Class of 1974 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Dear Classmate,

As I walked through the quiet Luther campus early this morning with classmate Sue (Hammond) Haemker and other friends, I enjoyed the beauty in the stillness of the day.  No traffic or walkers to distract from reveling in the vibrance of the Library Lawn and the flowers that so magnificently showcase the campus. I hope that some of you had a chance to visit campus this summer, perhaps bringing a young relative along to give them a taste of Luther. The morning stillness will soon be replaced by athletes returning for pre-season practices. Not long after that, we’ll see the faces of freshmen both concerned and excited about the new adventure they are beginning. Memories of our freshman days are foggy after 48 years!

Luther’s Homecoming Weekend, this year is October 26–28. I hope to see many of you then. 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.

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:

You may 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.

Using social media is an easy way to stay connected with Luther’s campus.  Go to for links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram LinkedIn, etc.  The videos of Luther’s musical groups and campus scenes captured by drones are particularly fun to watch and listen to!

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!

Don’t forget the online alumni directory to update changes in your life and to keep tabs on Luther friends!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sue Ness Johnson


1974 class agents:

Sue (Ness) Johnson
904 Pine Ridge Court
Decorah, IA. 52101
[email protected]

Julie Wall
2305 Oak Hill Road
Decorah, IA. 52101
[email protected]


Craig Cornelius is senior software engineer at Google in San Francisco. He was featured in an article in The Seattle Times for his work helping release a language learning app and Osage language keyboard for Google’s online products. Craig’s work contributed to efforts of Osage people hoping to keep the native Osage language alive.

W.D. Foster-Graham lives in Mounds View, Minn. He was named one of the Best Poets 2003 by the International Society of Poets. He is also one of the founding members of Grammy Award winning gospel group, Sounds of Blackness.

Jerome Rud traveled to Preikestolen in Norway.

Douglas Strand retired from teaching and coaching after 40 years at United Township High School in East Moline, Ill. He still serves on the Black Hawk College Board of Trustees, spends time at his cabin in Hayward, Wis., plays golf, and plans to travel.


Lorena (Barth) Ellingson of Decorah, died Dec. 9, 2017, age 95.

Norma Elaine Hammon of La Crosse, Wis., died Nov. 28, 2017, age 62.

Mark Seem of Omaha, Neb., died April 26, 2018, age 66.

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

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