Class of 1956 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2019

Dear 1956 Classmates:

As I write this letter in Northern Minnesota in late August, fall is approaching.  No fall colors yet, but mornings are much cooler. By the time you receive this letter, fall will have fully arrived up here.  Wherever the fall season finds you, may you have a pleasant and active one.

By now, I am sure, you have heard that Dr. Jennifer K. Ward has been elected the 11th President of Luther.  She began duties on July 1 and was formally inaugurated November 2nd. Dr. Ward  previously served as a faculty member at Gustavus Adolphus College, held academic leadership positions at Cornish College of Arts in Seattle, and most recently served as Provost and Dean at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Dr. Ward says, “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.”

All of us wish Dr. Ward well at Luther as she faces a challenging time effecting many small colleges in the U.S. You can follow her and access other Luther information by going to or:

❏    Follow Luther College on Twitter: @LutherCollege

❏    Follow Luther College on Instagram: @LutherCollege

❏    Follow the Luther College Alumni Facebook page: 

One way we can help Luther is to support the Alumni Ambassador program.  Any student referred by an alum and who enrolls will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship per year for four years.  You can obtain more information at, or calling 563-387-1438.

I have received personal notes from a few classmates and would like to hear from others. Classmates often note that this is one way of keeping in touch with friends.  Faith (Luzum) and Terry Fretheim have decided not to move to St. Paul, but stay in Park Ridge, Ill. to be closer to family. They hope to spend some time this winter in the Southwest.  Marion (Carlson) Balch is now a fulltime resident in Scottsdale, Ariz.  She enjoys it except for the summer heat. To compensate, in August she traveled to Wisconsin to see family and enjoy a Wisconsin lake. She says, “My memories of Luther are still the best.” Solveig Otte remains very active in South Africa social concerns. She still works with HIV/AIDS patients, associates with an Indian Christian mission assisting poor and orphaned Zulu children and their grandmother caregivers, supports an open air Sunday School for several hundred children, helps provide a healthy breakfast before school to 300 children, and is involved in aiding refugees from other African countries. She also says that she has time and room for visitors. Such a good person. Juanita (Zeman) Loven still operates Juanita’s Folly consignment shop in Guttenberg, Iowa. In the spring and early summer, she and Russ enjoyed a trip to Alaska.

As for Carlyle and me, we still split our time between Minnesota and Arizona, and hope to be able to continue for a few more years. It is nice to get away from the snow and cold for a short while. In July we once again co-hosted the 7th annual Luther Comes to the Heartland in Park Rapid, Minn. We were pleased that a 2016 alum who teaches Intermediate School music in Park Rapids attended.  Also attending was a Park Rapids High School graduate who just finished his freshman year at Luther. If you are in the area the 3rd Sunday next July, please come. It runs from 3 to 6 p.m. The College provides brats; others bring a dish to share.

As always, as we approach the end of the calendar year, I encourage you to continue your support of Luther. Our class has always ranked high in the percentage of classmates making a gift annually. Luther did much for us. An annual gift is a sign of our gratitude.  Please give generously.

Finally, my wish for you is that your holidays will be happy and blessed, and 2020 will provide many opportunities for engagement and satisfaction.  And may it also be a year when civility returns to this land.

All the best,

Mary R. Haaland
1956 Class Agent
12118 County 80,
Nevis, MN 56467
[email protected]

1105 S. Alpine Circle
Green Valley, AZ 85614


Roger Wayne Dahlen of Fort Collins, Colo., died July 12, 2019, age 83.

James A. Jacobson of Grand Marais, Minn., died March 24, 2019, age 84.

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.