Class of 1969 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019

Hello Classmates!

Greetings from the frozen hills of rural Wisconsin! I just came back into the house after feeding the birds. My thermometer stood at minus twenty degrees at 12:30 p.m. with the sun shining brightly. Then, I received a call from the school where I work telling me that we will be closed for the fourth consecutive day. Despite a rather benign beginning, we are experiencing a rather tough winter!

Having lived for 73 years, I can remember other “tough” winters. One you will all remember is 1968-69. That was our senior year at Luther, when the college was closed only a few hours before first semester finals were to begin. That evening the Hong Kong flu attacked the campus with a vengeance. At the Health Service, we began receiving calls from all of the dorms reporting a serious outbreak of illness. Dr. Heist and I split up and made our way to assess the situation and I remember that there was a lot of snow and high winds as I made my way across campus. When we returned to the office well after midnight, Dr. Heist called President Farwell to recommend closing. 

Because there were students too ill to go home immediately, I didn’t leave for about a week. That day also was very snowy with treacherous roads. And at the end of vacation against my better judgment, with Karen Trygstad and Carolyn Smasal as passengers, I drove my 1960 Chevy Impala through unplowed roads, eager to get back to my friends at Luther. During Interim, our Nordic Choir tour was postponed by one day because of adverse weather conditions. The Clear Lake audience simply had to accept that we weren’t coming! 

In January 1969, we were looking ahead to our graduation on May 18. We were eager to begin careers and families, to continue education, and to take our place as adult citizens of the world. No one was thinking about a time when we would be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our commencement. But now that time has come! During Homecoming, October 4-6, 2019, we will have the opportunity to meet in Decorah to remember experiences, rekindle friendships, and renew our commitment to our beloved Luther College!

A Reunion committee comprised of classmates has been organized with the support of the Alumni and Development Office to plan the reunion program and to encourage the giving of a special financial gift to Luther in observance of our anniversary. Members of the committee are reaching out this year to encourage your participation in the celebration. We hope that you will respond enthusiastically and generously toward making our 50-year reunion a momentous and meaningful occasion.

I consider myself fortunate in that I live 100 miles from Decorah so I can easily travel to Luther for Homecoming and Christmas at Luther. Even so, I depend upon the Luther Alumni Magazine to keep me informed about the life of Luther today. As I read about the various scholastic programs and both student and alumni activities, I maintain an enthusiasm for the Luther community. The magazine helps me stay connected even though I am not on campus and graduated 50 years ago. I encourage you to read this fine publication from cover to cover.

I am working with a high school student who will be enrolling at Luther in the fall. He is an exceptional musician, both vocally and instrumentally. He wants to teach music and that excites me. But he is also the kind of person who has already discovered that simply helping people to endure hardship and to grow in their humanity is a real vocation.  Luther will be the perfect seedbed for the sprouting of those vocational seeds!  Do you know a young person for whom Luther would be a fit? Consider doing some recruitment – a gift to both the student and to your Alma Mater. 

As we contemplate this anniversary year, may we be motivated by these words from “To Luther” – “May our thoughts to thee oft turn, when we’re absent, far away.  May we then sincerely yearn to return to thee some day.” 

Soli Deo Gloria,

Richard Staff

1969 class agents:

Richard Staff
N39101 Tuff Coulee Road
Blair WI 54616-8011
[email protected]

Judy (Miller) Nelson
1315 Pinnacle Pines Court
Bettendorf, IA 52722
[email protected]



Cathy (Turner) Boulanger of Highland, Ill., was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Highland Rotary Club for her outstanding service. She was also asked to serve on the Highland Area Community Foundation Board.


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]