Class of 1950-1959 Alumni

Phil Froiland, class of 1950

What fun to read these career/life stories! I believe I’m the old man in the group. I graduated with a philosophy major in 1950. Walt Stromseth and I were classmates, however, when it comes to philosophy, I’d be happy to be his cupbearer! Hong was in Europe, helping to settle war refugees for two years of the time I was at Olaf, so most of my course work was with Wild Bill Narum, which was fine. Hong did come back for my senior year and I was able to take, “Philosophy of Literature,” from him, which was terrific. That was a course that students said, “you have to take it,” regardless of your major. Ditmanson was my advisor and I took ethics from him, another terrific course. After St. Olaf, I went to Luther Seminary in St. Paul, spending the internship year with Carroll Hinderlie as my supervising Pastor. He was a good friend of Hong and a lot of other interesting people. I had no lack of intellectual stimulation among all those great folks. I went into the Army Chaplaincy (I’d been deferred all through the college/sem years) following Ordination and was stationed in New York and Missouri and then Regensburg, Germany in Bavaria. Marilyn Elness, a graduate of Augsburg College, and I were married in time for her to spend time in Germany with me. I then spent a year in graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School, using the GI Bill, although it was reduced in its generosity from the earlier period. I had a course in the Philosophy of History from Paul Tillich and a good course in Luther from John Dillenberger. I took a Call to Central Lutheran Church in Chippewa Falls, WI. That church had the drawings on the books for a new church, modeled after the chapel at St. Olaf, using the same architects. It was a smaller version of course, but very similar otherwise and it went up after I’d been there for a year. Two daughters were born while we were in Chippewa. The older, Sonja, graduated from St. Olaf in ’82, in English and after PhD from Indiana is an Associate Professor at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. After finally realizing that Church History was my real interest, I went east again and got a Masters in Church History from Princeton Seminary. This brought me into campus ministry and I spent a year at U of Wisconsin: Eau Claire, before going to Iowa State University in Ames as Pastor of University Lutheran Congregation. That led to a stint (a decade) as staff in the Division for College and University Services of The American Lutheran Church, in Minneapolis. This meant that I related to all the 12 colleges and universities of the ALC, attending board meetings, arranging conferences for various college staff people, etc., as well as representing the ALC at meetings of the National Lutheran Campus Ministry. It was a fun job but when the merger loomed, I accepted a position as Director of Church Relations at Wartburg College and retired from that post. I think what was most beneficial for me from my philosophy major was the awareness of the philosophical greats: Plato, Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Dewey, etc., etc. They enlarged my thinking beyond the usual theological circles.

Carl Braaten, class of 1951

This has never happened before, being given the privilege of joining a chorus of St. Olaf College philosophy majors.  I was a philosophy major when Howard Hong and Bill Narum were the only two professors of philosophy.  I graduated in 1951 with majors in English and French besides philosophy.  Walt Stromseth was one year ahead of me.  As a senior I wrote a departmental honors paper on the concept of freedom in Sartre and Kierkegaard, a comparative study.  As luck would have it, I I was awarded a Fulbright to study philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris; my proposal was to do a comparative study of Sartre and Kierkegaard.  At the time existentialism was all the rage. The upshot was that eventually I got nauseated of reading Sartre.  In my senior year at St. Olaf, Howard Hong took some of us philosophy majors to St. Thomas College to hear a lecture by Jacques Maritain, a French neo-Thomist.  In Paris I read a lot of Maritain.  Thomas Aquinas said that “philosophy is the handmaid of theology.”  I knew that I would never be a good handmaid, so I turned to the study of theology.  Aquinas also said that “theology is the queen of the sciences.”  So from 1952 to the present I have been flirting with the queen.

After three years at Luther Seminary I went on to do a doctorate in theology at Harvard University.  I chose Harvard over Yale and Chicago because Paul Tillich had just left Union for Harvard.  He became my doctor father and I became his teaching assistant.  Even though I read just about everything Tillich wrote in German and English, I never became a Tillichian.  I wrote two major papers for Tillich, one critical of his doctrine of the Trinity and the second critical of his Christology.  Still I thought he was a great mediator of the classical Christian tradition.  I was asked to edit two sets of classrooms lectures he gave, one on the history of Christian thought and the second on 19th and 20th century Protestant theology.  Like a good German professor Tillich told me what my doctoral dissertation should be about.  That spared me the agony of having to search for a topic on my own.  My dissertation dealt with the modern quest of the historical Jesus.  I spent a year at the University of Heidelberg doing research for the dissertation, since the modern quest since Reimarus had largely been a project of German scholarship.

To make a long story short, I taught theology three years at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and then thirty years at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  I retired in 1991 from classroom teaching and founded an ecumenical center of catholic and evangelical theology, which we located in Northfield.  The aim of the center was to promote dialogue and conversation among theologians representing all branches of the Christian church.

My wife and I left Northfield for sunny Arizona.  We have four children, eleven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.  Besides writing, editing, and publishing theological books (fifty some) I continue to do what I did my years on the tennis team in college — play tennis, lots of it.

My life as a Lutheran theologian has been enriched by travel to many countries,  most often as visiting professor at colleges and seminaries in Asia, Africa, and South America.

I look forward to 2016 when surviving members of my class of 1951 will gather on the hill for its 65th anniversary.  My brother Tack and my sister Agnes graduated the same year with me, and both are still living.

Carl Roy Peterson, class of 1952

My name is Carl Roy Peterson (Roy).  I graduated St. Olaf in 1952, magna cum laude, with special distinction in philosophy and a Phi Beta Kappa membership.  I loved the debate program and made it to the quarter finals of the national tournament at West Point. After St. Olaf I attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1955 and then going to work at a Chicago law firm which had 45  attorneys at that time and 300 when I retired in 1994.  Philosophy is essentially working with logic and I was interested in how the various philosophers would construct their views and arrive at different conclusions.  My paper for special distinction was to compare the views of David Hume and Kant concerning knowledge.  When presented to Dr. Hong, he asked why I did not argue one view was better than the other.  I responded that it all depends on what you assume.  I was told he often used that phrase in his teaching the following year.  Anyway, I was a trial lawyer doing civil defense full time for 39 years.  Two things were vital to the success of my practice.  One was that I learned how to construct an argument and present it in a speech, often without notes. That included how to construct and present a direct or cross examination.  Second, since I had to present the viewpoint of my client, I needed to develop arguments from his point of view,  which was sometimes almost impossible.  So my speech and debate training, and my exposure to how logically I could reason from the same set of facts to different conclusions (as did philosophers) gave me a substantial advantage over lawyers who majored in other fields.  I was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers, which is open to no more than 1% of trial specialists.  And in my mind, I credit speech, debate and philosophy.

Edward Roe, class of 1952

You obviously had an enchanting idea, and the response has been fun reading. Thanks.

I attended St. Olaf 1948-52. I began getting majors in mathematics and chemistry, but when I decided in my sophomore year to become a parish pastor I changed and struggled to get a philosophy major in the last two years. I was an excellent mathematician, a good chemist, and a journeyman philosopher. At that time Hong and Narum were the philosophy department. I treasured Narum’s logic course but had less delight in Being and Some Philosophers. Hong’s classes were always intense and noteworthy whether it was Philosophy in Literature or the Kierkegaard class using mostly Hong’s home-made editions of K’s works. St. Olaf gave me a B.A. in ’52 and surprised me with a Phi Beta Kappa key.

After seminary I served as a parish pastor for forty years. In a busy parish and busy family (with Charlotte Straub, ’54, I had six children) there was little time for serious academics. In retirement there is time, delightful time for reading: in history, theology, and miscellaneous non-fiction, about in that order. Oh, yes, and light mystery novels. In addition to continuing reading, my intellectual exercise is mainly in writing my blog and playing duplicate bridge on the internet.

Gene Skibbe, class of 1952

You obviously had an enchanting idea, and the response has been fun reading. Thanks.

I attended St. Olaf 1948-52. I began getting majors in mathematics and chemistry, but when I decided in my sophomore year to become a parish pastor I changed and struggled to get a philosophy major in the last two years. I was an excellent mathematician, a good chemist, and a journeyman philosopher. At that time Hong and Narum were the philosophy department. I treasured Narum’s logic course but had less delight in Being and Some Philosophers. Hong’s classes were always intense and noteworthy whether it was Philosophy in Literature or the Kierkegaard class using mostly Hong’s home-made editions of K’s works. St. Olaf gave me a B.A. in ’52 and surprised me with a Phi Beta Kappa key.

After seminary I served as a parish pastor for forty years. In a busy parish and busy family (with Charlotte Straub, ’54, I had six children) there was little time for serious academics. In retirement there is time, delightful time for reading: in history, theology, and miscellaneous non-fiction, about in that order. Oh, yes, and light mystery novels. In addition to continuing reading, my intellectual exercise is mainly in writing my blog and playing duplicate bridge on the internet.

David Quarberg, class of 1953

 

I graduated from St. Olaf in 1953 with majors in English and philosophy.  At St. Olaf I frequently identified myself as a “Narumian” since most of the courses I took were taught by Bill Narum at that time.  I missed being eligible for Howard Hong’s Kierkegaard course as a first year student, but I took aesthetics and a senior honors study under Howard’s tutelage.  Walt Stromseth, fresh from his doctoral work at Yale, led a seminar on Kant, from which I not only grew in my understanding of Kant but gained an invaluable aid for insomnia – the first paragraph of The Critique of Pure Reason!

It was not philosophy that motivated me to apply for Navy OCS, but a need to take a break from  the rigors of reading for course work and  writing papers.  Following three years of living on a Pacific Fleet Destroyer and working as a Gun Boss (is that what the Navy does to all philosophy majors?) I attended Luther Theological Seminary,St. Paul (that was its name at that time).  Having the background in the history of philosophy was of great benefit in dealing with the rise and fall of theological systems.  I went on for doctoral work at Harvard Divinity School as a Danforth Scholar only to discern that my vocation was that of a pastor serving congregations.  That took me to congregations in California, Illinois, and Minnesota.  Both of my majors were invaluable in working with biblical texts and relating that work to a critical look at the culture in which I was working.  In dealing with the multiplicity of demands in growing congregations, I found myself recalling Howard Hong’s pithy saying, “Don’t let the good become the enemy of the best!” (A corollary of that wisdom was expressed in a cartoon showing a frantic swimmer surrounded by a pack of alligators.  The caption under the cartoon read, “When you’re up to your neck in a swamp, it’s hard to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp!”)  That’s Word-a-Day Philosophy 101!

Now in retirement and living in Northfield I continue my connection to St. Olaf and philosophy by serving on the board of the Kierkegaard House Foundation which supports the work of the Kierkegaard Library by providing housing for the scholars who come for extended periods of study at the library.  I succeeded Walt Stromseth as president of the board and will be succeeded by Ed Langerak next spring.  It has been a delight for me to serve along with these two long-term members of the department and Gordon Marino, curator of the library and current member of the department.

The first church I served was located in a community in Northern California, the location of Chico State College (now CS University).  As  a congregation we were exploring ways of relating to the college students, faculty and staff.  A weekend workshop was scheduled for interested members of the congregation to launch that effort.  We invited the Dean of the College, a member of the congregation, to give the opening keynote address and set the agenda for us.  He was not a philosopher, but he sounded like one when he proposed that higher education exists to assist students in “making a life and making a living.”  I don’t think there are many representatives from  Wall Street  roaming the halls of philosophy departments these days seeking recruits for the disciples of Mammon.  But, engaging in  philosophical enquiry, searching out the presuppositions that underlie trendy thinking, the “flavor of the month” slogans of our culture, that may go a long ways toward “making a life!”  Have at it!

George Kelling, class of 1956

George Kelling (1956).  After graduation attended Northwestern Lutheran Seminary for two years.  I dropped out of seminary in 1958 and started working with youth, first as a child care worker in Hennepin County Detention Center and then as a probation officer.  In 1962 I received my Masters in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).  I continued working with youth first as the Assistant Superintendent of Juvenile Detention in Milwaukee County and then later as Director of Child care and Social Services at Lino Lakes Residential Treatment Center.  In 1965, I returned to UWM as an assistant professor.  In 1973 I received my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin Madison.  I began working for the Police Foundation (an offshoot of the Ford Foundation) in 1972 and conducted two experiments in policing:  the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment and the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment — the latter resulting in a 1982 article with James Q. Wilson in the Atlantic Monthly called “Broken Windows.”  From 1980 to 2000 I was a fellow at Harvard University, from 1984 to 1996 a professor at Northeastern University, and from 1996 to 2010 a professor at Rutgers University.  Although now retired I continue to consult with police departments (currently Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Detroit), am working on two books, and am a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

I was well served by my education in philosophy.  Howard Hong was one of my most important teachers/mentors.  His focus — “what is assumed?”  –helped frame and defend a good share of my work, coming as I did as an outsider to policing.

Andrew Burgess, class of 1958

My name is Andrew Burgess, STO class of 1958, and I am currently living in Albuquerque NM. Fifty five years back I graduated from the hill with both English and philosophy majors. Since in those days the STO philosophy department was much smaller than today, I had all my philosophy courses from William Narum, except for one (on Kierkegaard) from Howard Hong. Although my initial goal had been to get a doctorate in eighteenth century English literature, I was tempted by an offer of a Fulbright to take a year in Germany first, studying Nicolai Hartmann and Martin Heidegger; but after that year I continued on for an MA in philosophy at the University of Minnesota. The hard-line dogmatism of the German phenomenologists and the American analysts–both sides bent on the total destruction of all those of the other persuasion, so disgusted me, however, that I scrapped philosophy for a while and took a seminary degree instead. In theology the professors were just as dogmatic, but at least they were open about what they were up to. Finally I put these years of education together with a PhD at Yale in philosophical theology, writing a dissertation about Kierkegaard and analytic philosophy. After that I taught in the religion department at Case Western Reserve University and finally in the philosophy department at the University of New Mexico (chairing the religious studies program), from which I retired three years ago. A year ago my wife and I bought a small condo in Northfield, where we can spend occasional weeks while I continue Kierkegaard research, as well as efforts to build up Kierkegaard studies at St. Olaf and at various other spots around the world.

Looking back, I can see that that Kierkegaard course from Hong was decisive for me. In fact, Hong was a lot like Kierkegaard, and the two men sometimes get blurred in my mind. Both Hong and Kierkegaard were masters in literature, philosophy, and theology, and they often put the three fields together in remarkable ways. Unlike Kierkergaard, however, Hong had an equally competent wife, and he and his wife each lived more than twice as long as Kierkegaard did. The result is that, as many of you know, the Hongs had an even greater productivity, quantitatively speaking at least, than Kierkegaard did. For example, they translated and edited the full set of Kierkegaard’s published and unpublished papers–dozens of volumes in the original Danish. Not only that, but Howard Hong also made sure that others would be able to study these volumes by setting up at St. Olaf the finest Kierkegaard library in the world (if they want to be thorough, the scholars from Copenhagen have to come to Northfield to do their work!), plus a Friends of the Kierkegaard Library (to raise funds), an annual Kierkegaard lecture series, and a Kierkegaard House Foundation (to raise funds to bring two international scholars to the Hong Library every year). The lecture this year will be held next Thursday, November 7, at 7 pm in the Viking Theater in Buntrock Commons. The lecturer this year is Rune Engebretsen, whom some of you will remember from the 1970s and 1980s, when he was working on Kierkegaard’s Postscript with Howard Hong high up in the attic of Holland Hall. The person who organized the “Friends of the Howard V and Edna H Hong Kierkegaard Library was Michael Daugherty (see in the letter above; he was a philosophymajor, , class of 1979, who became a lawyer). He has since passed on that job to his close friend Jamie Lorentzen (whom some of you may have heard speak at Hong’s funeral, or may have read his books on Kierkegaard).

Edwin Olson, class of 1959

I have appreciated learning of the stories of St. Olaf philosophy majors. I have noticed many points of connection. Along with Jerry Rice, I am a 1959 graduate.  My senior paper in Philosophy was on Ernst Cassier’s philosophy of mythical language. I hope some of our classmates like Bill Stai join the conversation. I had lunch with Howard Hong in 2009 at our 50th reunion. He was as sharp as ever and in fine teaching mode.

After my Ph.D in Government I got into information science and applied behavioral science.  I was a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and a member of the NTL Institute. I still teach organizational behavior online for the University. I co-authored Facilitating Organization Change: Lessons from Complexity Science in 2001 and have since been applying complexity theory to the science and religion dialogue.  I founded the Institute for Evolving Spirituality (www.evolvingspirituality.org) and I am now co-authoring a book tentatively titled Three Ways of Knowing: Enriched Entanglement of Spirituality, Science and Religion. So you can see I have come full circle back to Philosophy – epistemology and metaphysics.

After many wonderful years “up north” on Woman Lake in Longville, Minnesota, my wife Judith and I live in Estero, Florida, but enjoy teaching and living at the Chautauqua Institution (New York) in the summers. Our four children and eight grandchildren love to visit both places.

Jerry Rice, class of 1959

I’m Jerry Rice, St.Olaf ’59, Harvard Law ’62. I have been practicing law in Minnesota for over 50 years. I had a double major, history and philosophy and still recall some of the superb professors I had at St.Olaf, such as Hong, Narum and Stromseth in philosophy and Jorstad and Larson in history. We had an arbeitgemeinschaft for senior phil. majors given by Hong where we all wrote papers on a specific philosopher (I chose Nietzsche) and then in discussion we could either be ourselves or our philsopher as we argued and critiqued one another. Chris Michaelson took  Kant and his paper stood him good stead at Harvard divinity school where I audited his course by Paul Tillich. Hong’s Kierkegaard course was outstanding. I still use my basic logic text from Narum’s logic course to identify specific fallacies employed by opponents.Walt Stromseth was a treasured mentor and wonderfully kind classroom teacher. Narum took a few of us to philosophyconferences where we had a chance to debate others from places like St.Thomas and St.John’s. We did well in our critiques of Aquinan and Augustinian logic, etc. I was quite disappointed with Harvard law’s vaunted case study method, employed rather sadisticly by some of the profs.;they did not hold a candle to Hong’s use of the Socratic method. I had a chance to visit Hong shortly before his death and tell him how he excelled compared to my law school professors, telling him that with him “I had the chance to study at the feet of the master.” He just smiled in agreement with my statement. Thanks so much for allowing me to conjure up some memories of my four wonderful St.Olaf years!