Aloha, all. As I’m writing, the coincidence of Thanksgiving and Hannukah, which I understand will not occur again for 70,000 years—and thus I predict none of us is going to be around to celebrate it!—is nearly upon us, giving us the formal occasion to ponder major issues and to stop our busy lives long enough to be thankful. Personally, I’m glad to be vertical and in reasonably good shape. And, yes, I think about the alternative when I’m up early to exercise and walk in the dark. Glad I can still fell trees and move rocks around in preparation for actually beginning to build our little house. I’m learning patience with the process, although I have to say patience is waning as I continue to teach 7th graders.
On to true happiness: Gus Spohn reports, “I am blissfully retired now from my position as director of communications and publications at Yale Divinity School, from which I received my M.A.R. in 1973. After graduation I worked as a reporter for the Bristol (Conn.) Press, followed by seven years as Protestant editor for Religion News Service, then took the position with YDS in 2004. My wife, Sarah Clark ’73, and I have two children, Julia Clark-Spohn ’02 and Katy Clark-Spohn Botta ’05. (Katy is married to Robert Botta ’05.) I am the proud grandfather of Wilder Gustav Botta, born in February. Sarah and I have lived in Hamden, Conn., since 1980 but are likely to relocate (who knows where?) in the next year or two.” Congratulations, and enjoy!
Elbridge Smith shared this: “I seem to have missed the Wesleyan get-togethers scheduled this fall in Honolulu—but it’s been so long in between, I’m not sure I’d know anyone going. Our son ‘E.Z’ (Elbridge Zenichi Smith) has joined my law firm as a law clerk, while he awaits the bar exam results, which may be out within the week. After three years in Boston, which they loved, he and his long-time girlfriend, Jill, are back home, he to work and she to work on her PhD at University of Hawaii Med School (a research biology area I cannot pronounce). Our daughter, Meredith, had also gone back to school and has now received her master’s in teaching from University of Hawaii in May; she is now teaching fifth grade at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School; and in September she married chef James Word. All four of them live with us in Kailua now, with our multiple dogs and cats. In addition to our family trip to Boston, we made another short trip to Cobleskill (upstate), N.Y., to take my Mom back for the rest of summer after the wedding and enjoyed some great apples, fresh corn, a couple of 36–38 degree nights, and the beginning of fall leaves turning.
“I thought all this graduation and employment by the kids meant I would get to think about easing towards retirement and cruising in my ’55 Chevy, but since we have to expand the house to accommodate all, I may have to continue working, not just to keep the world safe for democracy (aka filing federal employment cases) but paying a mortgage. I could go on (what lawyer couldn’t?) but that seems like the more ‘da kine’.”
Nathan Heilweil reports he’s “still working, visiting my three grandkids, 5 years to 6 months old, playing tennis almost every afternoon in summer and three nights a week in the winter, and enjoying a great steak and vodka (extra cold, shaken—not stirred—with extra olives) with Suzanne, my wife of 40-plus years. Still feels like our first date!” Nathan’s looking forward to seeing everyone at our 2015 Reunion, as am I.
The art world is that much richer because Bruce Williams remains very active in it. He shared a couple of links. The first is video of one of the artists with whom he has worked: vimeo.com/ileife/artis. The second is a film he made several years ago: vimeo.com/ileife/optica.
Among those classmates who’ve opted for climes warmer than Connecticut is Roger Mann, who writes: “I have been living in Naples, Fla., for 13 years, operating a swimming pool service business. This summer I sold the business and retired. I can now play tennis and nap during the day and stay up past 10:00 p.m., when necessary. My wife, Tessa Tilden-Smith, is still working.”
I love this report from Robby Laitos: “On Sept. 19, 2013, Mark Fuller drove from Aspen, Colo., and I drove from Fort Collins, Colo., to attend a book-reading/signing by Katy Butler ’71 at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. Katy’s new book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, has emerged on the NYT’s nonfiction best-seller lists, and in late September 2013, it was No. 8 in the Denver Post’s nonfiction best-seller lists. After an outstanding reading and discussion of Katy’s book at the bookstore, Katy, Mark, Brian (Katy’s partner), and I repaired to a local watering hole in Lower Downtown Denver for some adult beverages and serious laughter and reminiscing about ‘Wesleyan West’ in Aspen in the early 1970s. Katy looked and sounded great, and is obviously (as she puts it), ‘an overnight success at age 64.’ Mark Fuller is a true environmental pioneer and powerhouse in western Colorado, and is presently executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation, doing incredibly innovative work on high-altitude revegetation. Mark also has successfully combined efforts from the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Department of Transportation, and local governments to preserve some of the most pristine land in the Western U.S. I am fine (just getting older) and try to stay active, primarily by trying to keep up with Mark in his outdoor pursuits. In the winter, I have skied with Mark down ‘Roberto’s Run’ in Upper Snowmass, the only ski run I have done in 49 years of skiing that truly terrified me (Mark eats this stuff for breakfast), and in the summer of 2013 I gamely followed Mark on a successful climb up the East Ridge of Shimer’s Peak outside of Aspen, another heart-in-your-throat adventure. I also enjoy watching Sponge Bob Square Pants with my 7-year-old (true story).”
Word arrived here that Stuart Frank won the Historic New England Book Prize for 2013 recently for Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, published in Boston by David R. Godine. According to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, “[t]he book is also the recipient of the Boston Bookmakers Prize for the year’s best work in the pictorial category.” Also from the website, we learn that Stuart earned master’s degrees at both Yale and Brown, as well as a Ph.D. in American civilization at Brown. He is the author of a number of books, including Herman Melville’s Picture Gallery (1986)—awarded the John Lyman Book Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History, and the Dictionary of Scrimshaw Artists (1991), which also received the John Lyman Book Award. His Scrimshaw and Provenance was published this year by Mystic Seaport. Additionally, he has written many monographs and articles. For those who remember Stuart playing guitar in stairwells around campus, it will come as no surprise that he also has toured four continents performing historical and nautical music. (See the website for more: whalingmuseum.org). Congratulations, Stuart.
Heard from Michael Hunter. Here’s an update, maybe his first ever: Mike couldn’t decide on a major and ended up changing it twice, resulting in staying on for a year after graduation to “take enough music courses to have the equivalent of a BA in music, then stayed another two years to get my MA in music (choral conducting and organ performance). I think I was the first ever Wesleyan MA in Western music. . . .” Continuing, “I got a job on Main Street, Middletown, at The Church of the Holy Trinity in the fall of 1970, and I’ve been an Episcopal Church organist and choirmaster ever since. After my dad died (here in Tampa) in 1997, I moved down to look after Mother, who died in 2004. I was appointed to my current position in October 2003, and have loved every minute of it. I’ve just been given a five-month sabbatical to round out my 10th year on the bench at St. Andrew’s…” Mike then did some traveling and is about to come to Hawaii as I write. He also shared that he’s been growing orchids for a long time: “I tried growing them under lights in Connecticut, but never had much success. Now I have about 200 plants on my screened patio (as you probably know, we call them ‘lanais’ here), and they are all flourishing. In fact, one of my projects for these early days of my sabbatical is to divide and repot them… should take about two weeks, if I only stop to eat and sleep.”
And, finally, Maurice Hakim sent this interesting bit of news: “As co-captain of the 1969–70 Road Trippers Society, I am very pleased to see something is still going well at Wesleyan.” To prove his point, he attached the following link: glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/2011/09/the-25-horniest-colleges-in-th.html.
I’ve just created a Facebook page called Wesleyan Class of 1970 after discovering we don’t have one. If you want to sign up for it, please send me a friend request. Thanks. And, as they say here, a hui hou (until we meet again).
P.O. Box 1151, Kilauea, HI 96754