Luther Alumni Magazine

Class Notes, 1961–1999

1961–1969 / 1970–1979 / 1980–1989 / 1990–1999


Anita (Thurin) Wildermuth '61
Anita (Thurin) Wildermuth '61

Anita (Thurin) Wildermuth of Clinton, Wis., was an art teacher for 37 years, much of that time as the supervisor of elementary art for the Beloit (Wis.) School District. In September, in the Main Gallery at the Beloit Art Center, she had a solo art exhibit of many of the pieces she’s created over her long career. The exhibit featured a variety of mediums, including paintings, photography, jewelry, and fiber art.


John Bodensteiner of Scottsdale, Ariz., is retired from active practice at Mayo Clinic. He serves as secretary on the board of directors of the American Society of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is also on the executive committee of the Southern Pediatric Neurology Society, is founding editor of Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, and is editor of Case Studies Issues of the SPNS.

Bruce Omundson retired as professor of philosophy and humanities from Lansing (Mich.) Community College. He is a volunteer for the Steam Railroading Institute as a librarian, tour guide, and car host on their annual North Pole Express run by their big steam locomotive, Pere Marquette 1225.


Mike Ruzek '68
Mike Ruzek '68

Michael Ruzek of Austin, Minn., was one of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni honored by the Austin High School Alumni and Friends Association. Retired owner of an insurance agency, Mike was cited for his community service, including the creation of three nonprofit organizations. Spruce Up Austin beautifies public property with an emphasis on planting trees. Since 1990, Mike has helped create projects with nearly 2,800 trees planted. Austin High School Alumni and Friends Association, founded in 1994, makes connections with alumni, students, and the community. Through the association, Mike led many projects such as the Floor on the Wall, a unique recognition wall that has raised over $125,000 for the school foundation. Mike’s leadership since 2003 with the Austin Area Foundation helped the foundation to build $3 million of assets while distributing more than $250,000 to nonprofit organizations that serve Austin. Mike still serves on the Veterans Memorial committee, Spruce Up Austin, and the Austin Area Foundation.


Dale Blyth of Shoreview, Minn., is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Minnesota. He serves on several boards and advisory groups locally and nationally, including as senior advisor and consultant to the Collaborative for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning; the Forum for Youth Investment; and the American Institutes for Research. He received the Alec Dickson Servant Leadership Award from the National Youth Leadership Conference in 2020.

Scott Lee retired after 33 years of teaching at Trempealeau (Wis.) Elementary School. He also published a book in 2021 titled Spiders and Snakes and Rats—Oh My!, a humorous account of 40-plus years of nature education.


Todd Smith is the national sales director at Assist America in West Des Moines, Iowa.


Debra (Hopson) and Rufus Glasper ’74 live in Gilbert, Ariz. Debra is an emeritus counseling faculty member at Scottsdale Community College. Rufus is the CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges.


Craig Cornelius of Menlo Park, Calif., received the Samuel Worcester Award, which is given to non-Cherokees who have made substantial contributions to preserving Cherokee heritage, culture, community, and sovereignty for supporting Cherokee language online through his work on the international engineering team at Google.


Steven Amundson '77
Steven Amundson '77

Steven Amundson of Northfield, Minn., is professor emeritus of music at St. Olaf College. He is retiring after 40 years of teaching and conducting the St. Olaf Orchestra. Amundson will conduct the orchestra throughout the 2021–22 academic year, including a tour to Washington, Oregon, and Montana in February 2022 and a concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on April 10, 2022. On June 4, 2022, St. Olaf will host an alumni orchestra reunion to celebrate Amundson’s retirement.

Steven Johnson of University Place, Wash., is director of business operations and HR at Peace Community Center.


Bob Paulson Jr. is the president and CEO of Sonex Health in Eagan, Minn., and serves on the Luther College Board of Regents.


Allene (Leathers) Byroad retired as a student support coordinator for the Frisco (Texas) Schools after 41 years in education. She is a self-employed licensed professional counselor at Bridges Counseling in Prosper, Texas.

Thomas Mayfield of Maple Grove, Minn., is district sales manager at IC Systems.

Tim Olsen is a clinical trial investigator at NetSpatial in Madison, Wis.


Mary (Christianson) Hansen of Rochester, Minn., was appointed chair of the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors.


Tom Whitesell is the EVP, group head real estate, at Pacific Western Bank in Westlake Village, Calif.

Erick Wiger is studio manager in the Visual Arts Department at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minn.


David Crowe is professor of English, Dorothy J. Parkander Professor in Literature, and chair of the English Department at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He is the author of Hemingway and Ho Chi Minh in Paris: The Art of Resistance.

Scott Gomer is a public affairs officer at the Tomah (Wis.) VA Medical Center.

Lehlohonolo Tlou is the executive director of the Center for Regional Integration in Africa in Accra, Ghana.


Janee (Eckheart) Anderson of Washington, Iowa, is the senior executive sales representative at Eli Lilly.

Amy Berkvam Pfefferle of Northfield, Minn., is owner of the Table Leaf, a plant-based nutrition education website,

Lori Erickson of Iowa City, Iowa, is a self-employed author who has released her newest book, The Soul of the Family Tree: Ancestors, Stories and the Spirits We Inherit.

Cindy Fredrick of Charlottesville, Va., is the senior associate vice president for university advancement at the University of Virginia.

Gregory Hager is the Mandell Bellmore Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He researches collaborative and vision-based robotics, time-series analysis of image data, and medical applications of image analysis and robotics. He has published more than 300 articles and books on these topics. He is founding director of the Johns Hopkins Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare, an interdisciplinary research center aimed at developing innovative healthcare technology and systems.

Sonja (Green) Link is senior accountant at Dungarvin in Mendota Heights, Minn.


John Barth of Lakeville, Minn., retired from Wells Fargo after 25 years of service. He has a portrait-painting business, and his works can be found at

Steve Birchard of Chicago is a partner at Deloitte Consulting and was appointed to the National Board of Trustees of City Year. He also serves as the president of the University of Iowa Health Management Program Alumni Board.

Leon Lillie of St. Paul, Minn., is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.


Wendi Storhoff is an ESL specialist with the St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools.


Chris Gade is vice president of marketing and engagement at Rush University System for Health in Chicago and serves on the Luther College Board of Regents.

Barbara (Cornwell) Solsaa of Menomonie, Wis., is a professional certified life coach and the owner and CEO of Clergy Life Coaching.


Dawn D’Ostilio and Arne Anderson ’87 live in Simpsonville, S.C. Dawn is a retired safety professional and asset manager. Arne is a retired college instructor and corporate trainer.

Greg Eide of Decorah retired from the Luther College Admissions Office after more than 32 years of service.


Michael Ackerman of Rochester, Minn., earned the master instructor designation at the American Taekwondo Association fall nationals in Little Rock, Ark.

Michael Flittie is chief financial officer at rareESSENCE Aromatherapy in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Michelle LeGault of Decatur, Ga., is an attorney at Vernis and Bowling of Atlanta.

David McDonald is the manager of contracts/military systems at BAE Systems in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also serves on the Linn County Extension Council, is owner of a Clydesdale and paint horse farm, and his family raises and shows several of the top Cardigan Welsh corgis and treeing walker coonhounds in the country.

Kris (Ritland) Pressler retired after 33 years of teaching at the Eau Claire (Wis.) Community School District. She helped start School Sense, a banking program in schools to teach financial literacy in 28 schools in the Midwest. She also coached in 25 high school state tennis tournaments over her career.


Nancy (McGivern) Buss of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded the professional designation of board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She is a physical therapist at Advanced Therapy Specialists.


Margie Sinex of Zumbro Falls, Minn., is senior clinical trial monitor at Bristol Myers Squibb. She is also a breeder, owner, and handler of Charizma Airedales; vice president of the Twin Cities Airedale Terrier Club; and board member of the Airedale Terrier Club of America.


Dean Southern is vice president for academic affairs and dean of the conservatory at the Cleveland (Ohio) Institute of Music. He was named a master teacher for the 2020 National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program, which was held in May 2021 at Georgia Southern University, where he mentored early-career voice teachers.


Amie Barsch Odahl is the lead pastor at Salem Lutheran Church and School in Glendale, Calif.

Richard Higdon of Baileys Harbor, Wis., is the facilities manager at Northern Sky Theater.

Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire '92
Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire '92

Xenia Sandstrom-McGuire of St. Paul, Minn., is a musicologist and president of the International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies.


Thor Davidson of Wheaton, Ill., was selected by the Rotary International District 6440 Nominating Committee to be district governor for the 2024–25 Rotary year.

Jon Harney is associate professor of music at Montana State University and conductor of the Bozeman Symphonic Choir.

David Peak '93
David Peak '93

David Peak is superintendent of the Cheyenne Mountain School District in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Jeremy Anderson is senior director of architecture at Optum Technology in Brooklyn Park, Minn.


David Heaton is a social studies teacher in the Danville (Iowa) Community School District.

Kimberly (Anderson) Thole is district literacy specialist for the Onalaska (Wis.) School District.

Amalia Vagts '95
Amalia Vagts '95

Amalia Vagts is a pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Tucson, Ariz.


Mary Ellen (Werner) Roubik earned an MSN degree from Walden University and is a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Kristen (Greenlee) and Benjamin Stout ’95 live in Prior Lake, Minn. Kristen is a teacher at the Prior Lake–Savage Area Schools. Ben is an optometrist at AEG Vision.


Todd Bartelt of Shawnee, Kan., is a software engineer at Veterans United Home Loans.

Karen (Olson) Brennan of Cary, N.C., is director of analytical development at Perfuse Therapeutics.

Chris Mitchell received the 2021 Energy Educator Award from the Wisconsin K–12 Energy Education Program and Alliant Energy. He is a science teacher at Oregon (Wis.) Middle School.

Kimberly Swenson is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Green Bay, Wis.


Chris Bracke is a partner designer at Shutterfly in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Stephanie (Spear) Filigno is a pediatric psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). She codirects the behavioral health program at its Cystic Fibrosis Center and is a study investigator and consultant on a number of research grants. She recently received CCHMC’s Hidden Gem Award, which recognizes extraordinary faculty, and was also promoted to full professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Nicole Winke Gentes '98
Nicole Winke Gentes '98

Nicole Winke Gentes of Lansing, Iowa, was crowned Mrs. Iowa American and competed in the Mrs. American National Pageant in Las Vegas in November 2021. She is an attorney with offices in Waukon and Lansing, and she also teaches personal fitness.


J.D. Burton is the chief government relations officer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Rachel (Knutson) Dahl '99
Rachel (Knutson) Dahl '99

Rachel (Knutson) Dahl earned a JD degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is an estate planning attorney and partner at Maslon LLP in Minneapolis.

Matthew Perkins is an emergency department trauma nurse at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.