Hamline News

A Family Tradition

family article

Many graduates of the World War II generation had the same job throughout their lives; students today will go on to change careers an estimated seven times. Those in the “Greatest Generation” moved in with just a suitcase; millennials today need minivans and U-Hauls for all their belongings. For their grandparents, a college education was enough to break into the job market; today’s students amass an impressive resume even before Commencement, with study abroad experiences, independent research projects, and multiple internships. And what about the generation in between? The one that had more options than their parents, but fewer than their children? The one reported to be the first generation to contribute to two college educations—their own and their children’s—and someday, maybe even their grandchildren’s?

Hamline magazine looked at three generations of Hamline students to explore these issues: Dick Klaus ’50, his daughter, Kimberlee Klaus Self ’79, and his granddaughter, College of Liberal Arts senior Natalie Self. Dick, Kimberlee, and Natalie give us a glimpse into what it was like to be a part of their generation.

Dick Klaus ‘50
“There was never any other school I was going to go to,” Dick said. “I never thought about anything else.” After graduating high school in 1944, Dick entered the Naval Air Corps as an aviation ordnance man. He trained in Norman, Oklahoma, and Jacksonville and Miami, Florida. He was stationed in San Diego, waiting to ship out, when the war ended. But he was sent to Okinawa, where he joined the VPB (patrol bombing squadron) and served there until coming home in June 1946. He entered Hamline that fall. Dick doesn’t remember anyone dropping him off at Hamline. “I must have taken the bus,” he said. “Dad was in the Philippines, serving as a missionary, and Mom was working in Northfield. Moving was very simple in those days. You had one suitcase. If you were very fortunate, you had two suitcases.”

With veterans flooding back into college that fall, Dick was housed with 120 men on double-decker bunks in the Old Gym, “Just like in the service!” Dick said. There were no desks, only lockers for their belongings. But Drew Hall was completed that winter, and the men moved there for the spring semester.

Dick quickly settled into Hamline, joining the basketball and track teams. “I was always interested in athletics,” Dick said. “My parents wisely told me I could only do two sports.” Playing basketball was a memorable experience for Dick, as the basketball team won the conference championship every year, and in 1949, the national tournament. Dick played with basketball legends Joe Hutton, Jr., Hal Haskins, and Vern Mikkelsen.

“When the team went to Kansas City for the national tournament, the school pretty much shut down. Kids piled into cars and headed down with the team,” Dick said. Dick was active outside of athletics, serving as president of Drew Hall his sophomore year, as the co-chair of Big Brothers, and as a representative on student senate. It was in student senate where he met Shirlie Mansergh. It was in September 1947.

“The senate was making final plans for the Freshman Week Picnic in Kaposia Park in South Saint Paul,” Dick said. “As we made plans for getting to the picnic, Shirlie and I ended up going in a car with two other couples. It was crowded so she sat on my lap.”

The couple was engaged by Valentine’s Day, and married on August 7, 1948 at Hamline United Methodist Church. Dick recalled that there was at least one other couple married that day, maybe two.

Since Dick went to Hamline on the GI Bill, he graduated in 1950 without any loans. A psychology and physical education major, Dick also earned a teaching certificate.

But the job market was as flooded with young men as his first dorm in the Old Gym had been. He looked for coaching and physical education jobs but there just weren’t any in the metro area.

With no local teaching positions available, Dick enrolled at the University of Minnesota in its master’s in physical education program. But he found work later that winter at Douglas School on the west side of Saint Paul. “I made $1,800 my first year,” Dick said. “When I started my second year, they gave me credit for being a vet, so I earned $2,400.” Later Dick moved to Longfellow, where he taught physical education and science. During this time he completed his master’s degree program and also earned a degree in elementary education from Macalester College.

It was in the North Saint Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale district that Dick made his career. Suburban schools were growing like crazy, and one year Richardson Elementary (then North) held double sessions, with one group of students and teachers having class in the mornings, and another group having classes in the afternoon.

Dick has fond memories of teaching in the morning and then spending the afternoon with his two young children, Kimberlee and Kendall, taking them sliding down the winter slopes. When Harmony Elementary opened in 1962, Dick joined the school as principal, then in 1967 the district opened Weaver Elementary, and Dick moved there as principal. For the next twenty-one years, he worked as principal at Weaver and also at district’s central office, ultimately retiring in 1987 as director of instruction.

Kimberlee Klaus Self ‘79
When it came time for Dick and Shirlie’s daughter, Kimberlee, to think about college, the family didn’t look far. “We didn’t encourage her to look at other schools,” Dick said. “I wasn’t sure that was a thing that parents did back then.”

“I also looked at Eau Claire,” Kimberlee said. “But there wasn’t housing available there because I turned in my housing card too late. It was a good choice to come to Hamline.” Although Kimberlee followed in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, she pursued her own interests, making a name for herself on a campus where the Klaus name was already well known.

Kimberlee’s passions were music and religion, and she pursed them both in her extra-curricular activities—playing bassoon in the band, singing in the A Cappella and the select Motet Choir, and serving on the Chaplain’s Advisory Council—as well as in her academic pursuits. “I planned on majoring in music education, but ended up with music performance,” she said. “At that time the education field was overcrowded. Professors encouraged me to think of other things.”

One highlight of her time at Hamline was playing a piece for her senior organ recital that Professor Russell Harris had composed for her. “He was a student when my mom was there,” Kimberlee said. “It was nice to have people that I knew, but I also had to live up to a standard.”

Kimberlee also pursued studying abroad with fervor, going on January-term trips all four years. The first year she went to England to study monumental brass rubbings. “The only reason I got to go was that my family knew Walter Benjamin. They didn’t take freshman,” Kimberlee said.

“We were dropped off alone in the morning to do brass rubbings in the church, and then we were picked up at 5 p.m.,” Kimberlee said. Often the vicars would invite them into their homes for lunch. In the evenings the students would share about their day with each other. ““It was an opportunity to do a lot of soul searching,” Kimberlee said of the long, solitary days. “It led me to think about seminary.”

Kimberlee returned to England twice more, for a choir trip her sophomore year (where she and Professor George Vane picked up a few more churches, adding to the brass rubbing collection), and for a music interim with Professors Rees Allison and Carol Kelly her senior year. She studied in Hawaii her junior year, “A really tough course, with class until noon and rest of day on the beach,” Kimberlee said. Although she had an amazing academic and extracurricular experience, Kimberlee has one regret about her time at Hamline. “I would have liked to have lived on campus all four years, not just two,” she said. “My mom hadn’t lived on campus, and she didn’t think it was necessary.”

Kimberlee lived at home her freshman and junior years, commuting in her parents’ hand-me-down ’65 Plymouth Fury, and living in Manor House her sophomore and senior years, when she could afford to pay for housing herself. Saturdays and summers doing drafting work for the rebar division of Paper Calmenson & Co., a steel manufacturing company, and working as a hostess at a restaurant helped pay for the luxury.

Kimberlee’s grandmother, Dollie, had lived in Manor House herself as a student. “She really had hoped I could be on campus, to break away and be on my own,” Kimberlee said. “But that was a conversation between us. She knew when to stay in her own business.” Her grandmother did give her $25 of “fun money” a month, saying that since Dick had gone to school on the GI Bill, they hadn’t had to pay his tuition. Kimberlee’s parents paid for her tuition, so she, too, graduated without loans.

Dorm essentials at that time included a record player, lamp, curtains, and matching bedspreads. Kimberlee purchased a black and white TV her senior year and accumulated a rocking chair, so by the time she graduated she had enough belongings to warrant the assistance of her brother and his small trailer.

By graduation, Kimberlee knew she wanted to go to seminary to become a minister. She started that fall at Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Besides other Hamline graduates, she knew one familiar face in the strange city—her boyfriend, Charles Self. High school classmates, they didn’t start dating until their senior year of college. They both decided to go to graduate school, and ended up finding programs in Chicago. “That wasn’t really the plan; we didn’t sit down and say let’s follow each other, but the schools were in the same place,” Kimberlee said. They married three years later, in 1982.

After three years for her master’s of divinity, and an extra fourth year to earn a master’s of Christian education, Kimberlee looked to serve in the United Methodist Church. “Women were trying to break into the field at that time. The United Methodist Conference in Illinois would not take me on as one of theirs because they had too many pastors at the time,” Kimberlee said. “I got lost in the shuffle.” Instead she got a position at the American Baptist Church in Evanston. She served a United Methodist church after they moved to Indianapolis, and upon moving to Chicago. When the couple decided to have a family, Kimberlee stayed home to be with their daughters, Natalie and Melanie. She has remained active with Girl Scouts and volunteer work at church, and officiates at special occasions, such as weddings and funerals.

Natalie Self ‘09
If Hamline was a given for Dick and his daughter, Kimberlee, for daughter/granddaughter Natalie, Hamline didn’t even make the list.

“Hamline was never on my list, mainly because I was too independent,” Natalie said. “I wanted to do something different from the rest of my family.”

“Natalie had said, ‘I’m never going to Hamline,’” Dick said. “We didn’t say anything.”

“My dad wanted me to look at every possible permutation,” Natalie said. “My parents never really got guidance.” Natalie looked at “naval academies, public schools, tiny private schools…” from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, and west to Minnesota.

After touring Macalester on a trip with her father (and hating it), Natalie realized she liked the area. “There was something about the Twin Cities that I’d forgotten about… I associated it with my grandparents being here, and looking at it not in that context made me reevaluate it.” Although Natalie hadn’t looked much at Hamline, she certainly was familiar with it. “I brought Natalie to Hamline when she was in sixth grade,” Kimberlee said. “George Vane sat down with her and talked about the brass rubbings. Dad also brought her to an admission event where family members bring grandchildren.”

When Natalie told her mom about the trip, Kimberlee encouraged her to just apply. It was only two weeks before the scholarship deadline. Excited by Hamline’s social justice major and progressive financial aid (Natalie earned a full tuition Presidential Scholarship), it was the personal attention that “ultimately clinched it” for Natalie.

“My dad and I were totally flabbergasted,” Kimberlee said. “It was more than we could have hoped for.” When asked whether her mother and grandfather were excited, Natalie said, “I think so…I think they tried to be nonchalant. More than anything, they were glad I’d be close. They told me later that that entire first year they were on pins and needles… would I like it?”

Dick and Kimberlee can let out a sign of relief. “I couldn’t be happier with Hamline” said Natalie, now a senior.

If her grandfather was the athlete and her mother the musician, Natalie has made her own mark on the campus as a student leader and advocate for racial equality. Natalie’s accomplishments and activities are too numerous to name in their entirety, but here’s a sample: She’s served as an SOS (Students Orientating Students) leader, a LEAD team member (helping organize student orientation), on the Student Alumni Board, and as a tour guide and blog writer for Undergraduate Admission. She has been active in Multicultural and International Student Affairs (MISA) and Commitment to Community, was Homecoming Queen, and acted in the main stage production, Never the Sinner. As a first-year she helped start WTF?! (Where’s the Fun?!), a student organization that plans campus activities, “out of a desire not to spend our weekends wasted,” Natalie said. Unlike her grandfather, who moved in with a suitcase, it took the family’s minivan to move Natalie in, and “Dad talks about renting a U-Haul” to move her out. On the top of Natalie’s must-have list was a laptop computer, a printer, and a TV. She also has the ubiquitous iPod, and more recently, a Blackberry. “But I don’t have a gaming system!” Natalie added, confessing that she uses her boyfriend’s Wii on occasion.

Although her social justice major (with a concentration in Black American studies) was a natural choice, the English major she added was surprise. “I’ve always hated English!” Natalie said. After trying to get out of the required first-year writing course, Natalie randomly chose Mike Reynolds’s class. “I walked out of that class an English major. The approach was so different, not ‘Let’s read Huck Finn!’ but how marginalized people use texts to express and work through that oppression,” she said.

In a world where studying abroad often means a semester or even a year in a foreign country, Natalie initially replied in the negative when asked if she had studied abroad, but added as an afterthought that she spent a January-term studying theatre in England. She also went to Germany with the Presidential Scholars Colloquium, a two-week trip that gave her the chance to experience a home stay and talk to professors there.

In addition to an internship at Jewish Community Action, where Natalie worked with the director of development on grant writing and “catch-all development work,” Natalie also completed an internship with the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers this past summer. While learning about foundation work and trends in nonprofit funding, Natalie, along with the group of 450 interns in her program, collected donations from their paychecks to give grants to local organizations. Conducting site visits to evaluate organizations, the group ultimately distributed $75,000.

Despite Natalie’s two internships, long list of activities and honors, and more personal references than she could ever use, the job market still has her concerned for her future.

“On the one hand, I’m taking extra precautions, and my classmates are, too,” Natalie. “We’re doing practice interviews, picking up an extra internship or two, doing honor projects, independent research, being a teaching assistant. People are considering positions that don’t make as much money... they are more open to a low paycheck.” “But we’re a lot less worried about it than our parents,” Natalie said. “We grew up with Oklahoma City, Y2K, 9/11… we know how to handle fear and scare tactics. We focus on what we’re doing now, here, and focus on things as they come up.”

“There are so many options for them, so much more than when I came out as a woman,” Kimberlee said. “We’ve maybe gone overboard in showing her all of the options. I think it’s a frightening time. There aren’t that many jobs. We tell Natalie, it doesn’t have to be the perfect job because it won’t be the last job. Find a passion and go with it. I felt I had to know what I was going to do with the rest of my life.”

Her grandfather also thinks more is expected of students today. “Academically, when I look at what Kimberlee did and what Natalie has to do, I think I’d never survive today,” Dick said. “So much more is demanded. We had to write term papers, and I suppose we had pop quizzes, but there wasn’t all the pressure. The pressure today is external. If you don’t do this now, then you wouldn’t be able to do that later.”

Concerns aside, Natalie’s career prospects are bright, and graduate school is “definitely” in her future. But what about marriage? Her grandmother was already married at her age. “I imagine in my grandpa’s time we’d be engaged by now,” Natalie said of her boyfriend of three years, whom she met at orientation. “Who knows where we’ll be in nine months. If things work out, they work out, if not, well, we’ll do our professional thing. I want to develop a professional name before I get married.”

Does Natalie have any regrets about choosing Hamline and following in the family’s legacy?

“I’m really glad I went here. I love seeing my grandpa at alumni events. When he has a meeting on campus, he’ll send me an email and come by and give me a hug.” “We’ve all found things that we’re passionate about at Hamline,” Natalie said. “Family is so important to us. I can’t decide if we appreciate Hamline because it brought us together, or whether it’s special because it’s part of a connection that we’re all a part of.”

The Klaus legacy at Hamline began with brothers Walter Klaus ’34 and LeRoy Klaus ’25. LeRoy, who once served as an associate pastor at Hamline United Methodist Church, married Emily (Dollie) Mettam Klaus ’23 (below). Their son, Dick, represented the second generation, and married Shirlie Mansergh Klaus ’48. Their daughter, Kimberlee Klaus Self, graduated in 1979. Natalie represents the fourth generation; the question of whether her sister, Melanie, 13, will join her is still undecided.

A Tradition of Giving
The Klauses have been strong supporters of Hamline University, establishing a number of important funds, several of which provide annual scholarship support to students.

LeRoy Klaus and Emily (Dollie) Mettam Klaus established the Klaus-Mettam Endowed Scholarship Fund, which supports students committed to Christian ministry or other services to the Christian Church.

Dick Klaus established the Shirlie Mansergh Klaus Scholarship Fund, which supports an upper class student with financial need, with preference given to students in music or education. In addition to expanding the Klaus- Mettam scholarship and supporting a variety of other funds and initiatives, Dick continues to serve as chair of the Alumni Annual Fund and as a class agent.

To support the brass rubbings work she contributed to as a student, Kimberlee Klaus Self has given funds to make Hamline’s renowned brass rubbings collection available to researchers online. To view this impressive collection, please visit www.hamline.edu/brassrubbings. She has also supported a variety of other causes and contributed to both the Klaus-Mettam Fund and Shirlie Mansergh Klaus Scholarship Fund.

by Breanne Hanson Hegg