Your class secretary writes: When soliciting entries for this magazine, I wrote to our class: “I just want to note that the class notes were pretty much sidelined as I have been pretty caught up in the support (hugs, listening, meals, dog walking, etc.) of good friends who just lost the father/husband of their family to glioblastoma (brain cancer). Life is so fragile and so unpredictable. My husband, Andrew McKenna, and I learned that personally when he was diagnosed this past year with kidney cancer. But we were sooooo lucky, it was stage one, operable so that his kidney was 85% saved, the cancer extracted with clean margins, and he is considered cancer free. One day you’re tripping along merrily, the next in a nightmare. And after hearing from many of you, I know these are not isolated experiences. There are so many wrenching stories. So, let’s set aside our differences and treasure what we have, treasure our family and our loved ones, our neighbors, and our dear friends.” Thank you all for your care and support and your responses!
Karen Klapper: “Still working as a hospice physician in Palm Beach County, as I have been for the past 32 years. When I am not working, I am having fun doing organic gardening, butterfly gardening, and attracting hummingbirds to my yard. These are life-affirming activities, which help counterbalance me to keep taking care of the terminally ill. Plus, I read the comics daily!”
Janet Grillo: “Very sorry about the loss of your friend and what an ordeal you and your husband have been through. Yes, as we are in our 60s, mortality looms large. Here is my update: I am enjoying my 11th year as [a] full-time faculty arts professor at NYU Tisch Undergraduate Film school. The third indie-fiction feature I directed, originally titled The Warm Season but retitled Alien Intervention by the distributor (because no one ever called it ‘show art’) played festivals here and abroad, won the Festival Director Award at the Boston Sci Fi Film Festival, Best Cinematography Award at Santa Fe Film Festival, and played to a packed house at Woodstock Film Festival (my adopted ‘hometown’). Film Threat said, ‘The universal becomes highly personal—and overwrought special effects take a welcome holiday—in Janet Grillo’s The Warm Season, a science fiction drama of human-extraterrestrial contact that impresses with humor and heart. Reviving a few character and plot elements from the likes of John Carpenter’s Starman and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the film, made for under $1 million over a couple of dozen shooting days, comes into its own as a compelling genre entry that covers more themes of existential relevance than those two major-studio pictures combined.’Alien Intervention can be streamed via SVOD on Apple, GooglePlay, Amazon, and Vimeo.
Randal Baron: “I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. These losses make me try to live life, fitting in as much good as possible. Luckily my husband and I have been relatively lucky with health, though not unscathed. We got in a trip to the Philippines and to Egypt [in 2023], both of which were terrific. I cannot recommend either enough. The Philippines has hands down some of the kindest people I have ever met. Egypt was also very hospitable despite the war, which had started the day we arrived. Unlike many Muslim countries, non-Muslims are welcomed into all the mosques and beautiful places. In 2024, we plan to visit Indonesia. We are enjoying life in Philadelphia, which is finally approaching a post-pandemic normal. We are hoping the city will mobilize again to save us from tyranny. I saw a T-shirt that says, ‘Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia since 1776.’”
Kenneth Toumey: “Thanks for the great message. Life is precious, thanks for the reminder. . . . I am semiretired, (working three days a week in a small but wonderful IT company servicing small businesses in northern New Jersey) , spending the ‘off days’ enjoying my coonhound, Clementine, my grandchildren, and playing guitar and bass in a band. Cherishing every moment! I am a lucky man. All the best to all of you from class of ’80!”
Wendy Davis: “So true, Jacquie, and a big hug to you for your resilience and grace under pressure. I’d just add prayers for all those caught in crossfire of the Middle East. Love to Andrew and welcome to the cancer survivors club, a great group with no initial vetting and no annual fees. 100% happy with my experience. . . . This will be our first Christmas in Devon in our ‘new’ 16th-century Manor House . . . takes some getting used to with no central heating; we’re improvising with fire in wood-burning fireplace [and] several superefficient and effective German heaters; body heat helps, too, after the months the house was empty before we moved in last January. Spring and summer were absolutely delightful in the garden as every day was a surprise with flowers blooming from previous owners’ planting. This year we’ll be looking forward to more of the same including the fish and frogs in the pond currently hibernating under ice (sincerely sorry for them).”
Peter Scharf: “Over the past year I continued teaching Sanskrit courses online (https://sanskritlibrary.org/courses.html) and writing books to support Sanskrit learning (https://sanskritlibrary.org/publications.html). My wife and I started a digital Sanskrit humanities program (https://sites.google.com/sanskritlibrary.org/courses/sanskrit-digital-humanities) to train students to help bring the vast Sanskrit literature into the digital medium.”
Mark Zitter: “Thanks for your message, especially the PS. We’re all at the age where various relatives and friends (as well as ourselves) are facing the health challenges you cite, with both tragic and magic results. They are a reality of life, and they test our character. For news: My wife and I were in Tel Aviv on October 7 when we awoke to sirens and rockets falling. From the bomb shelter I canceled the tour I was to host for 24 of my Stanford graduate school classmates. We were able to leave the country within a few days but ever since have been consumed with the conflict in Israel/Gaza and dismayed at the surging antisemitism in the U.S. As I write this in early December, it feels like a dark time for the world and for Jews. On a brighter note, in a few days Paul Singarella and Scott Hecker are flying into the Bay Area where we’ll head to the Napa Valley for a weekend of wine tasting, fine dining, and mud baths. We’ve been having Zoom calls every other month and decided it was time to get together in person. Meanwhile, I had Daryl Messinger at my house for dinner last Friday and spent an hour chatting with Paul Oxhom yesterday.”
Peter Feldman is currently living near Geneva, Switzerland, where his wife, Ritu, is a senior manager at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). They have one daughter who’s now 17 and in her final year of high school. Peter, who earned an MS degree in hydrology from the University of Arizona in 1988, has been working for over two decades in the international development and humanitarian response field as a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) specialist. His geographic focus has been on Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. During the past year he was engaged on an assignment in Ukraine with the French NGO Solidarités International; and has recently joined IsraAID, an Israeli humanitarian NGO, as a senior technical advisor supporting programs in Africa as well as in Ukraine. He does want the E&ES faculty (past and present) to know that he still at heart considers himself a geoscientist and is prone to spending far too long studying road cuts, cliff faces, the geomorphic patterns of glacial terrain, and the polished stone used in any kitchen counter or, preferably, bar top.
Jonathan Needle: “A lot of us made it to 65 this year (2023), so hearty congratulations, and at this point you might consider trying to moderate your vaping as one of your New Year’s resolutions, as applicable. Another food for thought topic: there’s an open question whether all the microplastics in our American lives have adverse effects on humans, and possibly members of the plant and animal kingdoms generally. It seems like there’s little to be done about it (they are omnipresent) and the whole matter is still merely speculative. As to plastics in their many aggregated forms, consumer and plumbing products, for instance, I believe most of us in the U.S. have found them highly useful (but then few would cheer for a continuing blizzard of superfluous plastic packaging). With highest regards and wonderful wishes.”
Edwina Trentham: “I don’t have a note for the Class of 1980, but I just wanted to thank you for this beautiful message about the fragility of life and the importance of embracing it and treasuring our many blessings. [There is] a poem by Dane Cervine, which I recite every morning. I think you will like it. Again, thank you for your beautiful and important message.” (Note: the poem is called Sin and it can be found online.)
Faith Elizabeth Fuller: “I am on the executive board of the National Prevention Science Coalition, working with researchers across the country to bring information on evidence-based programs and policies to government/public health—the premise is to create nurturing environments for young people will help prevent future crime, poverty, substance abuse, violence. I am leading a Credible Messenger project in California, whereby former gang members who have served long terms in prison become mentors to young people in communities experiencing high rates of gun violence. It seems to be working! And the mentors and mentees are endlessly interesting—personalities that bring a lot of humor to the work.”
Cindy Ryan: “While many are enjoying the start of well-deserved retirement, I’m progressing in my third vocation as an LMHC (licensed mental health counselor) and have opened a private practice, which filled up rapidly, thanks to ways in which the pandemic destigmatized remote mental health treatment. I specialize in working with folks struggling with cancer, brain injuries, and other medical issues, so Jacquie’s message to our class resonated with me; my practice provides opportunities to deeply converse about existential realities we are starting to face. A few days per week I welcome the chance to work with lovely art students in the counseling center at MassArt in Boston. As for family, my son, Jonah, became a Canadian this summer, which I proudly witnessed. My daughter, Juliet, celebrated her 2020 pandemic marriage this spring and continues to work on her PhD in geology.”
Walter Calhoun had a Mexican fiesta/sushi dinner party at his home in Highland Park, Illinois, on October 25, 2023, for 10 people, and he was so fortunate Andrew and Elizabeth Parkinson were able to attend. Walter said, “It was so wonderful Andrew was able to bring me up to date on his Psi U friends like Bruce Bunnell ’81 and I was able to do the same with Chi Psi friends Stephen Freccero, Labeeb Abboud, and Scot Timmis ’82. Andrew’s wife, Elizabeth, is one of the most emotionally generous, empathetic, and wonderful women I have ever met and it was so great to see them both that night.”
JACQUIE SHANEBERGE MCKENNA | email@example.com