Class of 1973 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019

Dear Classmates,

It was wonderful to visit with those of you who were able to attend the 45th reunion of the Class of 1973 last October! Reconnecting with old friends and reminiscing about our time at Luther at the informal get-together at the Pulpit Rock Brewing Company and at our reunion dinner made for a memorable Homecoming weekend. We missed those of you who couldn’t make it for this gathering, and hope to see you when we gather in five years for our 50th class reunion!

If you haven’t looked at Luther’s website recently (, you might enjoy browsing through the many links. The “connect” page,, provides links to social media, streaming, news, blogs, publications, and more; in case you misplaced your copy of the Alumni magazine (or it was recycled before you read through it), you can link to it directly at You may also be interested in checking out for links to college news and information such as alumni profiles, comparisons and rankings, life after Luther, etc. Another way to stay connected to Luther is through the college’s Facebook page or the Luther 1973 Facebook Page. Thanks to Ranae (Keoppel) Gipp for posting updates about all things Luther on our class Facebook page.

Some current Luther news:

● Collegiate Chorale and Cathedral Choir just returned from tours of the Midwest, and Jazz Orchestra sets out April 12 for a tour that includes South Dakota and Minnesota ( Nordic Choir sings with the Des Moines Symphony April 27 and 28 (

● The yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the college’s Black Student Union kicked off at Homecoming 2018. Following a number of events during the year to commemorate BSU’s milestone anniversary, the celebration will culminate in an alumni reunion April 26–28.

● The Class of 2019 will celebrate Commencement on Sunday, May 26.

● President Paula Carlson plans to retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year.

● Each June through August, Luther hosts thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students interested in everything from music, to nature, to sports, to science. This summer, the college will also offer its third annual Dance Camp, an inclusive, empowering, fun, and inspiring week of movement and expression.

● Luther has summer programming for adults, too. If you enjoy singing in fellowship, mark your calendars for the college’s second annual Dorian Choral Retreat for Adults, June 28–30.

● Keep in mind that you can host your own event ( on Luther’s campus. Your alma mater would love to have you!

Giving back to Luther is a wonderful way to honor those who shaped our Luther experience and who form the bond of our Luther connection. Here are some things you might consider being part of:

· Loyalty Society: Establishing a habit of regular giving plays a big role in sustaining this unique experience for current students, and ensuring it for others in the future. Regular giving to Luther is a great habit to cultivate – and it truly makes a difference! One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through monthly giving, thereby joining Luther’s Loyalty Society, which recognizes donors who make gifts at any level for three or more consecutive years. For more details, visit

· Giving Day: Luther’s fourth annual Giving Day shared Luther love all over social media, raising money for the Luther Fund on Thursday, March 7. If you have missed out on this awesome event these past few years, I hope you will be able to participate in March 2020. If

· you'd like to relive the fun (and see the 12-hour livestream), visit THANK YOU to all who donated and made this day such a success!

· Class of ’73 Scholarship: Sierra Duncan ‘22 and Erik Smith ‘21 sent notes of thanks as recipients of the Class of ‘73 scholarship. Both students expressed their gratitude for our financial contributions to Luther in general, as well as to their personal education. It feels good to know how the dollars we give impact students’ lives!

· Alumni Ambassador Program: We alumni play an integral role in recruiting new students to the college. If you know students you would like to see at Luther, consider becoming part of the Alumni Ambassador Program. As an Alumni Ambassador, you will play a direct role with the Admissions Office in recruiting the next generation of Luther students. Every student you refer will receive a $1,000 scholarship (in your name!) each year, for four years, should they decide to enroll at Luther; your participation has a direct financial impact on a student’s experience at Luther! Other ways you can help recruit students can be found at For more information, contact Julie Trytten, asst. director of admissions at 563-387-1438.

Do you have plans to travel in the coming year? You may want to check out the eleven-day tour to Ireland and Northern Ireland in October 2019 coordinated by Luther’s Alumni Office. There are also many regional events held throughout the year for alumni, parents and friends of Luther College. Check out the Alumni website or contact the Alumni Office at 563-387-1861 with questions about alumni tours and events. And, don’t forget about Decorah as a travel destination - there is always something happening! See for a complete calendar of events. Check your 2019 calendars and consider making plans to attend these favorite events: Nordic Fest, July 25-27 ( and/or Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour, October 11-13 (

Notes from classmates:

· Ken Abraham retired from his position as a research scientist with the Ontario government and keeps busy with hiking, bird watching, painting, and playing trombone in a community concert band and two 'big band' style dance bands. He edits Ontario's field ornithology journal, writes research papers that didn't get finished before retirement, and reviews research programs for various levels of government.

· Greg Kovaciny retired in 2012 from his job as a personal computer specialist at the Iowa City (Iowa) Public Library. He continues as Argentine Tango dancer and DJ, Tai Chi instructor, cyclist and bicycling advocate, photographer, and occasionally funny humorist. He became a Monarch whisperer the summer of 2018. Greg recently wrote “A Funny Sort of Eulogy,” as his goodbye to his friend Donald Kaul, who died last July of prostate cancer; Kaul, RAGBRAI co-founder, was known for his piercingly hilarious Des Moines Register column “Over the Coffee,” including daily rants against absurdities state and national. Greg’s piece appeared in the Little Village Magazine, print and web.  The link is:

· Dave Morrison retired four years ago and lives in Hudson, Wisc.: he still works part-time providing foot care clinics part time assistance in nearby St. Croix and Pierce counties. He and his wife enjoy the warm weather in Arizona during winter getaways - hiking, golfing, and playing pickleball.

· Brenda (Helm) Thompson and Rick Thompson live in Highlands Ranch, Colo.  Brenda is a retired mental health counselor, with many years of work with the geriatric population. Rick retired in December 2017 after 40+ years as a Lutheran pastor. 

Ranae and I both look forward to sharing more of your news with our classmates. Feel free to write either of us at the email addresses below, or contact the Luther Alumni office directly.

Best wishes for a happy spring,

Pat (Holtorf) Branstad
1973 Class Agent
213 Second Ave. South
Saint James, MN 56081
[email protected]

Ranae (Keoppel) Gipp
1973 Class Agent
212 High Street
Decorah, IA. 52101-1048
[email protected]

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]