CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

First: Our 35th Reunion is in 2021, so we will have virtual celebrations this winter and spring, and (if all goes well) an in-person celebration in Middletown in late May. Please watch your email or our Facebook page for updates. If you haven’t been receiving emails from Wes, please let me know.

Earlier this year, many of us had children who were graduating from college or high school. Sue Bidwell’s comments about a senior week and virtual commencement were true for many of us. She said replicating senior week at home was a bit of a challenge, but “on the positive side, family members from around the country were able to participate virtually. Whereas even if there were no pandemic, they would have been unable to attend in person, so it was nice to be inclusive of the whole family—and best of all, we could all attend commencement in our PJs!”

Erika Levy wrote from NYC, where she’s an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Teachers College, Columbia University. Erika and her colleagues recently received a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program fostering collaboration between speech-language pathologists and teachers of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Erica is in regular contact with Craig Hetzer and Liza Baron.

Also, in New York, Jeff Liss has been spending this pandemic time cleaning and organizing his basement and garage. “In other news, I spent the last year losing 75 pounds and can now fit into the Wesleyan sweatshirt I bought in December 1981 the weekend after I was accepted! In December, I joined the Board of Trustees for a small nonprofit that has been making headlines recently as a result of all of the COVID-19 deaths in New York City—The Hart Island Project. You can learn all about it at”

Dennis Carboni wrote a long email; some extracts are below. Dennis has become a certified ice technician, meaning he operates and maintains a Zamboni ice resurfacer. “I use my engineering skills and art skills every year when we install the ice, layout, and then paint all the hockey markings. It’s hard to describe how much fun, joy, and peace I get out of physically working on the ice.” He’s in regular contact with David Rose and Hal Phillips; in fact, this spring, they’ve been doing a video call every Saturday night. Carboni’s son and daughter are both in their mid-20s and good in their post-college lives. Although Dennis never smoked or chewed tobacco, in recent years his right upper lung lobe and one-eighth of his tongue were removed because of two separate cancer diagnoses, but “I’ve been fine ever since.”

My inbox also had notes from, among others, Elena Scharnoff (“I have my own consulting business, and work continues to flow in”), Charlie Berthoud (a pastor for a Presbyterian congregation in Madison), Steve Price (one of many in our five-year club—those who started Wes in 1981 and graduated with us), Melany Kahn (near Keene, N.H., and very active in progressive politics), Shawn Cuddy (who referred to her husband, James Hallett), and Ann O’Hanlon (we are all fighting the passage of time, eh?), and Ester Amy Fischer (who like many of us, was wondering about the next chapter in her life).

I also acknowledge the new fellowship among many of 50-or-so classmates who participated in one or more of our video conferences earlier this year. It was a great way to learn about the interesting things that our class members are doing with their lives (and look into their private lives, as we saw their backyards and living rooms). The larger gatherings had about two dozen classmates, with some living only 20 miles off campus and some joining us from hundreds or thousands of miles away (the distance winners were Melbourne and the South Pole—each being about 10,000 miles from Middletown).

Our three class agents—John Gannon, David Hill, and Michael Levin—and I look forward to seeing you online or in-person in the coming months. If you would like to volunteer a few hours in the coming months to help support the university or help make the Reunion program a success, please let me know.

Eric Howard |