CLASS OF 1956 | 2022 | SPRING ISSUE

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I most regretfully report that Tom Plimpton died on September 1, 2021, in Indianapolis. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Judy, and two daughters, Liz and Kate. I last heard from Tom in July. He was, as always, upbeat, while reporting that he was awaiting surgery for his cancer. And, as always, he signed off with “peace and joy,” a reflection of his steadfast faith.

Don Gerardi remembers: “Sad to hear about Tom. We were fraternity brothers. He was invariably cheerful, sensitive to the needs of others, open to new ideas, clear thinking, and judicious on contemporary issues. I’m grateful to have known him.”

From Jim Wagner: “I am sorry to hear this news. I didn’t know Tom closely when we were undergraduates but did enjoy the occasional contacts, both during and after our graduation. It is sad to say goodbye for now to a Christian brother, but there is comfort and a peaceful joy in knowing that we will meet again with the Lord.

“There is nothing particularly new to share about myself right now except that my wife and I are enjoying reasonably healthy senior years, with relatively minor health issues from time to time; we are well treated by an excellent local health-care system that has kept them from becoming major!  Still under some restrictions, both where we are living and at the church we are attending, due to COVID, but modern technology, with Zoom and livestream, keeps us from being isolated.”

And Bob Calvin: “So sorry to hear about Tom. Tom and I shared the fact that we both came from the Midwest and were totally unprepared for the eastern culture at Wesleyan. I think we traveled back and forth to Middletown once. We did not know each other too well on campus or after graduation, but we did have these long conversations occasionally about life, love, philosophy, and religion.

“Not too much new here. We have stayed well. I continue to swim and hit tennis balls once a week. After showing our vaccination documents, we have attended a number of performances of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, and Joffrey Ballet. We Zoom regularly with our daughter and granddaughter, who live in NYC, and once every few months with Art and Ronna von Au. As winter has settled in, I have read several books about Native Americans: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich and There There by Tommy Orange. Good stuff—interesting and well written.”

­­­Writes Bob Bretscher, “Snow now falling in Athens, Georgia, my home for over 40 years. No plans for ‘the home.’  Given up tennis; considering pickleball. An autobiography of my first 65 years, What Took You So Long?, is going to the publisher in a couple weeks. It probably won’t be reviewed by the Times. The big question: Will our next reunion be real or virtual?  Stay healthy and find out. I’m starting to hear those first notes of ‘the bugle call.’”

From John Foster: “The old song ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ pretty much describes our life today. My dear wife struggles with arthritis, so we gave up traveling to Florida for a winter break. It doesn’t bother me; I like our New England winters and enjoy snowplowing our drive and gazing out back into a small Audubon sanctuary. We still live at 61 Nanepashemet Street, our 51st year. It’s a bit of work—with the help of a strong man who does some of the heavy, and now some of the not so heavy, stuff—but it keeps me upright. My health is pretty good. I was most fortunate to dodge a real bullet, ALZ, thanks to a participation in an experimental drug trial, which has since followed a twisted path. I’m so lucky to lose only some memory. May we all survive the bedeviling atmosphere in this country and the devil himself, and may our country heal and find a way through the troubling perplexities of the world order. Best to all who can read this, and blessings to those who cannot.”

Back to Tom Plimpton: Like me, Tom was a proud legacy—a grandson, son, and younger brother of Wesleyan men. Living at opposite ends of the campus, he and I were not intimate, but we were friendly, and our encounters on campus always brightened my day. I last saw Tom years ago at a reunion. I was returning to the main campus from the Zilkha Gallery when I came upon Tom, deep in thought, contemplating the grassy, empty space that had once been the site of the Delta Tau Delta house. I took a picture, which I can’t find now, but which I’ll never forget.

Rest in peace, Tom, and in joy.

GEORGE CHIEN | gchien@optonline.net