Homecoming 2023

A group of 14 adults standing on a stage

Distinguished Service Award recipients were honored at Homecoming 2023. From left: Patricia (Holtorf) Branstad ’73, Stephanie Spear Filigno ’98, Emerald-Jane (Aggrey-Appiah) Hunter ’03, Callista (Bisek) Gingrich ’88, Janet (Purmort) Tollund ’73, Denny Amundson ’73, President Jenifer K. Ward, Ken Abraham ’73, Joan (Schneider) Schatz ’88, Dennis ’63 and Ann (Henningsgaard) Christ ’66, Michael Ruzek ’68, Jill Blockhus ’88, and Leonard Myrah ’63.

Distinguished Service Awards

Leonard Myrah ’63, a US Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, worked as a commercial pilot and in state and local government. He’s served in many capacities as a lifelong member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring Grove, Minn.

Dennis ’63 and Ann (Henningsgaard) Christ ’66 have served on multiple church councils. Ann has served on the board of Luther Seminary for 12 years and as the president for the Luther Deaconess Association for 35 years. Dennis served on the St. Paul United Way Board, the Minnesota Business Partnership, and the Board of Christikon Lutheran Bible Camp in Montana.

Michael Ruzek ’68 of Austin, Minn., founded Spruce Up Austin, devoted to beautification projects around the city. He has volunteered with the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, Austin Youth Football, and the Mower County Veterans Memorial.

Ken Abraham ’73, a retired biologist and research scientist with the Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Natural Resources, has served as director on the boards of Birds Canada and Trumpeter Swan Conservation Ontario. He also volunteers for bird conservation monitoring programs.

Patricia (Holtorf) Branstad ’73 is a founding member of Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas, which builds bridges between diverse groups in St. James, Minn. She is chair of a collaborative history project about local immigration and serves on the steering committee for Climate Smart St. James.

Janet (Purmort) Tollund ’73 has led Luther alumni tours and served on the Alumni Council for 12 years. She has served in various roles at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minn., and is president of Middle East Peace Now, which arranges monthly forums featuring international speakers.

Denny Amundson ’73 spent his medical career in critical care and disaster care. He came out of a nine-year retirement to lead the largest COVID ICU in the San Diego area, where he continues to practice. He volunteers with several medicine-related initiatives.

Jill Blockhus ’88 is climate policy and practice director at the Nature Conservancy, where she fights against climate change and deforestation. She also serves as a judge for the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator Prize, honoring achievement in nature-based solutions and local development.

Callista (Bisek) Gingrich ’88, president/CEO of Gingrich 360 and president of the Gingrich Foundation, served as US Ambassador to the Holy See. She is a board member for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Ave Maria School of Law, and the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Joan (Schneider) Schatz ’88 of St. Cloud, Minn., is CEO of Park Industries and on the boards of the St. Cloud Technical and Community College Foundation, the Central Minnesota Boy Scout Council, and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota.

Stephanie Spear Filigno ’98, a pediatric psychologist, led the way toward better mental health screening and monitoring at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She has served on mental health planning and fundraising committees, and she volunteers with her church and community organizations that improve public spaces in Cincinnati.

Emerald-Jane (Aggrey-Appiah) Hunter ’03, Emmy Award–winning producer and founder of myWHY Agency in Chicago, is an alumna and cohort ambassador for the Goldman Sachs Small Business Program. She serves on the board of People’s Music School, a free music school serving Chicago-area children.

Distinguished Service Award (DSA) nominations may be made here.



A group of 11 adults standing on a stage

2023 inductees into Luther's Athletics Hall of Fame

Athletics Awards

Inductees into Luther’s Athletics Hall of Fame included (left to right): Katie (Anderson) Ness ’93, basketball, track and field, soccer; Shari Huber ’13, softball; Rick Isaacson ’03, soccer; Matt Reinsmoen ’98, soccer; Doug Mello, former men’s and women’s soccer coach; Elissa (Schmidt) Cohen ’08, swimming and diving; Karl Magnuson ’78, winner of the Athletic Meritorious Service Award; Alex Eganhouse ’08, swimming and diving; Tami Magner ’08, softball; Marta Floyd ’88, basketball, track and field, softball; Jessica (Jewell) Tangen ’08, track and field.

Music Awards

Weston H. Noble Award

Jan (Bakker) Knutson ’78 is former director of choirs and department chair at Parker High School in Janesville, Wis. She founded Parker Arts Academy and has won awards including the Jerry Hall of Fame Award, a Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship, and Teacher of the Year in the Janesville School District.

Carlo A. Sperati Award

Gene Anderson ’63 spent most of his career at the University of Richmond in Virginia, where he was director of bands, a music theory instructor, and head of the music department. He founded the Doctors of Jazz ensemble, which has played in Europe and around Richmond.

Presser Scholar Award

Malachi Rettmann ’24 completed a student-faculty summer research project on improving recruiting and marketing for Dorian summer camps. He’s working on his senior capstone project, which examines how to manage and promote diversity in professional orchestras.

Richard C. and Joann M. Hemp Family Prize for Orchestral Performance

Emma Prostine ’24 has been principal second violin in the Luther College Orchestra for the past three years. A chemistry major, she serves as president of the Chemistry Club and as a Health Sciences Club executive.


Two standing women and one seated woman in front of a wooden backdrop

Dorothy (McMillen) Anderson ’43 (center) with daughter Karen (Anderson) Forde ’69 (left) and Sherry (Braun) Alcock ’82 (right), executive director of alumni relations

101-Year-Old Alumna Attends 80-Year Reunion

One highlight of Homecoming 2023 was welcoming Dorothy (McMillen) Anderson ’43, age 101, back to campus to celebrate her 80-year reunion. She enjoyed a luncheon with alumni from the classes of 1948, 1953, and 1958 and a visit with President Ward. Dorothy (center), from Mabel, Minn., is pictured here with daughter Karen (Anderson) Forde ’69 (left) and Sherry (Braun) Alcock ’82 (right), executive director of alumni relations.