CLASS OF 1956 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

← 1955 | 1957 →

There’s a hoary joke about two old guys at a reunion. First guy spins a long, convoluted tale about his horrendous near disaster. Wide-eyed, the other guy asks, “Did you live?” First guy responds, “You ought to see me now!”

Last December, I had an aortic valve replaced, but, thanks to the evolving wonders of modern medicine, I went into the hospital on a Tuesday, came home on Thursday, and started cardiac rehab the following Monday.

Barry Passett asked, “George, what in the world are you doing with heart disease?” Darned if I know, but I’m pretty well back to what’s normal for me, thank you.

Walt Ebmeyer chipped in: “I had a similar heart problem in 2002: aortic aneurism pulling the valve apart. But in those days they opened the chest, put a nylon sleeve on the aorta and a titanium valve above that. Three weeks in the hospital! Things have changed for the better. Moved a year ago to a building for ‘active seniors’ in Silver Spring, Md. Dave Fricke’s grandson is in my granddaughter’s sixth-grade class. Is there a Washington Wesleyan club I could join?”

Back to business. Jay Kaplan writes: “I have been devoting most of my time to four activities: “1. The Cosmos Club (; 2. The Explorers Club (; 3. The National Gallery of Art. where we are members of their Circle; 4. So You Want to Be an International Lawyer? (A book I have written which is now being edited and hopefully will soon be published)

“Both my wife, Ann, and I still enjoy good health. I retired from the practice of international law and have cut back on my exploration. In the past we climbed live volcanoes in Kamchatka, Siberia; climbed giant sand dunes in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia; trekked through the Peruvian Amazon; and climbed the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

“We placed an Explorer’s Club flag and white roses on the grave of John Glenn on the day of his funeral in Arlington National Cemetery. He was honorary chair of the Explorers Club and a member of our chapter, of which I have been president.”

This from Dick Bauer: “Dave J. Cox visited Ginny and me. He’s tallied over 100 countries visited by this point, and still counting. Most recent discussion topic for my Linden Ponderers seminar: ‘Does religion make us better, or nastier?’ No one fell asleep; but there was no blood on the floor either. Still truckin’, albeit a bit slower.”

In brief: Dick Boyden: “Nothing really here to report from Mashpee on Cape Cod. Doctors’ visits, grandkids, and gratitude.” Bob Calvin: “We are leaving for a few days to visit friends in Wisconsin.” Dave Fricke: “Beryl and I are doing well here in Silver Spring, Md. Classmates and friends are welcome to visit.”

New digs: Dick Smith: “I retired for the third time after 22 years at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, where I had been doing eye research with mouse models. Linda and I downsized, so we moved to a smaller home in Orland, Maine. Four of our grandkids live nearby.”

Also Peter Gardiner: “Last year, after losing my wife, Jean, to pancreatic cancer, I moved back to Florida from Michigan. I’m in Port St. Lucie on the Treasure Coast. (Move coincided, so had to miss Reunion!)”

And, of course, here’s Bob Runyon: “Sheila and I are happily ensconced in our new apartment. It was the unique ordeal of downsizing from a large house in which we had been accumulating stuff for 36 years.

“A welcoming treat was watching a Canada geese couple in the pond just below our apartment window. The two birds seemed inseparable: always so close and attentive to one another. Then for several weeks, there was only one. Sheila said that the female must be away giving birth to their offspring. Just yesterday, she called me to watch the activity on the pond. There below our window was the happy couple with five little goslings paddling close behind. The lifelong bonding habits of Canada geese are one of nature’s wonders.

“When people ask about our future journeys, I tell them about our latest long trip—house to apartment in six months: two miles’ distance, still in the same zip code! The next real trip will be to Charlotte, N.C., in September, where Sheila will be conducting official conference duties for her Omaha chapter of P.E.O.”

Bob is stepping down from his role as class co-secretary. Over the past several years it’s been my good fortune and pleasure to have him as a partner—always helpful, full of good ideas, and devoted to Wesleyan and the Class of 1956. Thanks, Bob.

Gordon Rogers informed me of the death of his father, G. Ford Rogers III (Ford was a member of our freshman class, but transferred the following year), writing: “Dad died after being bedridden for almost nine years. We had a memorial service for Dad on May 7, 2017. My mother preceded my father in death 25 years ago. I was Dad’s full-time caregiver the last nine years after he became incapacitated.

“Dad told me some stories of his time at Wesleyan. He loved to laugh and share stories at times. I think laughing helped him hang on all those years. God answered my prayers and gave him more time after he almost died that first time in 2008, just two weeks after my Grandma had passed.

“Our travel business, Anchored Eagle Travel, helped us stay afloat as a supplement to his Social Security. I was able to work on that from home while taking care of him. Originally, he was going to do all the bookkeeping for our business and I would work with the clients booking travel. Dad was a great bookkeeper. He retired in 2000 as the docket manager of a major law firm in Chicago and he needed all his attention to detail and skills there.”

George Chien |

Bob Runyon |