We are all going through unprecedented experiences with COVID-19 so I asked to receive your stories of hope and resiliency, family milestones, and special experiences. We’ll continue our 40th Reunion Zoom connection calls and look forward to meeting in person in 2021! If you haven’t received the emails or participated in the Zoom calls, please let me know and I’ll make sure Wes has your correct email so you can get connected! Sending out a big thank you to all our classmates and their families for your work on the front line and/or for your just showing kindness to family, friends, neighbors, and community. I hope you and your families are all well and safe.
Steve Mooney: “It makes me sad to pen this note, not because of any tragic news, but because we will not return to campus for our 40th Reunion this year, something I’d been greatly looking forward to. You see, I don’t remember much about Wesleyan, other than the wonderful friends I made. When I arrived in 1976, I wasn’t ready to be a serious student, and so I imagined a return 40 years after graduation where I discover what I know to be true—that Wesleyan mattered greatly to me, just not in a way that’s ever been easy to express. I didn’t find law, or finance, or even a likely career path while enrolled, and yet my time did spark curiosity and creativity, which in turn lead to something worthwhile—a passion for photography and storytelling and a marketing career made up of pictures and ideas. For that, I am forever grateful. It gave me such pleasure to see our classmate Jenny Boylan on the spring cover of this magazine—she is truth lived large. I was so looking forward to hugging everyone after what would have been a standing room only reading from her new book, Good Boy. Virtual hugs to all. Life is short. Have some fun and see you at the 45th!”
Randal Baron: “This has been an eventful and emotional quarter for me. First, I went on a fabulous trip in early March to see antique cars which are my passion. In seven days, I went from retro-classics in Stuttgart to the museums for Maybach, Audi, Skoda, Austro Daimler, and Zeppelins as well as exhibitions in Basel, Antwerp, and St. Augustine, Fla. Seven countries in seven days. I came home with COVID-19 which my husband and I both weathered successfully without permanent damage. I am retiring at the end of May after 36 years working with the Philadelphia Historical Commission. I have been working from home since my trip, but it is with great sadness that I will finish up without seeing my colleagues in person since February. I have had a friend die last week from this disease, but thanks to unknown angels, my loved ones and I have survived. I am grateful to be here. I wish good health to my classmates.”
Alan Jacobs: “What’s all this about a virus? I am connecting with more Wesleyan folks than ever. Dave Stern joined our Billionaire Boys Club monthly Zoom last week from a basement hideaway that revealed a little too much information. Also joining was Kyle Wilkinson, who is stowed away in the Berkshires with spouse, Vicki Cohen. And I just heard from three of my In Town housemates: Jeff Green, who sent a lovely news profile about his globetrotting medical practice, Scott Karlin, who retired from ENT medicine in Atlanta, and Nancy Danielle Rudess ’82, whose husband Jordan and I are working on a movie/music gig. Okay, as we say in the movie business, ‘enough about you, let’s talk about me.’
“After years of longing, planning, and dreaming, I finally moved to New York City on Jan. 31. My timing was impeccable. At first, I behaved like a kid in a candy store, frolicking at the Met, the Whitney, the gloriously refurbished MOMA, all three Soho Houses, four jazz clubs (including the highly recommended Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem), running three races in Central Park, and one in Prospect Park, until, alas, the tsunami hit six weeks later and I fled to my brother’s place in Weston, Conn., for a month—taking long, cold morning walks in search of Keith Richards’ mansion. I seem to be accomplishing more than ever, launching a new TV series and reading all those books I missed at Wesleyan, including Don Quixote. I figure if Cervantes could write it in a prison, I could read it in one. On the home front, my two older boys, Gil ’16 and Ron ’16 are hanging on in the live music business, and my daughter, Avia, is a year out of Mount Holyoke and heading to Israel for a while. My youngest, Guy, is completing his freshman year at University of Oregon. And now, I must return to tilting at windmills…”
Jeff Green: “I unexpectedly ended up locked down in Tel Aviv for seven weeks and just recently went back to work in the emergency department at Assuta Ashdod University Hospital in Israel. I cannot express the joy that I feel returning to my work family and my comfort zone. Here’s a piece that was just published about my odd turn of events.”
Wendy Davis Beard described her life in the U.K. with COVID-19: “Our daughter and her partner, who had been living together with us 24/7 before lockdown, moved out to protect my husband who is high risk; they’ve been isolating at his parents with his siblings. They are taking the day off tomorrow to come see us through our front door window. We are very paranoid, but I would like to use the occasion to step out of our front door for the first time in months to go to the park; our only nature are fresh cut tulips which do life cycle beautifully!”
Sara Epstein: “I am well, and my three kids and their partners, too. My oldest and youngest, Ben and Nora, work in the family business (power generation—generators for homes, hospitals, etc.) with their dad Owen Duffy. My middle son, Sam, is in his first year of medical school at George Washington University, and luckily, he finds studying online is fine. The kids and I communicate often during the pandemic, usually by text messages about what food we are cooking up. I am able to work from home as a therapist and find that the kids in my psychotherapy practice have lots of good ideas for stories. I’m working on a book of short poems for children; these rhymes are also featured on a new app called Juna, which teaches American accent for English language learners. I am finishing a book for children called The Princess and the Dragon, about a girl who tires of being cooped up in the castle all the time and finds a way to tame the dragon on the sly.” Read two of her recent poems here.
Owen Duffey, president of Kraft Power Corporation which sells and services generators and industrial engines used for generating power and also ship propulsion: “Interestingly, several years ago we sold a combined heat and power system that’s installed at the Freeman Athletic Center at Wes; it is part of their microgrid, providing efficient electricity and thermal energy, while helping make the campus more resilient. Nothing too dramatic in my life: riding a bicycle a lot, figuring out how to put my canoe on the car so I can go down the nearby Assabet River, and working in my company. Three grown kids, two of whom are working with me, which is very rewarding. Hoping to harvest from my vegetable garden before the woodchuck and rabbits discover it.”
Terri Jalenak Mendelson: “My Wesleyan daughter, Sara ’13 (post-wedding her name will probably be Martinez Cruz Mendelson), is living in Nosara, Costa Rica, and had to Zoom her May wedding. My other daughter is in New York going to grad school at Columbia. I have enjoyed working with community banks for the last 30 years, mostly in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, though the work is especially crazy right now, of course. I am very proud of all my amazing classmates.”
Scott Hecker: “When I was a sophomore at Wes, I remember David Schenkein ’79 telling me in Hall-Atwater that Rex Pratt had just been awarded a big grant to study beta-lactamase enzymes and their inhibitors; these are produced by bacteria to ward off beta-lactam antibiotics like penicillins and cephalosporins. Fast forward about 40 years and his company, Qpex Biopharma, is developing a new beta-lactamase inhibitor to address all of the new enzymes that have emerged to cause resistance to this very important class of antibiotics. They just published a paper in the Journal of Medicinal chemistry on the discovery of QPX7728: DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b01976. Respect the chemistry!”
Mark Zitter: “We’re riding out the pandemic at home in Oakland, Calif., with our three kids. Sol missed graduation and most of his final semester at Brown, where he majored in computer science and won the senior computer science award. He hopes to head to Israel, COVID permitting, for five months before starting a software engineer job at Facebook. Tessa ’21 is double majoring in archaeology and classics, giving tours, and singing a Capella. She’s the lead fight choreographer on campus and recently was awarded the Ingraham Prize for excellence in Greek. One of her favorite professors is Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, who was my freshman advisor! Sasha just finished high school and will start at UC Berkeley soon—whether on-campus or remotely. She volunteers for Crisis Text Line, which has been flooded with pandemic-related stresses. My wife, Jessica, has been volunteering remotely as an ICU and palliative care doctor for COVID patients in NYC. Her new documentary, Caregiver: A Love Story, just launched amid the pandemic. She’s also working on a podcast with our classmate, Julie Burstein. I sold my company in 2019 and chair the Zetema Project, which brings together America’s healthcare leaders to discuss thorny issues—fascinating conversations during this pandemic. I also have been doing extensive health care programming for the Commonwealth Club, the nation’s largest public affairs forum, which for now has gone completely virtual. One plus of being cooped up has provided extra time to reconnect with several classmates, including Irene Chu, Paul Singarella, and Paul Oxholm. And I’m delighted to see so many of us at our virtual reunion Zoom calls. Stay healthy and maintain social distance.”
Halsey Frank, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine since October 2017: “Alex is a rising senior at Cornell in the School of Ecology’s Policy Analysis and Management program—a quantitative social science. He’s interested in a range of things from government to business to consulting. Much to our surprise, Alex followed Laura to Cornell (we suspect her good reputation helped him get in). Laura, who graduated from Cornell last year, has been working for a startup in Manhattan that does market research for the hospitality industry. She teleworks from Maine.”
Walter Calhoun: “Stephen “Fritz” Freccero, my Wesleyan freshman and sophomore roommate and Chi Psi fraternity brother, reached out last week to say he had a reduced role as a California state Judge to a couple of days a week and that his family is all excellent. Prior to my self-quarantine, I had a wonderful dinner with Psi U friend and 1980 classmate Andrew Parkinson and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, along with my New Trier East High School friend, Mary Gately, at my favorite North Shore restaurant, Apple A Day, in Glencoe. A great time was had by all. Wishing everyone well.”
Amy Natterson Kroll: “Still living in D.C., married to Steve Kroll (35 years and counting!) and am a partner practicing securities law at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius: “Our kids are grown and flourishing—Hannah (31) is in NYC, a school nurse (so currently mainly tracking the many current issues) and mother to Max. Sam (25) moved to Park City this month (yep, drove from D.C. to Utah last week) for a new job. I’m a besotted grandmother of Max, 2-years-old in July. They are coming here for the month of June and maybe longer, so that Max can have the backyard to play. Suddenly the house is filling with little kids things…we have a small slide and chalk, and a booster seat…Rejoined a book group this year that I left 15 years ago when I went back to full-time work; I found myself yearning for the connection. Still wondering what I want to do when I grow up, but this time its ‘what’s my second act’…and where do we want to be in the next phase. We bought a condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho, and hope to spend time there this summer, but we may be driving there! Loving the planning group for the Reunion that isn’t! I want a reunion/connection with all of you forever. It’s making me value my role as class agent again.”
So, please, contribute to Wes, even a small amount to the fund established to support financial aid and the annual fund more generally. So, so important these days!
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | firstname.lastname@example.org