Longtime resident of Nicollet County, Beverly Ruth Matson Gustafson, age 87, died on January 8, 2022, at her farm home near St. Peter.
Bev was born October 11, 1934, the elder child of Ruth and Victor Matson, in Stanley, North Dakota. Shortly after the death of Victor, Ruth moved the family to Pelican Rapids, MN to live with her parents in a one-room cabin. Eventually the family moved to St. Peter where Bev attended school, graduating from St. Peter High School as class valedictorian in 1952. In 1956 Bev graduated summa cum laude with a BA in music from Gustavus Adolphus College. She went on to earn her Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in 1959. Here she was awarded membership in two honorary music organizations: Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Pi Kappa Lambda.
Following her graduation, Bev taught music in a number of public and parochial schools in Minnesota and Iowa. In the early 1960s she taught English for the U.S. Army in Germany and Japan.
In June of 1965 Bev married her St. Peter High School debate partner, Don Gustafson. Six weeks later the couple headed off to India where Don did Ph.D. research and Bev immersed herself in Indian culture. On their return to the U.S. they made their home in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis where Bev continued her teaching. During the 1960s and 70s, she also enjoyed performing with a Twin Cities Renaissance musical group called Concentus Musicus.
Bev and Don welcomed three children to the family—Jeff in 1969, Marya in 1970, and Peter in 1977 on the same day the family moved to the Gustafson family farm outside St. Peter. Making good use of her music education, Bev taught piano at Gustavus and over the course of thirty years developed the Music of World Cultures and Early Music programs, also at Gustavus. In addition to teaching music theory, fundamentals, and leading a recorder group, she served as the assistant director of the Collegium Musicum for the Gustavus Lutheran Summer Music program.
Bev also spent many happy hours working for sculptor, Paul Granlund, first learning about and then assisting with technical aspects of his artistic process, wax trimming, and making molds.
She also spent 10 years working for the startup company LTI and is named on a patent for the audio technology.
Always a devoted member of her community, Bev contributed countless volunteer hours at the St. Peter Food Co-op, First Lutheran Church, the Church of the Holy Communion, and the St. Peter Arts Center.
Both Don and Bev revelled in all sorts of travel here in the U.S., as well as Europe, Asia, and Africa. They had a special love for southeast Asia, taking each of their children there on separate trips. Their last travel experience was an African safari in 2018.
In the midst of all this activity, Bev probably treasured most of all her quiet time on the farm. She was an avid gardener, bird watcher, nature photographer and good steward of the land around her. It was fitting that she could enjoy the peace and beauty of her rural life to the end.
Bev was preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Victor Matson, brother and sister-in-law David and Astri Matson, and husband Don Gustafson. Survivors include Jeffrey (Tammy) of Dundas, Marya of Waseca, Peter (Dan) of Chicago, and Evelyn Davenport of Houston, TX.
A memorial service will be held at the Heritage Room of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter on Saturday, May 14, at 1pm. with a luncheon to follow. Memorials preferred to the Arts Center of St. Peter.