CLASS OF 1956 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

In this strangest of years, it’s not what folks are doing; it’s what we’re not doing.

Ann and I did not drive to Wisconsin to observe the 90th birthday of my big brother Alan ’52. But Zoom conveyed much of the spirit of the celebration. Alma Mater was well represented—by Al and yours truly, of course, but also by his son Chris ’83, our daughter Judy ’84, and our dear friend Hal Buckingham ’52, whom Al first met at Boy Scout camp 75 years ago. Zoom has also kept us in touch with our closed church’s congregation. It’s not perfect, but it’s still heartening. For our 60th wedding anniversary in July, who knows?

Bob Runyon offered this reading list for the self-sequestered: “1. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen. (Brilliant, highly readable science reporting; I understood why he was ‘not surprised’ by the 2020 pandemic.) 2. The Plague by Albert Camus. (Compare and contrast.) 3. Drinking with My Father’s Ghost: A Journey Through Irish Pubs by Hugh Reilly.” (Our Chien family tour to the Emerald Isle was nixed.) “4. Call of the Wild by Jack London. 5. Seven Continents by R. Runyon.” (Bob’s antidote for waning wanderlust and his nudge to me to keep putting words on paper. Good stuff.)

Tom Pimpton writes: “I didn’t get to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park in March. We are hoping to go there next year. Now I’m on a waiting list for the medicine to deal with bladder cancer. I really don’t know why it is so scarce. Judy and I will be celebrating our 63rd wedding anniversary on June 29. I was very shy around girls until I met Judy—at Wesleyan. Our oldest daughter, Liz, came on my birthday, June 2, 1958. She will be 62 and is retiring! I can’t believe it. Judy and I are staying isolated. Our governor will make an announcement tomorrow (May 1). I hope he stays conservative, as I don’t want a resurgence of the virus. Peace and joy.”

From Jay Jenkins: “Our best moment to celebrate is Margot’s and my 63 years of marriage! I found her before our choral concert with Mount Holyoke. Margot was from Rhodesia, making logistics expensive but worth it all. Three children: Gail ’84 went to Wes. She had three children with her Wesleyan husband, Jay Farris ’84. Their two daughters graduated from Wes, one with an advanced biochem degree, and the second with a Phi Beta Kappa. Son Dean went to Harvard and was training for Tokyo up until the plague canceled all. Dick Boyden and we have hosted several Eclectic reunions here by the sea in Pocasset, Cape Cod. So fortunate we did as our numbers are dwindling with our last loss, Jack Dunn. My activity other than sailing was heading an architectural preservation museum, a sailing school trustee, and now on the Bourne Historical Commission. I had a rather debilitating stroke last June on my left side, which has caused my restoration of clocks and model shipbuilding to cease. My life by the sea with a good book, my Economist, and my Margot is wonderful!”

Sandy Mendelson adds: “Irene and I continue to live in Bethesda and take advantage of the cultural and familial aspects of Washington, D.C. We’ve both had significant health challenges, but presently all seems to be good. I enjoy some very part-time work in cardiology and bioethics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where I’ve worked in various capacities for 52 years. Irene is retired from her career-counseling practice but keeps her mind active with continuing education courses at nearby American University. Two of our sons and their families, fortunately, live nearby; the third son is in Oakland, Calif. Our six grandkids are scattered from New York to The Hague to California. We’re active in our very lively synagogue in D.C., and Irene has led an organization providing housing to the less fortunate. We still love to travel. In the last few years, we’ve gone to Israel, Patagonia, China, Australia, Iceland, and elsewhere. Hopefully, this will continue.”

And from Jim Wagner: “Betty and I have moved into the Greenspring senior living community, in Springfield, Va., just two miles from where we had been living for the past 32 years of our life together. We can hardly believe the amount of stuff we had accumulated! Boxes surrounded us and it still seems like we threw out or gave away five times as much as we kept. Some clothing and non-perishable food we gave through the church we now attend was received very thankfully by a ministry to the homeless and disadvantaged children. That really made us feel good amidst the problems of parting with our stuff!”

Here’s to better days to come.

George Chien |