I have to start off with this from Len Rubenstein: “I never submit—but I suppose after a half century it’s time. . . .” Well, alrighty then! He continues: “It’s only taken me 51 years since graduation to write my first (and last) book, on violence against health care in war, an issue I’ve worked on for the past 25 years as director of a human rights organization (Physicians for Human Rights), and now at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It’s called Perilous Medicine: The Struggle to Protect Health Care from the Violence of War (available on Amazon). It’s more of a swansong than a catapult to future work, though I plan to continue to teach, write, and run a coalition on protecting health care in war for a couple more years.
“My wife Margaret and I got through the pandemic better than many others, and even got to babysit all the time for our pandemic grandchild, now one, who lives five minutes away and in our pod. We missed seeing the other two grandkids, who live in Minneapolis. I also experienced the frustrations of trying to learn something new at this stage of life, taking up the piano, and not managing to keep up with 6-year-olds.”
Another classmate has written a book. Chuck Caramello wrote to say, “My new book, Riding to Arms: A History of Horsemanship and Mounted Warfare, will be published in fall 2021 by University Press of Kentucky in the press’s series, Horses in History.” Have you talked with Jeremy about shooting on horseback? (See below.)
And another! (I had better get moving on one of mine.) Gerald Everett Jones wrote, “My news is that my eleventh novel, Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner was released on June 29, 2021. It’s already won two book awards for literary fiction. Here’s what I have to say about why I wrote it: I came to love Kenya, but I also realized what a huge cultural adjustment it was for me. That shift in mindset is what motivated me to write the story. In particular, I expect many Americans assume that our cultural differences and racial issues are much the same there. They aren’t.”
Gerald sends warm regards and exhorts us to “Carry on and fear not!”
And the Brooklyn Cowboy, Jeremy Serwer, wrote; “Had a great year with the horses; my competition gelding has been terrific. Took a First Class win—and clean shoot— in Cowboy Mounted Shooting just a few days before going in for heart valve surgery on June 10. At this writing, recovering really well from that and hope to be competing again by late July. The pandemic reduced work to a low point, though I was considering retirement this year anyway: more time for riding/training/practicing and my volunteer gigs. Wife Nancy is on a two-year leave from the airline and studying hard for her Personal Training certification—plus going to the gym five times a week. She’s truly ripped.”
Jeremy’s reviving efforts to reach out to more classmates to encourage attendance at our 50th-51st-52nd Reunion from April 28 to May 1. I know he would welcome your help making phone calls or otherwise contacting a few classmates. email@example.com
Russell Bradshaw wrote from Sweden that “my wife Gunilla and I have received both our Pfizer shots weeks ago, but still wear ‘COVID masks’ and maintain ‘safe distance’ as we very gradually come out of our ‘bubble.’ . . . It seems unreal and strange for us ‘over 70s’ to watch everyone else in Sweden continuing to go about their lives as they normally do (no face masks, little testing and tracing, everything is based on ‘personal responsibility’ over here). Most of the really old and fragile have already died off, so mortality rates are way down as vaccination simultaneously increases. We’ll see if we can make it over to Portland, Oregon, to see our son’s family and our granddaughters after 2 1/2 years!! Wow… hope you and our classmates are all ‘weathering the storm.’”
Brief, but good news from Peter Traneus Anderson: “I have been vaccinated for COVID-19. I was fortunate that a Boston hospital at which I had been a patient reached out to me to offer vaccinations to me. The lockdowns didn’t affect my life much, as I was already living a mostly stay-at-home retirement.”
Rob Baker wrote: “In July, our daughter Emily Blazar (Whitman College 2002) had a beautiful new daughter, Silvianna, to be sister to our grandson Eli. Our son Peter (Whitman 2006) is getting married to Karrah Rust (University of Idaho 2012) in Park City this August. Peter works at Skullcandy in Park City and Karrah works at Podium in Salt Lake City.” It turns out that Rob will be a part-time neighbor as he shared, “We bought a house on the Kauai north shore this year!” And, last but not least, “I had a hole in one last June. My first ever.”
Assistant Class Agent Gordon Fain wrote: “Thanks so much from the Class Agents and Wesleyan Annual Fund and Reunion Fund staff to those class members and significant others who have already documented annual gifts, will and trust gifts and other gifts to our class of ’70 credit for calendar year 2021. For any questions, get in touch with Kate Lynch at Alumni Affairs, who coordinates all Reunion classes for Wesleyan. The volunteers on the Reunion Committee discussed these matters with Ms. Lynch and several also attended Wesleyan’s online training on Gifts and Endowments, during the COVID situation.
“Several of us took advantage of the favorable IRA and Retirement Fund Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), which makes a distribution DIRECTLY to Wesleyan advantageous by NOT taxing that amount as ordinary income. This does NOT require itemizing and can be for a simple gift of $500 or more from your RMD. Consult your tax preparer, savvy significant other, or Wesleyan special gifts staff.
“Best wishes for a safe fall season and for travel to Connecticut for those who can come here.”
Mark Geannette wrote that “[o]ur daughter Marissa was married last December—on the Big Island—underwater scuba diving! Our son’s 2-year-old twins have begun an all-Spanish speaking preschool. Gloria and I have gradually come out of our travel shell—Florida Keys in May, Hawaii in June and (we hope) Sardinia, Italy, this fall. Best regards to the whole class.”
And an older email from Elbridge Smith way over there on O’ahu. (Apologies for not getting this into the column last time; I spaced out the deadline and didn’t submit. Bad class secretary.)
“Just got my copy and read several great articles (with too many frustrating masked pictures) . . . finally getting to your Trump-era class notes. Yes, election results are now known on Oahu, maybe even on landslide-stricken Kauai.” (This is a reference to a landslide between Princeville and Hanalei on the North Shore.)
Elbridge inquired of Steve and Mary Ching, but I haven’t seen them in a long time. (Steve and Mary were full-time Kaua’i residents at one time.) Like many of us, he regrets not being able to make family-related trips.
Also found an older email from Bruce Williams referring to an online Reunion planning meeting. Bruce says, “See you all in the springtime of 2022, with any luck at all.”
And Capt. John Sheffield wrote (presumably from his dry-docked boat), “Still safety conscious and healthy in New York City. We are making occasional short (in both time and distance) car trips for fun. Taking time out from tennis to rehabilitate a strained shoulder. Spending time playing ukulele and learning more about racial injustice, institutionalized racism and alternatives to policing in addressing the problems (e.g., wealth inequity, number of citizens below the poverty level, mass incarceration, etc.) in the US.” Well, as long as you’re not doing anything too serious.
I hope everyone is planning on attending our 50th–51st–52nd Reunion from April 28 to May 1. (How often do you get to go to a reunion with a title like that??)
Remember, don’t trust anyone under 70. Take care of yourselves.
A hui hou.