One North College

To the Class of 2020

I want to congratulate you and wish you the best on your graduation. When I graduated from Carleton 30 years ago, we marched away from the event to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” That summed up my feelings at that moment. My world had been transformed in ways that were both sad and scary. It was hard to think of leaving Carleton, but I was thrilled, too. You didn’t get that same moment of closure, and I know that loss is big, but I hope you still feel the thrill of what you’ve accomplished.

As for losing the moment, I know it hurts. But, in the case of my high school graduation, the worst thing at the time is now the best thing in retrospect. The ceremony took place at the same time the Celtics were playing for the NBA championship. Every speaker announced the score before talking, and we all got to cheer a victory we didn’t see. Today, that’s what I remember most about the occasion. I don’t mean to say that the pandemic will make your graduation more special. It won’t. But your graduation will always be—among other things—a testament to struggle, difficulty, and, yes, sorrow. I won’t minimize the losses, but I will say that being part of the Class of 2020 is unique. What you make of that remains to be seen.

—Bruce Lenthall ’90

Godspeed, Mom

On November 21, 2020, my mom’s remarkable 89-year life’s journey ended peacefully with my brother and me each holding one of her hands. The cause of death was COVID-19.

This awful, pernicious disease grabbed hold of our mother, Marianne (“Nona” to her four grandkids), and snuffed out her life in a matter of days. Under hospital protocols, we were barred from visiting Mom in the hospital when she needed us most. Only when it was clear the clock was approaching midnight were we allowed in to say goodbye. But the rules are strict. That my mom’s last image of my brother and me was of us wearing personal protective gear breaks my heart.

Our mother was born on February 6, 1931, at the dawn of the rise of Nazism in Germany. She and her parents fled in April 1933, four months after Hitler’s ascension to power. A misplaced secular Jew, our mom grew up in Tel Aviv, and eventually moved to the United States.

My dad’s brother, Ron, a British soldier battling the Germans in North Africa, met my mom in Tel Aviv in 1942 when she was just 11 years old. Her family hosted British soldiers on leave from the front. My uncle Ron suggested to his then 17-year-old brother back in England (my dad) that he be pen pals with Marianne, a little girl who spoke German and Hebrew, but was still learning English. Ron was killed in action at the Second Battle of El Alamein just a month later. Our parents corresponded from 1942 to 1954, always half a world apart, before finally meeting in August 1954 in London. By then World War II had ended, my mom had moved to America, and my dad had returned from a four-year tour in Burma and India for the British Army, and was a lawyer in Newcastle, England.

Just three days after meeting my mom on Platform 14 at Liverpool Street Station, my dad, age 28, proposed to our mother, now 23. They enjoyed more than 60 years of marriage from 1955 until my father’s passing in 2016. We still have our father’s first letter to our mom, dated November 24, 1942.

There was nothing that my mother loved more than her family, but she also loved reading; sitting on the edge of her seat at the theater; spring at the University of Minnesota Arboretum; a walk around Lake of the Isles; and chocolate mousse, crème brûlée, or chocolate cake for dessert (especially if it came off someone else’s plate because then the calories didn’t count).

Mom, you are now with Dad for “eternity, as in life.” As you and Dad told each other every night before bed: “Goodnight and bless you.”

—Cliff Anderson ’87

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