CLASS OF 1963 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

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Bill Roberts made a point to go and scout out the class of ’62’s Reunion to “get back into the Reunion planning mode” in preparation for our 55th next year, which will be as usual, over Memorial Day Weekend. He said it was both interesting with good class presentations, speakers, and fun. He talked with the class members of ’62 who’d organized their Reunion, as well as with their alumni office co-planners. We are now looking for eager volunteers to assist in planning our Reunion and welcome ideas of activities for the weekend. The game’s afoot! And it is not too early to go directly to your calendars and mark the date.

Fritz Henn wrote: “I am still reordering my life following my wife Suella’s death nearly two years ago. We were married 51 years. I have started a final clinical study on a new target we discovered which appears to play a major role in depression. We are using deep brain stimulation in intractable cases of depression with some, but not uniform, positive results. Nonetheless I decided to turn the study over to a group at Baylor and have retired from Mt. Sinai. My last psychiatric talk will be next week in Berlin” (where he actually was when I initially tried to call him; he could only talk briefly and in a whisper) “where I am on a jury and we will give a single investigator 4 million euros (Frensenius Foundation Award) in the hope of finding a major game changing approach to treating depression. Amazing process of selection international jury, remarkable proposals and a hopeful way to conclude my psychiatric research life.”

When I next talked to Fritz, he was back home and was well-satisfied with the recipient of the prize.  While he still lives in D.C., he’s bought a summer house on the eastern shore of Maryland and is hopeful to turn it into a ”summer camp” for his five grandchildren, ages 8-16.  All of them will gather there in June. Buying that house and fixing it up he says was part of the “reordering” mentioned above. As was his taking the two eldest kids to Africa—Numibia and Botswana—where they went to several game preserves and saw the big five as well as many, many other African animals. The three youngest have already picked the Galapagos when they get older and their turn comes.

One of Fritz’s sons, Steve ’91, and his wife, Emily ’91, both went to WESU. He bragged on Steve’s success with a new app he’s created, “60DB,” with which one can find and play any podcast, anytime, anywhere. Steve lives out in Menlo Park, Calif., and daughter Sarah lives next door in DC. He says her closeness was a great emotional help to him after Suella’s death. He is seriously considering and being urged by friends to write about Suella’s life. I got on that band wagon, too, and I am planning to put him in touch with a successful professional writer who teaches writing in college and helps first time writers (like three friends of mine) write their first book Fritz said he had lectured at WESU two years ago and found the students very mature and interesting to teach. While we were talking, Fritz was pounced on by a large, apricot-colored French poodle that he was babysitting while its usually disinterested owner was off in some kind or treatment. I got the distinct impression that if the owner returned and did not want his dog back, Fritz would be happy to adopt it.

John Coatsworth wrote, “I have been teaching history and serving as Columbia’s provost since 2011. Living in NYC with my wife of 53 years, Pat. Our daughter, Anne, lives with her husband, Jon, and two adorable grandkids (Emma, 10, and Alex, 8) just a few blocks away. My last book was a co-authored world history textbook published by Cambridge.”  Initially John was a member of the class of ’62, and as such, was also a member of the first class of the then-new College of Letters where his interest in history started.  But as his mother got sick, he had to drop out to work and joined our class upon his return. Before spending the last six years at Columbia, he spent 22 years at the University of Chicago, rising from assistant professor to full professor. He then spent 13 years at Harvard teaching Latin American affairs, and also as director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Affairs.

Now his duties as provost require that he travel a lot to South America, and more recently, to Europe as Columbia has a worldwide network of related or cooperative programs. Pat is now retired, but worked as a librarian at the University of Chicago, and was an administrator at Harvard while there. He fondly recalls his time at the John Wesley Club, “a great home for all campus radicals and misfits! We had some unusual speakers—Jack Kerouac, who was boring (not high/too high?) and a communist, Herbert Aptheker. I don’t know how we got him, but he was very interesting. I think the administration was upset by his presence.”

His senior year, John was the dorm monitor for JWC, which in practicality, meant that he felt responsible for letting all members know when an administrator arrived on a weekend and might check that anyone with a date had his door open and one foot on the floor. A rule not always followed anywhere on campus. John says that “NYC is a Disneyland for grown ups—theater, museums, and all those restaurants which we ruthlessly take advantage of!” His final comments: “Boy, has Wesleyan changed over the past half century! Greetings to all!”

John’s junior and senior year JWC roommate was Martin Nicolaus, who also responded to the alumni office’s request for news for this column and is appearing for the very first time in these notes. He wrote from his home in Berkeley, Calif. “My mind must be turning to mush as I’m abandoning my categorical rejection of all alumni connections by answering your appeal for ‘news.’ OK. After a fun career doing this and that, much of which the interested person can look up on, I recently retired from the practice of law in Berkeley.  I also retired from the leadership of a nonprofit I had founded that created a network of recovery meetings for people wanting to get free of alcohol and other drugs via a positive, secular pathway: LifeRing. Much of my energy now goes to celebrating the beauties and combating the uglies of a local park, Cesar Chavez Park, in the Berkeley Marina, the subject of a blog I write fairly regularly. I also write a more occasional blog on a variety of topics ranging from international politics to local events to electric cars at I suppose it’s incumbent here to also mention the books I’ve had a hand in writing: Translation of Karl Marx’s “Grundrisse,” Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR; authorship of three books on recovery; translation and editing of Suddenly Jews; editing of ‘Creating the Eastshore St. Park’; authorship of text and photos in ‘From Trash to Treasure: The Splendors of Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park’.”  Later when I we talked on the phone he said he’d had a practice in civil law (landlord/tenants—mostly on the tenants’ side) for 29 years in Oakland and Berkeley. He’s been married to his wife Sheila for 10 years. Retired now, she was formerly the superintendent of schools for Alameda County. Martin has two children from a previous marriage who are now in their 30s. He and Sheila enjoy traveling and once spent a month in Ecuador. He enjoys biking, gardening, and DIY stuff around the house. He recalled joining EQV our freshman year and then leaving, eventually joining and living in JWC.

After 53 years, Steve Miller is tired of the West Coast and is determined to move to Chicago, which is his wife Carolyn’s hometown. They have been married 21 years.  When I called, he was actually busy with packing and moving plans, which included finding an apartment just big enough for them and their two big dogs. Let me take a slight digression here: Their two dogs are a large standard poodle and an equally large English setter. He is a great enthusiast of the later breed which he says mostly goes unrecognized on both coasts but is much admired in the Midwest. He’s fairly confident it will not go unrecognized in Chicago.

Back to their move—Most of their furniture will soon be shipped ahead of them and they follow on December 1. Steve has been fully retired for six years. “Not having won the lottery…” said Steve, when talks of retirement began at Cal State (East Bay), where he was a full professor in the department of management. He initially took part-time retirement, meaning he could stay on for five years part-time. During his teaching career, he had also been an adjunct professor at Stanford and Cal Berkeley “for variety.” He is very happy with the education he got at WESU, praising the great teachers and the breadth of courses.  He picked one example—since we were required to take electives, he picked a course on theater, a subject he knew nothing about. But as a result, he developed a lifelong interest in theater and later became a docent for the Berkeley Repertory Theater. And he told how his art appreciation course got him his first job. He was being interviewed for a consulting job at Ernst & Ernst when he noticed and commented on the “nice Monet” on the wall. Well as it turned out, a fellow Monet admirer was exactly what they were looking for! But as he’d gotten his PhD in organizational psychology in ’69 and was teaching part-time in the evenings, he eventually decided that a job with only two weeks off a year was not for him and full-time academia, with its great long summer vacations beckoned. So he took his admiration of Monet and moved on. Showing good sense, he had spent a long time in graduate school from 1963 to 1969 so as to maintain his deferment and stay healthy by avoiding the war.

Steve has two daughters age 34 and 41, from a previous marriage, one in Utah and the other in Minnesota, and two granddaughters, 6 months and 5. He had a last memory of WESU. “Very early in the fall of our freshman, we were lined up in alphabetical order, which meant you and I were standing beside each other. The dean (probably Barlow) said ‘Look at the person standing to you right. He will become very important in your life.’ You didn’t.” Not one to take offense, I have not included here the very subtle hints I got whilst talking to Steve, that he’s moving to Chicago either to escape prosecution of, or is really in the Witness Protection Program.

Please feel free to let me know if you want to hear about a particular classmate or about one who has never appeared in this column.

Byron S. Miller |
5 Clapboard Hill Rd., Westport, CT 06880