CLASS OF 1952 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

More sad news to report. Russell Doolittle, an eminent biochemist, died on Oct. 11, 2019 at the age of 88, according to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, which praised him as a “true pioneer in early gene science,” who “led the way to how it is used and understood today.” Russ was born in New Haven, Conn., on Jan. 10, 1931. After graduating from Wesleyan with a major in biology, he received a MA in education in 1957 from Trinity College and a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard in 1962. After a stint at Amherst and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden as a post-doctoral fellow, he spent the remainder of his career at the University of California, San Diego, receiving many honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984.

On the cheerier side, after receiving an email from Larry Oaks seeking information about his dad, James Howard Oaks (who passed away in 1999), specifically about his life at Wesleyan, I contacted our former scribe, Hal Buckingham Jr., who dug into his treasure trove of memorabilia and sent Larry photos and a bio from the 1952 yearbook, showing his father in the photo of the Pre-Med Club. Hal also told Larry (and Joyce confirmed) that his dad had married Joyce’s classmate at Mount Holyoke Class of 1954, Jane Basset. Hal and Joyce recalled that Jane and Howie were both widowed but had known each other way back, maybe in high school, and had reconnected and married shortly after. Hal also referred Larry to two Sigma Chis in the class for further information.

Additionally, Hal reported two significant events for him in 2019. One was his and Joyce’s 65th wedding anniversary. He remembered celebrating the wedding with three days in Cooperstown, N.Y., a 36-hour honeymoon, abbreviated of necessity. He had gotten home in Oneonta, N.Y. (also Joyce’s home), for the wedding on Friday, after being discharged from the Army, having spent 1.5 years in Korea. They returned to Oneonta early Monday morning to buy clothes and pack up to leave Tuesday for Charlottesville, Va., in order to matriculate in law school on Wednesday. They had no car or money, so his sister and brother-in-Iaw drove them to Virginia.

Another significant event involved Dave Welsh ’51 whom Hal spotted standing by the roadside in Korea in 1953 and he has waited all these years to tell him about it. Hal’s unit was conducting the exchange of POW’s after the Armistice (tabbed “Big Switch”). He was riding shotgun in the back of a truck convoying North Korean and Red Chinese POWs to Panmunjom, where they repatriated and brought back U.S. and U.N. POWs. His line of trucks had just crossed the bridge over the lmjin River when he saw a group of U.S. Marines working beside the road.

Much to his amazement, the officer supervising the work was clearly Dave Welsh ’51. He yelled at him and it was clear Dave heard it but could not have known who yelled at him as the convoy had passed by. Over 65 years later, he was able to email Dave, who called right back, and although he did not recall the incident, it had to have been him, as he was stationed in the area and remembered the bridge and the convoy of POW.

Finally, I received a Happy New Year card from Dwight Herrmann, who let me know he is happy in his new situation: independent living in a continuing care establishment, where both facility and residents are great. He drives, plays tennis, exercises, gathers at the bar before eating with his buddies, and is doing okay as a survivor bachelor. His family with seven grandchildren are well. He just returned from the West Coast visiting two daughters. Another lives in Vermont and the fourth is five miles away from his residence. He wishes all a happy 2020 and he’ll try to do the same. Contact me if you want his information.

Joseph N. Friedman  |
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