Class of 1950 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2019

Hi Class of ‘50 members,

Here we are 69+ years later.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  The last time I checked there were a fair number of us still around, able to look ahead to our 70-year reunion a year from now.

I had a wonderful visit this morning from Steve Hendrickson, in Decorah to visit his mother Nora (Forde).  Some of you, I’m sure, will remember Steve’s dad Kermit, no longer living, from our days at Luther.  Steve was for a long time the principal trumpet player for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and still plays in the orchestra.  I knew him well from his student days at Luther and have enjoyed following his career at a distance.  Steve is an example of the terrific graduates Luther has produced over the years and continues to produce - in business, education, the arts, and beyond.

As I write, preparations are underway for the beginning of a new academic year at the college.  For those of us in Decorah, that means the prospect of being surrounded by lots of youthful energy and a full plate of great activities - in athletics, music and drama, lectures, religious life, and (yes) politics, too.  The cultural vitality of life at the college never ceases to amaze me.  And at 90(!) I still feel welcome to be part of it.

A major event this fall was the inauguration in early November of Dr. Jenifer Ward as Luther’s new president.  As you may have read, she comes from Centenary College in Louisiana, where she was provost and dean.  Earlier in her career she was a professor of German in the Modern Language department at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.  I have had one direct exposure to her, at a conversation with retired faculty during one of her visits to the campus last spring.  In that setting she was very impressive:  energetic, congenial, outgoing, interested in engaging with her audience, mentally sharp, straightforward in conveying her ideas.  And not least, witty.  You couldn’t help feeling confident about the leadership she will provide.  

The internet is not entirely a blessing.  But it does make keeping up with happenings at Luther easy to do.  If you want to check out fellow alums or follow along with what is going on at the college, here are a few sites on the college’s website to peruse:, (a weekly newsletter),

Hoping you are managing our advanced years reasonably well (if not with aplomb), my best wishes for 2019-20.  And remember:  anything you want to pass along about what is going on in your life (or about ideas you have), I will be glad to circulate it.

Richard Ylvisaker '50
702 Meadow Court
Decorah, IA 52101
[email protected]


Lila Racelia (Fingerson) Eickhoff of Rochester, Minn., formerly of Wykoff, Minn., died Jan. 11, 2019, age 88.

Verdie Leroy Ellingson of Moorhead, Minn., died Nov. 5, 2018, age 94.

Catherine (Dueland) Hjelmaas, of Eugene, Ore., died Oct. 18, 2018.

Norman V. Overland of Rushford, Minn., died Jan. 1, 2019, age 93.

John B. Tokheim of Plano, Texas, died Nov. 13, 2018, age 90.

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.