Class of 1939 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2019

Dear Class of 1939 Alumni,

It promises to be an exciting year for Luther. In November, the college inaugurated its eleventh president, Dr. Jenifer K. Ward. President Ward joins the Luther community with more than three decades of experience as an educator, scholar, and academic leader after serving, most recently, as provost and dean of the college at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to joining Centenary, President Ward served in several leadership roles at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, including dean of the college, interim provost, and associate provost. She was also a faculty member at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she taught German.           

In a message to the Luther community, President Ward said, “Our work together must be strategic, collaborative, creative, and—most importantly—must articulate what it means to be both grounded in Decorah, Iowa with a face to the world, and set goals for how we can adapt Luther’s past and present for a sustainable future.”

A self-described extrovert and lover of art, film, and literature, President Ward started her duties at Luther July 1, and her official inauguration took place November 1–3.

Learn more about President Ward—including her thoughts on food, art, Twitter, Decorah, and higher ed—on Luther’s YouTube channel (, then search “Luther College President Ward”) or in the fall issue of the Luther Magazine:

Also, while you’re at it, use this checklist to up your Luther social media game:

❏    Follow Luther College on Twitter: @LutherCollege

❏    Follow Luther College on Instagram: @LutherCollege

❏    Follow the Luther College Alumni Facebook page:

And, finally, keep in mind that Christmas at Luther takes place December 5–8. This year’s theme is Whom Angels Greet with Anthems Sweet. Luther would be happy to see you there!

Mariah (Bringer) Smith ’95
Director of Development, Current Gifts
Luther College
700 College Dr.
Decorah, IA. 52101
[email protected]


Eugene Nordby of Madison, Wis., was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal last December. The article, “Older than the Packers and still living the good life after more than 100 years” highlights Nordby’s life growing up in a small Wisconsin town, serving his country during World War II, embarking on an innovative and distinguished medical career, and enjoying a marriage of nearly 73 years with the late Olive Jensen Nordby. In 1919, when Nordby was just 16 months old, it was announced that the Indian Packing Co. would sponsor a football team and in 1921 the team, known as the Acme Packers, joined the American Football Association. On the last day of the organization’s 100th season, Nordby was recognized during Operation Fan Mail. The program, which debuted in 2007 and has been sponsored by WPS Health Solutions of Madison the past 10 seasons, honors military families and veterans at each Green Bay Packers home football game. Nordby, who retired from practicing medicine in 1981, was nominated for the honor by WPS, where he was on the board of directors for 55 years and chairman for 30 years. Today Nordby enjoys spending his time baking Krumkake, listening to John Grisham books on his iPad, and staying active by walking and playing pool. He turned 101 in April 2018.


Thelma O. (Stoen) Ellingson of Decorah died March 13, 2019, age 97.

Alice L. (Albertson) Wilbur of Decorah died May 5, 2019, age 99.

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.