Spring 2020

Dear Members of the Class of 1953,
Like colleges all over the country (and the world), Luther College is experiencing a spring semester like no other. Our students have just finished their spring break and are participating in remote learning, connecting with their professors and classmates online. It certainly isn't the spring semester we imagined but Luther is responding with resiliency and creativity.
Many of us are making adjustments, sometimes daily or even hourly, to these uncertain times but we wanted to connect with you and to send you Will's letter that he wrote to you, the Class of 1953, just weeks before we became immersed in the COVID-19 pandemic. We think you'll enjoy reading what he has to share!
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during these times. For updated information about Luther's response to the pandemic, visit luther.edu
Many thanks for your steadfast love and support.
Mariah Bringer Smith ‘95
Director of Development, Current Gifts
Dear Luther College Classmates of 1953,

Some years back I spent a fair amount of time reading the mystery novels of P. D. James, a noted British author of crime stories. Many of them were transformed into TV dramas by the BBC. The record of British women crime writers is impressive--Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and P. D. James are several of the best known. Why are crime stories so engaging, especially well written ones? They observe dimensions of universal human behavior that teach us about ourselves. Even good people do bad things, or people sometimes get caught up in tangles that result in bad choices, or the distinction between innocence and guilt is not always clear cut—that sort of thing. 

P. D. James, at age 77, published a reflection on her life that constitutes a kind of autobiography, titled Time to be in Earnest , inspired by the advice of Samuel Johnson in the 18 th century who recommended that when one reached the age of 77 it was “time to be in earnest . “She had a difficult life. When her husband succumbed to mental illness, she was left to care for her children and make her way through life on her own resources. She eventually had a position in the criminal justice division of the civil service, work which provided her insights for writing mystery novels on the side. In 1991 she was named a life peer with the title “Baroness” by Queen Elizabeth, sat in the House of Lords, and died in 2014 at the age of 94.

Given our more than two centuries of separation from Dr. Johnson, we have reason to delay our “time to be in earnest” ten or more years beyond his benchmark of 77. The age of 88, give or take a year or two, is high time for us to be in earnest. Death has come cIose to all of us and the distance thereto for us who survive is not long. 
When I joined the Luther faculty in 1862, there was a new collection of bold and brash young men in the department of religion, most of them familiar to you: Gerhard Forde, Robert Foster, Robert Jenson, Harris Kaasa, Carl Losen and I. Kaasa and I were the only ones who completed a lifetime career at the college. The others moved over time to positions elsewhere. However, of that group of the 1962-63 academic year, I am the last man standing. In addition, several of my faculty and staff colleagues of long standing have died in recent months: John Bale, Martin Mohr, and John Bruemmer. 
Just two weeks ago, as I’m writing this, my wife died. She had been in a nursing home with severe memory loss for ten months. I miss her a lot. To the end, she remembered me. 56+ happy years together left a permanent imprint on her memory, for which I am grateful.

It is indeed time to be in earnest, time to reflect on the arc of our lives. Just being alive for 88 years is quite a story. Who could have imagined, back in 1949-53, what adventures lay ahead of us, both for us individually and for the world at large? Sandwiched between our childhood world and the larger world we entered upon graduation were those four years at Luther College. That chapter of our story was set in what was still a rather small world, but it is etched into our lives in ways large and small. We are cumulative creations; we don’t easily shed any of our experiences.

What do we value most when we stop to reflect? Surely kindness, love and friendship stand high on the list. Beyond that, I want to do all that I can to assure that those who come after us enjoy the opportunities that came my way. Life, liberty and happiness, of course, but more to the point of this letter, the opportunity for a sound education. 
You knew that I would get to the point finally. Luther College faces special challenges now, given the nationwide drop in the number of young people of college age. This challenge is shared by most institutions of higher education in the country. At the same time, the breadth and quality of the college’s program is arguably at the highest level in its history. Luther College prepares its students well for entry into the larger world of adult opportunity and responsibility, with an ethical stance of service.

I plan to continue to support Luther College to the extent that my resources permit, and I invite you to join me. 

Best wishes!
Wilfred F. Bunge
1953 Class Agent
911 Ridgewood Dr. Apt. 212
Decorah, IA 52101

Nina Mae (Nehring) Merrill Carlson of Rock Island, Ill., died Dec. 3, 2019, age 88.

Ester Vegan Hustvedt of Northfield, Minn., died Oct. 12, 2019, age 96.

Kathryn "Kae" (Kraabel) Knudson of Burnsville, Minn., died March 1, 2020, age 89.

Carl Pernell Losen of Richmond, Va., died Jan. 28, 2020, age 88.

Lucille (Rustad) Schroder of St. Paul, Minn., died Jan. 28, 2020, age 88.