A Wonderful Reunion Weekend

“You get here, and you start telling stories, and it feels just like yesterday.”
Posted on June 5th, 2017 by

Members of the Class of 2012 while touring the Mankato Brewery.

President Rebecca Bergman with Marion Anderson Redman ’47, the oldest alum at Reunion Weekend 2017.

It was a sunny and warm reunion weekend—literally and figuratively. For the first time, Reunion Weekend occurred in early summer, with Gustie alums reliving their dorm days with dorm stays, and all reunion year classes celebrating together.

From Friday’s 50 Year Luncheon to Sunday’s closing brunch, Gusties from across decades and eras—from 2012 to 1947 (Marion Anderson Redman was the oldest)—reconnected with friends and fellow Gusties from across the globe and the years.

On Friday, President Bergman officially welcomed the class of 1967 into the 50-year ranks. Then Gustie alums from throughout the years enjoyed the campus and the surrounding area of Saint Peter-Mankato. They golfed, toured the campus and the tunnels with student ambassadors, and took Alumni College classes from professors and staff in su

ch topics as the Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan, the College’s Scandinavian roots, and the changing face of Minnesota.

“I haven’t been back for 25 years,” said John Kellen ’82, who came from Tucson, Ariz. He toured the Linnaeus Arboretum with interest; it has changed significantly since his college days. But some things haven’t: “You get here, and you start telling stories, and it feels just like yesterday,” he said.

Many of those stories were told on Friday night, after alums sang the Rouser together in the Evelyn Young Dining Room. Stories flowed at the “Barn” tent and the Pittman Hall fire pit (Class of ’77 and ’82), at the Complex fire pit (Class of ’07 and ’12), in Beck Atrium (Class of ’67), at the Flame (Class of ’87), and at Patrick’s (Class of ’97), among other locations. The party at Patrick’s was particularly poignant as it was a benefit for classmate Wes Schuck who died of cancer.

Golfers from the Class of 2012 enjoy Friday’s Golf Scramble.

On Saturday morning, the early risers made Swedish kringle, ran a 5K, and did relaxation yoga in the Arb. Despite graduating 35 years apart, Sam Hemmerich ’12 and Dave “Ole” Olson ’77 finished one and two in the 5K. (Olson had just come off a 50K two weeks prior: “I want to make every day count,” he said.) Hemmerich enjoyed the weekend’s easy, flexible vibe. “I love how it’s so relaxed. Do everything, or do nothing. Have fun and pretend you are a college student again.”

Dorm stays amplified that fun. Gustie alums brought their favorite pillows and friends into dorms rooms in Southwest, Norelius (Co-Ed), Pittman, North, and Sorenson. “The dorm stays really encapsulated the whole experience,” said Joel Jensen ’97. Lorie Rutter Anderson ’81 drew Co-Ed 206A for the reunion—her exact room from freshman year. But this time she bunked with her husband, JC Anderson ’82, whom she met her sophomore year in front of Sorensen.

The weekend continued with a student panel on today’s Gustavus, brewery and winery tours, shopping in Saint Peter, donor and professor appreciation, and Chapel remembrances for members of the Classes of 1957 and 1967. Saturday night ended with class dinners and a street dance in Saint Peter, where Gusties past and present—and President Bergman herself—danced to the music of Big Toe and the Jam (with the President’s son, Matthew ’07, on saxophone.).

Throughout the weekend, talk often turned to frost-your-owns, mandatory Chapel, library antics, tray-ing, the Barn, the tornado, and—as always—Ma Young, the legendary director of food service whose influence spanned 30 years of hungry Gusties. Alums laughed about the College’s “nice” reputation; how they were taught to be friendly and to pick up any trash on campus. “My husband once asked me, ‘Did you go to the nicest college in America?’” said Erica Brown Ramer ’07. And alums laughed about their own epic stories. “Eve

Members of the joyful Class of 1957.

ry time we tell them, they’re just as funny,” said Kari Swanson Anderson ’92.

Alums also expressed tremendous gratitude for their college. Said Jeanne Mingus Tolzmann ’67, “For a lot of us, we were here because other people got us here.” Said classmate Ken Dragseth ’67, “We need to make sure all high school students continue to have access to Gustavus.”

For the many student ambassadors on campus, that gratitude showed how the values of Gustavus must be passed on. “I just loved hearing all of the stories,” said student ambassador Madi Sinclair ’20. “It confirmed for me that Gustavus is a special place where people truly care about each other.”

“This weekend was about being with our classes,” said Gustavus director of church relations and alum Grady St. Dennis ’92, “but it was also about being with people who love Gustavus, the people whom Gustavus loves too.”

Said President Bergman: “Gusties, you’ve been home. And I hope you have felt welcomed home.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Lisa Stordahl says:

    What a fantastic way to do a reunion! I’m so glad that my son chose Gustavus. We couldn’t be happier with his choice! And a fun shoutout to Mr. Ken Dragseth, who was my Superintendent when I taught for Edina Public Schools. He has always been a class act!

  2. Stephanie Ash says:

    Thank you, Lisa! We’re so glad your son chose Gustavus too.

  3. Jan Swanson Swanson says:


  4. June J. Weind says:

    I was back for my 25th and 45th. The 50th was very special. I really enjoyed having every reunion class ending with 2 or 7 back on campus at the same time. The Gustavus team did a tremendous job of organizing and getting each class involved in their own reunion. The Gustavus ambassadors were the friendliest group of young students and were always there when needed. The memorial service brought back memories of chapel and my student days with those who have died. Sunday’s service with the alumni choir and well thought out sermon will be remembered for a long time. Looking forward to my 55th. Keep up the excellent work. June Hagglund Weind’67

  5. Kate Halverson says:

    Last weekend was very well planned with so many stimulating options. For those of us in the 50 Year reunion 1967 class, having escorted golf carts available was awesome, considering the temperature! All the programs/speakers were both entertaining & professional, (same with students helping out), especially when it came to added visuals! The highlight for me was singing in the choir on Sunday morning in Christ Chapel. Another fun add-on was walking through our dormitories which were initially locked, but when we asked about our getting inside, the GAC staff was very accommodating. We had no idea how small the rooms were back in 1963-1967!!

    Our only disappointment was that the Hilstrom Art Gallery was closed for the entire weekend! We were politely told why etc, but you might reconsider it being OPEN next year with at least Richard Hilstrom’s collection, as many of us consider the Gallery our 1st stop!!

  6. Beate Hein Bennett says:

    I did not know what to expect when I returned to the GAC campus for the first time in fifty years. Of course, I recognized Old Main when I drove up the steep hill but then the landscape changed radically. Where there used to be the theatre barn (or so I seem to remember) I parked my car in a large parking lot. In front of Jackson Hall some very friendly GAC students directed me to the check-in place in a new building. New plantings, new buildings, the Evan and Evelyn Theatre building, the renovated former library, the new library, new dorms–all beautiful. However, the people were as friendly as they were when I arrived in 1964 as a foreign student from Germany. In the course of two days and many wonderful encounters with former classmates from ’67 and present staff, personable and impressive President Bergmann, and fantastic “feedings” and interesting programs, I discovered (or re-discovered) what had made this beginning of my American life at Gustavus so special–a certain lightness of being combined with an honest approach to life and the work of the intellect and a strong sense of community. Thank you for a wonderful experience!

  7. Sandy Walls Class of 1962 says:

    Knowing how many attended by class year would be interesting. I have had friends ask and I’m not quite sure.