CLASS OF 1979 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

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KPBS in San Diego, Calif. named Anne Wilson a community hero for her work in affordable housing as both developer and advocate (read more). Anne also attended Wesleyan’s 185th Commencement to celebrate Eero Talo ’17 graduation.  Congratulations, Anne!

Matt Okun writes in that he has so many reasons to rejoice:”My daughters, Nina Okun Furia and Lia Okun, both live in NYC, and visited me on my recent trip to D.C. Lia is a licensed psychologist, and Nina is a personal assistant, pregnant with her second child. My brother’s (Steve Okun ’82) son (Alex Okun ’20) just completed his freshman year at WESU. My wife, Annie Wong, has three children from her former marriage and already has two grandchildren. So, by the time you read this, I should have a total of four grandkids! I continue to work for the Seattle Public Schools as a teacher trainer and administrator with a focus on social justice.  I love everything about Seattle, except for how far it is from the East Coast. Just saw the band U2 live, playing music from 30 years ago. I am in my 39th year as a teacher. What a long, strange trip it’s been! My message to all is: Savor each moment of life; they can be beautiful, sweet, challenging, but are most certainly fleeting.  All my love, Matt”

Carol Churgin is semi-retired. She left public education and just finished another master’s—in Social Work. So on to another chapter…  She’s very proud her son is a licensed acupuncturist and diplomate of oriental medicine. Anyone living in San Diego who needs an acupuncturist, feel free to contact Carol!

Since the presidential election, Ann Kaplan has been volunteering as a teach-in organizer with a group of psychologists called Duty to Warn. “This national group of psychologists aims to have the president removed from office under the 25th amendment.

“I spent New Year’s Eve on a dive trip with three friends. This summer, we are heading to the Lembeh strait in Indonesia to dive.  I have also become immersed in a yoga practice and will be heading to a villa in Nice for a week-long retreat. We’ll be practicing, dining, and drinking wine. I don’t do austere.

“My daughter is a personal trainer at Crunch gym and a performance artist, focusing on pole dancing and silks. She also played a slice of pizza and a vengeful, tutu-clad pig in a magnificent production at Bushwick’s House of Yes.“

Earlier this year, Jake Walles retired from the State Department after more than 35 years as a foreign service officer, including tours as U.S. Ambassador in Tunisia and Consul General in Jerusalem.  He’s now living in D.C. and looking forward to new adventures outside the government.”

After 34 years as Wesleyan’s sports info director, Brian Kattan accepted early retirement on October 1, 2015. “The last 19 months have been delightful and I highly recommend retirement to all ’79ers. For fun, I coach a middle-school boys basketball team and umpire high-school baseball. I still follow Cardinal athletics religiously and am enjoying all the team successes including Eudice Chong ’18’s third straight national tennis title and men’s lax making the NCAA semis in 2017. Go Cards!”

Julie Hacker just got back from her son Gabe’s RISD graduation complete with marching band and belly dancer. A week before she attended her step-grandson’s graduation from Westpoint complete with marching band but no belly dancers. Opposite ends of the spectrum, but couldn’t be more proud! She has been busy practicing architecture, serving as a preservation commissioner for the City of Evanston, rewriting the design guidelines for Evanston, competing in triathlons, and is performing in a musical theatre class (“my singing is sub-par”). “I am still short, with short, greying hair, and wear black most of the time and of course round glasses—the uniform of architects. See my latest work at www.cohen-hacker.com and my son’s latest work at www.gabrielscohen.com .”

Bill Davies and Candy downsized two years ago to a 100-year-old home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “We moved in after five months of renovating. Poughkeepsie is becoming a trendy place for young artists with families who can’t afford living in NYC and we love the neighborhood we are in.  I retired from IBM/GlobalFoundries in May and will be spending the summer rowing, biking, and gardening.  We are also preparing for our daughter’s wedding, Kim ’07, in September.  This fall I plan to start volunteering at the local schools to help kids with math skills.  Candy continues her social work as a counselor at SUNY, New Paltz.“

Alan Saly is happy to report that his daughter, Elaine Saly ’09, has graduated from NYU Law, and is on her way to Seattle to be a criminal defense attorney in the public defender’s office. Any Wes lawyers out there for her to touch base with?

Jono Cobb is back on Martha’s Vineyard for the summer. “During the months following graduation, I shared a single bathroom house on the Vineyard with Maureen Walsh, Deirdre Manning, Bethany Kandel, Spence Studwell, Mike Connelly, Dennis Archibald, and Mike Riera, as well as his not yet house-broken puppy. We also got to see many of our classmates who made our living room their first night’s stop after disembarking from the ferry. Whenever I drive past Little Walden, as we named it, I’m reminded of that summer of 1979…”

Luis Vidal still resides in Bridgeport, Conn. He retired from the Department of Social Services in 2011. He is presently working for Family ReEntry, Inc. as group facilitator of domestic violence groups in Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven, and Waterbury. He would love to hear from Ines Navarro ’81 and MaryAnn Gonzalez ’82 who graduated a couple of years after he did, and is wondering how they are, what they are up to, etc.

Thomas Brody, at 63, is still trying to find himself. Wish him luck, he says.

Denise Giacomozzi has been coordinating the Syrian Refugee Project at her church in conjunction with New Vision United Church of Canada (Hamilton, Ontario) whose pastor is married to a friend of hers from high school. The goal is to raise $50,000 USD to bring two families of four to Hamilton. They are halfway there. Contributions can be made by check to Rockville United Church, Syrian Refugee Project, 355 Linthicum St., Rockville, MD  20851 or PayPal. “On a personal note, my mother passed away in March at the hospice where I have been working as a chaplain.  I am on leave as I mourn. Elaine Winic was there by my side for the memorial service, ever the faithful friend since our days as freshmen roommates.”

Ralph Maltese: “On October 22, 2016, my best friend from college, Alan David Avner, passed away after a two-year bout with cancer. Alan was an enigma—a happy loner, a fine musician, a good friend. He was the healthiest living person I’ve ever known, had a razor sharp eclectic intelligence, sarcastic wit, love of all things jazz, a respect for all people and other living things and lived his life with caring and humility. He recently moved to Florida to care for his aging father, giving up the life he loved in San Francisco. I never ever heard him brag about anything. Throughout all his ordeals he never complained. Alan was always there for me, as my friend, confidante, best man, the first person I told I had cancer, and someone I could rely on for good advice even when it was the advice I did not want to hear but needed. He was and will always be my friend.  He is survived by his father, sister, and her family.”

Gary Breitbord | gbreitbo@aol.com

Ann Biester Deane | abdeane@aol.com