Class of 1987 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Class of 1987,

Thirty years...that’s a lot to celebrate! And celebrate is what we did at Homecoming 2017 and our 30-year reunion. It was good to see friends, share stories, and realize that we’re doing quite well for a bunch of people in their early- to mid-50s!

If you’re like me, the fact that it’s been 30 years since we graduated is a bit surreal. How could that possibly be? I feel fortunate that I have spent 27 of the past 30 years as a student, faculty member, or administrator on a college campus. Every day I am influenced by the experience I had here at Luther. And now, as my oldest son begins college, my wish for him is that he will receive the same great education where he attends college that we received at Luther, and that he will be left with the same fondness for his alma mater that we feel for Luther.

We all have our memories that keep Luther and our time here fresh in our minds. These memories come alive as we reconnect and share the stories of people, places, and events that were important to us. For me, it was John Bale, Robert Schultz, and Diane Scholl in the English Department (where I landed after four other majors); working in the Rec Room; being an RA; the privilege of playing football. Attending Handel’s Messiah performances, seeing the words “Soli Deo Gloria” in bright lights in the windows of Main. J-term. Some downtown Decorah establishments!

For you, perhaps it was life-long friends or partners made; choir, band, or dance performances; Dunning’s Spring; fraternity or sorority formals; concerts in the field house. Our memories and experiences may be different, but one thing is for sure – we share the common connection of our Luther education, and the impact of that experience on our lives is always something to celebrate.

It was especially good to have President Paula Carlson and her husband, ‪the Reverend Dr. Thomas Schattauer, bring greetings from the college to us at our reunion dinner. President Carlson thanked us for the contributions of time, talent, and treasures from the Class of 1987, and she reminded us why now, more than ever, the world needs Luther graduates. I encourage you to continue to support the college in whatever ways you can, so that current and future generations of students can benefit from a Luther liberal arts education.

I look forward to seeing you at our 35-year reunion, if not before then! Soli Deo Gloria!

Dean Pribbenow
1987 Class Agent
[email protected]


Lisa (Manzey) Adelmann of Bloomington, Minn., is a partner with McCracken Manzey Consulting.

Shari Exo is a youth librarian for the City of Hillsboro, Ore.

Deb Hanson-Gerber of Dunkirk, Md., has been a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band since September 1991, and recently took part in the 58th inauguration of the President of the United States. The band provided music for the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, led the second division of the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and performed at the Salute to the Armed Forces inaugural ball. 

Carla (Meyer) and Mark Hillman ’86 live in São Paulo, Brazil, and teach at the Graded American School of São Paulo. Carla is the middle school learning support teacher; Mark teaches middle school humanities and coaches girls’ basketball.

Sandee (Neitzel) Joppa is executive director of RealTime Talent, a public-private collaborative formed out of the work of the business-advisory group Itasca Project in Minneapolis, with the goal of using data to build the world’s best workforce in Minnesota. Sandee also serves on the Luther College Board of Regents.

John Niemi is an academic advisor at Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business, in Baltimore.

Tim Pinnow is assistant vice president of academic affairs and director of graduate studies at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.


Tim Christensen of Luverne, Minn., died Feb. 19, 2017, at age 52. After graduating from Luverne High School in 1983, he enrolled at Luther, where he majored in management. Tim married Pam (Eidahl) Christensen ’86 on June 28, 1986, at Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne. Over the next ten years, they lived in Waukon, Iowa, and in several Minnesota cities: Albert Lea, while Tim was employed at But-Rite Oil; Claremont, where he worked at Federated Insurance;and Luverne, while he was employed at Berkley Information Services. In 1996 Tim received a B.S. degree in elementary education from Mankato State University, and in the fall of 1997 he began teaching fourth grade at Luverne Elementary School and coaching ninth grade baseball and basketball. In 2004 Tim earned a master’s degree in education technology from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., and he also received an educational administration and leadership certificate from St. Cloud State University. He was hired as principal at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (Minn.) Schools in 2005 and became principal and athletic director at Adrian (Minn.) High School in 2007. In his spare time, Tim enjoyed working with family members in road construction, trucking, and hauling cattle. A member of Grace Lutheran Church, he served as head usher and on the finance committee. Tim loved coaching his children’s softball, baseball, and hockey teams and attending their games. He enjoyed traveling, gardening, running, golfing, and watching the Minnesota Vikings. Tim was part of the Minnesota First Five Teacher Mentor program and was awarded the Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2001. He was an umpire and referee for Luverne Community Education, a member of the Luverne Baseball Association, and he served on multiple school and district-wide committees. Among his many honors, Tim was recognized as the Sub-Section 10, Region 3A AD of the year in 2012-13. He is survived by his wife, Pam (Eidahl) Christensen ’87; three children: Stephanie (Tim Connell) Christensen, Matthew Christensen ’13; and Cody Christensen; mother, Becky Christensen; brother, Todd (Mary) Christensen; two sisters, Amy (Barry) Cowell and Sue (Chad) VerSteeg; father-in-law, Konrad Eidahl ’56 (Javonne); two brothers-in-law, Kyle Eidahl ’84 (Carol) and David Eidahl ’88 (Lynn [Gaudette] Eidahl ’90); and many nieces and nephews. Tim was preceded in death by his father, Dwayne; two infant brothers, Mike and Pat; mother-in-law, Barbara Eidahl; brother-in-law, Mark Eidahl; cousin, Nathan Skattum; paternal grandparents, Lester and Jo Christensen; and maternal grandparents, Orlando and Edith Skattum.

Carmen (Havnen) Sunde of Decorah died Jan. 10, 2017, at age 87. After graduating from Rake High School in 1948, she attended Waldorf College in Forest City for a year before transferring to Luther. Carmen received a certificate in education from Luther in 1950. She married her childhood friend, Carroll Sunde ’53, Aug. 5, 1950, at Liberty Lutheran Church in Rake. The couple moved to Story City, and Carmen taught school there and in Zering, and Carroll attended Iowa State College in Ames. The Sundes farmed the Havnen home place in rural Rake for the next eight years, before moving to Decorah. Carmen was an active member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and she volunteered at Aase Haugen Home and its auxiliary. An advocate for people with disabilities and special needs, she and Carroll helped with Opportunity Homes and Carmen became very involved in the lives of her nieces and nephew after her sister died. She enjoyed reading, quilting, needlework, flowers, gardening, and cooking, and her family especially looked forward to her Norwegian pastry, kringle, during the holidays. After her sons graduated from high school, Carmen resumed her studies at Luther, majoring in elementary education and receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1987. In May 2016 she became a resident of the Memory Care Unit at Traditions of West Union. Carmen is survived by her three sons: Donavon Sunde ’77, Paul (Cindy) Sunde, and Craig Sunde; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Carroll Sunde ’53, on Nov. 11, 2007; son, David, on May 27, 1997; and sister, Betty (Havnen) Osnes ’50.