Margreta Klassen ’68 walks off the stage during Pitzer’s fourth Commencement on June 9, 1968. Behind her, founding trustee Odell McConnell hands a graduate her diploma.

Short Stories from a Long Life: Margreta Klassen ’68 publishes stories in a new anthology

Margreta Klassen ’68 transferred to Pitzer from Chaffey Community College in 1966. Known then as Maggi Dunn, she had worked as a journalist at the Riverside Press-Enterprise and was in her 30s when she arrived at Pitzer. As her classmate and Pitzer trustee Louise Beaudette Thornton ’68 says, “Maggi was a Pitzer New Resources student before there was a Pitzer New Resources program,” referring to a program for students 23 years of age or older that Pitzer established in 1974.

A member of the charter Class of 1968 (the first four-year class to graduate from Pitzer, then a women’s college), Klassen took a course with the legendary folk musician Guy Carawan, Pitzer’s Folklorist-in-Residence at the time. She studied art with Professor Carl Hertel. Professors Lew Ellenhorn and Alfonso Ortiz inspired her interest in psychology and anthropology, and she credits Professor Esther Wagner with honing her writing skills. More than 50 years later, she still has a paper, “Sacred Clowns of the Southwest,” that she wrote for a class she took with Ortiz.  

Being true to Pitzer’s values, I have been a ‘participant’ throughout my long life.

She went on to become an internationally recognized clinical psychologist who practiced in Newport Beach, CA, until retiring a few years ago when she turned 90.

She is also a writer. In her early 90s, she wrote three of the 20 tales collected in Twenty of Today’s Best Short Stories, an anthology of fiction and nonfiction stories. She has also written a book of poetry, and her memoir, Soul Stealing: Abuse of Intimate Power, was published by Black Rose Writing in 2017.

Today, Klassen keeps in touch with her Pitzer classmates as an active member of the Pitzer OC Book Gathering—a group of 11 alumnae from the classes of 1968 and 1969 who have been meeting to discuss books and life since the 1980s.   

“Being true to Pitzer’s values, I have been a ‘participant’ throughout my long life,” Klassen wrote in Pitzer’s Class of 1968 Lookbook.

Adapted from Short Stories from a Long Life, a Pitzer Spotlight feature published in June 2021.