CLASS OF 1976 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

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Not surprisingly, we all seem to be retiring this year! 

Byron Haskins, our stalwart class secretary of many decades, has retired from his career, only to be elected precinct captain for his county’s Democratic Party. As if that weren’t a full job (and more!), he’s serving on the board of Single Payer of Michigan, an  organization promoting universal healthcare, and he’s continuing his work with the Michigan Capital Area chapter of the Project  Management Institute. He’s also finding time to continue to create music and poetry. Byron has been my hero for some time now,  but now’s the time to make him a role model as well. 

Karen Gervasoni is managing the pandemic by buying a travel trailer with her partner. They’re heading to the Cape this fall to see if  they can travel safely; if it works out, they’re heading cross-country next summer. Karen, let us know how it goes on the Wes ’76 FB  page! 

Nat Needle has been teaching piano in Worcester, MA, recently facing the challenge of moving to remote piano lessons. Like so  many, he was unable to play a public gig for nearly 6 months but got the chance to perform on 9/11. He has been deeply involved  with his local branch of Stand Up for Racial Justice, working to remove police presence from Worcester public schools. You can find  his music on YouTube. 

Tom Kovar is doing well after having had way too many medical issues early in the year. He may well have had a case of COVID in  January and ended up with a pacemaker in March. But he remains his wonderfully cheerful self, is still playing and posting music  (and waiting for social distancing to end so he can gig again), and is watching his son Sam start to think about applying to college. 

Larry Davis and his wife Ronna managed to take a trip around the world early this year, staying just ahead of the pandemic. He  followed that with a week of watching football matches in London and Liverpool, then going to Israel to co-lead a geology course on  the Dead Sea Rift Zone. The pandemic put an end to travels, and Larry and Rona have been devoting themselves to an organic  vegetable garden since. 

Michael Kennedy-Scanlon writes from Catalonia that the “second wave” of COVID-19 is underway. The pandemic has pushed him  into early retirement, but universal health care has made that an easy transition for him. He says that people are good about masks  and distancing, but that the need to socialize in groups is just too strong to be suppressed. 

Katey Downs retired in January after 25 years working in private equity investments in Latin America, the last ten years with the  IFC/World Bank. She and her husband, Felipe Ramirez-Gaston, were splitting their time between D.C. and Lima, Peru, but will  remain in D.C. until it’s safe to travel again. 

Jeff Frank loves retirement. He’s keeping busy as a Lyft driver in Columbus OH, which has to be a terrific way to meet people of  every possible background. Jeff says that the work is showing him that people aren’t as seriously at odds as the media often  portrays. He loves the expression of diverse viewpoints that he hears from his passengers. 

Will Rodman and his wife moved from Boston to Dallas last year to be closer to their grandson. Will reports that the heat of Texas  summer is more than balanced by not having to shovel snow in the winter. He’s still working, having joined the Texas A&M  Transportation Institute as a research scientist. A planned cruise up the Rhine to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary was  cancelled due to the pandemic, so they made due with a lovely trip to the Ozarks. Will says if any of his old friends are coming  through Dallas, get in touch at j.william.rodman [at] Gmail. 

Melissa Blacker and her husband (David Rynick ’74) have been keeping their Zen temple in Worcester going with Zoom services and  classes, but happily were recently able to return to outdoor services (with appropriate precautions). Their discussions groups  engage with topics such as racial justice, ethics, and Zen koan practice. (  

At the time of writing these notes, most of the West Coast was on fire, so I asked West Coast let me know how they were doing with  extreme temperatures, terrible fires, and appalling air quality. The reports: 

Ellen Seh lives in the Bay Area, so she’s been enduring not just the pandemic, but the effects of apocalyptic fires, smoke and heat as  well. She’s been working with the Red Cross to help victims of the Northern California fires, and spending free time hiking with her  new dog (presumably in search of better air quality).  

Sid Cohen has retired after a long career as a cardiologist. Another Bay Area-ish resident, he’s also been dealing with extreme heat,  forest fires, and terrible smoke (and air quality). Retirement will give him time to explore all the things that interest him, to enjoy his  children and grandchildren, and to getting back to running and biking when the air finally clears.

Jay Abramowitz reports that as of mid-September there were no fires in Santa Monica, but the air was filled with ash from the  Bobcat fire. Fingers crossed that the Santa Ana winds don’t set the Santa Monica Mountains on fire, Jay! 

Rob Sloss has moved out of Los Angeles to retire in Ojai, one of the loveliest spots in California. In spite of this fall’s extreme heat,  Rob seems to be in an area not terribly affected by the fires, so he’s able to enjoy the coyotes, owls, and all the other native wildlife. 

Martha Meade shared photos of the brown skies and red sun over west Los Angeles during the Bobcat fire. Like everyone else she  stayed safe indoors, and put her time to wonderful use by painting lovely still lifes and landscapes. 

David (Harmin ’76) and I are much the same; I’m retired, David isn’t. David works with Mike Greenberg, who is doing an  extraordinary job of keeping the Department of Neurobiology and his lab at Harvard Medical School functioning under very difficult  circumstances. I’m at a loss to explain how it is that Mike never seems to age! 

And, finally, I am saddened to report the death of Michael Dimin, founder of Sea to Table (no other information available) this  summer.

Karen Harmin |