CLASS OF 1974 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

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Peter Hayward reports the sad news that our friend and classmate, Robert Mankin, died in Paris, France on January 28, 2017, after a long illness. Robert was buried at the Cimetière Parisien d’Ivry.

Robert, who had lived in France since the 1980s, had a distinguished academic career there. At the time of his death, he was a professor of British history at the University of Paris, with particular expertise on the English historian and writer, Edward Gibbon (the subject of Robert’s doctoral thesis), and Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, David Hume, among many other interests.  From 2009 to 2013, he directed and breathed life into the University’s Research Laboratory on Anglophone Cultures, which became a university department as a result of his efforts.  Robert had also been serving for several years in Paris’s Cité Universitaire director of the Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe, a graduate student residence and cultural center, which flourished under his leadership.

At Wesleyan, Robert was a College of Letters major (Peter believes his lifelong attachment to France began in his COL semester in Paris in the spring of 1972). He subsequently took additional time to travel and study abroad and graduated Wes in 1975. Robert was a member of Alpha Delta Phi and, in addition to his academic pursuits, he was an avid runner and club rugby player. Robert is survived by his wife, Danielle Torren, their son, Emile, and his mother, sister and brother in the United States.

Jerri Stroud and her husband, Mike Saville, will relocate to Seattle, Wash., later this summer, where they expect to have more chances to see 10 other Wesleyan ’74 alumni, including Charley Blaine and his wife, Chardel. “We’ve enjoyed seeing them on our trips there over the last dozen years.” Their son, Stephen Saville, is with Amazon, and they’ll be about 10 minutes’ drive from him and their granddaughter, Emily.

Monique Witt reports, “We are weathering a few serious family illnesses, but the music is going well. Two albums came home from press in May and three went to press soon after. We are excited about two particularly. My older son’s Grammy nomination has produced a great deal of work for the audio labs, so he’s very busy, having just returned from a late honeymoon in Paris and Nice.

“My younger son, Ben, has received exceptionally strong reviews for his first album Instead, including one from DownBeat Magazine, numerous U.S. reviews, as well as strong European reviews. He’s up on radio round the world, and has played jazz at Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, Mezzrow, Smalls, and played Carnegie Hall in late May, in addition to the summer festival season and his weekly gigs.  So he’s pretty busy as well.

“I’m keeping the label running and playing doubles with a woman who plays with the Canadian National Team, so she carries us. Steven is still lawyering. So all good, I guess, except that I find it hard to read the news (something I used to do religiously).”

Jaf Chiang provided the following update. “A little less than three years ago my wife, Jeanne Demko ’75, passed away very suddenly. We married shortly after I graduated—so a total of 40 years. We did our share of wandering and meandering, but unlike Moses, it was a blissful period for us. She did get to see the ‘promised land’ as she saw both our children grow up to be independent, productive and full of compassion, as she was.

“I am still finding it hard to adjust to this.  I still live in the same house in Avon (‘Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go, As if to win them back.’–Philip Larkin) and still teaching gifted students in math. My daughter will finish her residency in Maine Medical this year and move to Kentucky to begin her fellowship in infertility. My son just finished the PhD phase of his MD-PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis and will begin his last two years of medical school later in June. And I will soldier on as well.”

Jan Eliasberg states, “I have moved into a three story brownstone in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and discovered a passion for interior design. I’ve been restoring fine details of the original architecture (ceiling medallions, floor to ceiling shuttered windows, five original marble fireplaces), as well as mixing in more contemporary influences: mid-century modern furniture; vintage rugs from Morocco, and art acquired during my world travels. There’s a fantastic garden with climbing roses, hydrangea bushes, honeysuckle, and wild raspberries ripe for the picking. A wonderful place to call home. There are three bedrooms so let me know if you need a place to stay while visiting NYC.

“This year I was lucky enough to direct several episodes of the new CBS hit show, Bull, with Michael Weatherly. The show shoots on stages in Brooklyn so I was, literally, 10 minutes from work. Great fun and a great privilege to work on a show in its first season, helping to shape and define the style and tone of the series.

“In June and July, I’m off to Pittsburgh to direct two episodes of another new show, NBC’s Gone, with ‘Mr. Big’ himself, Chris Noth. I’m looking forward to exploring Pittsburgh, which is apparently a really hip, up and coming city—lots of young artists, foodies, cafes and places to hear cool music.

My daughter, Sariel Friedman ’18, just finished her junior year at Wesleyan, with a double major in American studies and film. She’s spending the summer in Germany taking a class at the Frei University. She then has a paid internship working with Steidl Publishing. Wesleyan has proven to be as ideal an experience for her as it was for me.”

Harold Sogard, Marion Stoj, Linda Rappaport, and Sharon Purdie attended the Donors’ Reception during Reunion Weekend—good turn-out for our class! It’s always fun to catch up.

Sharon Purdie | spurdie@wesleyan.edu