From the Prez


Dear friends:
Those of you who know me well, know that I was in US Army intelligence way back when, because I spoke Russian. Pretty fluently. Thank you, Mr. Russell (and my college professors). Fact is that the only reason I stayed in Mr. Russell’s class was because Holly Hovde also took the class. Fortunately for me. While I was in the service, I used to spend most of my time listening to Soviet and Warsaw Pact tank commanders, amongst others, swearing at each other. No doubt they are still doing that. Now I simply pray that the Ukrainian people survive and overcome the Russian onslaught. My ancestors came from Ukraine and Moldova. So, let’s all pray for peace, and for the safety of the Ukrainian people, and also for our children, grandchildren, loved ones and friends. 
Many thanks to Rollie, George K., and the reunion committee for their efforts in organizing and putting on this reunion.

It’s been almost seven years since the 50th reunion because of COVID. In the interim, many of us have lost dear friends and family. In my case, I think of Jay Hoffman and Tom Zanna. When we were at Fern Hill, Jay and I used to play football in his family’s living room, to his mother’s dismay. They had a beautiful home on 28th and Huntington. We tried our best to destroy it. Jay was a great dancer, and we will all miss him on the dance floor at the reunion. He could dance up a storm. 
As you all remember, Tom was a state champion swimmer in the breaststroke and held the Cooke Hall record at the U of M for many years as a high school swimmer, even though the Big Ten schools competed there. He was also brilliant, one of our classes’ top ten, and a class officer. I remember that he applied to several Ivy League schools fearing that he wouldn’t be accepted; and, of course, he got accepted into all of them. He became a psychologist. But I will always remember him as a dear friend. 
No doubt, we have all experienced the sadness of losing loved ones and close high school friends. We are all 74 or 75 after all. 
 We are blessed, therefore, to be here with long-time friends. I have been fortunate to have stayed in touch with high school friends: some in person; most by e-mail or Facebook. Mike Martin, Dave Howe, Tim Long, Bob Harada and I continue to harass each other on the golf course every now and then, laughing at Mike’s jokes and at my golf swing, even though we reside in four different states. Ronnie Weisman has organized a Wednesday lunch get-together, COVID permitting, at the Main Street Grill in Hopkins. So I have occasionally seen Bruce Wallace, Gerry Crawford, Mike Frantz, Cracker, Ken Tupper, Jeff Koval, and a few others. And I have stayed connected with George K., Bob Stein, Linda Steele Harrier, Laura Carlberg McArdle, and Marti Hunkins Justus on e-mail. I see Mary Kleifgen’s Facebook entries too. Tim Long and I have also visited Billy Jacobson, who has heath issues, at a hospice in Shakopee. He’s as feisty as ever. 
 I am still married to Jessica, 47 years now (after a 6-year courtship); and we have two beautiful daughters and three beautiful granddaughters. They are all fine athletes, meaning they got Jessica’s athletic genes. I spend lots of time at basketball games, soccer games, softball games and gymnastics meets. Great fun for a lazy grandpa. Jessica and I, despite the outbreak of the Omicron strain in South Africa, braved the pandemic, and did a three week safari in Botswana, after a few days in Cape Town, South Africa. In two of the three safari camps, we were the ONLY guests. Everyone else had cancelled because of COVID. Trip of a lifetime; so fortunate we took that chance. 
I loved being a judge. Best job one could ever imagine. Unfortunately, state court judges get mandatorily retired at age 70 in Minnesota.  I am still working, full time, supervising and disciplining any state court judges who commit “ethical violations.” And now I am picking up occasional mediation referrals from state court judges. I am not the retiring type. Yet. 
Hoping you all are staying as healthy as possible at our ages.  Looking forward to seeing you all and getting a few hugs. It should be great fun. 


Dear members of the Class of 1965, St. Louis Park High:

Welcome to our 50th class reunion. Let me repeat that. This is our 50th reunion. We are blessed to be here, renewing and continuing old friendships. We have been blessed, in most cases, to be mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. We have worked hard. Some of us are retired; some still plodding away. And we remember, for a blessing, our friends and classmates who are no longer with us. Several died in Vietnam. Others left us far too early in their lives; others, more recently. We miss them all and remember them.
But here we are. Amongst old friends. Listening to Mike Martin’s jokes and still laughing, same as 50 years ago. Bringing together folks from faraway places and those who never left, or those, who, like me, left several times, but always came home. Catching up with one another. Meeting spouses; significant others.
First and foremost, I would like to extend our thanks to all the members of the Reunion Committee who worked so hard to surprise us, to make this a fun weekend, and add special thanks to Linda Harrier. In my last missive 10, maybe 15 years ago, I wrote about our extraordinary class and its achievements. We were a super class. Great minds: Doug Yock; Tom Zanna; Stanley Gale; Gail Papermaster, just to name a few of the many brilliant folks who graduated with us. We had great athletes, too, also too many to name. Bob Stein; Bob Olson; Bob Wagner; Nooper Dachis; Steve Burke; Buckwheat; Ira Rosen; Jim Rounds. Tom Zanna set the Cooke Hall record in the breast stroke; that’s where the U of M competed against Big Ten swimming powers, Indiana and Michigan. We were also football state champions. We had great teachers and coaches. I remember David Litsey; Hattie Steinberg; Lyle Gerard, Dick Wainio, Bob Roy; Lyle Hanks; and Cliff Bombach come to mind. Wayne Sundberg, in his 90s, recently raised the flag during the National Anthem at a Twins’ game. And, unfortunately, Coach Roy Griak, a wonderful human being, passed away in July.
We had many, many beautiful, intelligent, and active women in our class. Hey, I admired all of you; was in love with many of you. You know who you are. All of us guys were in love with all of you. The Parkettes were great, and paved the way for pro football cheerleaders and dance-lines. Laura, Marti, Kathy T, Kathy Mc, to name just a few. I remember a few of our cheerleaders, too. Linda, Rollie, Kathy, Kathy, and Sue Knutson, who later became the State Court Administrator for our entire state court system. And I am sure that several of you women are married to other, lucky classmates. Cracker and Joanne; Nooper and Elaine. Mike and Sue come to mind.
I stay in touch with some of you, on line and in person. Played golf with Tim Long, Dr. Dave Howe, Dr. Bruce Smith, Dave Lee, and Mike Martin, and stayed at Bob Harada’s house outside Boulder, Colorado not too long ago. Bob moved to ski country after many years in Singapore and London. So, Bob, why did that sheriff’s department drone crash in YOUR back yard. Were they snooping on you for some reason?
Drones. Reminds you how times have changed.
Have a great weekend. I hope I get to spend time with as many of you as possible in this short time we have together. And I hope to see you at our 60th.
We are loyal to you, Park High!!!!



Dear classmates:
We recently finished a weekend of activities surrounding our 45th reunion. It was a success; perhaps more so than many of us expected.  I know I spent close to three hours just talking to so many people.  We have all aged so differently. Some look OLD – Balding, White hair, Chubby. No surprise there. We are, after all, mostly 63 years old. Some look like I remember our parents lookin   You know what I mean. Hey, you look like your mother when she met me at the door when I picked you up for Sadie Hawkins, or whatever. In my case, the beer belly has long since replaced what used to be. I won't be wrestling in the 127 weight class again until my next life. In this one, looks like heavy weight. Some of us (myself not included), however, are remarkably unchanged. A touch of silver/gray, but otherwise remarkably unchanged - Kleifgen, Ehrenberg, Buckwheat, Billy Toles, Bruce Smith and Ann Barnes and many others. Must be in the genes.
I thought the spirit at the reunion in virtually everyone was quite exceptional.
We need to thank Linda Steele Harrier and her committee for their time, energy, and for positive results.  They did a great job.  Linda sacrificed a lot of her time to make this a success.
Now, let me get back to memories.  They are certainly self-indulgent (and forgive me for that), but they are mine.  Tell me/us about yours.
It's not a bad idea to record your memories, as they slowly, ineluctably, fade from us.
What do you still remember from those long ago school days? Anything stick out in your mind? I remember Mr. Ed Sorebo, my 8th grade geography teacher at Westwood, telling us about the miseries of combat in the Korean war, and that our so-called hero, General Douglas MacArthur, was considered to be a nut case by the GIs that Sorebo served with. That was kind of a wakeup call for me. You mean that was not a good war, Mr. Sorebo? I remember Mr. Richey sticking pencils in his ears. Anybody else remember that?  I've already written about Lyle Gerard breaking down in 10th grade English while reading about Yugoslav partisans in WWII. What else? I remember sitting in front of the TV set for hours with my family during the Cuban missile crisis. I remember the look on Jack Wilhite's face in 11th grade social studies class when the principal came over the loudspeaker to announce that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.  And watching the funeral procession.  And Jack Ruby shooting Oswald in the Dallas P.D. holding area. I remember Richard Russell's Russian class.  Why?  It was very small, and I could stare at Holly Hovde every day. Little did I know then that speaking Russian would keep me out of Vietnam when I was in the Army. Wish I could thank Holly for that.
You all may remember me as angelic. Not so fast. Well, I recall going on a few destructive rampages post football games when my friends and I vandalized various places. Ripped down picket fences from residential yards, and did a lot of other high school harry type stunts. Looking for trouble. Bombing around in the car.  Then going to McDonald's for a cheeseburger and fries. No names; but those friends are police officers now, or other respected professionals.
What else? Hearing from somebody in Esquire-ettes, or Sturge, or whatever those sororities were called, that I was being invited to their dance; and then as an awkward tenth grader, swooning as the girl I'd been praying to be my date came to the front door. I remember that still, Laura Carlberg. I bet you don't. Yes. I remember the girls I dated for a long time. But especially the ones I never did but always fantasized about. Cracker, you lucky dog you.
I remember Bob Stein smashing a glass backboard during a home basketball game. Hey, Bob, it was just a layup. Do you remember??
I remember going to Edina/Park football games with an Edina friend. A hockey player. He still remembers getting beat by Stoney Burke - Every year.
When the football games were at Edina, we sat on the Park side of the field; and vice-versa. Senior year we went to a get together to honor the Edina AFS students at some fancy house in Edina. One beautiful girl approached me and asked me if I was the Italian AFS student. I shit you not. She became their homecoming queen, and we dated for a while. And this was years before the movie: "Breaking Away."
I remember the teachers and the coaches - Griak, Bombach, Jim Avant, Wainio, Roy, Hanks....Litsey, Russell, Gerard, Hattie Steinberg,...funny, but the math and science teachers just don't come to mind.  Try doing this without looking at an Echowan! We were lucky. Park had a great faculty.
I have a vague memory of graduation ceremonies on the football field, and the all-night party, and going back to Bob Harada's house with some of the kids; and canoeing in the dark on the creek behind his house. With which girl?  Probably Marlene Lindell, but I don't remember.
We all have our own memories.  And they are mostly sweet.
We went to college and/or work.  Got married. Had kids. Had grandkids. Lost friends. Lost parents.  Time has passed so quickly.  We mark the passage of time by watching our children grow.  And now our grandchildren. And we know that, by and large, we have been blessed.
My wish for all of my friends in the great class of 1965, St. Louis Park: nothing but good health in the coming years and peace for you and your families.  And I hope that all of you holding out for the 50th will show up.  We want to see you!!!!

Aug. 2005

TO:  The Graduating Class of 1965, St. Louis Park High School
FROM:  Tommy Sipkins, Class President

 What made St. Louis Park High School so special, as I think back, was its diversity.  Not racial diversity, of course, since there was none.  But rich and poor were friends; and our class, like the community, was uniquely divided amongst Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.  We had a great class.
Our class was very smart and very competitive.  Some folks, like Doug Yock (a presidential scholar), Stanley Gale (just a genius), Tom Zanna, Anna Geyer and Gail Papermaster, were off the charts.  Scary smart.  Zanna, who swam the breast stroke and broke the Cooke Hall record at the University of Minnesota where the Big 10 swim meets were held, was actually worried about getting into college.  So he applied to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Amherst, and Bowdoin, I think, and got accepted to them all.
We also had some fantastic athletes.  Unfortunately, in those days, girls' sports didn't get past GAA.  Cheerleading and Parkettes.  Laura Carlberg, Marti Hunkins, Martha Holmberg, Kathy Thorbeck come to mind.  Linda Joseph, Rollie Troup, Kathy King and Kathy Fujino as cheerleaders.
We had some great boys' teams.  Our football team was first in the state:  Jim Rounds, Bob Olson, Ira Rosen, Tim Long, Tuffy Weisman, Dick Barr, Stu Mogelson, Gary Youngstrand, Bruce Smith, Bill Gresko, to name a few.  And, Bob Stein has a Superbowl ring, I think, from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Steve Burke was a great and under-rated goaltender, and Buckwheat Lindquist and Robert Holt were pretty good too, in hockey and baseball.  Nooper Dachis was also a fine baseball player, on a good team.  Zanna was the state champion swimmer.  Olson and Terry Neidlinger excelled in basketball.  Bob Wagner and Terry excelled in cross country and track.  Bob was state champion at least one year that I recall.
Lots of beautiful women in our class.  I hesitate to list them, lest I forget some of them.  One of them, Holly Hovde, has passed away.  From the moment I saw Holly in 7th grade English class, I was totally smitten.  Was anybody not?  I always thought she was drop-dead gorgeous, but nerd that I was, I never had the nerve to ask her out.  In my yearbook at graduation she wrote that she always had a crush on me.  What was I thinking?  I think the only times I saw her after we graduated were at the 10th and 20th year reunions.  I gave her a hug and a kiss at the 20th and told her that she was "elegant" and still the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  She smiled and kissed me again.  I am glad that I told her.  I never saw or spoke to her again.
I had Lyle Gerard in the 10th grade.  English class I think.  He was reading a story to us written by or about a Yugoslav partisan, and underground fighter, who had fought the Nazis in World War II.  Near the end of the story, Mr. Gerard broke down and started bawling.  It was the first time I can remember seeing a grown man cry, and I still can see him in my mind's eye, 42 years later.
The things that we remember ........
I look forward to seeing all of you at the reunion, and hope to hear from all of you who are unable to attend.