CLASS OF 1953 | 2018 | ISSUE 3

Response to our 65th Reunion continues. Sidney Alexander is disappointed to have missed, because he was not informed by mail. Unfortunately, I do not believe mail notices were sent: all was online, thereby missing some. Sid, a cardiologist, sees patients at the Lahey Clinic, teaches, and finds time for a little clinical research.

Clapham “Cope” Murray continues his acting career playing a senile old man in a wheelchair during the summer season. Cope lives with his son, his wife having passed away a few years ago.

In addition to spending time with his children, Eileen ’79 and Mike ’81, Jerry Patrick serves on two nonprofit boards and corresponds with Jim Waters ’52, who lives in Florida. Jerry planned to visit Cope in September followed by skippering bareboat a 44-foot sloop off the Maine coast. He is building an elaborate model of a 5th century B.C. Greek trireme used in the Persian War and he is also writing short stories.

George Anderson called, seeking a contact for Warren Eastman, our past class agent (which I do not have since he moved to Connecticut). George and his wife, Rue, of seven years, live in Savannah, Ga., as does Homer Eckerson, who sent me a message from Japan in August, where he was on a family vacation. After an aorta aneurysm four years ago, George has recovered sufficiently to shoot his age on the golf course—86. He finds water aerobics preferable to the gym.

Rev. Edward White checked in from D.C., stating he was fine, with a wife, five children, and 12 grandchildren—all doing well.

James Dutcher Griffis, a native of Troy, N.Y., a DKE, passed away July 6, 2018, in The Woodlands, Texas, where he had been living since his mobility decreased. He is survived by his son, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a sister.

Erik Sprague Taylor, born in Tientsin, China, a math major, and a Sigma Nu, died Nov. 27, 2017, in Denver, Colo. A long-term employee of the Colorado National Bank of Denver, he served as trust officer and head of the trust department. Active in the community he enjoyed hiking, backpacking, skiing, and especially his cabin in South Park. He is survived by his wife, Frances, three children, four grandchildren, a sister, and a brother.

Condolences to the families of Jim and Erik.

JOHN W. MILLER | Jwalmiller@aol.com
306 Autumn Court, Bartlesville, OK 74006 | 918/335-0081 

Milton L. Smith ’53, MAT’55

Milton L. Smith ’53 passed away on Aug. 23, 2018 in Georgia. Smith majored in English and went on to earn his master’s in teaching at Wesleyan. Smith retired from his role as an executive at SUNY at Utica, where he was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

James D. Griffis ’53

James D. Griffis ’53 passed away on July 6, 2018. Jim was preceded in death by his father and mother, Rev. Harold William Griffis and Evelyn Theresa Dutcher, his brothers David Griffis and John Harold Griffis and his loving wife Margaret ‘Peggy’ Hart. Jim is survived by his son James Fredrick Griffis (Susan) and his sister Nancy Evelyn Griffis. He was very proud of his grandchildren Patrick Griffis (Laura), Michael Griffis, Kevin Griffis, and Megan Griffis, and his grand daughter in law Jenna Beck. He adored his great grandchildren Kylie Griffis, Colton Griffis, Patrick Griffis, and Madelyn Jancigar-Griffis. Jim was also proud of his nieces and nephews and their families, Mark Griffis, David Griffis (Romina), John Griffis, Andrew Griffis (Ceci), Shari DiMeo (John), Kimberly Homeyer, and Tara Sherman.

Family and close friends, who essentially became part of his “family,” are what mattered most to him. He genuinely and fiercely cared for this small group of people in his life. He supported, in a wide range of ways, all those he loved through thick and thin. Jim was the backbone of his family.He also accepted everyone in that circle for what and who they were and was quick to forgive whatever shortcomings or misfortunes they experienced. He never held a grudge. He was proud of everyone’s accomplishments. He wanted everyone to get along and have a good life.

He had a great sense of humor and could laugh at other’s experiences as well as his own. His personality and presence were felt by all who came into contact with him. He loved life and those around him. He could be funny evenwhen he was grouchy. Who else could lose a tuba on a weekend away in college or have Carl Sandburg quip during class while looking out a classroom window, “I see Mr. Griffis has elected to sun himself on top of the fraternity house rather than be present for our poetry class!”? His stories were countless, and he would light up any room he entered.

He loved his sports and enjoyed seeing his family in sports. He was a four-year varsity letterman (football, basketball, track, and tennis) and was inducted into the Troy High School hall of fame. Whenever he could, he went to all of his grandson’s games.

He believed in brevity and directness when communicating. He stressed working hard and achieving one’s best, playing fair, and respecting people regardless of their social position and not taking yourself too seriously. There are many virtues and values that many of his family have inherited from him. Jim loved music. He played trumpet, baritone and an occasional tuba in Dixie land bands in college. He taught himself to play piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis and loved county music.

Jim graduated from Wesleyan University and had a successful career in sales in the commercial building sector, first with Kimmey Company in Troy, N.Y., Sanymetal Company in Cleveland, Ohio, and All American Company in Long Island, N.Y. His ultimate success and personal pride were establishing his own company, Gratton Building Specialties in Mentor, Ohio, before he retired.

Everyone has their own stories of Jim that will live on. He has made an indelible impact on those he loved. These memories will soften the heartache of his passing.

We thank Mr. Griffis’ son for this heartfelt obituary.

CLASS OF 1953 | 2018 | ISSUE 2

The first persons I encountered on Friday of our 65th Reunion on the lawn of the president’s house were Marilyn and Atwood “Woody” Dunham from Maine and Bill Teachout from Santa Ana, Calif. After greeting President Michael Roth ’78 we shared past and recent events. Woody’s daughter and my son, Thomasjohn, joined us for dinner in Usdan. Crossing High Street to Downey House I joined a reception for ’53 and ’58, when Sandy Millar and his companion, Fran Hitchcock, from Wellfleet, Mass., and Honolulu’s Phil Olsen, appeared in the crowd of ’58ers. Phil will visit his great uncles’ fishing village, north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Early Saturday morning, some of our classmates listened to Professor Logan Dancey discuss the changes in political party demographics over the past decade. I listened to a discussion on identification of medications to eliminate the effect of genetic abnormalities, while others found interest in “Wesleyan and the Great War.” Lining up for the alumni parade behind North College were Judith and Mel Katz from Greenwich, Conn., Joan and Bob Lavin from Duxbury, Mass., and Warren Eastman with his son, Richard ’81. Warren relocated from Florida to Connecticut to be near family after the passing of his wife. Joining the short parade around College Row to the chapel was Shirley Muirhead Jenkins, wife of two Eclectic men. The class banner was carried by Woody and Sandy. Class members and guests occupied two tables for the post-50th Reunion lunch to enjoy a talk by Mike Whalen ’83, Wesleyan athletic director, on recent events.

Our class reception and dinner featured a table of Eclectic alumni and their companions, including Ann Teachout, Shirley, Gunilla and George James ’52, and a table of Phil, Mel and Judith Katz, John Miller and his son, and two representatives of the university. Reminisces flourished!

Pre-Reunion messages: Herb Kelleher was restricted from travel as a result of a recent illness and sent greetings. Earl Forman telephoned to state doubtful attendance, as he has good/bad days from cancer. Milton “Snuffy” Smith travels with an electric scooter around his retirement village while his wife has taken over driving. Ed Lifset wished a successful weekend from California. Jim Griffis lives in a great senior retirement apartment facility in The Woodlands, Texas, with 4 p.m. happy hour and penny poker three times weekly. His son, Jim, born April 1952 while dad cooked breakfast at the Deke house, lives nearby, as do two grandchildren. His motor scooter gets him out.

Post-Reunion messages: Two missed their first Reunion since graduation, Harold “Oggie” Locke, my freshman roommate and fellow chemistry major, and Jerry Zackin, who scheduled a Dubai-Rome cruise long before Reunion. Steve Friedland attended a granddaughter’s graduation in Washington and looks forward to our 70th. Bill Rack is looking forward to enjoying tennis and golf with Bill Teachout, who is moving to Santa Barbara.

Our fundraising goal of $30,000 has been exceeded.

Attendees asked how many were in our class and how many are living; 167 graduated and about 120 graduates and nongraduates are deceased. The last two Wesleyan issues identified four additional passings, and one since Reunion. John S. Brownson, 85, died on Feb. 26, in Watertown, Mass. Born in Asheville, N.C., a Sigma Nu, an economics major with a master’s from Columbia and PhD from Boston University. Survived by his wife, Sonja. Private burial services were in Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. He was Korean veteran.

My second freshman roommate, Raymond Drakoff, 87, born in NYC, died on Aug. 13, 2017. John Wesley Club, a chemistry major, a retiree of Lever Brothers Research Center, and active in art appraising and collecting. He was living in Bal Harbour, Fla.

Sargent Bradlee Jr., 87, born in Boston, died on July 15, 2017. A Chi Psi, he left at end of sophomore year to earn a BA from Harvard. He was a consultant to ISS Corporation and lived in Hanover, N.H.

Charles “Charlie” A. Hoyt, 85, born in Middletown, Conn., died on June 19, 2017 in Millbrook, N.Y. A Delta Tau Delta, an English major, Mystical Seven, he earned a master’s and PhD from Columbia. Best known as manager-star (from Olla Pod) of the High Street Five, a professor of English literature at Marist College, professional jazz musician, and freelance writer. He specialized in the romantic movement and Shakespeare and authored a textbook on the history of witchcraft. He is survived by five children and eight grandchildren. His jazz band was featured at several Reunions.

John M. Williamson, 85, born in Rochester, N.Y., died on July 31, 2016. A Gamma Psi, a psychology major, active in the theater, he retired as a packaging engineer at Eastman Kodak in 1991, and was a U.S. Army veteran. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joanne, three children, and seven grandchildren.

Condolences to the families of these classmates.

JOHN W. MILLER | Jwalmiller@aol.com
306 Autumn Court, Bartlesville, OK 74006 | 918/335-0081 

CLASS OF 1953 | 2018 | ISSUE 1

Walt Cutler wrote in November: “My wife, Didi, and I enjoyed two good trips this summer: one on a French barge in Burgundy with friends, and the other to Leipzig and Dresden for classical music. I am still involved with several Washington think tanks promoting international exchanges, and serving as an adviser to a California-based investment bank doing business in the Middle East. I haven’t been back to Wesleyan since I chaired a panel on the Iran-Saudi Cold War several years ago. Unfortunately, that part of the world continues to go from bad to worse.” Our wishes are to see Walt again on the campus.

It is with sadness that I report the passing of Jan B. van den Berg, 87, on Dec. 26, 2017. He and I roomed together for three years in Harriman, spent summer 1951 at a Michigan resort, and toured five European countries in 1952. Jan, born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, fled ahead of the Nazi invasion and lived in New Rochelle. He was a math major and Alpha Chi Rho. Jan was known for his swimming ability, having set frosh records in two distance events, being New England champ in the 440, and captain our senior year. In Paris we met the 1952 Olympic champ in the 440, whose time today would not make the high school team. (Progress!)

With an MBA from Stanford, he joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant and later became a managing principal. He lived in Amsterdam, London, and Greenwich. I recall his attendance our 40th Reunion in 1993. Upon retirement he moved to Bend, Ore., from where he traveled around the world until being stricken with Alzheimer’s. He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Patricia, a son, and two daughters, to whom our condolences are extended.

JOHN W. MILLER | Jwalmiller@aol.com
306 Autumn Court, Bartlesville, OK 74006 | 918/335-0081 

John S. Brownson ’53

John S. Brownson, a scientist, died on Feb. 26, 2018 at age 85. He earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and a PhD from Boston University. He retired from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 1993, where he worked for 30 years. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea. At Wesleyan, he majored in economics. He leaves behind his wife Sonya (Mayer) Brownson.

John M. Williamson ’53

John M. Williamson, a retired packaging engineer at Eastman Kodak, died Jul. 31, 2016. He was 85. A member of Gamma Psi, he was a U.S. Army veteran. His wife, Joanne Siegenthaler Williamson, survives, as do three children and seven grandchildren.

CLASS OF 1953 | 2017 | ISSUE 3

Our thoughts and hope for recoverable survival go to more than a dozen classmates who live in hurricane-wracked Florida, Texas, and surrounding areas, and to those who spend a portion of the winter months there.

Planning began the first week of October for our 65th Reunion, on Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, 2018—mark your calendars! Text me in the coming months as to your plans or of eventful happenings.

JOHN W. MILLER | Jwalmiller@aol.com
306 Autumn Court, Bartlesville, OK 74006 | 918/335-0081