CLASS OF 1956 | 2021–2022 | WINTER ISSUE

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Our May Reunion was a qualified success. Owing to the pandemic, of course, we couldn’t gather together on the campus, but we did the next best thing—we met on Zoom. Participation was limited; 21 steadfast classmates on screen: Dick Bauer, Bill Bixby, Dick Boyden, Bob Bretscher, Bob Calvin, Pete Gardiner, Art Goodkind, Jim Gramentine, Al Haas, Dick Irwin, Jay Kaplan, Jim Katis, Larry La Brie, Sandy Mendelson, Mort Paterson, Phil Trager, Dave Thompson, Art von Au, Jim Wagner, Paul Weston, and yours truly had a lively exchange of news, memories, and aspirations for our post-COVID future. Unable to attend but sending their greetings were Bill Horrocks, Guy DeFrances, and Dave Wolf. I was impressed by the general sense of optimism from a group that has been around, as Bill Horrocks observed, for four scores and seven years. I also marveled at the number of classmates who have, like Ann and me, lived in our current residences for 55 years or more. A particular highlight of the event was Mort Paterson’s show of his recent paintings. Best of all was the prevailing attitude that “We ought to do this again.” Which we should—when the stars align correctly. Kudos to my fellow Reunion committee members (Boyden, Irwin, Thompson) who hashed out the format, and sincere thanks to alma mater’s stalwart staff for making it happen.

Dick Bauer’s assessment: “Like you, I thought it was a rather good reunion given the Zoom parameter. What pleased me was the number of our classmates engaged in public enrichment initiatives despite our advanced ages.”

Al Haas writes: “Thank you once again for your integral contribution to keeping the ’56ers connected. The recent cyber-reunion efforts on the part of the University staff with your involvement resulted in a wonderful walk down memory lane and surely a ‘bucket list’ item for many, including me. I am not sanguine that my classmates need to hear that I am still engaged fully with our business of working with high school students on the school and college application process, which is increasingly vexing, competitive, and wrought. Our interest from the outset was to provide guidance to qualified international students from around the world who wanted to study in America. I learned from living and traveling abroad that many top students were attending third-rate colleges, a clear mismatch not good for the American image worldwide. I intend to keep it up as long as I have ‘fooled’ our students that I know what I am talking about. After all, it takes a young one to detect a phony. So far, so good. Warm regards to one and all.”

From Jim Wagner: “Things are slowly returning to normal around here. The church my wife and I attend had its first full set of all ‘in person’ services on July 4, a dual celebration of our independence from Britain and COVID-19! Some of the nice concerts in the area are returning, either this summer or next fall. We hope to attend some with friends, as we no longer need a car and there are close to a hundred clubs and activities right here where we live!”

Tom Plimpton had “two things to report: I had my bladder cancer surgically removed in July. (2) On Saturday, July 3, my two daughters, Liz and Katie, went to Minnesota for one week to a resort owned by a cousin of ours. Keep up the good work—peace and joy.”

Get well, Tom. We’re all pulling for you.

Jay Kaplan’s daughter has informed us of the sad and startling news of her father’s unexpected death on September 1. We last “saw” Jay during our Zoom reunion in May. He seemed then to be, as always, energetic, enthusiastic, and fully engaged. He was a generous contributor to this column, because, of course, he had much to convey. It’s safe to say that in his 87 years, Jay didn’t waste a single one of them. He will surely be missed. His obituary can be seen in The Washington Post. Our hearts go out to Samantha, her brother Lael, and to Ann, his bride of 57 years.

Incidentally, I’ve retrospectively given our Reunion a handle: Fifty-six’s sixty-fifth [56’s 65th]. My spreadsheet tells me that a quasi-palindromic reunion is a once-a-century phenomenon! I’ll send you a copy if you need proof.

GEORGE CHIEN | gchien@optonline.net