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Germany Overseas Study Group Celebrates 50th Reunion

  • Starting at bottom row, moving up (left to right): George Cannelos BA ’69, Connie Soper BA ’70, MPA ’85, Ron Jenson BA ’70, Mary Lu Cannelos, Colleen Green McKee BA ’69, Jo Ann Staebler BA ’69, Laurie Roberts Donald BA ’71, Greg Lorts BA ’70, Janelle Lorts BA ’71, Richard Donald, Jim Townshend ’69, and Bob McKee.

In fall 1967, five years after Lewis & Clark College launched its overseas study program, 23 students embarked on a journey of discovery in Germany. From homestays with families in Hamburg to cautious ventures into East Berlin to rigorous independent research projects in Munich, the program created indelible memories.

“Gus, our faculty leader, mandated that we all keep a daily diary—in German,” says George Cannelos BA ’69. “After the trip, he bound those observations and reflections into books and gave each of us a keepsake copy.”

Gus Mattersdorff, then professor of economics, was both “fearsome” and benevolent. His determination to choose and cultivate a cohesive group resulted in lifelong friendships. Over the years, he nurtured those bonds by writing regular heartfelt letters to the group and encouraging members to visit him and his wife, Ellie, in Portland.

In 2017, seven of the original members and their spouses embarked on a 50th- reunion celebration, boarding the MS River Splendor for a 15-day river cruise. They journeyed up the Rhine and Main rivers, through the Main-Danube Canal, and down the Danube River to Vienna and Budapest.

“We were not frozen in the past,” says Cannelos. “Groups must evolve and change to stay vital. My wife, Mary Lu, marveled at how accepting and welcoming we were of her and the other spouses. Those inclusive values define Lewis & Clark alumni.”

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