CLASS OF 1986 | 2017 | ISSUE 3

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“When I was at Wes, I was initially opposed to bringing kids onto this crazy planet. But then, at some point, I decided that the most radical thing I could do was to raise great kids—kids who would be part of making the world a better place. It turns out, I was prescient beyond my years. Now in my ‘back 50,’ I feel particularly good that I’ve made the world a better place by bringing three extraordinary humans onto the planet—now fascinating young adults whom my radical, feminist former self would have loved!” Does anyone agree with these sentiments of Elaine Taylor-Klaus?

“I’ve had a super year fighting against this dumpster fire of an administration. Participating in the resistance movement has been a source of joy and inspiration the likes of which I haven’t experienced in over 30 years of activism. Whether joining the crowd of 750,000 at the LA Women’s march, or rallying with 75 people at the Kauai ‘Show Us Your Taxes’ protest, I’ve been overwhelmed by the camaraderie, patriotism, and creativity on display. And it’s a great way to catch up with fellow Wes alumni!” And maybe some agree with these sentiments from Lisa Rosen.

Carlie Masters Williams: “This has been an incredibly challenging year for us here in Washington, DC. We thought politics couldn’t get any worse and lo! We were wrong. But the protests have been incredibly invigorating. I am excited to see people speaking out about the things that matter to them. The Women’s March was a sea of pink hats and women speaking loud enough to be heard across the country. We hosted seven southern women I know through work and it was a beautiful thing. We will continue to shout about facts and data and science until we can drown out the voices of ignorance. As for physical feats? My office did the 100 push-up challenge this summer. As a group I am proud to say we did literally HUNDREDS of push-ups and had a good time doing it. I bought everyone a jump rope as a prize at the end. That requires a whole ‘nother level of coordination so I am not sure we are going to be doing Double Dutch anytime soon.”

Lucy Seham Malatesta was sworn in as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) on September 11 in Newark. “In this volunteer position, I advocate for children who have been removed from their families and are ‘in the system.’ With access to school and medical records and the right to contact teachers, professional providers, and visit the child at his/her residence, I present my findings to the court quarterly to help determine the best next steps. ‘To be for the child’ is my response to the current state of our country and our world.”

Jeff Liss: “My wife Susan and I love living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan since we became empty nesters (children number five and number six are now in college). I am currently between jobs, doing some independent consulting and also fulfilling one of my bucket list items as an adjunct professor, teaching digital marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I met up with Geoff Weinstein in San Diego during the summer. I also run into Dan Seltzer in the city every so often.”

Debbie Halperin: “While there is so much in the world that I don’t feel very good about, I also have a lot to be grateful for. I feel good about my family (celebrating 24 years of marriage this year to my husband Gil) and my kids who are in 11th and 12th grade. I feel good about the wonderful friendships I have formed over the years that sustain me, including those I met freshman year at Wes, Sarah Bosch, Nancy Cagan, Emily (Zaslow) Hourihan and Joanna (Feinberg) Miller. I feel good that my parents are healthy and close by. I feel good about relaunching my jewelry line, maycamehome.com after many years’ hiatus. Finally, over the summer we visited Tokyo for the first time and survived an emergency landing on the way home—so I feel good that those pilots were well trained!”

Tomas Mendez: “I’ve been in advertising for 50 years and it’s been pretty great. This year, for the first time ever, I’ve gone to the ‘client side.’ I’m at Dell EMC and really like it. It is so much less intense than the agency side. My wife Tracy (Juilliard ’96) came out of dancing retirement a couple of years ago and is so amazing—our son Daschle, 9, and I got back from seeing her perform about an hour ago (as I write this) and it was awesome. Over Labor Day we got together with Garth Battista ’85 and his wife Lilly in Maine. They sailed in on the boat Garth built himself and used my mooring near our family summer home on South Harpswell. At least 10 folks from ’86, ’87, ’88, and ’89 have been there so hopefully you guys are reading this. By you guys I mean Chris Gould ’87 (great chatting the other day!), Linnea Berg ’88, Mike Edson ’87, Bill Love, Mark Woodbury ’87, Lisa Bogan ’87, Anna Luhrman, Paul Sutherland ’85, Allegra Burton ’87, Michael Tomasson, and I’m sure a couple of others who my aging brain isn’t conjuring up. I stop at Wesleyan on the way up and back from Maine (live in New York) so I’ve been visiting Wesleyan twice a year for 30-plus years and for those who haven’t visited in a while, I highly recommend it. The place is insanely amazingly fancy and has so much more land, versus the lovely but humble physical plant and grounds we all experienced.”

Lydia Crawford learned to drive a manual as an adult (husband is British and he really wanted a manual transmission car, so she agreed to have him teach her—and they are still married!). “Our son Owen is happy as a sophomore at Lawrence University in Wisconsin (about a five-hour drive from Saint Paul where I have lived since finishing law school in Virginia) despite going through a college application and selection process that should not be emulated by anyone. Our 15-year-old daughter Vivian is willing to engage in fairly meaningful conversations with me somewhat frequently and has learned that rolling her eyes at her parents is not appreciated. I am able to keep pretty physically fit (despite back surgery last February), including going to a 6 a.m. workout class where I regularly see Beth Haney ’91. My husband and I adopted a stretch of state road in southern Minnesota (a Department of Transportation program) where we pick up trash periodically and now some friends are coming along to help. Who knew that picking up trash could be so social!”

A traveling summer for Ben Schneider: “Washington, D.C. for the National LGBT Resistance March and the Profession of Vows ceremony for the Washington D.C. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, home to Maine for the Yarmouth Clam Festival with Dan Kolbert and Greg Wildes. Then to Seattle to officiate at a wedding, my 15th time. Then Lithuania to teach meditation. And, finally the North Carolina Smokey Mountains as the keynote speaker at the annual Fall Gay Spirit Visions Conference. Bought a bike, walked away from a serious car accident, and went to a doctor for the first time in 20 years. Still see Melinda Newman and Lisa Rosen all the time, as well as Kevin Pratt ’87.”

Sam Atkinson is still umbilically attached to Boston. Peter Hammond and Mark Woodbury ’87 made their annual pilgrimage last weekend to join him for a mini-reunion.  Sam sees Tom Matlack once a year at a big card game. He’s kept in touch with Tony Antonellis and Kevin Freund (his Clark 312 freshman roommates, along with Pete) and two close friends both from Cheltenham, Pa.: Paul Levitan ’85 and Margery Bank Bates ’87 (who is moving to Nantucket), but misses Liz Turner (“love you, Blue Lady!”) and “Chucker-V” Vuono.

Emily Hourihan: “Sorry, Wes. We are a Tulane family now (Avery ’14, Zoey ’15, and third daughter, Charlie ’21). Highlights: My 35-year-long friendships with Debbie Halperin and Laura Harrington. Seven wonderful years with husband, Todd Magazine. Boston Marathon in 2016, and, most recently, my first Ironman-70.3 in Atlantic City (6:37.13). Very proud of that one!”

Ellen Santistevan says: “If I am ‘halfway’ between graduation and retirement, I think I am way behind the curve. I spent most of the first ‘half’ odd-jobbing and raising my children. In the second half, now, I am learning to take care of myself, and studying to do things that I am really good at and enjoy. Deepening my studies and practice of craniosacral therapy is probably the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I will probably always be in service to others, whether to my family or my clients or the various causes that I care about, but discovering that it’s ok to say no and to have good boundaries has been life-changing. Sounds simple, perhaps even dumb, and yet…”

Samuel Connor is also feeling good. “Feeling particularly good about my decision in 2015 to start my own business (running a consulting group focusing on innovative cause marketing). The variety of work coupled with the immeasurable value of flexibility to be with my three teenage sons has been super.” Kate McIvor also made a career change. “After working in public health in Helena, Mont., for 25 years, I now own a fabric store in Missoula, Mont. Learning how to run a very small business has been a welcome challenge for me. And, my core purpose remains the same: to uplift and empower people to be healthy. How does a fabric store help people be healthy? By providing the tools and materials necessary to slow down and create for ourselves and others; and, by reducing the need and desire to buy cheap, fast fashion.”

Steven Cohen feels great about finally getting married last year! “I met Müge on eHarmony. Our first date was an architecture lecture on the Guastavinos, a father and son from Spain who created beautiful tile ceilings and domes all around New York. Müge’s mother had worked as an architect on the design of Lincoln Center and can trace her lineage back to a Sultan and a sect that migrated from Spain to Ottoman Empire during the Inquisition. I’m also finding out how hard it is to learn to speak Turkish!”

Sue (Erikson) Bidwell took advantage of “local summer” at the Jersey Shore, otherwise known as when the vacationers go home. “I’ve spent my bonus time painting the outside of the house, and that is what I feel particularly good about. It’s my Zen time to contemplate the world while actually accomplishing something. I’m blessed that I can take my laptop with me and still work remotely as the office support for my husband’s company while enjoying these other perks at the shore.”

Zahara Heckscher:  “What I feel good about at this point in my life is having a son on the cusp of adulthood who is kind person, full of delight, and a husband who loves me despite my flaws. I had a long career doing nonprofit work but what I feel best about professionally are the books I’ve written and contributed to, including a little book of poetry I just published, and my father’s memoir about escaping the Nazis. Because of health challenges (breast cancer) my life has slowed down. I have a heart full of gratitude for the support of network around me including my sister and her family moved from Hawaii to be close to us. Life continues to be rich and meaningful. Life is good. I wish for classmates the ability to slow down and appreciate life, and focus more on what’s important—without having an illness that forces it!”

I think we can all agree to that.

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu