Luther Alumni Magazine

Class Notes, 1956–1999

1956–1959 / 1960–1969 / 1970–1979 / 1980–1989 / 1990–1999


Odell Bjerkness published a book, Off We Go!: Letters to My Mother during the Korean War. The book recounts his time serving as a member of US Air Force bands in Michigan and Tokyo from 1950 to 1953. Odell dedicates the book to his mother, noting that she “read and answered all 100 of my letters, and saved them for me so that 70 years later I could write this story.”


Joanne (Doerring) and Milt Kramer ’59 live in Manchester, Iowa. Joanne is a retired teacher and was active in the community. Milt is also a retired teacher and has been the mayor of Manchester for 47 years. The Manchester Family Aquatic Center was renamed to the Milt and Joanne Kramer Aquatic Center to honor them last spring.


Joel Brende of Prairie Village, Kan., is a retired professor of psychiatry and department chair at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Ga. He recently published a book, The James Tapes, based on eight years of psychotherapy with James, a multiple personality patient Joel treated between 1975 and 1983. Joel expects to follow this with two more books on the same subject.


Lou Accola of Mesa, Ariz., published a book, Feelings and Faith: Reflections of God’s Gifts for Life’s Journey.


John Eggers of Bemidji, Minn., is the owner and director of Envisioning Your Future.


Paul Davis of Los Angeles is a retired engineer.


Terry (Thiele) Rasmussen of Fort Collins, Colo., is a retired casualty field examiner. After her husband, James, passed away, Terry took up running. She ran her first half marathon on her 64th birthday. At age 73, she completed her goal of running half marathons in all 50 states.


Mike Ruzek is the owner and manager of the Austin (Minn.) Health Insurance Agency and one of the founders of Austin Area Foundation.


David Ellingson of Edmonds, Wash., published a children’s book, Grizz and His Friends.

Robert Hankel Jr. of Marana, Ariz., is a retired dentist and a graduate student in the MPH program at Grand Canyon University.


Gretchen Andersen of White Pigeon, Mich., is a retired teacher.


Daniel Bollerud of Anchorage, Alaska, is a retired ELCA pastor.

John Severtson of Minneapolis retired as executive director of Opportunity Village in Clear Lake, Iowa.


Peder Hegland is a studio potter and owner of Peder Hegland Pottery in Sartell, Minn. His work, and collaborative work with painter Judith Bergerson were featured last summer at the Ripple River Gallery near Bay Lake, Minn.

Lee Olson of Fitchburg, Wis., is a retired reinsurance manager.


Deborah Hafner DeWinter of Windsor Mill, Md., is a retired clergy who serves on the Metro New York Synod Bishop’s Visioning Team.

Carl Homstad of Decorah is a painter-printmaker at Homstad Studio and Gallery. His work is featured at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in a yearlong exhibition called An Artist’s Journey: Carl Homstad, 50 Years from June 2021 through May 2022.

Rolfe Lehman of Middleton, Wis., is a retired massage therapist.

Rich Nading of Owensboro, Ky., retired as a health educator with the Green River District Health Department.

Mary Runningen Monsted is a piano teacher, church pianist, and CEO of Musical Gumbo.


W. D. Foster-Graham of Mounds View, Minn., is the new book review editor for Insight News. He has also published his sixth novel, The Right to Be: A Christopher Family Novel.

Karen (Olson) and James Gerth ’77 live in Prairie Du Chien, Wis. Karen is a retired deacon. James is a retired pastor.

Larry Welo of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., is the owner of Larry Welo Studio. His paintings and prints were shown in an exhibition, Then and Now, at Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis from July 24 through Sept. 4.


Jeff Nelson of Edina, Minn., is a retired family physician. He has also published a book, I Got to Live with an Angel, in honor of his late wife, Jane (Korsrud) Nelson ’76.

Rosie (Almo) Spangenberg of Council Bluffs, Iowa, retired after 46 years of service in education.


Keith Drews of Commerce, Mich., retired after working for 34 years at the National Park Service as a park ranger and IT specialist.

Gary Grindeland of Bayonne, N.J., is pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He was named Bayonne and Hudson County Senior Citizen of the Year for 2021.

Kevin Hibbard of Carrollton, Ga., retired after 41 years of teaching, the last 32 as director of choirs at the University of West Georgia. He plans to resume directing his community and church choirs in the fall.

Christina (Rudey) Silka earned a doctorate in nursing practice from Mount St. Joseph University. She is the system director of operational informatics at ProMedica Health Systems and is adjunct faculty for the master of nursing science program at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio.


Christi Korn-Finholt and James Finholt ’78 have retired to San Antonio, Texas. Christi retired after 37 years of teaching music and has started writing a children’s book series, CATastophe! The first book, The Christmas CATastophe!, was published in April 2021 in English and Spanish. James also retired after 19 years as a Microsoft certified engineer and chair of the Computer Information Systems Department at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore.

Barbara Larsen is a medical librarian at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Andrew Ward is supervisory epidemiologist and director of the Evidence Development Division at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore.


Don DiLaura retired after 43 years as the public works director for the Ossian (Iowa) Water, Sewer, and Maintenance Department.

David Wettach of Muscatine, Iowa, is a retired family physician.


Kristen (Braaten) and Bruce Wilder of Albuquerque, N.M., will retire from serving Faith Lutheran Church in Dec. 2021, Kristen as the new member and adult ministry coordinator and Bruce as the senior pastor for the past 23 years.


Gladys Noll Alvarez of Des Moines, Iowa, is author of two social work books, Grandma Mary Says Things Happen: A Guide to Help Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Grandma Mary Says Bullies Hurt.


Lina (Viise) Miller of Independence, Kan., is a retired elementary school music teacher.

Gary Nordmoe is a master data analyst at Novolex in Cincinnati.


Mike Donohue is CEO of the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging in Decorah.


Karen (Kramer) and Daniel Landsverk live in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Karen is a legal assistant at Alan A. Panek Law Office. Daniel is a district sales manager at Sysco.

Jim Nussle of Alexandria, Va., is the president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association. He was also recognized as one of The Hill’s top lobbyists of 2020.

Laura (Holcomb) Wold of Sheridan, Wyo., is a veterinarian at Big Goose Veterinary Clinic. She also is the author of the children’s book Magic Pajamas.


Stephen Berg is a customer relationship advocate at Fidelity Investments in Salt Lake City.

Kathy (Fjelland) Kolden of Mesa, Ariz., is the senior manager internal audit at the University of Phoenix.


Thomas Gilbertson of Apple Valley, Minn., is data security manager at Self Esteem Brands.

Kris (Hahn) Henderson of Edina, Minn., retired from her role as vice president and general manager of cash products at Ameriprise Financial and an active consultant and volunteer for multiple organizations including the Minnesota Council on Economic Education, Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, and Giving Voice Crosstown, a chorus for people with dementia and their caregivers that will launch later this year.

Eric Isaacson served as the interim executive director of the Louisville (Ky.) Ballet from March through August and has returned to his position on the music theory faculty at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.


Diane Davis is director for alumni engagement at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Dan Thoreson is staff accountant at Smith, Schafer, and Associates in Red Wing, Minn.


Tim Mitchell retired after 34 years of teaching secondary vocal music. He moved to his hometown of Charles City, Iowa, to take a more active role in his family’s show cattle operation.


Scott Frankwick is accounting manager at Tripwire in Portland, Ore.

Christine Long was elected to a two-year term as assistant chief judge in the Third Judicial District in Owatonna, Minn.

Ann (Glidden) Platt of Denison, Iowa, is retiring after 33 years of teaching music to kindergarten through third-grade students.


Jill (Schroeder) Putnam of Eagan, Minn., is the chief financial officer at JAMF Software. She was also appointed to the board of directors of Integral Ad Science. Jill also serves on the board of Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital.


Jane Vaaler Roets of Wethersfield, Conn., is an early childhood mental health consultant at the Village for Families and Children.


Marit (Ness) Lloyd of Corona, Calif., is the head of preclinical development at Immunity Bio.

Clark Shah-Nelson of Baltimore earned a doctorate of business administration from the University of Maryland Global Campus and is the assistant dean of instructional design and technology for the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Dean Southern is interim dean of academic affairs, Dorothy P. Schmitt Chair in Opera, and artistic director of CIM Opera Theatre at the Cleveland (Ohio) Institute of Music.


Thor Davidson of Wheaton, Ill., was elected assistant district governor for Rotary International District 6440 in Illinois and serves as foundation chair for Wheaton Rotary.

Eric Goers was appointed city attorney for Iowa City, Iowa.

Matt Helgemoe and his wife, Jenny, are the new owners of Geneva’s Hideaway, a multi-unit Airbnb rental property in Peterson, Minn.

Thomas Martin is board certified in internal medicine and a gastroenterologist at the Iowa Digestive Disease Center and a physician specialist at Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson, Iowa.

Anjie Shutts of Des Moines, Iowa, was sworn in as 135th president of the Iowa State Bar Association. She is a partner and divorce and family law attorney at Whitfield and Eddy.


Jennifer (Fields) Garcia of Sierra Madre, Calif., is the CEO of LND Companies, a women-owned boutique real estate development, investment, development management, and construction company.

Julie (Thompson) and Michael McNamara live in La Grange, Ill. Julie is a math teacher at Daniel Burnam Elementary School. Mike is the vice president of mortgage lending at Proper Rate Mortgage.

Chris Oehler received the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Award. Chris is a volunteer hospital historian and wayfinder at UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Kyle Jackson is senior pastor at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior, Minn.

Melissa (Schindler) Miroslavich of Woodbury, Minn., earned a JD from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is staff attorney to the Honorable Vicki Vial Taylor for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.


Mark Greenwood of Bozeman, Mont., is a professor of statistics and director of statistical consulting and research services at Montana State University.

Jill Johnson of Chanhassen, Minn., earned an MSN degree from St. Catherine University. She is on the nursing faculty at Herzing University.

Suzanne (Roverud) Mineck of Des Moines, Iowa, is president and CEO of the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. She was named a 2021 Women of Influence honoree by Business Record for her work reshaping conversations and sparking new approaches for improving children’s health and for building a network of children’s health advocates working on system changes to address the social determinants of health, such as food, housing, and racism.


Amanda (Alcock) Freese earned a master’s degree in teaching and learning from the University of Iowa. She is a K–4 talented and gifted educator for the Marion (Iowa) Independent School District.


Jay Kautt is vice president and director of advanced sales at Advisor Group in Oakdale, Minn.

Thippi Luangpraseuth is owner and manager of Global Grounds Coffee and Tea in La Crosse, Wis.


Corey Hoodjer is senior agency and client relationship manager at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Des Moines, Iowa.

Stephanie Larsen of Rockford, Ill., is a self-employed writer and teacher. She founded the Game Changer and published a book, Discover Your Master Chakra.