Class of 1984 Spring 2019 Letter

Spring 2019

Dear 1984 Classmates,

Even though this is the “spring” letter, I sit here writing it on a cold, icy day in February in Iowa (one of many causing school cancellations this year). I was taking advantage of my “school snow day” to read the Winter 2019 edition of the Luther Alumni Magazine and after seeing the group pictures in the back with people wearing their Luther apparel, I was reminded of last summer when our family was in Ireland, celebrating our 30th anniversary. We had taken a boat to the Aran Islands, then rented bicycles and biked to the other side of the island to the Dun Aengus Fort. As we were getting ready to climb the long path to the fort, we saw a man wearing a Luther hat. I said, “Hey, we went to Luther.” He replied, “I didn’t go there, but my son did. He graduated in 2012.” I said, “Our daughter graduated in 2012.” About that time, our daughter and son-in-law joined us, and they recognized him. He was their friend Patrick’s father. Patrick was the DJ at their wedding. You never know who you might run into on a remote island who has a Luther connection!

As there are many steps involved in the production of the class agent mailings, including proofreading by Luther staff, preparing the letters for mailing, etc. hopefully spring will be here by the time you receive this letter. Much preparation is also going into planning for our 35-year Class Reunion during this year’s Homecoming weekend October 4-6, 2019.

Our 35-year Reunion Committee, consisting of sixteen members, got together last November, either in person, by webcam, or by phone, to begin planning activities for our reunion weekend. Yes, there will be informal activities planned for Friday night and Saturday, in addition to the 35-year Reunion Dinner at Steyer Opera House at the Hotel Winneshiek. More information will be coming soon. Paul and I, and Michele (your class agents) would like to thank the committee for their willingness to give of their time and energy to make this reunion a great experience for everyone. Thirty-five years ago, who would have thought that we would be speaking to each other via webinar and following our classmates on Facebook, on cell phones that you can fit in your pocket? If you are on Facebook, be sure to join the “Luther College Class of 1984” Facebook Group.

More exciting news, in recognition of our 35-year reunion. Our class will be establishing the Class of 1984 Endowed Class Scholarship. One goal as a class, is to raise $350,000 by the end of this year which can be designated to any fund, including The Luther Fund and the Class of 1984 Endowed Class Scholarship. Our other goal is to have 35% of our class participate in giving to Luther.

Have a great year and we hope to see you in October,

Sonja (Shatzer) Gibbs

1984 Class Agents:

Paul and Sonja (Shatzer) Gibbs
320 Pheasant Avenue
Marion, IA 52302
[email protected]

Michele Minske       
2005 39th Street
Des Moines, IA 50310
[email protected]



Kathryn Bader is director of social media in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dave Baisden is a high school counselor for River Bend Community School District in Fulton, Ill.

Dan Kuester is an outreach specialist for the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.

Knute Rotto is executive director at Indiana Mentor in Indianapolis.

Donn Sorensen is president of Mercy Health East Region in St. Louis, and co-author of the book, Big-Hearted Leadership: Five Keys to Create Success through Compassion.

Ellen (Hanusa Wonderlin) Wilke of Des Moines, Iowa, is author of Claimed: Writings of a Preacher’s Kid, a collection of stories reflecting on her childhood growing up in Waverly, Iowa, when her father served at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The book is available on Amazon.





Tracey Ann Hovda of Leicester, England, formerly of Grand Meadow, Minn., died April 18, 2017, age 54.

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.

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]