Class of 1973 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Dear friends from Luther 1973, 

It’s an early letter this year because of late October Homecoming. Patty Holtorf Branstad and I both hope you will join us for our 45th reunion. As my former roommate, Janet Rawson Metcalfe, stated many years ago, “Remember when the old people came back and acted like they owned the place? Now we’re the old people.” I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying retirement and I don’t feel that old! 

Kari Berg and I both volunteered at the Iowa State Fair in the Luther booth. It’s fun to engage with potential students, current students, parents and grandparents of current students and graduates, as well as alumni. 

It’s the start of a new school year at Luther, one that promises to be as wonderfully action-packed as ever. In August, the college welcomed 575 new students to campus. Over the summer, they read a book that many Luther grads will remember from Paideia: The Odyssey. This year’s edition comes with a twist: it’s the first English translation by a woman, Emily Wilson, and by all accounts it’s a vivid, engaging, and sprightly retelling of the classic homecoming story. If you’re up for a return to your Paideia roots, you can join the fun through Luther’s reading guide to the book:

Speaking of homecomings, this year we’ll celebrate two important milestones during Luther’s Homecoming Weekend, October 26–28. First, the Black Student Union (BSU) commemorates its 50th anniversary this fall. There are several events planned during Homecoming and throughout the year to celebrate the founding of the organization—including forums, lectures, a brunch, and a BSU reunion—so mark your calendars. Luther’s Nursing Department also observes a birthday—its 40th—this fall. Homecoming Weekend, Kris Dreifuerst ’85 will lead a workshop for nursing educators and deliver the Ironside Distinguished (Alumni) Lecture in Nursing, which will be followed by an open house at Luther’s simulation lab.

In addition to Homecoming lecturers, Luther will welcome other notable speakers to campus this season. On October 23, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt will deliver the Farwell Distinguished Lecture, “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” His book of the same name, published earlier this month, explores how the cultural climate of “safetyism” on college campuses across the U.S. interferes with the healthy development of students. He argues that recent social and cultural trends are setting children up to fail as healthy, autonomous, adaptable adults. If you don’t have time to read the book, you can get a snapshot through Haidt’s Atlantic article:

Finally, most have heard that President Paula Carlson will retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year. During her time at Luther, President Carlson added several academic programs to the college, renewed outdoor facilities, expanded Luther’s Career Center services, developed and launched the “Next Steps for Sophomores” program, added a dean of institutional equity and inclusion to Luther’s staff, and achieved Luther’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent by the end of 2015, among other things. Luther’s Board of Regents is taking the necessary steps in the presidential search process with the hope of transitioning leadership over the course of next summer and having a new president in place for the 2019–20 academic year.

While changes are afoot at our alma mater, Luther also holds tight to its traditions, like keeping in touch with valued alumni. We hope you’ll let us know what’s new in your life too! Until then, best wishes for a fall that’s as beautiful as it is in the Oneota Valley.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Ranae Keoppel Gipp

1973 class agents:

Ranae (Keoppel) Gipp
212 High Street
Decorah, IA. 52101-1048
[email protected]

Pat (Holtorf) Branstad
213 Second Ave. South
Saint James, MN 56081
[email protected]


Paul Hesterman retired as director of advising at the College of Management of Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and was honored with the title of director emeritus. 

Fred Koch is president and owner of Metrix RSCM in Eau Claire, Wis. 

Paul Mann retired as principal of Woodside Elementary School after three decades in the Wisconsin Rapids (Wis.) Schools. 

Deborah (Corey) and Joe Wemette of Woodbury, Minn., are both retired and spend their winters in Lake Worth, Fla. She was director of community programs at FamilyMeans in Stillwater, Minn. He was assistant superintendent of Roseville (Minn.) Area Schools.

Jean (Hausknecht) Whipple of Olympia, Wash., is a passionate wheat weaver. She has been a member of the National Association of Wheat Weavers since 1995. Her wheat art is on display and available for purchase at Verksted Artist Cooperative Gallery in Poulsbo, Wash. Jean keeps this dying art alive by teaching classes and encouraging others to try out the historical craft for themselves.



Ruth (Rem) Thickpenny, of Brodhead, Wis., and formerly of Brooklyn, Wis., died Jan. 9, 2018, age 66.

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.