CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

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Congratulations. We made it through a very complex year, and we’ve also made it through an amazing 35 years! This coming May is our 35th Class Reunion, but unfortunately, on-site events have been postponed. Information about reunion is online at wesleyan.edu; keep an eye out for an updated date. Still, planning is underway. If you want more information or want to get involved, contact the class liaison, Nelson Albino MA’19, at nalbino@wesleyan.edu.

As I write this in the fall of 2020, there is tremendous uncertainty 

for many, though happily most members of our class seem to be secure in our jobs and in our lives. Here is some news that was shared with me during the past few weeks. 

First, a big and hearty congratulations to David Hill. This past July he became co-vice chair of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, and it is expected that he will become the president next July and serve a two-year term. Several classmates have children who will be joining the Alumni Association fairly soon. For example, Cathy Cotins has a son who is a senior, “He is living on Home Avenue, two doors down from the house I lived in senior year. We’re looking forward to celebrating his graduation on Foss Hill in the spring. I hope that will be possible!” 

Peter Crabtree was hunkered down at home with his wife of 29  years, partly due to COVID-19, and partly due to the Portland air being filled with smoke from nearby fires. “Overall things are good!  I continue to enjoy my psychology practice. I do psychotherapy, supervision of other therapists, and some teaching. I’ve been golfing, fly fishing, and hiking in my free hours. Despite the recent fires and post-apocalyptic feeling, I love Oregon.” Peter has been missing old friends from Wes and hopes to get to the next reunion; he still hangs out with Tony Green, who recently became a grandfather of a beautiful boy. 

Scott Donohue reported that Keith Gaby and his wife Ingrid Embree are empty-nesters, and so moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Oakland, California. They both rise early and work remotely with East Coast offices before that became a standard practice for many. “It’s been great to have them on the Left Coast but a bit hard to share adventures at the moment.”

Ayelet Waldman, Becky Mode and others on their team were tremendously successful as writers and producers of the TV show Unbelievable. The eight episodes were released in September 2019 on Netflix, and only a month later Netflix announced that the miniseries already had been streamed by over 32 million viewers.

Elizabeth Graver, a professor of English at Boston College, wants to “brag about some of my close friends from our class, who continue to awe me.” Sandy Newbury is director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Shelter Medicine Program, an intense job that also somehow leaves her time to do circus aerial arts and white water kayaking. Patrick Symmes (who graduated in ’87 but started out with our class) continues to report on the front lines, most recently writing about the rise of authoritarianism in the United States. His newsletter has been helping many make sense of things. Ralph Savarese, a professor of English at Grinnell (and with whom she had a writers’ group in college), has published a wonderful poetry collection, Republican Fathers (Nine Mile Books) and a second collection called When This Is Over: Pandemic Poems (Ice Cube Press). Elizabeth is still writing fiction and teaching in the Boston College English Department, where there is a strong Wes presence: Tina Klein, Carlo Rotella, Suzanne Berne ’82, and Eric Weiskott ’09.

Also in academia, Kristin Bluemel is on sabbatical from (virtual) teaching at Monmouth University and working on various projects including a book proposal called An Ideal Modernity: Rural Britain, Women Artists, and the Twentieth-Century Wood Engraving Revival. “I specialize in eccentric subjects related to literature, book history, and children’s literature. My husband George Witte is still serving remotely as editor-in-chief of St. Martin’s Press. Will NYC ever recover, we wonder. In the meantime, books are one thing everyone can enjoy while social distancing so we hope people with Wesleyan educations keep reading.”

During the quarantine Bennett Schneider solo performed as Sister Unity for a marathon of 10 hours of storytelling live online to raise money for LifeGroupLA, an HIV/AIDS support charity. He watched Melinda Newman’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah live online and participated in a Zoom play reading produced by Renee Bucciarelli. Also in the play were Shawn Cuddy, James Hallett, Deirdra Finney Boylan, Steve Stern, Michael Steven Schulz, Marybeth Kilkelly, and others. Bennett continues to expand his horizons: “While sealed up at home I learned how to make porridge, congee, gruel, and chutney from scratch. Retirement planning has crept into the vocabulary. Nathan Gebert ’85 has been sending me real estate postings for Maine. There’s talk of a group getting land and buildings together for a Wes colony in Maine, assuming we all survive.” 

See you at the reunion events.

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu