Sheryl Birk Gable '75 Voices Gratitude with Gift of Life Insurance

Donor Photo

Sheryl Birk Gable '75 remembers marching around her basement at the age of 3 and singing The Music Man's "Seventy-Six Trombones" with her toy trombone in hand. A lifelong music lover, she eventually joined Augsburg College's Sateren Choir, led by Professor Leland Sateren '35, Augsburg music professor from 1946 to 1979 and music department chair.

"It was a huge honor to be chosen to sing in that choir," says the English literature and French major. In 2013, on what would have been Professor Sateren's 100th birthday, Sheryl and four decades of choir alumni honored his legacy by offering a special concert of his music at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, Minn.

Sheryl made her gift to the endowed Leland B. Sateren Choral Music Scholarship in the form of a life insurance policy. A portion of the future proceeds will go toward the Sateren scholarship and the remainder will support other scholarship funds at Augsburg.

Life-Changing Experiences at Augsburg

"I had no idea how poor we were," says Sheryl of her childhood. "It never occurred to me that the reason my mom never had any new clothes was because I always did."

Shy as a young girl, Sheryl blossomed at Augsburg. "The moment I stepped on campus my life changed completely," she says.

The first person she met remained her best friend all through college. To this day, Sheryl and her husband, Mark, have a large group of friends from Augsburg.

Sheryl sang in the Choral Club led by Professor Stephen "Gabe" Gabrielsen '63 in her freshman year, but being selected to join the alto section in the Sateren Choir astounded her and boosted her confidence.

"Dr. Sateren was larger than life," she remembers. "He was a mighty man with so much force to his personality that I can't think of him in the past tense. ... If he looked at you, you felt like a field mouse being caught in the eye of an eagle."

In honor of its 40th anniversary, the choir traveled to Scandinavia in 1975. Sheryl remembers traveling in a dilapidated, soon-to-be-condemned boat up the Norwegian coast, into the Arctic Circle. Along the journey, townspeople would parade down to the harbor to meet the choir.

She remembers cold, lurching treks to the above-deck restroom; corn flakes for dessert; and, on one occasion, watching the greenish yoke of an overcooked hard-boiled egg roll up and down the dining hall table in rhythm with the vigorous rocking of the boat.

"I had the pleasure of rooming with Leland and Pauline Sateren's daughter Kathy, who was just 14 at the time," Sheryl remembers.

Life After Augsburg

Sheryl married Mark Gable in 1981. With Mark, she worked as a migrant farm worker in Australia and hitchhiked through New Zealand before settling down in Perth, where Mark taught technical education and Sheryl was a court reporter.

The couple eventually returned to the United States and raised two children. Sheryl says she and Mark aren't wealthy, but they are pleased that they were able to give their children everything they needed in life.

She doesn't think that her children, now grown, will miss the proceeds from the insurance policy Sheryl has given to Augsburg. And she's happy that it will help future students.

"I can't even imagine how many kids are in the same position I was in," she says, remembering the financial support that made it possible for her to attend Augsburg. "I'm so grateful to Augsburg and especially to Leland Sateren."

Learn More

Discover the many different ways you can support Auggies today and tomorrow with a planned gift. Contact Amy Alkire at 612-330-1188 or

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