Class of 1981 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Hello Classmate!

I heard about something recently (from a Luther-connected friend, actually) called “Swedish Death Cleaning.” Sounds dire, eh? Really, it’s just the practice of looking around at the stuff you’ve accumulated in your life and pitching a whole bunch of it – basically so nobody else will have to deal with it if you were to die tomorrow.

I’m not necessarily advocating Swedish Death Cleaning (although I’m thinking it’s not a bad idea and I should get around to it one of these days) – but it got me thinking about what would happen if we could just as easily shed certain parts of our own histories. Perhaps the actions we’re not so proud of, the difficult times we’ve gone through, maybe a destructive or unhealthy relationship here or there… we can all think of some things we’d rather erase than acknowledge.

A part of my history I’d never erase, even if I could, is my time at Luther. Not because it was all blue skies and crabapple blossoms, but because those few years held so much. Dorm life. Pizza and Ronnie’s Rolls. Profs who put radically new ideas in my head. Music (from Fleetwood Mac to George Fredric Handel) – oh, the music! Experimentation (of many kinds). Getting sick away from home for the first time. Coffee. Writing papers until all hours. Wapatuli parties. Community – with all the good and bad that comes with it. So much self-discovery. So much growing up.

I’m not so good with memory, and so many specific Luther memories seem to be deserting me. What stays, however, is the impact of that time. The grounding in community, the honest self-discovery, the dedicated faculty and adults surrounding us, giving us wings, teaching us to fly. I’m so grateful for it, and I hope you feel some of that gratefulness too. I want that kind of impact for others – particularly the young people we are asking to navigate – and lead – this increasingly complex and scary world.

If we want that kind of impact for others, we need to help make sure Luther is there for them. Strategic planning that’s happening now is clarifying major goals that have to do with liberal arts in a global society; authentic diversity and inclusion; empowering “inspired, engaged, and resilient individuals”; and financial sustainability that grows access, affordability, and value.

We’re in an incredibly tough time for small liberal arts colleges. The simple fact is that Luther needs two things to realize those goals: 1. Students, and 2. Your support.  Your support helps make it possible to make Luther a place that can have the kind of impact we want it to have, for generations to come – and without students, well, there’s no point, is there? 

You can help connect students to Luther. Every student you refer to Luther can get a $1,000 scholarship each year for four years. More info at

You can help support Luther. Every dollar you give to Luther – even if it’s just a few of them – is a dollar that doesn’t have to come from somewhere else (including student tuition).  Donate online: or use the attached reply card (and reusable envelope!)

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. Keep those updates coming!

Pat (Graetz) Jensen
1981 Class Agent
[email protected]

Mary Sundet Jones
1981 Class Agent
[email protected]

P.S. NOTE: The Luther College Annual Fund is now the Luther Fund, with a fresh new look and name. What hasn’t changed: your donation to the Luther Fund is still unrestricted, and hits the ground running to support the needs of Luther’s students! Year-end is approaching – what better time to make a gift?


Judith (Tollefsrud) Halverson is education coordinator at Ochsner Health System/Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, La., and recently earned her post-professional transitional doctor of physical therapy degree.

Pat (Graetz) Jensen is senior account executive, Health Plan Division, at Express Scripts in Bloomington, Minn.

Gina (Cleven) Olson is worship and music director at Zion Lutheran Church of Cottage Grove, Minn.

Marilee (Kelly) Vogel is director of finance at Winona (Minn.) Health in Winona, Minn.