It was a pleasure to see the always colorful Bill Burke (returning from Colorado) at our 50th Reunion, and he told me he shared these thoughts with the Class of 1974 at their 50th Reunion planning meeting during Homecoming weekend. He said they were impressed with what we accomplished including:
- 96 attendees—a new 50th-reunion record!
- 80% donor participation versus 51% average for previous 50th-reunion classes
- 126 biographies submitted for the class book
Bill also writes, “But the significance of our reunion goes beyond those stellar numbers. Throughout the weekend, during the dinners, WESeminars, and social activities, there was a positive undercurrent. And it wasn’t, ‘just my imagination.’ There were, truly, ‘good vibrations’ in the air.”
He says, “By the time we gathered on Saturday at Olin Memorial Library for our class picture and final dinner, there was a feeling that the Class of 1973 had bonded in a way and to a degree as never before. Old friendships were strengthened, new connections were made, and, with the turbulent times of the early ’70s behind us, past ghosts laid to rest. Writer Michael Korda said, ‘One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.’ Whether you were able to attend our 50th or not, your input is valued.”
Congrats to Paul Buell! He writes that he and his Carol (Wellesley ’73) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 16, 2023. He says a number of close family members and friends attended their renewal of vows out at their little church in Maryland’s horse country, including Rob Randall and his wife, Kathy.
Joshua Boger writes that he came out of “retirement,” which he calls an “undefined word,” in April 2023 to join Alkeus Pharmaceuticals as executive chairman, working almost full time now to help to grow a small organization to be ready to file for approval with the FDA of a new drug to slow or stop the leading genetic cause of blindness in children and young adults: Stargardt’s disease (or in some places called “juvenile macular degeneration”).
Joshua says, “The company has completed the necessary clinical trials for approval in the U.S., we believe, and we could be on the market at the end of 2024 or early 2025. There is a huge amount of work that needs doing first though. The disease is more common than cystic fibrosis, but almost nobody has heard of it because, up to now, absolutely nothing could be done about it. Children are born with normal sight and go blind between about 9 and 25. It is a recessive genetic disease, not ethnically linked, and it usually comes as a complete shock to new parents, who typically have no blindness in their families. We have a pill [taken] once a day that can slow progression or possibly stop the blindness altogether. Beautiful science and great possible outcomes. Worth ‘un-retiring’ for!”
Joshua also says he just came back (in late November) from the largest scientific meeting of ophthalmology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in San Francisco, attended by fully a third of all retinal specialists in the country. “One of the lead investigators in our trials, Dr. Christine Kay, presented to a packed audience the full dataset of the trial that will form the basis of our FDA submission. It was well received,” he says. In a panel discussion afterward, with leading experts not involved in the trial, they were asked, “Which Stardgardt’s patients would you give this Alkeus drug to [assuming approval]?” Joshua says, “The immediate answer from one of the panel, uncontested by the others, was, ‘All of them.’ That just raises the pressure on us to get it done.”
Lastly, Mara Baldwin ’06 wrote to say that her father, James David Baldwin, passed away on October 23, 2023, at the age of 72. David was a biology major and a member of Chi Psi. His obituary can be read online at classnotes.blogs.wesleyan.edu/obituaries.
That’s the latest from our classmates.
PETER D’OENCH | firstname.lastname@example.org