Dear Luther College Classmates of 1953,
Four score and ten years ago some 192 of us (the number the Alumni Office has classified as 1953) embarked on our college years at a college with an impressive gymnasium, several surplus army barracks (which served as classrooms, a combination canteen/post office/book shop, and apartments for married students), a library, a cafeteria, a dormitory/administration building, a heating plant, and a small hospital. What were we thinking? Were we thinking?
I can speak only for myself. I really didn’t know what a college was. If it called itself a college, it must be a college. In any case, a gathering of students, most of who seemed really interested in learning something and faculty, some of whom had earned a PhD, had to be more interesting than high school. And it was, of course, the second year of Weston Noble. Though we did not know it at the time, we were at the beginning stages of a remarkable development at the college, the Weston Noble Era. I did know that I was fortunate to be chosen as a member of the Nordic Choir; choir rehearsal at the end of the day--five days a week, for four years--was a highlight of those college years.
Male students all lived in private housing off campus that first semester. Art Lee, Walt Cherwien, Clyde Staveness, and I were assigned to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kessel. We occupied the upstairs; I think it would qualify as a garret. We named it Kessel’s castle; there was irony in Iowa, back then. It had one bathroom shared by the owners. Perhaps we showered after P.E. Class, or at home during vacation breaks. Three of us graduated in four years; Clyde graduated after serving in the Korean War. Not a bad record.
“The past is foreign country; they do things differently there.” (L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between). After 70 years, we definitely have a past. We could dwell on the material changes that have occurred at the college and in our lives since that distant September. The college has blossomed, along with most colleges and universities in the country. And in our personal lives we enjoy luxuries far beyond anything we could have anticipated 70 years ago. However, arguably the most profound change has occurred in our vision of who had access to higher education and the benefit that access provides them. The primary groups affected by this change are women and racial minorities. We aren’t at a level playing field yet, but we have entered a new world, and we all do things differently.
A few observations of personal experience. My dentist, periodontist, ophthalmologist, most recently consulted lawyer, real estate agent, college president, and pastor are all women. Luther College has sought parity between men and women on the faculty in recent years. The faculty also has a fair number of members of racial minorities. Where does that leave white males? More intense competition, basically. More important, it is a more interesting and satisfying world for more people.
We have a new president. I do not know Jenifer Ward well, but I have observed enough to be confident that she will do good work for the college. She is personable, well spoken, and ready to get to work in the Luther College world.
Colleges and universities face enrollment challenges now, with the nationwide decline in the pool of available students. You can help by sending names of promising young people to the Admissions Office. And, not least, your monetary gifts are always welcome.
I have a new address, a comfortable assisted living apartment.
Wilfred F. Bunge
1953 Class Agent
911 Ridgewood Dr. Apt. 212
Decorah, IA 52101
Dolli H. Big John “Ahu wajik kere jga” ‘Spreading Wings’ of Wittenberg, Wis., died Dec. 9, 2018, age 87.
John W. Bruemmer of La Crosse, Wis., died July 6, 2019, age 87.
Carol (Thompson) Johnsrud of Neenah, Wis., died April 12, 2017, age 85.
Joyce (Sorlien) Larsen of Winterset, Iowa, died Dec. 12, 2018, age 87.
The full obituaries of classmates listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at: luther.edu/in-memoriam
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.