The Bismarck High School Class of 1981 quarterly update

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide a positive, safe and supportive environment for all classmates in which we can share our personal lives. The staff reserves the right to publish only information that we feel is within the supportive spirit of this newsletter. Information which we feel is intended to be negative, class polarizing, mean-spirited will not be published at this site. That is not the avenue we want to take with this newsletter. The staff.

Volume 68, July 2008

Hi everyone, well, we survived the snowiest winter in Milwaukee and the rainiest June ever!  Yippee!   That was a lot of snow, over 100 inches and it seemed like it lasted forever.  When the snow finally melted, it started to rain and rain and rain.  In one weekend we had a foot of rain!  It was a perfect weekend to rip apart our kitchen, we have great timing, or at least I thought so.  Kevin had other plans, but a rainy weekend is a perfect time to take care of that “honey-do” list.   Nothing better than driving to Home Depot in the late evening, in a torrential downpour to get a new hose for the dishwasher, he loves me!  

Thankfully the snow has melted, June 24thish was the day that they say the last flake melted away somewhere in Milwaukee.  The rains have now ended, summer has officially come to Wisconsin and so have the mosquitoes and all of their friends and family.   They were a bonus!  Wisconsin is never without some kind of weather or bug issue, just part of the fun of four pretty seasons!   

I hope you all had a great winter and that you are ready for warmth, fun, and the summer sunshine.  Bring it on!  I am going to enjoy every day of sunny weather because here in Wisconsin, winter is already at our doorstep in September.

Lauri, Dan and Wendy

Update on Laurie Eckmann

Dear Classmates, I am a fairly private person, but either I write and tell you what has been happening to me or Dan might and if he is like my husband, he will have the story all twisted.  :)   So here it goes! 

I have had some of my own health issues lately and could use some of those positive thoughts and prayers that you are all so wonderful at doing!  I am currently recovery from a massive infection that led to a case of septic shock.  My hospital stay was kinda scary, but we caught it earlier enough and I walked away with my health intact and no long term health issues from the sepsis.  My recovery at home will be 4-6 weeks, much like that of someone who has had major surgery.  It is slow, uncomfortable, tiring and frustrating for this type Tripe A personality, but, I am alive and that is all that truly matters! 

I will have major surgery in early fall that must be done, as we will need to remove the "killer" fallopian tube and the rest of my reproductive organs that are very scarred from the infection and other long term issues.  I am not looking forward to that part of life, but, if not done, both my doctor and myself will lay in fear waiting for another shoe to drop.  So, I have made the decision to go ahead with the surgery and then move on with healing and closure on many long term problems.   

Thanks for thinking of me....I stay have a long ways to go, but I will beat this, I have no doubt!  I am already past the worst of it all and now, it is just lots of bed rest, prayer, antibiotics, and time that will lead to my full recovery. 

Lauri Reed Eckmann,
BHS Class of 1981
Junior Girl Scout Leader, Troop 2595
Ascension Lutheran Church Wedding Coordinator


 This Newsletter is Dedicated to the Memory of

Basil Hipple


 Dear classmates, as many of you know, Basil passed away on May 2nd, in Forsyth, MT from a heart attack.   He was the 24th classmate to pass away, at least that we know of. 

Basil was an active part of this network that we share.  He loved to read the newsletter, he was always willing to share and he so enjoyed hearing about all of you.  At one point we were even looking for a new server for the newsletter and Basil stepped in to help us find a low cost server in his area.  How nice.  He was always willing to help us keep this little project going as he loved it and he loved what it did for all of us.   

I am sure he would somewhat embarrassed by this tribute, but, he like many, he is deserving!  He was a big part of what we do, and a big part of the class of 1981.  He was proud to be from our class; proud of the friendships he still had and loved the new friends that he had made at previous reunions.  He will be missed at our 30th by the many he knew him and by those who appreciated his deep friendship!


Basil Memories

The following is from Phil Leer

“Sometime in grade school, Basil was over at my house (we played together most every day back then!) and we were shooting baskets in our driveway.  Things got a bit heated (boys!!)and I got so frustrated with Basil at one point that I gave him a shove.  I didn't mean to put so much force behind it, but that push ended up propelling Basil backward into one of our window wells!  There he sat, hands, feet and head sticking out of the well, wriggling to try and get out (which he finally did, after some work).  I just stood and watched, somewhat helplessly, not knowing what to do, a swirling mixture of guilt, anger and sadness welling up in my heart.  

After Basil pried himself loose, he left my house with tears in his eyes and steam coming out of his ears:  "I'll never play with you again!" he yelled, as
he ran across Hughes Field towards his home on Avenue C.  That was the longest night of my life up until that point--my first real experience of grief and loss.  What had I done??

And then the next day the phone rang.  It was Basil.  He wanted to play.   And he never said a word about the incident ever again.  I didn't have the
theological vocabulary to label what I had just experienced, but I do now:  grace.   Amazing grace.  How sweet the sound.  Grace from Base.  It even rhymes!”

The following is from Jeff Aune

“I have a couple of Basil stories to pass along.  The first memory I wish to share is from 10th grade when Basil & I were in wrestling.  We were headed to Mandan for a match and were driving on the interstate in his old VW bug with the heater not working.  My job was to scrape the inside of the windows while Basil drove so he could see where he was going.  The second was shortly after graduation, he & I took his old van down to Apple creek road and canoed Apple creek all the way to where it joins the Missouri river.  We were on the river for about 6-7 hours and our backs were like lobsters when we were done, but it was a great trip.”    Jeff 

Other thoughts from our classmates upon the announcement of his passing. 

I just can't believe this!!!!!!!!!!! For the past few days my mind has been continually wandering back to BHS classmates, specifically those that are gone....Dan and Stuart, Charlie, others and now to hear this. It's just so sad, so unbelievable. Our class has such a high number of deaths. I don't get it. At our 20th, during the tour, the BHS staff was talking about how many classmates are gone already. Rudy even mentioned it when I saw him at the new Jr. High.  Sorry that you have to share the sad news. But thank you.   He was just the greatest guy! Always a smile for me. Wish I could be at the service.” Wendy Rios Bosch

Lauri: “I was shocked yesterday when I saw this announcement in the Bismarck Tribune.  He indeed was one of those who was always friendly to everyone.  Another hard loss for the Class of '81, yet we can continue on, knowing he has played a big part of it all!”  Fred Harvey

I'm sorry I've been AWOL for a few years, and it took the death of Basil to get me back to writing you. Thanks for keeping up with this. Your work keeps many people connected.  This e-mail account has been dormant, but now I must check it more often.  I knew Basil mostly from junior high at Hughes.  My brother, Mark, knew him well, too. Basil was steady, calm, odd and funny.”  Monte Olmstead


Lisa (Moser) and Kerry Kienzle
are very proud to announce that their daughter Savanna graduated from Century in May.  Future plans include attending the dental hygiene program at NDSCS in Wahpeton this fall.  

Liz (Wicks) Kramer and her husband, announced the graduation of their son Tom, from BHS in May.  She added that he had the opportunity to be part of the Demonuts this year!  Back in the day, she would never have imagined that one of her boys would be a Demonut, but they had a blast and put on some really hilarious shows.


Wendy (Fuller) Christy has let us know that their son, Marshall graduated from Lakeside High School on June 14th.  He is currently working so he can avoid student loans, but ultimately wants to pursue a career in auto mechanics.

Dirk Kienzle let us know that his son Jacob, graduated from BHS in May.  He plans to attend UND.   Dirk told is that he is not sure what his career path is yet CPA, Business Management, or get this, a High School Teacher, but he does know that he loves working with kids!

Mary (Kerzman) Rostad’s
daughter, Ashley Kraft graduated from BHS in May.  She is currently working and investigating a career in Interior Design.

Dollars for Scholars
1981 Alumni Scholarship

Our second $500.00 Dollars for Scholars 1981 Alumni Scholarship has been awarded to a 2008 BHS graduate!   How cool is that!
The young lady sent us a wonderful thank you letter, but due to maintain confidentiality it was sent in your private e-mail update.  

As many of you many remember, we collected $2,000 at our 25TH Reunion and the money was donated to the Dollars for Scholars program.  
That total gave us 4 scholarships, our first was in 2007 and our last one will be awarded in 2010.  We will be one year short in regards to our 30th class reunion.  So….we need to collect 500.00 by Spring of 2010 so that we can assure that this program will continue on into it’s fifth year and we will once again add this option onto our reunion registrations.  If you or your employers are interested in making that 5th scholarship a reality for a future graduate of BHS, contact me for the details on how you can make a tax-deductible donation.  Once again, thank you everyone for your incredible support!



Liz (Wicks) Kramer also announce that her oldest son Lee and his fiancÚ are expecting a little girl (Kamden) in early October, this will be her first grandchild!!!

 Tammy (Pettis) Sine and Lori (Grishkowsky) Pettis are Great-Aunts again!  Their oldest niece Kittie Grace (daughter of EttaAnn (Pettis) Grace BHS class of '71) and her husband Brian Hoffman welcomed a 5 lb 12 oz little girl named Lyssa Grace Hoffman into the family.  They are all proud to have a new addition!


WEDDING Congratulations

Lisa Ilse and David Burger were married on April 26th in Austin, TX.  David is a Cardiologist in the Austin area. 

The following is from Mary (Schmidt) Hulm

“Thomas Hulm and I were married on Saturday, June 14th at Steamboat Park along the Missouri River.  The weather in the week or so leading up to that day was not very pleasant, but things cleared up for us!  It was a beautiful day for an outdoor ceremony and dinner at Meriwethers.  Later that day, we had a reception at Buckstop Junction.  All and all, I'd say everything turned out perfectly.  We honeymooned in Cancun.  It was a fun and romantic trip.  We'll post a picture or two once we have them.”


Denice (Rebel) and Curt Frieze
were excited to share news about two of their sons!  Nick, their oldest is majoring in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Natural Resource Law Enforcement at Bismarck State College.  Matt our middle son is majoring in Commercial Art at Bismarck State College. 

Rhonda (Levin) Mendieta was very excited to announce that her daughter, Gabriela Mendieta,
was chosen as student of the year at Simle Middle School in May, 2008.

Phil Leer has let us know that his daughter Allison is doing well and they are hoping for positive MRI results this fall.  He thanks all of you for the incredible prayers and will keep us posted of her results. 

Wendy (Fuller) Christy also let us know that her manuscript 'Safe Harbor' caught the notice of a publisher during a writing contest.  It should be available for purchase on Amazon in August under the pen name Sherilyn Winrose, she didn’t have a bookstore release date yet.


The following life update is from Mike Ehrmantraut


“A lot has happened since I last provided an update. 
My oldest son, Jason, graduated from high school a year ago.  He had a pretty good high school hockey career and even had a chance to play Division 1 hockey for Holy Cross.  Unfortunately, they do not offer any athletic or academic scholarships and it was just too costly to go there for the primary reason to play hockey.  $50,000 per year!!  It was a lot of fun talking to the various coaches but the right deal just never came to us.  I wish I knew then what I know now as we were going through the process.  He just completed his 1st year at the
University of Wisconsin - Madison and as of this week has been accepted into their business school.
Our youngest son, Taylor will be a junior next year.  He has had his driver’s license for almost 6 months now and is really enjoying the freedom that he has not experienced before.  He continues to play both baseball and hockey.
My wife, Mary, changed jobs in July and is now the Controller for a division of Schwans foods.  I changed jobs a few years ago and I am consulting for a company called Certes Financial Pros.  They find me jobs to do contract work at.  I have really enjoyed this.” 


The following life update is from Wendy (Tippett) Halpern

“We are back at our lake house in Minnesota and I finally had time to look over the site- looks good!  I have forgotten so much after all my moves but seeing everyone’s names brings up so many memories.   My daughter Natalie graduated from High school and is attending SMU- (Southern Methodist University) in Dallas this fall.  Dave got a three-year extension with the Dallas Stars so we are staying put for a while longer!  This is the longest we have ever been in one city!  My oldest, Nicole graduates from the University of Washington in Seattle in December, and she and her husband Tim just celebrated their one-year anniversary! I will be back to work full time this year as all my chicks have left the nest.”


Jean (Walton) and Kelly Schafer just celebrated their one-year anniversary and they just moved into their new home in Bismarck! 
 Jean said that if they can survive their first year of marriage and build a new house during that year, then they must have a shot at making it!! 


This past basketball season Connie (Beierle) and Scott Hoovestal’s daughter had Scott Gefroh for a basketball coach at Horizon Middle School.  Connie gave him great reviews; she stated that he was probably the best basketball coach her daughter has ever had!  J



On the Road Again

The following is an update from Tom Gerhardt!  Tom is wonderful at staying in touch, not bad considering he currently lives in New Delhi, India. 
I can’t wait to hear news from his new home in Astana!

“Received word of my next assignment Astana Kazakhstan.  The wife & family are all looking forward to leaving India. The incredible rudeness of Indians, rampant disease & pestilence, idiotic driving, beggar hacks, lousy infrastructure.... wears away the goodwill of even the most long-suffering & kind person.  Nonetheless living in India gives one an education like none other. Leave New Delhi Feb 09. Will spend a few months in the states before arriving Astana May 09. We are all looking forward to living in a climate similar to ND and hope to do some Ice Swimming like we did in Lithuania.  16 million people live in Kazakhstan and 28% are ethnic Russian. Astana is the capital of the country with a population of 800,000.”


In The News

Phil Leer was recently quoted in the Bismarck Tribune, though they misprinted his last name!  Here is his story.

A bishop "grounded in silos and combines and cornstalks"
Bismarck Tribune

- photo of Duane Danielson coming, submitted photo of Mark Narum

For the past nine years, the Rev. Mark Narum has been serving a parish in northwestern North Dakota, including churches at Stanley, rural Stanley, Ross and Palermo.

If you hit "rewind" to his life nine years ago, you'd see Narum graduating from Wartburg Seminary in
Dubuque, Iowa. Rewind one step further, and you'd see Narum leaving his job as news director at KXMC in Minot after 15 years to go to seminary.

Rewind further, then hit fast-forward, and you'll see the years that shaped Narum into a pastor, starting from his time after high school as a counselor at Camp of the Cross near Garrison. His involvement in the ELCA's lay ministry program known as GIFTS (Growing In Faith To Serve). Attending a new church, whose pastor led him through a discernment process. Learning management, communication and people skills at KXMC.


Go all the way back and you'll find a farm boy from Douglas and "a connection to this place that is really deep," Narum said.

The decision to enter seminary at early mid-life felt like the right thing, he said.

During the first week of classes at Wartburg, Narum found himself walking home after class, "washed with the feeling that this is the right place and the right time," he said. "All of those years were God using other people to shape me."

Narum, 45, was chosen June 7 by the Western North Dakota Synod of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as its new bishop for a six-year term, replacing the Rev. Duane Danielson, who retires from the post after 12 years. The bishop serves 195 churches in western North Dakota.

Janis Sloka III, executive director of Camp of the Cross near Garrison, calls Narum a "very, very people-oriented person, a very wise, compassionate person who really does know rural
North Dakota, which is important for a bishop."

After conversations began to arise around Narum's name for the post of bishop, Narum said his deciding was a long process, very back-and-forth, yes-then-no.

Frankly, he said, "I was terrified. I spent a lot of time in prayer, talked with my wife."

Eventually, they decided "whatever the Holy Spirit wills, that's what we will do," he said. And if that's what the Holy Spirit wants, he added, "then the Holy Spirit has got a lot of work to do.

"Even now, I'm humbled by this call," Narum said.

"It's exciting that (Narum) wasn't campaigning for (the position)," Sloka said. "It just happened."

That means it was "very Holy Spirit-driven, God-driven," he said.

In a break with custom, Narum said that he felt it was really important to be upfront with his decision that, if elected, he would not be relocating to the synod office in

The synod office will remain in
Bismarck, while Narum's plan, he said, "is to have my office in my home and my car."

He and his wife of 26 years, Jan, have three sons, one age 21, two still in high school, "a difficult age to move kids," he said.

Narum said it was important to convey a heartfelt thank-you to outgoing Danielson for 12 years of leadership in a phenomenal way.

Narum's symbol for his own work style is that of a coffee cup, he said - "the ability to sit with parishioners and pastors and listen to their joys about their ministries and their concerns. And to dream together about their vision for ministry in the place they're at."

To be "out there" listening to congregations and pastors will be a priority, he said.

One thing Narum loves, he said, is to be a storyteller:"Isee the role of bishop is to tell the story of the gospel and how it connects with our churches."

The Rev. Phil Leier, pastor at
Bethany Lutheran Church in Rugby, calls Narum "very genuine, very sincere, a very 'North Dakota' boy.

"The bishop is first and foremost a pastor and a listener," he said. Narum, Leier said, "has a very pastoral heart. He invites conversation. He has an ability to make everybody in the room feel welcome.

"That is a real key piece to his personality,"Leier said. "He invites people in."

One of Narum's gifts, Leier said, is his ability at articulating a theology of the prairie in terms that people can understand.

Narum can access a real, rooted theology of the prairie, using the language of parables like Jesus did, Leier said, the ability "to take abstract stuff and ground it in silos and combines and cornstalks. He's able to do that really, really well. That's one of the appealing things about him."

Western North Dakota is a very diverse synod, Narum said. Though we think of ourselves as homogenous and we do have a lot in common, he said, there are particularities about each place.

"One of the gifts of the people of the prairie is an appreciation for change," he said. "We see the cycles of winter, spring, summer. We see life and death all the time. In the midst of the deaths, we always see new life springing up as well."

In the places where death is seen - population declining, society changing - the question will become, "how can we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be involved in bringing new life?" Narum said. "That will take some dreaming together."

Narum said his outlook is optimistic:"At the same time as I say that, Iknow fully that people are in deep, deep pain in the midst of the changes taking place."

Two questions sum up that challenge: "What different ways can we approach ministry? What does God have in store for us yet?"


The following was submitted by Dan Raszler

“I just wanted to inform you all of my new career change.  Effective June 9th, 2008 I ended my retail career.  I will be working for Flood Masters out of Beaumont, TX.  I will be doing restoration & recovery from floods, fires, hurricanes & any other disasters needing repair and restoration.  With this kind of work, I will be doing a lot of traveling and I may even be stopping by to visit if there is damage not to far from you.   This new career has endless possibilities for my future so bare with me if I am not reachable or unable to call you in a timely manner.  With all that being said, I will be working the floods in Iowa in the next coming weeks.”
Side note: As I prepared the newsletter in late June, Dan called to say that he was working the flood zone in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He was in contact with Jamie (Keller) Hatley, who lives in the area, and she is doing okay after all of the flooding in that area.   Lauri

Our Sympathies to all of you…

Our sympathies to the entire Basil Hipple family and his many friends.  Basil passed away on May 2nd, in Foryseth, MT.  

 Our sympathies to Tammy (Schlinger) Siems and her family.  Tammy’s mother, Sally, passed away on May 8th, 2008 in Bismarck.

Our sympathies to David Mische and his family.  His father, Lou, passed away on May 12th, in Bismarck.     

Our sympathies to Andy Prussing and his family.  His brother, Tim, passed away on May 16th in Bismarck.   

Our sympathies to Jeff Aune and his family and to Brenda (Buechler) LaFromboise and her family. 
Jeff’s mom and Brenda’s mother-in-law,
Janet LaFramboise, passed away on June 9th, 2008 in Bismarck.