Soul of America. For those of you, not as lucky as me, don’t just hint around for a year until next Christmas, be active, be American, and go out and be the first one on your block to get your own copy. I found the book full of all the details of American history that the history majors seemed to know but that we did not get.

Occasionally, one hears the thought that our nation is on the downhill path and that we have entered a time when the narcissistic and incompetent are in control.

Read Meacham to understand that our nation has been in grave difficulty before and that, with thoughtful leadership, we can pull together and, in the end, come out stronger.  If the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, the McCarthy era, and two world wars have not done us in, then we can find the resources to help us rise above our present difficulties.  Meacham wants us to know about and to count on our ability to rise above our contemporary funk.  Read him and you, too, will have restored faith in America’s soul.

How about you?  Have you read anything recently that you would like to share with your classmates?  We can send your suggestions along in the next class letter.  Just email your thoughts on this matter to [email protected]. Susan will share with me as she is assisting me in her retirement years. Isn’t a college really a pathway to sharing ideas about important things? Well, we are there now and it is our calling to shape the world for the better. 

Recently it was my pleasure to join others in getting the North Dakota Constitution to include an ethics commission at the state level. This is now taking shape. It is interesting to note that most states already have such a commission in place. With all the oil money loose in the state, there has been great opportunity for the buying and selling of souls in our state government. Judging by the anger this improvement to the state constitution has called forth, one is increasingly certain that the right fork in the road has been traveled. (Who was it who said, “When one comes to a fork in the road, take it?”)

We, Susan and I, have another suggestion for you. Take a cruise through the Panama Canal.  It is an escape from a brutal winter season. We flew to Los Angeles, boarded the ship, then went all the way around to Ft. Lauderdale, and back home.  All the way we were able to enjoy the warm weather and tame weather. This should bring back memories from Luther College Concert Band when we sailed from Kristiansand to Copenhagen on our small boat the Brand IV. On that trip the weather was cold and violent.  Most hit their bunks to avoid sea sickness. Our recent trip was the very opposite – no sea sickness, but the beginning of sunburn. The meals were great and the evening shows were done by professionals – each evening a new one. Of course, for us this trip was a once in a lifetime experience as well as a great learning experience. 

On a completely different note, John Nesset called a few weeks ago with the news that we have lost Gary Kessler. I remember my father as he received news of the passing of his classmates. Each time he said it brought back memories that were tied to the lives of each of them. And so it is for us as well. 

Some who were implicated in the theft of the turn-style survive. Sooner or later, the caper will be known only from back issues of the Chips, but at least we made our mark for all time hidden in the archives in the Preus Library. Still – Kessler was as guilty as many of us, guilt which we will have to answer for on the Last Day.  Until then:

Sic semper,

John Helgeland
1962 Class Agent
105 3rd Street N, Apt. 302
Moorhead, MN 56560-1940
[email protected]


Tom Odegaard of Sparks, Nev., is retired.



Russell “Duff” Duffner of Mills River, N.C., died Sept. 18, 2018, age 78.

Gary E. Kessler of Bellingham, Wash., died Oct. 9, 2018.

The full obituary of the classmate listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at:

If you would like a printout of the obituary listed above in its entirety mailed to you, please contact us at: [email protected], or 563-387-1509.

We are pleased to announce Dr. Jenifer K. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College! For more information about President-elect Ward, visit

As you may remember from your Fall 2018 Class Agent letter, Luther has recently completed an extensive brand strategy research process.


As a result of our research and in collaboration with members of the Luther community, we have developed several statements that will guide future communications.

We know that you, our alumni, are often asked about your alma mater. What you say to prospective students and their families about Luther College can have a huge impact on their decisions to visit campus, apply and, hopefully, enroll.

You know Luther well. You matter to us and we’re interested in hearing from you.

We invite you to take a few minutes to preview some of our new statements and share your thoughts. The example statements, as well as a response survey, are available online:

Many thanks!

If you have any questions please email Catherine Dyer, Brand and Marketing Director at [email protected]