CLASS OF 1981 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

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Greetings, classmates! It’s Joanne, writing to you from the comfortable confines of a German high-speed train, sipping wine, and admiring the scenery, efficiency of travel, and simple good sense of a country, that has spent decades investing in public transportation as a means of improving the public good and imagining how wonderful this would be if I could travel in a similar manner in my own country…

But I digress! I often wax nostalgic every time I return to Europe, where I was fortunate enough to live for so many years. Not to say that I don’t appreciate my home country; it’s just that in this time of political unease and unrest, it is nevertheless hard to not look away and see how things “could” be if only we’d open our eyes as to how others live, work and establish their societies.

That is my hope for my middle son, James, who just graduated from Indiana University with a degree in computer science. His last class before he actually gets his diploma in hand takes place in Tanzania, where he is studying the geology, archaeology, and anthropology as well as the flora, fauna, and history of the Olduvai Gorge area and the Serengeti plains. My eldest son, Alex (a computer science engineer), is in the Seattle area and works as a consultant to some of the “biggies” like SpaceX and Microsoft. My youngest, Christopher, just finished his first year at Indiana University, where he plans a double major in math and (surprise!) computer science. This summer, he is continuing as an AI in computer science—and to think I barely made it through all those punch cards for my senior project (and that was WITH help!).

Judith Newman wrote with some exciting news. Some of you may have read her wonderfully insightful 2014; New York Times’ article describing her autistic son’s relationship with Apple’s Siri, and how beneficial it has been for her son’s emotional and social growth. This research led to the book, To Siri With Love, with a publication date from Harper Collins of late August, early September. Learn more at or [See page 80.]

Mark Saba shared that he, too, has two books coming out. David Roberts Books published a volume of Mark’s poetry, Calling the Names, moving and compassionate poems which Vivian Shipley describes as “creat(ing) the bridge between life and death we all will cross.” The second book, Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past, is due out in late summer with Big Table Publishing. Mark has been writing since he left Wesleyan, publishing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction (see Mark is a painter as well! “I started working at Yale in 1990 as a medical illustrator in the medical school,” he shared. Mark has been at Yale for 29 years. He adds, “I am now still illustrating, but also doing graphic design, websites, and media walls for the whole university.”

To carry on with our literary trend, Kaylie Jones writes that when she is not spending time with her wonderful daughter, Eyrna, she continues to teach, lecture, travel, and publish. Her imprint, Kaylie Jones Books with Akashic Books, has added several new volumes from some very talented writers, including The Year of Needy Girls by Patty Smith ’82.

Diane Goldstein Stein writes that son Matthew ’16 graduated from Wesleyan last year and daughter Lisa ’21 will begin her freshman year at Wes this fall. Matthew is a software engineer in Mountain View, Calif., and plays with the Google orchestra. Matthew is a violinist, violist, and composer, and Lisa is a cellist and vocalist.

I had the pleasure of catching up with my dear friend and former housemate, Deb Chapin, on a trip to Boston. We had a lovely brunch downtown and reminisced about old times, past adventures, and the joys (and tribulations!) of raising teenagers. Plans are in the works for a get-together with the former Sunday night co-op group that also includes Kathy Prager Conrad and Livia Wong McCarthy.

According to Facebook, Wesleyan graduation saw many classmates in attendance. Katy Ward Koch celebrated the graduation of her niece, Hyunji Choi Ward ’17, along with her dad, Alan Ward ‘52, who enjoyed his class Reunion. Katy looks forward to another visit in a few years when her nephew, Hyunwoo Ward ’20, graduates. Chris Graves was also there to watch proudly as his daughter,  Julia Graves ’17 received her diploma. There he met up with Jim Friedlich ’79 and Melissa Stern ’80, whose son, Max ’17, graduated. Chris left a few days later for Belaggio, Italy, where he was back at the Rockefeller Center for a small U.N. summit on climate change. Ed Suslovic was also in attendance, and posted proud pics of himself with his daughter, Kate Suslovic ’17, resplendent in her cardinal-red robes. I know there are more classmates who had children graduating, but alas these are the only ones I happened to see.

Keep the news coming. David will be writing the next set of notes.

David I. Block |

Joanne Godin Audretsch |