One of the unanticipated benefits of being class secretary is that I periodically get emails from guys I have not seen, or even thought about, since I graduated, long, long, ago. Sometimes they are from people I barely knew, or didn’t know at all. About a month ago, I got one from Bud Smith, ’66, who I last saw in the spring of his senior year, when he was about to graduate. He was a waiter at the eating club at Eclectic. “Baby Bud,” some people called him. I had no idea what his major was, or very much about him, other than that he was a good-time presence at Eclectic.
Well, Baby Bud, it turns out, is a retired college professor of English and a writer. He wrote to ask me if I knew anything about the current whereabouts of our classmate, Benét McMillan. I told Bud that I last saw Benét in the fall of 1967 when he and I were at Columbia, me in a PhD program in social psychology, and Benét at the law school. Then 1968 happened, and I have had no contact with Benét. Interestingly, to me, and maybe to you, Bud included a link to an article that he wrote in 2011 about Benét and Benét’s family. It turns out that when Bud was in junior high school, living in Stratford, Connecticut, Benét’s family moved into the neighborhood Bud’s family lived in, and Bud and Benét went to the same high school, so Bud knew far more about Benét and his family than I ever did. For example: Benét’s father, a professor of history at the University of Bridgeport, was, as Bud puts it, “a personal acquaintance” of the poet, short story writer, and novelist, Stephen Vincent Benét, and named his son after him. Another example: his senior year of high school, Bud was the president of the student body, and Benét was the vice president. One more: Bud’s senior year at Wesleyan, Benét’s junior year, they roomed together at Eclectic, where Benét was the social chairman who brought the Chiffons (“Do lang do lang do lang . . . he’s so fine”) for a party at the house. I also learned that Bud was on Wesleyan’s golf team, which led me to ask myself, “Wesleyan had a golf team?”
Anyway, I can’t tell you much about Benét these days— he did become a lawyer—but I recommend Baby Bud’s 2011 article, “Lights in the Darkness,” published in the Tidal Basin Review.
In a recent set of class notes, I reported that Anthony Caprio retired as president of Western New England University after 24 years and I speculated that he must have done something right to have lasted in that position for so long, more than three times the average tenure for college presidents these days. I can now tell you more. He helped transform what was a small local college into a regional university with a national reputation. In the process, the school added graduate programs, including doctoral programs in behavior analysis, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and engineering management. This, in turn, meant that many major buildings were constructed (ten of the current 28 buildings). The school has received national rankings, including number five in the country, and number one in Massachusetts, for its graduates getting jobs. In a tribute to Anthony that appeared in the school’s alumni magazine, the author described him in the following way: “Cutting a distinguished figure whether walking through campus or leading the Commencement procession, he is famously approachable.” Before he retired, the school met and exceeded a $35 million fundraising campaign, its largest ever. The campaign included a $1 million “Caprio Challenge,” which also met and exceeded its target. Moreover, as part of a lasting tribute to his contributions to the school, the health and fitness center is now called the Anthony S. Caprio Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Anthony and his wife Dana continue to live in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and spend much of the summer on the coastal Rhode Island beaches. Their son, Mark, is an associate professor of theoretical nuclear physics at Notre Dame.
Late in the game possible name change: Gary Conger ’66, tells me and other readers of his monthly art newsletter that he is considering changing the signature he uses on his paintings to “G. Branson Conger.” His classmate, J. French Wilson ’66, and his younger brother, E. Davis Conger ’68, seem to approve of the change. As I mentioned to him in an email, this nomenclature would put him in the company of three eminent sociologists who have studied the American power elite: C. Wright Mills, E. Digby Baltzell, and G. William Domhoff.