CLASS OF 1979 | 2021–2022 | WINTER ISSUE

Hello everyone.  Diane reporting the notes this issue.  As of this writing this year is a welcome relief from the sequestering and stress of 2020 and early 2021. Hopefully this will continue into 2022.

I have followed the updates on various social media and televised interviews of fellow Wes alum, Scott Gottlieb ‘94, former FDA Commissioner, and he has been a wonderful resource for information on COVID-19.  He is a learned voice who echoes the tempered, but at the same time, hopeful optimism of most of us less scientifically knowledgeable folk.

Reunions with family and friends have been joyful for so many, and many of the notes I have received from our classmates show that the pandemic was a time to assess what is really important—with accelerated retirements, investing time in new or rekindled interests and passions, and reunions with loved ones being the theme.

Kim Carrell-Smith writes: “I retired from my teaching/administrative job at Lehigh University in May, as did my husband John. Like so many other folks, the pandemic just made me decide that life is too short to battle bureaucracy, even if I will miss my grad student Community Fellows, and working with local governments and nonprofits. But I’ll continue to be active in local issues like affordable housing, historic preservation, and equitable development in my ‘other side of the tracks’ part of town. One of my kids is in Baltimore running the city’s public library system’s digital equity work, and the other child (are they children when they are over 30?) and family are about a mile from us in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, so John and I are part of the pandemic village that is happily helping to raise the next generation.”

Fred Baurer, an old friend from Foss 4 our freshman year, updates us that his original manuscript, “Psychodynamic Treatment with the Addicted Person,” has been accepted for publication in the upcoming issue of the journal Psychodynamic Psychiatry. The lineage of this work has Wesleyan roots, the intellectual influence of Henry Abelove and passionate spirit of the magnificent Cheryl Cutler.  Fred is an addictions psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in Philadelphia, living in Center City with Sharon Pollak, life partner of 42 years. He writes, “Parenthood has been amazing, grandparenthood is otherworldly!”

Katharine McKenna shares the following about an exhibition of hers in Arizona through December 2022:

UNFRAMED: A PHOTO JOURNEY THROUGH NAVAJO AND HOPI NATIONS, 1977–1978 at the Arizona Heritage Center, 1300 North College Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281. On view: April 2021–December 2022.  Experience a photo journey across Northern Arizona with contemporary artist Katharine L. McKenna. During a college gap year, McKenna spent the summers of 1977 and 1978 volunteering at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. While there, she assisted the museum in collecting woven rugs, pottery, baskets, and jewelry for the museum’s annual Navajo Arts and Crafts show. She documented her experience by journaling and taking photographs of the 24 trading posts she visited, and the countless miles she traveled through the Navajo and Hopi Nations in Northern Arizona.

This exhibition features McKenna’s black-and-white images and Native American artifacts from the Arizona Historical Society Collections. Visitors can travel along with McKenna and read excerpts from her journal that she kept during this time period.

The accompanying journal, Navajo Collecting Trip: A Journal into the Remote, is available on Amazon, where the description says:

“Dissatisfied with classes, lectures, papers and exams, Katharine L. McKenna quits college in upstate New York and heads west to volunteer at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff—to get an education. Intimidated at first, McKenna becomes a willing apprentice and rises to the occasion within a short time; she soon falls into her role at the Museum. McKenna is exposed to hands-on archaeological surveys and ethnology while working with scientists at the Museum’s Research Center. McKenna soon finds herself racing thunderstorms across the Navajo Reservation, to collect hand woven rugs, pottery, baskets and jewelry for the Museum’s annual Navajo and Arts and Crafts Show.

            “Written with straight forward clarity in 1977, 19-year-old McKenna documents her experiences in this formative journal with both words and photography. While covering more than 600 miles of dirt road to visit 24 remote trading posts, she encounters trader characters as well as notables such as Charles Loloma, the famous Hopi jeweler, and H. Baxter Liebler, the missionary who founded St. Christopher’s in Bluff, Utah.

            “McKenna returns to college at Wesleyan University with new direction and interest, fortified by the merits of a “gap” year long before the term became popular.”

Ron Cooper sent this update.  “After retiring from more than 30 years in the corporate world, I rekindled my interest in photography. My first photography book, We Are Santa (Princeton Architectural Press, New York) was published in the fall of 2020 and features photographs, profiles and interviews with 50 top professional Santa Clauses. It was for a (short) time, the #1 Christmas book on Amazon. My new book, Celebrating Humanity: Faces from Five Continents, a collection of monochrome portraits, was published in fall 2021 by Studio Photiq in the United Kingdom. My photographs have been exhibited in more than 50 juried group shows and five solo exhibits in the United States and Europe, and published in consumer magazines, newspapers and photography journals.”

Bill Conley reports on a gathering on Cape Cod hosted by Gary Breitbord and his wife Colleen. On a perfect early summer afternoon at Gary and Colleen’s retirement home in Falmouth, Massachusetts, close Wesleyan friends rejoiced at being able to see each other after at least a year and a half. ’79ers Tim Fitzgerald, Jack Buckley, George DuPaul and Bill were there with their respective spouses and also included dear friend Jeff Gray ’77 and his wife. Network news satellite trucks were kept away from smothering 24/7 coverage of the event with quick thinking by Gary who disguised himself as Lin-Manuel Miranda and drew crowds away while shopping for ice in Falmouth Center. Discourse among the party goers quickly descended into the stalest of college stories, politics, bad jokes, and amazingly, all departed the festivities still good friends. We were all so thrilled to be together, vaccinated and un-masked to revel in each other’s company and deepen our bonds even further.

And, finally, Rachel Bashevkin shares the sad news of the loss of Paul Hammer.  She writes:  “So many of us in New Haven are grieving the loss of friend, citizen, activist, and mensch Paul Hammer. He died on Sunday, June 27th.”  Rachel remembers him as a unique character who was well known and liked by many on the Wesleyan campus and later in New Haven.  A moving story of his life can be accessed at the following link to the “New Haven Independent.”  On behalf of our class, we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.–MIOXA#.YNyYZLOetiI.facebook