Class of 1986 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Classmate,

Lots has happened on campus since you received your spring 2017 class agent letter, and I hope you’ve been able to experience some of these events in person. For starters, RAGBRAI—the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa--came through Decorah July 28, and the Luther community enthusiastically greeted the estimated 15,000 riders with a large welcome sign, free Gatorade, water, and Norse cookies!

A short five weeks later, and the fall semester began for the college’s 157th academic year, welcoming 542 new students to campus. Acknowledging that these are turbulent times for our nation, Luther President Paula Carlson, in her Fall 2017 State of the College speech, urged us to “rededicate ourselves and our community to our founders’ vision of a more just society and to our namesake Martin Luther’s commitment to be true to conscience, to live by our core values and beliefs.”

Two facility dedication events were held in September: Legacy Field, the new blue synthetic turf system by AstroTurf that was installed over the summer in Carlson Stadium, was blessed in a special ceremony Sept. 9, part of a full day of Luther athletic events, which included a football victory over St. Olaf. Thanks to much-appreciated donor support, including a lead gift by Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand, Luther now has one of the safest and most distinctive fields in NCAA Division III football. A week later, on Sept. 16, the college’s newly renovated 12 outdoor tennis courts were dedicated. The $1 million project—generously funded by an alumni couple who wishes to remain anonymous—has resulted in a more durable, stable, and consistent playing surface, making Luther’s outdoor tennis venues one of the best in the region. Many thanks to all of the donors who contributed to these projects.

Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, brought more than 2,000 alumni and friends to campus for 65 various events, including the annual alumni dinner Friday night, where a Distinguished Service Award was given to eight alumni. Play was suspended during the second quarter of Saturday’s football game due to lightning; after the game resumed, Norse player Cory Wirth ’18 went on to make a 25-yard field goal in overtime, leading his team to a 41-38 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University. Go Norse!

Another highlight of Homecoming Weekend was the very well-attended official viewing, at Noble Recital Hall, of To This Day: Remembering Nordic Choir’s First International Tour. Aiden Spencer ’18 and Jacqueline Wilke, Luther professor of history, created this documentary film of Nordic Choir’s first international tour in 1967as part of a three-year student/faculty collaborative project.

Student/faculty collaborative projects are just one of the many ways learning happens beyond the classroom at Luther. Internships and externships are also vital components of a Luther education, as are study-away experiences, which are key to the global perspective Luther promotes. Do you know high school students who could benefit from the kind of education Luther provides? If so, please refer them through the Alumni Ambassador Program, which awards $4,000 in scholarships to students who enroll after your referral. There was a form just for this purpose tucked in the pages of the Fall 2017 Luther Alumni Magazine, or you can submit one online at

The college’s year-long exploration of the Reformation—and celebration of its 500th anniversary—culminated October 31, 2017, with a day-long symposium and evening concert. The symposium—The Reformation of Everything, 1517-2017, Examining the Reformation and its Continuing Impact—looked at the impact the Reformation has had on Christianity, the Church, education, broader society, and culture; how it has shaped Luther College; and what its influence might look like in the future. Among the many distinguished presenters was Marty Haugen ’73, renowned composer of liturgical music. Later, the Reformation Commemoration Concert, where The Reformation Cantata was premiered, raised up the work of alumni and students. The cantata was anchored by four choral movements, composed by Luther alumni Daniel Kallman ’78, Sky Macklay ’10, Mark Petering ’95, and Daniel Raney ’92, and four instrumental interludes—composed by Luther students Pablo Gomez-Estévez ‘18, John Kuntz ’19, Caleb Linville ’19 and Hunter Prueger ’18—were interspersed throughout the work.

As you can see, it’s been a busy fall semester on campus, and I’ve only included some of the many happenings. Please keep Luther informed of what’s happening in your life, and I will write again in the spring.


Alicia Anderson
1986 Class Agent
[email protected]


Monte Amundson is director of talent management at Midwest Dental in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Carol (Brekke) Behm is an infection preventionist at Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinics in Hillsboro, Wis.

Dale Kruse is visiting assistant professor of voice and lyric theater at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Since 2004, he has also been the music director for the Minnesota Opera: Project Opera education program, summer camp, and children’s chorus master. He is currently serving as past-president and membership chair of the Minnesota NATS Chapter. He was recently awarded the 2016-2017 American Prize in Conducting-opera/music theater, community division, for Project Opera’s production of Memory Boy by Reinaldo Moya.

Glenna (Gosch) Schneider is an involuntary market team lead at Zurich North America in Schaumburg, Ill.

Katy (Wobig) Sojka is a retired teacher and principal. She recently published her first children’s book, The Blurter, a story about a kindergarten boy named Alexander Johnathan McCarthy Jr. who has a terrible time following the sharing rule at Martha K. Banks Elementary School and needs help to cure himself of his bad habit of blurting out answers and stories all the time.

Kari Solomonson is vice president and retail team leader at Peoples State Bank in Wausau, Wis.  She received the 2016 Athena Leadership Award from the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, recognizing and celebrating individuals who support, honor, and develop current and emerging women leaders.

Stephen Streufert is the vice president of education at Nature Bridge in San Francisco.


BARBARA IVERSEN and Teresa Carson, Jan. 10, 2017

JACKIE JOHNSON and Kyle Howell, June 27, 2015


JACKIE JOHNSON and Kyle Howell welcomed a son, Ryan, in August 2006, and a son, Ayden, in October 2010.


Michael Gravett of West Des Moines, Iowa, died Feb. 16, 2017, at age 55. Born in Red Oak, Iowa, he attended Luther from 1983-86 and majored in political science. Michael was a U.S. Army veteran and a successful insurance agent for more than 30 years, owning Gravett Insurance for 23 years. He married Billie Jamieson on July 14, 1991. Michael enjoyed reading, cooking, playing the piano, and going to the casino. He is survived by his wife, Billie; daughters, Mandy and Stacy; 5 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; his father, Roy Gravett; and his siblings. Michael was preceded in death by his mother, Virginia Boeckman.