Karen Kuhnau, of Miltona, pages through a booklet from a previous reunion of the Ringsted (Iowa) class of 1958. Karen and the rest of her class are preparing for their 60th reunion. Photo by Nancy Leasman

Two members of Iowa class now live in the area, will attend 60th reunion

The members of the Ringsted, Iowa, class of 1958 had better take their vitamins! Roy Moore, of Bertha, Minnesota, has a challenge for them. As they gather this October for their 60th high school reunion, Roy is prepared to tell them what he told them five years ago, “I want you all to make it for the next reunion!”

It may be exactly that kind of expectation of these folks, now nearing 80 years old, that has garnered an achievement. As Karen Kuhnau, now of Miltona, said, “The odds of this are 177 million to one.” And the achievement is this: ALL of the original class of 1958, all 14 of them, are still living. The plan is that all of them will gather for this fall’s reunion and make plans to come to the next one in 2023.

You might wonder what supercharged longevity elixir is in the water of the quaint tank towering over this village of just over 400 people. Sharing a border with Minnesota’s Martin County, Emmet County, Iowa, was settled by Danish farmers who continued working the land well into the 20th century. Ninety-nine years after the county was organized, one of Ringsted’s smallest graduating classes left the town to seek their fortunes. With the work ethic learned on their family farms (only four weren’t raised on farms) and with confirmed protestant traditions, the 14 didn’t need an elixir. They had determination and probably a good bit of health from getting their vitamins from real food. While they acquired technology like everyone else (they were, after all, inspired by Dick Tracy’s video watches) they already had the habit of living active lives. Or maybe they were just inspired by the Everly Brother’s All I Have to Do Is Dream.

The class of 1958 will return to Ringsted this fall. All members of the class are still living, something very few classes can say when they reach their 60th high school reunion. Contributed photo

Ringsted didn’t have a lot to offer the class of ’58. It had two implement dealers, two bars and two churches. They had to drive 18 miles to Fairmont, Minnesota, for fun. “We went to the midnight movies at the movie theater,” remembered Roy.  Karen, who married her high school sweetheart (who wasn’t from Ringsted), remembered fun times at the dance hall. As juniors, this small class managed to put on the prom for the seniors and enjoyed their own senior prom a year later. “We knew everyone, and everyone went whether they had a date or not,” said Roy.

What else was happening in 1958? Elvis Presley joined the army as his songs were climbing the charts; Legos received their first patent and hit the shelves of toy stores; Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo; President Eisenhower welcomed Alaska to the union; Floyd Patterson earned the title of heavyweight boxing champion; instant chicken ramen noodles began to feed poor college students; and for soap opera fans, Young Dr. Malone made its television debut.

While the Ringsted reunion attendees may well talk about national and world events of their era, it’s just as likely that they’ll be reminiscing about the time they all piled into Roy Moore’s dad’s Chevy suburban and went to Ingram Lake for a spin on the ice. Roy was behind the wheel. After a few spins Roy was disoriented. But he knew they weren’t far from open water. “We stopped and waited until a car came up the road. It was about a half hour, but when I saw the car, I knew where we were.”

Roy Moore, of Bertha, will attend the 60th high school reunion this month in Ringsted, Iowa. All members of his class are still living. Photo by Nancy Leasman

It’s likely that combination of caution and daring that took the graduates out of Ringsted but kept most of them in the Midwest. Three are in Minnesota, four in Iowa, one in Nebraska, three in Colorado, two in Texas, and one daring soul, Delbert Mathison, ventured all the way to Oregon. Roy and Karen agree that Delbert is the class connector. “He keeps track of everyone’s telephone number, email and address.” He even stayed connected with their teachers.

The class of ’58 is doing pretty well, but they’ve all had their health problems. Kenny Pederson has had 10 bypasses. Roy called him every Friday afternoon during his recovery. The day Kenny answered his cell phone at the grocery store, Roy knew he was on the mend.

The Ringsted class of ’58 didn’t set out to gain fame or break records, but by simply living their lives, they’ve managed to do just that. Iowa’s governor, Adam Gregg, has sent a certificate to each of them, congratulating them on their 60th high school reunion. With any luck, and Roy’s challenge, they’ll each get another certificate in five years.

The 1958 class of Ringsted High School: Margo Dallam Glasnapp, Sylvia Culbertson Tabor, Karen Anderson Kuhnau,  Judy Peterson Eisenbacher, Lois Jensen Platter, Carol Carpenter Rasmussen,  Mike Glasnapp, Steve Glasnapp, Terry Jorgenson, Charles Moore,  Roy Moore, Karl Fliehler, Kenny  Pederson and Delbert Mathison.