Class of 1965 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Luther Class of ’65 Friend,

The sky is a beautiful blue, the temps are in the 70s, and the autumn leaves are incredibly gorgeous – brilliant luminescent reds and oranges, bright yellows. This reminds me of the view when sitting in the cafeteria in the Union, looking toward the hill across the valley. What a beautiful gift for us to enjoy then and to recall now.

None of us knows what the next moment will bring to our lives, and when we will welcome and need love, support, and understanding.

            It may be unfair, but what

            happens in a few days,

            sometimes even a single

           day, can change the course

            of a whole lifetime…

                        Khaled Hosseini via Becky Anderson ’65

Last June our area was heavily damaged by a 10-minute hailstorm and the view was pretty devastating. But that all paled when the hurricanes and the fires raged across our nation later in the summer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all in the affected areas – some of us sent money or supplies, some may have gone to help, and we can only imagine the desperate and scary conditions so many of our U.S. citizens have endured and continue to endure now. 

I sat next to a man on the airplane shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area. He was flying to Dallas as he could not land in Houston. The pictures on his phone showed the rising waters, up to the fence in his back yard and about 10 or 15 feet from his front sidewalk. He was going to rent a car, buy a kayak or two, and drive to Pearland (just south of Houston), driving as close to his home as he could get and then kayaking to his family. I told him I would probably be crying, yelling, and generally over-emotional, but he calmly looked me in the eye and said, “It will be okay” and then smiled. That was an awesome keep-perspective moment for me - thanks sir!

Opportunities abound for us to help, support, and love those that are “others” today and in the future.   Being able to give back and pay it forward is the gift that we give each other, and to those we love, but also to strangers and neighbors near and far. “Others” did that for us in the early 60s with their willingness to leave a part of their legacy to our beloved Luther College. Now we can return that gift gesture by continuing/joining the ranks of alumni who help Luther to continue to offer the basic life skills of caring for our fellow humans, to offer high quality academic offerings, and to foster opportunities for relationships that sustain and carry Luther students through the luminescent red leaves, and the flooded or totally burned homes experiences in our lives today.

Several of you have shared your intention to include a gift to Luther College in your will or living trust, or to be a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy assets, or donation of stocks.  Your estate planning attorney can help you structure a gift so your loved ones will be taken care of first after you’re gone. This statement: I give to Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, (the sum of $_____ or _____ percent of the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate) for its general purposes will take care of your intention. The college also has a “Letter of Intent” you may use. Be sure to call 800.225.8664 with any questions you might have and to see how your gift can make a difference in the lives of current and future Luther students.

If you haven’t been on the campus recently, when you look out over the valley from the Union you will see a sea of blue – the blue football turf and the blue tennis courts. Carlson Stadium’s Legacy Field was dedicated on September 9, 2017. The Norse outdoor tennis courts were dedicated on September 16, 2017. As of 10/5/17, $1.63 million of the $1.7 million goal for the blue turf had been raised. Maybe this is something you would like to support.

Our college years were wonderful – we were lucky as we unknowingly basked in the sunshine of experiences that we stored in our hearts and still treasure and rely on today.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Lori (Wogen) Haaland
1965 Class Agent
[email protected]

FYI:  Norkie is out of country – on a Norwegian archeological dig – researching intimate lives of lutefisk.  However, he promises a “Norkie Corner” for next issue!


Carl Erickson of Orlando, Fla., died May 7, 2017, at age 74. Born in Elkader, Iowa, he grew up in the Elgin area and graduated in 1961 from Valley High School, where he excelled in academics and sports, playing basketball, football, and baseball. A member of the sub-state basketball team in 1960, Carl was voted Outstanding Athlete at Valley in 1961. During his college years at Luther, where he majored in Spanish, Carl spent some of his summers working as a smokejumper out West, fighting forest fires. After his Luther graduation, he taught high school Spanish in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for four years, before returning home in 1969 to farm with his father and brother, in Wadena, raising cattle and corn for 30 years. Carl married Colleen Burger in 1973, and they later divorced. He and his longtime companion, Shirley Louw, became the parents of their daughter, Nicole, in 1982. Carl enjoyed bowling, golfing, mushroom hunting in the spring, and socializing with friends. He worked for Shafar Fiberglass in West Union for 10 years before moving to Orlando in 2003. While in Florida, Carl continued to stay busy working several part-time jobs. He is survived by his companion, Shirley Louw; daughter, Nicole Louw; grandson; two sisters, Joyce (Dave) Munson and Mary Lou Loeb; a brother, Leigh Roger (Joyce) Erickson; and many nieces and nephews. Carl was preceded in death by his mother in 1979 and father in 1986.

Gayl Gitch of Fredericksburg, Iowa, died June 1, 2016, at age 73. Born in New Hampton, he attended Luther before graduating from Wartburg College in 1964 and the University of Northern Iowa in 1970. Gayl was an all-state football and baseball player, all-state vocalist, musician, and avid sports fan. He taught mathematics, coached, and worked as a school administrator in Iowa and Minnesota. Gayl married Dianne Laabs and they later divorced. He married Ruth Sassmann Fink in 1984; she died after an auto accident in 2003. Gayl was a member of Faith United Church of Christ in Tripoli for 20 years and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, where he was baptized and confirmed. He is survived by his brother, Jerry (Georgia) Gitch; two children, Stephen Gitch and Renee (Chuck) Smith; four grandchidren; 10 great-grandchildren; five stepchildren: Terri (Glenn) Meier,  Jerelyn (Brent) Steere, David (Deb) Fink, Mary (John) Gorh, and Lynne (Fink) Rasmussen ’84 (John); 15 step-grandchildren; 23 step-great-grandchildren; one step-great-great-grandchild. Gayl was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; his parents, Alvin and Beth Gitch; a brother, James Gitch; daughter-in-law, Marlyne Barker, and her husband, Garth Barker.