Lexi Jason earned a master’s in Holocaust studies from Royal Holloway University of London.
Denae McGaha, after studying away two semesters with PLU, had a clue that her vocation included travel. Teaching English in Budapest was an unexpected post-grad step for this communications major, but it has opened a world of opportunities. Her dream is to work in a study abroad center, help students with the ups and downs of life abroad and to develop the programs and centers they study in.
Nick Domenichini is an interim residence life director at Linfield College. After graduating in 2016, Nick went abroad and became an English language teaching assistant in Spain. That same year, he began a program to earn his master’s in arts and education. He completed the degree in 2018.
Sascha (Julian) Billinghurst and her spouse traded the Seattle skyline for the romantic cobblestone streets of Luxembourg. They chose the area for three reasons: diversity, location, and career. Every day they look forward to peering out the window and seeing the almost surreal Casemates du Bock and the unique experience of grocery shopping.
Nate Schoen recently returned back to the States after working for three years as a high school English teacher in Hungary. He chose Hungary because he knew little about the area and thought it’d be an excellent opportunity to learn about something entirely new. Weekly, he looked forward to going to the bars, a show, or trying out some new Hungarian recipes.
Amanda Hall and Derrik Larsen ’13 have been together for six years and will be getting married in the fall. They took their engagement photos in their Lute softball and football jerseys.
Mamie Howard and Derick Carlis welcomed their son Jace McVea Carlis on Jan. 11.
PLU DCenter alumni and staff members met up for the inaugural progressive dinner and toured Tacoma’s 6th Ave with Dirty Oscar’s Annex, El Borracho, Red Hot, and some delicious Ice Cream Social. Front row/left to right: Saiyare Refaei ’14, Nicole Jordan ’15, Angie Hambrick, Troy Andrade ’07, Katie Cameron ’17, Iana Abinales ’18. Back row/left to right: Quenessa “Q” Long ’18, Nicole Juliano, Luke Ruiz, Lars Tanaka ’08, and Michele Ganiko.
Michael Farnum was recently awarded the 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award from Green River College. After retiring from 23 years of military service as a Cavalry scout and drill sergeant, he enrolled at Green River using the GI Bill and then transferred to PLU where he earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences. Now, he serves at PLU as the director of mIlitary outreach, assisting more than 300 veteran students.
Cassie (Kelsey) Bieker ’12 and Tyler Bieker ’13, ’15 welcomed daughter, Nora Jeanne, in July 2018. She joins older brother, Daniel.
Kate Retherford married Jon Klapel ’11 on Oct. 13, 2018 in Snohomish, Washington. The newlyweds met their first day of school at PLU, in their first-year orientation group. Lutes in attendance at the wedding included Elizabeth (Johannsen) Farrell ’09, Nicole Klapel ’13, and Bethany Aye ’16.
Breanne (Starks) Chadwick and Dustin Chadwick ’11 welcomed their daughter, Hadlee Marie on May 25, 2018.
Breanna Nelson and Matthew Mueller ’11 married on Jan. 19 in Waimea, HI. Lutes in attendance included: Kyle Kennedy ’14, Tessa Switzer ’12, Rich McCausland ’12, Bridesmaid Kelsey Reeder ’11, Chris Rosenlof ’11, Bernie Anderson ’13, Justin Pottorff ’11, Erin Reierson ’12, Steven Mueller ’14, Jenny Tillman ’14, Bridesmaid Erica (Johnson) Kilgannon ’12, David Hirotaka ’10, Kayla Griffith ’11, Officiant Joseph Espinoza ’11, Chelsea Paulsen ’13, Jennifer Ladzinski ’12, Katie Farrel ’12, and Dania Tolentino Rodriquez ’16.
Joe Natwick ’11 married Becca (Simonds) Natwick on July 1, 2018 in Lyons, CO. Lutes in attendance included: Deb (Koch) Abbott ’99, Emily Bishop ’14, Peter Braafladt ’81, Matt Fischer ’11, Melanie (Deane) Fischer ’12, Josh Hammerling ’11, Siri Johnson ’13, Kathy Keys ’11, Cameron McMillan ’11, Megan (Moyers) McMillan ’11, Signe (Johnson) Meinders ’11, Matt Mueller ’11, Chris Rosenlof ’11, Sarah Sandgren ’11, Andy Sprain ’05, and Erin Sprain ’06.
Jacob Harksen has joined Fox Rothschild LLP as an associate in the firm’s Minneapolis office where he advises businesses on a variety of employee benefits and compensation, labor and employment matters.
Megan Galbraith helped welcome a Golden Globe and Academy Award to the office of Sony Pictures Imageworks. Megan was an associate production manager on the film “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse,” which won both the Golden Globe and Oscar for best animated feature film this year.
Zach Alger met his husband, Tony Motisi, when both were high school seniors visiting the PLU campus 14 years ago. Although Tony didn’t end up attending PLU, they had mutual friends and kept in touch throughout college. After graduating, Zach moved to be with Tony in Colorado and they’ve been together for 11 years, married since March 2016. Both working for the U.S. Foreign Service.
Nathan Hulings and Jill (Russell) Hulings ’08 welcomed daughter Penelope Simone on Feb. 27. She joins big brother Theodore, who was born in 2015.
Mitch Dietz and Laura (Comstock) Dietz ’09 met their first day at PLU in 2005 and started dating on St. Patrick’s Day of senior year 2009. They got married in 2011 and have two children, Anderson and Elin.
Candi (Ziegert) Tobin ’08 and husband Tim Tobin welcomed a baby girl on May 15, 2018. Lillian Pearl is much loved by big sister, Penny, two cats, a dog and five chickens.
Amy (Greenwood) Swanson and Toby Swanson ’08 got married Aug. 28, 2010 after meeting in a PLU anatomy class. They said their vows in the music amphitheater with PLU professors and friends in attendance.
Darren Page accepted an Infection Preventionist position at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Audrey (North) Thornburg ’07 & ’13 and Jacob Thornburg welcomed their second daughter, Maddie Harper, on March 2. She joins big sister Kirra, 4.
Kendra (Jeffrey) Gruneberg ’07 welcomed Sebastian James on Oct. 28, 2018. Sebastian joins his big brother, Langston Emanuel.
Elizabeth Scott and her husband Paul Scott ’04 met singing in the Choir of the West. Fifteen years later, they are still creating music together and have two daughters.
Mariesa Bus was recently hired as the Public Information Officer for Tacoma Public Library.
Solveig (Berg) Munson and her spouse Patrick Munson ’05 met at PLU, pictured here at Sparks Stadium. They have been married for 12 years and now have two children, Graham and Julia.
Erika (Doane) Dorrington ’04, husband Benjamin Dorrington, and big brother Logan, welcomed Derek James on Aug. 17, 2018. He weighed 7lbs, 14 oz, was 20 inches long, and was very happy and healthy. The Dorringtons live in Kalispell, MT where Erika is an associate financial advisor at DA Davidson & Co.
Andrea Westby was selected as the 2019 Family Med Educator of the Year by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.
Julie (Johnson) White ’01 and her husband, Michael White, welcomed their first daughter, Brielle, on Jan. 27
Suzanne Howell was promoted to principal of Apple Valley High School. Suzanne is proud of the school’s commitment to diversity and student equity. She credits teachers who go above and beyond what is asked of them to make sure all students are given opportunities to succeed.
Tara Doyle-Enneking has been hired as the CEO of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce. As co-owner of a small-business, Goodfella’s Motor Co. in Tacoma, she is grateful for the opportunity to be an advocate for the business community.
Cora Campbell has been named CEO of Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods. She was commissioner of Alaska Fish & Game after earning a Bachelor’s degree from PLU. After leaving her state post, Campbell became president and CEO of Siu Alaska Corporation in 2015 which led her to her new role at Silver Bay Seafoods.
Sara (Bleything) Sneed was nominated and voted by theatergoers as the 2018 BroadwayWorld Boston Awards Best Actress in a Play for her role as Joanne Galloway in the production of “A Few Good Men” at the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Massachusetts.
Julie Johnston and Matthew Rygg ’00, along with eight others, summited Mount St. Helens in Oct. 2018.
Crystal Aikin, national recording artist, returned to campus mid-February to headline the Gospel Experience Concert. With a degree in nursing, she thought she had found a career that would last her a lifetime. In 2008, she auditioned for Black Entertainment Television’s first all-gospel talent show, “Sunday Best”. She beat out some of the best church singers and was awarded a major contact with Zomba Gospel — the largest gospel label in the world.
Karen Lahn, fourth grade teacher at Belfair Elementary, graduated summa cum laude in special education and psychology hoping to be a school psychologist. She started her teaching career in 1996 after realizing she wanted to be in more of a “front line” position and today she prides herself in “being there” for her students both academically and emotionally.
Jennifer (Berger) Allison completed an LL.M. (master’s degree) in German law, magna cum laude, at the University of Würzburg in Germany in June 2018. While in Würzburg, she also taught legal English and U.S. law courses to German law students. After completing her LL.M., she returned to her position at Harvard Law School, where she has been a law librarian specializing in foreign and international law for six years.
Eric Schuck met his wife Calanthe “Cally” Turner ’92 in Kreidler. They were on the track team together.
Penda Naanda was appointed as ambassador/permanent representative of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations Office at Geneva on Nov. 26, 2018. He presented his Credentials to Michael Moller, director general of the United Nations Office at Geneva, and is accredited as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. Penda was one of the nine Namibian PLU Scholars, an opportunity made possible by the generosity of the University Congregation. Since his graduation from PLU, Penda has also served at the United Nation headquarters in New York.
Borge A. Steinsvik became a partner and director of Pinnacle Resource Group Inc., a shipping and tanker broker company based in Seattle. In addition, Borge is now partner and board member of Seattle Early Learning Center, a preschool with three branches in West Seattle.
Julie (Vraspir) Sager and Scott Sager ’91 met the first day of their freshman year in 1987 and both lived in Pflueger. They dated all four years of college and then married in 1993. They just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in summer 2018. Their son, Nate, is a junior at PLU.
Kathy Pheister celebrated turning 50 in June 2018 in Minneapolis, MN with her Pflueger Hall pals, Jane Stewart Bjork ‘90, Nancy Bal Shaffer ‘90, Karen Thorson Preston ‘91, Kathy Pheister ‘91 and Shelley Zoller ‘90.
Denise Doering-Burmarkand her husband Dave Burmark ’89, who began dating as eighth-graders at Truman Middle School in February 1972, are still going strong 47 years later, now awaiting their third grandchild.
Del Shannon, PE was recently elected to the board of directors for the U.S. Society on Dams. As an expert on the design and construction of both earthen and concrete dams, Del has worked on dam and water resources projects throughout the world. He lives with his wife, Beth Shannon ’89, in Boulder, CO.
Zainal Abidin Ahmad has been named the new CEO of Perodua. He was previously vice-president of Perodua Auto Corporation Sdn Bhd, and holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems and accounting from PLU.
Mike “Tui” Tuiasosopo was hired as Kansas State’s defensive tackles coach. Tuiasosopo was a four-year letterman defensive tackle at PLU and has had an extensive career in football since graduating. His recruiting background on the West Coast and substantial amount of Power 5 experience, including developing defensive linemen and a strong presence on special teams, made him perfect for this new position.
Thoralf Andreassen is an SAP system process owner at Vår Energi, an independent, mid-size oil company focusing on the Norwegian sector based in Stavanger, Norway. After working 26 years in ExxonMobil, the Norway branch was spun off to a private equity and in Dec. 2018, they partnered another company to form Vår Energi. Production is about 170,000 barrels per day.
Michelle “Shelly” (Lyda) Elston met her husband Scott Elston ’88 in 1984. They got married in 1989 and will celebrate 30 years of marriage in May.
Robynn Rockstad-Rex recently joined Kaiser Permanente in San Diego as a senior communications consultant, leading employee engagement programs in support of a new, $1B+ technology platform. She also serves as president of the San Diego chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
Jocelyn Price has been inducted into the LCC Athletics Hall of Fame. She played volleyball at PLU and is now regarded as one of the top volleyball officials in Southwest WA. Price was the head coach of the Lower Columbia College volleyball team for 18 seasons from 1989-2006. During her tenure, the Red Devils won the NWAACC Championship in 1991, and placed third in 1993 and 1996 while compiling a 186-86 record.
Sherrie (Callaham) Hayes and her husband Tom Hayes ’86 met at PLU in 1981 and got married on June 6, 1985.
Kathleen Martin has been cast to play Abigail Kincaid in “The Inn at Harbor Rose” by Debbie Macomber, adapted by playwright Joseph Robinette through Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap (CSTOCK).
Virgie (Bermudez) Sheldon and her husband Tom went to Antarctica with friends who had it on their bucket list. They visited a spot near the former British research station Port Lockroy on Weincke Island, where Virgie was able to walk out onto the sea ice. They saw many “couples” of gentoo penguins who were nesting — each partner bringing food to their mate as they protected their nests from predators. It was an amazing day as they continued to be awestruck with God’s beauty and nature throughout the trip.
Matthew Johnson died March 14. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from PLU and enjoyed teaching elementary school for 16 years before embarking on a new career in HR Management as a civil servant with the U.S. Army. He retired in 2015. Matt is best remembered for his sense of humor and his strong storytelling ability.
Lt. Col.(r) Willa Ray Clark-Podgornoff died on Feb. 6, 2019. She graduated with a M.A. in Human Relations and was loved by many. She was very active in the Miniature Collection Society, her local church in Texas, and the University of Texas-Houston.
Jim Martin-Schramm, Luther College professor of religion, is the new director of the Center for Sustainable Communities. He will serve a three-year term as director. Martin-Schramm has been a member of the Luther College religion department since 1993.
Patt (Gamino) O’Neil, using the name, P.A. O’Neil, has been writing professionally for just over two years. In that time, her stories have been featured in multiple anthologies, online journals, and magazines from several continents. She resides in Olympia, WA with her husband, and their adult children live nearby.
Dr.Stan Flemming joined Swenson Healthcare’s management team as Director of Medical Affairs. In this role, Dr. Flemming will provide leadership and organization to Swenson Healthcare’s growing team of post-acute clinicians in Washington state.
Jill (Jackson) Knutson and her friends all met in Foss Hall in 1976 during their freshman year. By senior year, they all lived together in a small house off campus. They hadn’t been altogether since they graduated 40 years ago so they planned a weekend reunion on Vashon Island and had a blast. LUTES FOR LIFE! Front: Sigrid (Olsen) Marshall ‘80, Kathy (Tveit) Casey ‘80. Back: Jill (Jackson) Knutson ‘80, Diane Dunlap ‘80.
Bob Kissinger retired in 2016 after working 32 years for GE — 28 years with Aviation, and four years with Appliances. To celebrate the occasion, he bicycled across the United States last summer as part of the Adventure Cycling TransAmerica Westward Tour. You can read about his adventures on his website (robert-kissinger.com). Bob lives in Cincinnati, OH with his wife, Michiko.
Rod Harris received resolution on his jazz studies program 40th anniversary. This tribute acknowledges the impact that Dr. Rod Harris has made over the past four decades as a founder and director of the Columbia College Jazz Program.
Dianne (Hiett) Herivel has worked as a mental health therapist for The Everett Clinic since October 2016. Prior to that Dianne worked for 10 years as a dual diagnosis counselor for Evergreen Recovery Centers. She earned an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from SPU in 2005, concurrent with a certificate in Medical Family Therapy. She was married to David Herivel ’77 for 27 years until his death from cancer in 2003. Dianne is blessed with three daughters, one son-in-law and three beautiful grandchildren. She lives in Lake Stevens, WA.
Fay (Burnett) Fenske died on Jan. 3 from pancreatic cancer with her two daughters by her side. She was a member of PLU’s women’s crew team. She worked at the Bellingham, WA Public Library for more than 30 years and retired in February 2018. During her time at the library Fay created costumes and puppets for the children’s library. She also had her own sewing and alteration business, and volunteered for for the Bellingham Theater Guild making costumes and props. Her daughter Emily graduated from PLU in 2005.
Roger Hansen reflects fondly on his J-Term (called Interim at the time) experiences. In 1970, he took a tour of nine western states in a geology class led by Dr. Brian Lowes. His fondest and most memorable interim course was through Alaska Methodist University when he visited the four Hawaiian Islands: Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. Students were escorted by personnel of the Volcano Observatory and got to stand next to Mauna-Ulu while it spewed lava and they watched the personnel take samples of the fresh lava.
Chuck Zuber retired in 2013 following 51 years of teaching in Bellevue, WA. He is a deacon at Bellevue Presbyterian Church. He also volunteers as a member of “Watch D.O.G.S” at Maywood Hills Elementary School in Bothell. In his spare time he enjoys fly fishing and playing volleyball twice a week.
JoAnn (Hanson) Cornell and Don Cornell ’58 met in the first full cast reading of “The Taming of the Shrew,” in January 1957. They married seventeen months later in June 1958. This picture shows them ready for Homecoming in 1957.
Lloyd “Ray” Soderlund and his wife Rozella “Sally” Soderlund ’57 met while standing in line for the cafeteria, which was then located in the basement of Harstad. Here they are, outside of Harstad, with Garfield Street behind them.
Orning Blaine Fjelstad died Feb. 7 in Oak Grove, OR. He was born in Montana and raised in Spokane. He met Gloria Kvinge ’55 on campus, and they married after graduation. Together they moved to St. Paul, MN, where he attended Luther Seminary. After ordination, Pastor OB, as he was known, began his ministry in Seward, AK. By the time they moved to their second parish in Everson, WA, they had three sons and had lived through the great Alaska earthquake. The following years brought a daughter to the family. Lutheran ministry then took him to two Washington cities, back to Alaska and to Idaho. He was predeceased by his wife, Gloria; daughter, Gretchen; and second wife, Wealthea and is survived by sons Steve Fjelstad ’79, Dan Fjelstad ’82 and Eric Fjelstad ’84, four grandsons, one great-grandson and his very special Hallie Lahti.
Betty Lou Hadley died Feb. 24 in Fremont, NE. She and her husband, Clifford Hadley ’52, met while Betty was his chemistry tutor. In 1984, Betty was called to ministry and she graduated from Luther Northwestern Seminary in 1988. She preached until she was 86. She is survived by her daughter, four sons, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.