CLASS OF 1980 | 2019 | ISSUE 3

I have to say that we have the BEST class! I put out a call for notes a couple days before the due date, having let the request from Wesleyan fall through the cracks, and my fellow alumni rallied. Maybe the last minute thing is the best for us overly involved high achievers. In any event, it was wonderful hearing from a lot of new folks and reconnecting with new and already connected classmates. This is the best “job.” No big themes this issue — I threw the net wide and got back a wonderful variety of responses. And thank you all who wrote to me noting their appreciation for my class secretary efforts. It really is fun!

Paul Oxholm wrote in for the first time, noting he has never embraced social media so is not in the habit of posting . . . anything! Thank goodness he made an exception: Paul said he is celebrating:

  • 28 years of marriage to Karen Stevenson, whom he met in banking and who now is a very accomplished Pilates instructor
  • 25-year-old daughter, Sarah, who graduated from Lehigh, a senior associate with KPMG in Manhattan and making the most of her career and many great friendships
  • 22-year-old daughter, Catherine, who just graduated from Denison and has accepted a great teaching position with the Windward School, also in Manhattan
  • a successful exit for investors, equity holders, and employees after 15 years turning around a highly leveraged medical device manufacturing and distribution company in Pennsylvania
  • the many long-term relationships that have blessed his life and are helping him to identify his next career!

In short, he said life has been very kind to him. His family had the pleasure of visiting Middletown and their nephew, Cole Stevenson ’21, in February for the CSA National Squash Championships. Paul said Wes looked great and hopes to make our 40th Reunion.

Frank White commented that he never knows what to write but he said the breadth of my suggestions gave him the impetus to send in the following submission: “These days, folks like us of a certain age tend to bifurcate our time between living directly and vicariously. Thus, I find myself alternating between appreciating the milestones of my children and my own life, more or less equally. My humble highlights are, therefore, as follows: daughter a junior at McGill majoring in philosophy (I said nothing), one son a star of his high school soccer team (center back, what’s up with that?) and the other a budding middle school intellectual/athlete as well; for my part, I’m leading a team of software developers for and writing two books on the side, a memoir and a historical thriller about Afghanistan. All the best to the class of ’80/’81!”

Steve Kaufman reported that after almost 10 years in D.C., he is now back in Denver. Steve retired from the private practice of law and is now working for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser as the deputy attorney general for consumer protection. Steve says it is great to be back in Colorado working with a talented group of people and having a great time.

Walter Calhoun (Chi Psi) sent in such uplifting news on Sept. 8. He started with: “Good Sunday morning. I am overwhelmed with joy this morning. I have two children: Sammy, 34, and Daniel, 32. On Oct. 16, 2018 Sammy was married in a wonderful wedding celebration at the Bronx Zoo in NYC. Both Sammy and her husband work for CDW out of their Bridgeport, Conn. offices. Last week, they bought a bigger house for themselves near the shore in Bridgeport. I can’t wait to visit them as I still live in the Chicago suburbs. Meanwhile, Daniel was previously accepted at the University of Michigan Law School, which I graduated from after Wesleyan in June 1983. Daniel began his orientation week in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week. I could not be more overjoyed with the development and place of both of my children and the choices they are making for themselves and society. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share.”

Walter and I corresponded a bit back and forth which brought out more news I hadn’t heard before. In May 2002, Walter was hit by a car, was in coma for a month and hospitalized for another six. He has executive function limitations and has been on disability since. That said, he noted that people have generally been pleasantly surprised, as he is, about both the nature and extent of not only his original injury but also subsequent recovery. Walter has been on the board of Family Focus Evanston for the past 35 years and is a three-time past-president. Family Focus Evanston is a social services organization specializing in helping broken, primarily black, families where 95% of the people served live under the poverty line.

Walter is planning on attending our 40th Reunion!

Rachel Conescu Barany says she is doing really well! She’s going into her sixth year teaching at Friends Seminary, just east of Union Square in Manhattan. She taught for seven years right after graduating Wes before taking a 27-year hiatus. In that interim, she worked continuously, though part-time, in museum education, foundation consulting, and nonprofit development; married and raised two wonderful daughters; and realized that her calling was to be back in the classroom. She is now teaching ancient and medieval History (with an emphasis on non-western cultures) to middle school students, and loves her work. Rachel has very fond memories of her education classes at Wes. Rachel has two daughters, ages 25 and 23, with bright futures ahead of them (even though neither was interested in even applying to Wesleyan!). Isabelle is in her third and final year of an MFA program in creative writing at the University of New Orleans. And her younger daughter, Lilly, just started NYU law school. Rachel is divorced, now for three years, but has an amicable relationship with her former husband Francis, a molecular biologist at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Karen Murgolo announced a change in her career. Karen, who was most recently VP, editorial director of Grand Central Life & Style, left the corporate publishing side to work at Aevitas Creative Management as a literary agent. She represents authors who are authorities in their fields, have original voices, and/or are adding to the cultural conversation in an original way. In the past, Karen has worked with authors from Gwyneth Paltrow and Misty Copeland to Nobel Prize winner, Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, and Harvard endocrinologist, David Ludwig, M.D. She had also edited the Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson ’95. Now, in addition to the journalists, scientists, doctors, and chefs, Karen has signed up thus far, she is working with recently retired Wesleyan professor, Gary Yohe, who shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Julie Burstein says “Giving a TED talk a few years ago opened up a new and rewarding focus for my work — coaching authors, scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs as they raise their voices in public — while I continue to work with cultural organizations to create radio shows, podcasts, and live events. Taking time for a daily tea meditation has grounded me through the past few eventful years, and I am spending more time in the pottery studio. Several of my tea bowls have been accepted into national shows.” Julie is tickled that the pottery bug has just bitten Nancy Rosenberg, and in early September they spent a marvelous afternoon together at the Brooklyn Pottery Invitational, and then visited The Old Stone House, which is the vibrant heart of that part of Brooklyn, and where Nancy has been board chair for several years. Julie is looking forward to seeing fellow alumni in the spring at our 40th!

Gary Gilyard has some fun news: “My wife and I celebrated our 35th Anniversary in Paris. Our middle daughter will be having our second grandchild, a girl in October! I’m planning to come to our 40th this spring. Nancy, Ray, Ron, Dale, Donna, Lisa, Teri, Moon, and anyone else I forgot, come!”

Vic Tredwell is our “Steady Eddie.” He writes “Nothing new with me. I remain the skipper and primary voice of my community radio station, WBFY in Belfast, Maine.”

Mike Zackin and his wife, Mary (Nastuk), became proud grandparents of William Francis Roose in May. Mike noted that hopefully their grandson would continue the Wesleyan legacy as both his parents (Katie Zackin ’09, and Robert Roose ’04) are proud Wes grads. They reside in Portland, Ore. The retirement bug has not bitten Mary and Mike just yet. Mike just passed 25 years as a pediatrician in Weston, Mass., and Mary celebrated 10 years as editor of Journal Watch Woman’s Health at Mass Medical Society. They still enjoy the suburban life in Sudbury Mass but spend a lot of time at their cabin in the woods in the heart of the Berkshires.

Dan Connors just celebrated his eighth anniversary as a CPA, and is currently working in an accounting firm and for a local symphony orchestra. Now that his youngest is graduating college next year, his big bucket list goal this year is to get his book published, and he has finally set up a website, blog and video site to say what needs to be said. ( Dan is looking forward to the big 40 next year.

Will Rowe, for the last four years, has visited Wesleyan during the months of September or October to interview students for summer internships or full-time positions at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has been with Booz Allen for the last 23 years and is amazed at the level of talent of the Wesleyan students he meets with on each visit. They now have an active group of Wesleyan graduates working in government consulting, mostly in the Washington, D.C., area. They also had several students join their Summer Internship program this past June. Working with the career center is a great way for Will to stay connected to Wesleyan. He is thinking his next visit after this fall will be for our 40th Reunion. He hopes Dan Connors, Ken Freeman, and John Nimer will come too, his Williams Street roommates!

Leslie Landau really put a smile on my face when she wrote, “OK, so this is my first time writing class notes. But after nearly 40 years, maybe it’s time.” I LOVE it! Leslie has been with Jim Shankland ’78 since they hooked up in the back room of 72 Home Avenue in the summer of 1979. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they settled in 1984 after getting graduate degrees at Cornell (J.D. for Leslie and M.Eng in computer science for Jim). Leslie was a Big Law partner, and then was appointed to the Superior Court in 2003. She has done stints in criminal, family, and now sits in a juvenile law assignment.

Leslie says “It is hard, sometimes gut-wrenching work, but it also is immensely satisfying—a place where a judge can make a huge difference in the lives of kids and families.” Leslie and Jim have two sons: Sam (27) is a professional chess player, a Grandmaster who was a 2018 U.S. Champion, plays on the US Olympiad team, and is currently in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, getting ready to play the World Cup. Alex (24) is a software engineer by day and Renaissance man by night; he served for several years as a Wikipedia administrative editor focusing on politics articles, and is revising the novel he wrote for his senior thesis at Tufts. Jim has been in tech for almost 40 years, in various companies, including most recently the Internet Archive and Google. He is taking a break from software to figure out what is next. Leslie is in touch with some folks from Wesleyan, including Debbie Ehrenthal, Jane Cooper, Susan Freinkel, Eric Arnesen, Julie Light ’81, and Laura Schulkind ’81.

Aleta E. Staton has survived her first New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas as she finally gave in (after 20 years) and decided to work in New Haven full-time, managing the Department of Community Engagement. Aleta says she loves New Haven, and loves living in New Haven, with its rampant culture of academia and arts and greenspaces and disparate neighborhoods and flaws and possibilities.

With her daughter living her best life as an artist and stylist in Times Square, Aleta is an empty nester, but there is plenty to busy herself with in the Cultural Capital of Connecticut. Right now, at the Festival, in addition to being in the planning phase for international works, they are devising two performances—one that is music centered, and one that is movement centered—both featuring residents of their community. Look for the resulting performances presented in June 2020 at

Aleta is also directing a full-length production at Quinnipiac University this fall. Baltimore, by prolific award-winning playwright Kirsten Greenidge ’96, is an examination of racism on a fictional college campus. Curtain went up on Nov. 7. Aleta is in her seventh year at Quinnipiac University as an adjunct in the department of theatre, working with a dynamic staff and student body.

Aleta says she is loving the Facebook updates from classmates Gary Gilyard, Synaia McQuillan, Ron Riddick, Ray and Cheryl Riddick, Lisa Nelson-Robinson, Allison Brown, Gloria Penny Mullings, and Michelle Mullings!

Keith Sklar‘s Mass MoCA show opened to the public on April 13 and will be on view through February 2020. As always, Keith said he is grateful for the extraordinary insight and support of Professor Emeritus John Paoletti and the rest of his teachers and peers at Wes. He added, “It’s always a pleasure reading about the paths people have taken since our Wesleyan experience so many years ago. I wish you all the best.”

Rick Smith said he hasn’t written in about 20 years but my appeal moved him to jot down a few thoughts. “Introspection after beating cancer in 2012 led me to make some changes. Replacing my job with solo consulting gave me the opportunity to devote more to family, friends, and an array of interests while continuing satisfying work in health policy. Three years ago, my wife and I moved from the Baltimore suburbs to Takoma Park, Md., which borders D.C. We’re enjoying the urban setting. We travel often to see our three sons, who for the moment are split among Northern and Southern California and New York.

Over this past summer, Andrew McKenna participated as a member of the National Geographic Dr. Robert Ballard Expedition to Nikumaroro Island in the Phoenix group, Kiribati, searching for further evidence that Amelia Earhart’s last flight ended up there, and she was marooned as a castaway. The expedition was chronicled in the Nat Geo TV special Expedition Amelia that aired in October.

Andrew worked with the archaeological team seeking to find artifacts at the site where a castaway’s partial skeleton was discovered in 1940. Andrew was quoted in one of the Nat Geo articles which you can read here.

Jacquie Shanberge McKenna |