bonds create lifelong friendships
They met as freshmen at PLU nearly six decades
Since then they have experienced a world
war, seven marriages, 22 children and 49 grandchildren, three
knee replacements and one new hip. And throughout everything life
brings, they’ve stayed in touch, holding annual reunions
for the past 25 years. These 14 friends don’t know where
they’ll be every September, but they know they will be together.
“As we’ve gotten older, we do
think it is remarkable we’ve gotten to do this every year,”
said Carol Storaasli ’47 of Tacoma.
The rest of the group is Carol’s husband,
Lester ’49; Dorothy ’49 and Ralph ’48 Gunderson
of Snohomish, Wash.; Myrtle ’48 and Oscar “Pete”
Peterson ’49 of Edgewood, Wash.; Ginny ’48 and Marv
Johnson ’48 of Auburn, Wash.; Betty ’48 and Jack ’49
Ostrander of Tacoma; Lois ’49 and Don Ewing of Seaford,
Del.; and Ardys ’48 and Raleigh Hughes of St. Maries, Idaho.
Most of them are of Scandinavian descent,
and all seven couples have been married more than 50 years.
“I guess we all think marriage is pretty
important,” said Storaasli, who celebrated her 56th wedding
anniversary in August.
All but two of them – Raleigh and Don
– are PLU grads.
All retired now, the group includes former
schoolteachers, counselors, coaches, principals, medical field
workers, a Campbell’s Soup executive and a wood products
“One of the blessings of this group
is good health,” said Myrtle Peterson.
Their first group get-together was in 1963
when they still had children at home. Over the years, there were
others, and 25 years ago, the couples decided to make it an annual
event. The couples take turns hosting each other, rotating by
“We look forward to our reunion each
year, and the couple who is playing host notifies the others each
spring where we'll be meeting,” said Ginny Johnson. “We
wait with bated breath to see where we’ll go next year.”
This year, the choice was Pendleton, Ore.,
where they visited the Pendleton Woolen Mills, Underground Tours
and the Wildhorse Casino.
Other meeting places have included Williamsburg,
Va.; Branson, Mo.; Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia; Big
Fork, Mont.; and Sandpoint, Idaho. Next year’s trip is already
planned: a four-day cruise off the Washington and Oregon coast
to Victoria, British Columbia.
“We don’t really need a whole
lot of entertainment, because we’re apart all year and when
we get together we just talk, talk, talk,” Dorothy Gunderson
Some of those who live near each other see
each other occasionally throughout the year, and they’re
in touch at the holidays. But this annual fall gathering is their
big rendezvous, and they’ve got piles of albums full of
pictures from their journeys.
All the group members maintain an interest
in PLU, which was still called Pacific Lutheran College when they
attended. Their 1998 gathering was held during Homecoming and
the 50th class reunion for many of the group.
The grads remember living in Harstad, then
called Old Main, and seeing each other every day as students.
They chuckle about sunbathing on the roof, which they really weren’t
supposed to do. That led to their name that still sticks: the
Along with the good times, they remember
harder days during World War II, when the men were away and PLU
“Before WW II, PLU almost went bankrupt,
but the end of the war and the GI Bill brought PLU back,”
Marvin Johnson said.
And bringing the boys back was another benefit
of the bill.
“It was heaven for the gals to have
them all return to the PLU campus on the GI Bill,” Ardys
Remembering the past and celebrating the
years is a joy to this group.
“We feel blessed, we really do,”
Storaasli said, echoing the sentiment of every member. “We
get together and enjoy each other and have fun.”
Some information from the story came from
the East Oregonian.
Next Section: Here and
Photo courtesy East Oregonian
From left, rear: Ralph Gunderson,
Raleigh Hughes, Jack Ostrander, Marv and Ginny (Isvick) Johnson,
Oscar “Pete” Peterson
and Don Ewing.
Front row: Dorothy (Elefson) Gunderson, Myrtle (Davidson) Peterson,
Ardys (Bredvold) Hughes, Betty (Kenworthy) Ostrander, Lois (Tollfeldt)
Ewing, and Carol (Elefson) and Les Storaasli.