May 20, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
Following graduation from La Sierra College in 1960, classmates embarked on careers in teaching, ministry, social work, medicine, missionary service and music. They got married and started families. And in the midst of their busyness, many took time to respond to a request for news about their lives that would form the first Class of 1960 annual newsletter, a communiqué that would continue for decades thanks to the dedication of two couples.
During La Sierra University’s Homecoming weekend last month, the class celebrated their 50th anniversary and their 51st newsletter, a special class anniversary issue. It was published in January this year. During a banquet on April 17, class members voted to continue the publication and honored La Sierra alumna Sylvia Davis and Class of 1960 alumni Nancy and Byron Hallsted for maintaining the publication for over half a century.
Sylvia Davis was a member of the Class of 1961, but helped her husband, Jerry Davis, a Class of ‘60 member and class vice president, put out the first newsletter. He passed away in 2006. “We wrote to a few people and everyone basically said, ‘if you’re willing to do to the work.’ …We decided to give it a try,” Sylvia said. “We sent cards to class members and asked them to bring us up to date. Some wrote long, long letters and some said, ‘everything’s good.’ We had lots and lots of comments on the election of John F. Kennedy,” she said. Sylvia graduated from La Sierra in 1977 with a degree in English.
The inspiration for the Class of ’60 newsletter derived from the newsletters Sylvia Davis’s father received over the years about his class at Pacific Union College. “…as I grew up I watched that newsletter coming,” she said.
The first Class of ’60 newsletter appeared in members’ mailboxes in December 1960. It included the following comments:
Bruce Morton and Lois Ramey Morton wrote, “We are truly looking forward to our class letter because it gives us an opportunity to partially relieve this great surge of homesickness for LSC and all our college friends.”
Carmen Hallsted Way wrote: “As of Monday, November 7, Mike has a baby brother, Jerry Victor, eight pounds, two ounces …”
Ernest Smith wrote: “Things have really been popping around here for me. I’m knee-deep in studies at Cal Tech. It’s a far cry from the more leisurely pace at LSC.”
Robert Iles wrote: “We three (Bates, Henrichsen, Iles) form the nucleus of the staff at KDUO-FM, the 72,000 watt good music station now being transferred to the ownership of the SDA denomination. …The three of us are still devoted bachelors being so wrapped up in our work that we simply have time to think of nothing else.”
Each year for the next 12 years the Davis’s mailed requests for class member updates, collected the submissions in the mail, compiled them on a typewriter in their home, copied and mailed out the newsletter. The Davis’s absorbed the duplication and mailing costs for a while and then asked for compensation from the class. The Hallsteds took over the project when the busyness of work and care for two little boys made newsletter production difficult for the Davis’s. The Hallsteds have published the newsletter the past 38 years.
The couple gathers news by mailing postcards to alumni in November requesting reports on the happenings of classmates’ lives during the previous year. And while the content of former students’ letters continue to revolve around family milestones, career and educational advances, new babies and other life events, the mechanism for creating the letters has kept pace with technology: many alumni now e-mail their letters to the Hallsteds, allowing Nancy to “drag” the documents from the e-mails into the class letter on their computer. The Hallsteds mail the final copy and envelopes with their return address to La Sierra’s Alumni Relations Director Julie Narducci for photocopying and mailing.
The Hallsteds published the latest Class of ’60 newsletter in January of this year. The 54-page document provides snapshots into the lives of classmates and a few friends with news of travel, retirements, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, home renovations, careers, personal losses and expressions of faith. Several postings express gratitude for the continued newsletter.
“I don’t know of another class who has stayed as connected over the years as we have,” writes Benjamin Anderson, pastor of the Big Bear Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church. “This has been, to a great extent, because of the faithful work of those who kept the class letter going.”
“Those who contribute to the letter say it has become extremely dear to each of them, especially since many of us are in our 70s,” Nancy Hallsted said. “This letter also serves to keep alumni addresses current since it is done once a year.”
“I believe our original class had about 130 or so members. Of these, 24 have died over the years,” she continued. “The letter always pays tributes to those that have deceased; sometimes their families even want to continue receive the class letter.”
Narducci collected copies of each of the annual letters in three large binders and will submit them to the library for keeping in the university’s archives. The letters may prove useful to the research efforts of La Sierra students, Hallsted said.
“Some energetic La Sierrans might want to see how careers after college develop just by researching these letters in the future, perhaps for a thesis,” she said. “They hold a wonder of how lives develop after college graduation.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University