Sad news about Professor Emeritus of History Don Gustafson

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It is with great sadness that I write to share news that our colleague and friend, Don Gustafson, Professor Emeritus of History, passed away Sunday evening.

Affectionately know as “Gus,” he has been a member of the Augsburg community since 1961, when he began as an instructor in the History Department. He received tenure in 1968 and was promoted to full professor in 1985. Gus received the BA in History from Gustavus Adolphus College and the MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. His research and personal interests led him and his wife Bev on several trips to India and southeast Asia. In retirement he and Bev went twice on safari in Africa!

Colleague and interim chair of the History Department, Jacqui deVries, reflected recently on the Gus-ness of Gus: “Gus was one-of-a-kind. A devoted teacher and avid conversationalist, he enjoyed nothing better than a long chat with one of his students. Over the years, a veritable river of them made their way to his famous poison green office, with its overstuffed chair draped with a llama skin (or was it an Ibex?). Treasures and trinkets collected around the world sparked hundreds of conversations. He decorated his office for the seasons, with junk-shop finds mingling with jars of maple syrup and vases of gorgeous flowers from his gardens in St. Peter. Gus had little patience for the pedantry of academia. He was interested in sparking thought, engaging minds, and resisting norms. With a career that spanned more than a third of Augsburg’s history, he was a keeper of this community’s memory, an endless font of entertaining stories.

“Since his retirement in 2014, Memorial Hall has lost some energy and certainly much color. But Gus continued to read and travel extensively. In a January 2019 update to the History department, he reported on his latest trip — an East African safari undertaken in February 2018 — and regaled us with his admiration for David Christian’s Origin Story and Yuval Harari’s works. Gus’ spirit lives on in Hagfors, where — of all the projects he might have funded — he endowed the building’s first gender-neutral bathroom.”

Gus retired from Augsburg in 2014 after 58 years of teaching Augsburg students.

As we celebrate Gus’ life and contributions to Augsburg students, our community’s thoughts and prayers go out to his extended family and friends. Service information will be shared as we learn more.