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Let’s begin with this wonderful reminiscence from Barry Thomas: “Yesterday, my mind took me back to freshmen English and my struggles with the classics, such as Moby-Dick, with which, as a public school boy, I had had very limited experience. This, as opposed to the prep school guys, who had already read Moby-Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and other such, in some cases, more than once. There it was, in an old, battered box, my copy of Melville’s classic, all highlighted and underlined. Wonder if I will understand Ahab and his quest any better this time around? Call me Ishmael.” Barry’s discovery of that battered copy of Moby-Dick made me smile,recalling as it did my own struggles to keep up with our prep school classmates. And it took me to a bookshelf  where I have copies of Alfred North Whitehead’s The Aims of Education and Science and the Modern World, sent to us that summer before freshman year and the focus of those group meetings when we got to campus, mine lead by Professor David Abosch. From the underlinings I must have read both carefully, and The Aims has stayed with me, being relevant today. Abosch took us aback, prep school and public school alike, when he asked how many of us had read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. No one raised a hand; he opined that if one hadn’t done so by the age of 18, he would not amount to much. 

Barry goes on to tell us that “Dreaming for Change in Burundi has had a very good year. I have written previously about the visit Connie and I made to Burundi in February. We celebrated a five-year anniversary since the beginning of the work in 2018 to address malnutrition in one rural community. It was a very rewarding experience to see all that had been accomplished by our colleagues . . . to address the challenges with which people, especially women and children, are contending as they strive to survive each day in their subsistence life. The focus has been on improving family health and nutrition, providing educational opportunities, and improving family income. We could not have been more encouraged by the programmatic progress being made and the development of organizational capacity and capabilities.

“Now we learn . . . that Dreaming for Change has graduated from its start-up phase and is moving on to the next phase of sustainable growth and development. USAID has provided a grant to fund a vocational training program for women. Soapmaking and sewing/tailoring will be the focus. Many of the women will come from the microfinance program that now has 325 women formed into 13 groups. Remarkably, this Village Savings and Loan Program has become self-sustaining. Then, the U.S. Embassy announced in July that the embassy would be sponsoring the establishment of an ‘American Corner’ at the Dreaming for Change Center. American Corners are small library and computer lab facilities that U.S. embassies around the world make available to local people, especially young people, to help them learn about the United States, learn English, access scholarship programs, etc. Usually, these facilities are available only in urban settings. Our American Corner will be the first to be opened in a rural community in Burundi. It will be a resource that will enhance all the programming. Then, a month ago, a relationship was opened with a prominent, U.S.–based family fund whereby Dreaming for Change would receive annual funding support of an unrestricted character. In other words, this very ambitious service venture is opening new sources of funding, over and above the funding that its rather small group of U.S. private donors has provided during the start-up phase. Very welcome, of course, as the funding requirements of the preschool and primary school, now with 150 students, continue to increase and, though there is measurable progress, malnutrition programming remains a critical part of the service model. So, 2023 has been a really good year for this venture of service in one of the poorest places in the world. More work to be done.”

John Stremlau’s request in our last class notes that we share with him our memories of the visits that Martin Luther King Jr. made to Wesleyan set up quite an exchange, and here a glimpse of what I have seen:

Hardy Spoehr writes: “Aloha, Larry. I attended two of Dr. King’s presentations in our old dining hall on Foss Hill. Let me tell you, coming from Hawai`i in those days I really had no idea or background in the civil rights issues at that time . . . before coming out of those gatherings when all joined hands and arms and sang ‘We Shall Overcome,’ are still one of those times in one’s life that bring forth ‘chicken skin.’ We all left those gatherings feeling the power of ‘oneness in purpose’ and having no doubt that we shall overcome. There was so much hope and promise that now, at the age of 80, I can only tear up a bit when I view the current situation in the United States and only hope that this current generation of students, who we once were, can once again create an overwhelming wave for them to ride into the curl and come out of the tube bringing forth the promises so eloquently envisioned in those times at Foss Hill.”   

In response to John’s “query about MLK at WESU,” Bud Smith writes: “An attempt to reckon with Blacks in my life, it’s largely about one of our WESU classmates, Lawrence Benét McMillan, who followed me to campus from Bunnell High in Stratford, Connecticut, where our families were across-the-street neighbors. We were roommates for the first semester of my senior year, which was Benét’s junior year.” Bud goes on to include a link to his essay “Lights in the Darkness,” published some years ago in the Black Issue of the Tidal Basin Review”: The essay, which “explores a number of campus incidents . . . including hearing MLK in the chapel,” is riveting. John’s e-mail is: Do share your memories with him.

Bud has a number of irons in the fire, writing: “In May of 2023, the Connecticut legislature passed a controversial resolution exonerating all those accused of witchcraft in colonial times. The second edition of my historical novel The Stratford Devil (2007), about the hanging of Goody Bassett in my hometown of Stratford, was taught in the schools as part of the 15-year educational effort behind that resolution. The first edition (1984) portrayed Goody Bassett as an early feminist. The new third edition cleans up some errors in the first two and contains a much-needed preface. Coming in an age of religious terrorism, political witch hunts, Native American reparations, and environmental degradation—with attempts to limit wolf populations in states that have them ( including right here in Wisconsin)—the novel is a microcosm of America today.”  And meanwhile he is “collaborating on a screenplay based on the novel with a former LA screenwriter, whom I met through my softball league, which ended last month. Golf league is over, too, but I’m still fishing.”

Ever so good to hear from Dick Stabnick who still goes “to the campus periodically when I am in Middletown in court. Closed my original law firm after 50 years and now still practicing of counsel with my daughter’s firm. Cheri and I spend time between West Hartford and our home in Rhode Island with an occasional trip to our home in Florida. That’s the problem, no hobbies other than time with our daughters and grandson.” I see no problem at all.

Clark Byam and Paul Gilbert, among other news, remind us that an important date in our lives is forthcoming this year, Clark writing: “I turn 80 end of December and still hiking 2 to 3 miles most days.” Paul notes that “all is well here in Charleston, South Carolina. Once the summer heat lifts, the fun starts. Even Christmas is fun, although my wife and I miss the beauty of a snowy winter but not the aggravations. I’m turning 80 in March, which is a shock but I’m devoting my volunteer time to Veterans on Deck, an organization that provides sailing experiences to vets at no cost. Many of them are younger men and women who are battling mental issues from serving in the military. All we do is enjoy our trips with no expectations from our guests, and we do get lots of smiles and thanks. It’s worthy work.”

Two of our classmates will not see that 80th year. David Griffith writes: “Jeff Dunn, a standout football player who was on our freshman team and left before the end of the year, has passed away here in Colorado Springs, after a very long and successful career in construction and real estate.” Here’s the link to his obituary:

And our classmate, David Witherbee Boyle, who had “been in serous decline for a couple of years, with kidney failure, Parkinson’s, and seizures,” died on October 22, 2023. As Rick Crootof writes: “David was a significant force in our KNK life, as an animated Autoharp and song-filled full member of our fraternity, and memorably as the owner of a VW bus (also memorably unheated since he bought it in New Orleans, and also with no gas gauge!), which spent numerous road runs to Smith and Holyoke transporting dates to and fro. At our reunions, he invariably was up front carrying our ’66 banner. When I would address our class dinner having chaired five, six, seven, eight, and eventually nine reunions and declaim ‘It is time for a younger man,’ his voice would reliably ring out ‘but you ARE the youngest man in the class.’ He was a lovable teddy bear, and he loved his family, his Cleveland Browns, and especially his Kentucky. He leaves a hole. RIP, David Witherbee Boyle ’66.” His obit:

In closing, Essel Bailey, who denies stealing signs for his much beloved Michigan Wolverines, reminds us that we “Really need to get behind Wesleyan’s This is Not a Campaign . . . because there is more the current Wes could do in the world!”

And Liz Taylor ’87, Wesleyan’s Class Notes Editor, shares this photograph from Homecoming 2023.


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