Class of 1978 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2019

Dear Classmates,

I have a sweet memory of a little verbal exchange my maternal grandma and I used to share.  When we were extra happy and excited with some activity, she might say, “Just like downtown!”  And I’d add, “Only not so crowded!” Not sure of the exact origin of the tag line, but it came to mind as I reflected on my participation in this past summer’s Livssang Dorian Choral Retreat at Luther.  Livssang has all the love of a Luther College Homecoming Weekend…..but not so crowded!

I don’t know who at Luther came up with the idea to offer a Dorian experience for adults, but perhaps there was the thought - - Hey, why should the kids have all the fun?  I had read about the inaugural 2018 retreat and at Homecoming, spoke to several classmates who had participated. It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to spend special time on our beautiful Luther campus rehearsing fabulous choral works under the direction of Nordic Choir director, Dr. Andrew Last ’97. (And, we even got to stay in the residence halls!!)

So in late June, Julie Dahlen and I joined a large and diverse group of choral enthusiasts in the CFL for a blissful weekend of singing.  Additionally, there were options to attend seminars on a wide variety of music related topics, plus time to just enjoy Decorah. The entire weekend was very well organized by a top-notch group of faculty and staff.  Julie and I shared a lot of Luther love with ’78 classmates Mary (Bakke) Nurre, Steve Nurre, Laura (Dahl) Popkes, Dorothy (Gilbertson) Winburne, and Diane (Bandel) Padrutt. We had a great time together. Please consider attending in 2020, June 10 – 12. 

Seriously folks...pencil those dates in on your Summer 2020 calendars. Just like Barbara said, the Dorian for Big Kids Weekend was fabulous!   For those of us who yearned to sing with Weston back in the day, this is one to strike from your wish-I-woulda list with a flourish!  

And while you're in Decorah you might just want to reacquaint yourselves with the fine cuisine and libations of NE Iowa.  We did manage to alleviate any vocal fatigue from those long rehearsals with a round or two at good old Toppling Goliath and the taproom at Pulpit Rock. We sampled a few from PIVO (the sort of new brewery in Calmar) with our Irma Burgers at T-Bocks (fried egg cheeseburgers at Bernadine's anyone??). Great food, great memories, great classmates.

As I write these words my thoughts are accompanied by the sound of early migrating geese overhead. Those lovely long summer evenings are getting just a bit shorter. And the Luther Class of 2023 is getting set for their inaugural residence hall move in day. Time to look ahead...

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 isWhom Angels Greet with Anthems Sweet. Luther would be happy to see you there!

And we look forward to hearing all about it! Until we gather again...

Soli Deo Gloria,

Julie Dahlen
1978 Class Agent
205 Dempsey Road
Madison, WI 53714-3005
[email protected]

Barbara (Noe) Koch
1978 Class Agent
4303 Woodsmill Court NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52411
[email protected]


David Bennett of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a retired school teacher.

John Hanewall is a visiting instructor of psychology at Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.

Jan (Bakker) Knutson was featured in the GazetteXtra’s “20Q: Catching up with Janesville Parker choral director Jan Knutson.” The 20Q Interview series introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community and provides insight on that person’s artistic interest and unique personality.

Amy (Kiesler) Kust of Brooklyn Park, Minn., is a retired elementary school teacher.

John Linnell was featured in The Rural Monitor’s article, “Understanding the Many Roles of COPD Foundation State Captains: Q&A with John Linnell.” Ever since he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2005, John has been passionate about spreading disease awareness. In addition to his volunteer work as a COPD Foundation Wisconsin State Captain, he currently serves on the U.S. COPD Coalition Board of Directors, the COPD Patient Powered Research Network Governing Board and the Executive Board of Trustees for EFFORTS, an international patient-based, patient-driven coalition for those with respiratory diseases. He also assists with COPD research efforts at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Illinois Chicago along with serving on the Department of Defense scientific peer review panel for respiratory health research. He is on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-National Occupation Research Agenda’s council for research and recommendations for occupational safety and health. He lives in rural Viroqua, Wis., and is a member of the local health system’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Cecelia (Nybro) Manlove of Louisville, Ky., retired as a health insurance executive. She is active with her church and local nonprofit organizations.

Paul Pribbenow is president of Augsburg University in Minneapolis. He was named Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). He received the award at AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio, Texas in April. Pribbenow was cited for helping to triple Augsburg’s annual fundraising from $10.5 million in his first year to almost $35 million ten years later, and for transforming the culture of philanthropy at the University.

Cathy (Hemmy) Sherfield of Butternut, Wis., is retired.

Lee Valenta is president at Optum International in Eden Prairie, Minn.