Magazine editor dances her way to the top
By Laurel Willoughby, Assistant Editor
If you've ever doubted the influence an extracurricular activity can have on the course of one's life, Gaelyn (Ittner '75) Beal will make a believer out of you.
Since 1991, Beal has been editor of Lutheran Brotherhood's bond magazine, which last year quadrupled its circulation to 3.3 million, topping the audience enjoyed by Newsweek and People.
Before working on bond, Beal served 10 years as editor of Sons of Norway's member magazine. And prior to that, she and her husband, Daniel '76, lived in Norway for a year on a grant, where, among other activities, she took weaving classes and steeped herself in folk culture.
So what influenced this German American to turn her life so heavily toward Norwegian interests? Mayfest dancing at PLU.
"I credit Auden Toven's teaching, sponsorship and enthusiasm for sharing Norwegian dance and culture," said Beal of the languages professor and former longtime Mayfest dance adviser. "I married my dance partner, and we both became enamored of the Norwegian folk culture, now our adopted heritage. Dancing in Mayfest was a life-changing event."
That passion led Daniel, an English major, to pursue a master's degree in dance. Soon after, the couple spent a year in Norway. Gaelyn parlayed that experience into her position at Sons of Norway and ended up at the helm of bond. But Norwegian connections are not the only things that have guided her life choices.
"Both Lutheran Brotherhood and Sons of Norway are not-for-profit organizations that give back to society," Beal said. "That's a big part of who I am and how I use my time. If you're working 12-hour days, it had better mean something."
When Beal manages to lay down the editing pen, she and her husband enjoy bicycling and canoeing. And the couple's love of dance continues. Daniel has written a book on Norwegian folk dance, and they both perform and teach Scandinavian dance, sharing their enthusiasm with others.
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