Harry C. Barr ’56 passed away on Dec. 25, 2017. A full obituary can be found here.
Jay Kaplan’s new book, Secrets and Suspense (International Law Stories), has been published by Academica Press. You can read about Jay and the book on Amazon’s website. I’ve had the privilege of reading a sample chapter, which was fascinating.
Bill Bixby writes: “In May I was inducted into the Wes Baseball Wall of Fame with other new members from 1963, 1977, 1988, 1991, and 2003.
“Unfortunately, none of my family could attend, but some friends did. The alumni baseball game was mostly fun but looked a lot more like batting practice.
“I lost my wife, Fran, who passed away in September. But my family is very busy, and all are doing well. My son, Mark, and his wife, Jen, went to Germany to visit their son, Evan, a senior at Hobart William Smith, studying there. His older brother Tucker graduated last year from Trinity College and is in the U.S. Marine reserves. My middle grandson, Reed, graduated last year from Union College and works at an insurance company in Charleston, S.C. My granddaughter, Kira, a junior, is doing well in high school.
“I’m on a waiting list to move into Applewood, an assisted independent living facility only 10 minutes from my home in Amherst as well as from my son’s home.”
From Dave Thompson: “I’m writing from our winter roost in Vero Beach, Fla., but going north soon to Weston, Conn., and our house of 45 years. Two of our three children live in Connecticut and their young-adult kids still call it home. We have one daughter and a granddaughter in California. Joyce and I will celebrate our 60th anniversary with a family bash in Montana. My only serious complaint is that days are getting briefer—they go by too quickly. This sounds like a ’56er contented with life; a fair interpretation! Looking forward to our next Reunion.”
John Foster greets spring: “Renewal, yet the old body resists. We are blessed by having both our boys—one a WesTech grad—with grandkids here with us in Marblehead. Several of the latter are in college, though—Vassar and Brown—and two are youngsters. Thus—bypassing the med issues—life is good.”
Jim Wagner adds: “During the March 2 nor’easter, a tree fell on our house. Fortunately, insurance will pay all but the $500 deductible, and we were able to live in the house while awaiting repairs. It was a crazy late winter and spring: two 80-plus degree days in February, March colder than February, and four nor’easters. For the winter as a whole, we seemed to be in a donut hole as far as snow was concerned. Even my brother-in-law in Charleston, S.C., had more snow than I did in northern Virginia, and good old Connecticut, where I grew up, got clobbered at least once.
“In April Betty and I had a great time attending her 50th class reunion at James Madison University here in Virginia. We talked with JMU’s president, and I shared with him that my liberal arts education at Wesleyan was valuable to me as a science major. He was familiar with Wesleyan’s high reputation and said that JMU had a similar requirement for students majoring in the sciences—that they take at least a minimum number of liberal arts type classes for a well-rounded education.
“In June we plan to return to Harrisonburg for a week-long classical music festival featuring the music of Bach. It is sponsored by the music department of another school located there, Eastern Mennonite University. Hope y’all have a great summer!”
[In case you’ve forgotten, we were all required to take at least two courses in each of three disciplines: humanities, social science, and hard science—and to swim four lengths of the pool!]
Finally, “Sheila and Bob Runyon are suitably installed in their new apartment above the pond. We have downsized (kinda). Sheila more than Bob (a borderline hoarder). Selling the old homestead (36 years) was a necessity, but still a traumatic transition in memory. We have some great neighbors who have organized a Friday evening floor party: 5 p.m. wine, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation in a public space. An offshoot for guys is a Wednesday evening junket to The Casual Pint, a new craft beer franchise a few blocks away. Last week’s nature drama was the birth of five Canada geese underneath the first-floor balcony of a near neighbor. These new animal friends provide Bob with a treasured connection with the natural landscape. My daughter-in-law completes her first college year at the University of Nebraska Omaha in May, and my grandson will be off to Northwest Missouri State University for his freshman year in the fall. This struggling writer was immensely impressed with George’s superb memoir, Shards, which was independently published.” Thanks, Bob.
George Chien | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sad news: Harry Barr, surrounded by his loving wife, Judy, and their family, died peacefully on Dec. 25. After Wesleyan, Harry graduated from Harvard Business School. He enjoyed a long career in investments at several firms in Boston and later volunteered on several nonprofit boards. He was a true friend of Wesleyan, always a familiar face at Reunions. Among his generous gifts to Alma Mater were three offspring, Pam ’81, David ’85, and Gregory ’87, as well as Gregory’s wife Elizabeth [Wendy] Trippe Barr ’89, and a grandson, Tyler ’21. Somehow son Douglas got away.
Fred Boynton’s book, Tales from the Annals of America: Things That You May Not Have Been Taught in Your High School American History Class, has been published and is available from Create Space, Amazon, and through local bookstores.
It’s a collection of essays on topics and people in the early history of our country that were important in shaping the nation that we live in today, but that get little or no exposure in conventional history courses. Books are printed to order. It’s big—7” x 10” and nearly 600 pages; the price is $21.95. It’s also available on Kindle for those who prefer that format, at a lower price. I’ve read parts of it. So far, so good.
Fred reports: “Beverly and I took a long road trip through the Southwest back to Kansas City for my 65th high school reunion. High point of that part was a visit to the Eisenhower home site and museum in Abilene, something I recommend to everyone regardless of their politics. Much fun in KC seeing an unfortunately dwindling company of old friends. Then back through the Northwest including Loup City, Neb., a stop in North Dakota (my 50th state), and down the West Coast (before the wildfires hit), to the San Francisco Bay area to visit with a son there and then home. Picked up a few good bottles of wine along the way. We are currently almost recovered from the holidays and are beginning to break our resolutions for 2018.”
From John Foster: “My loving wife, Lila, and I have lived happily for most of our 50-plus years together in Marblehead, Mass., a lovely community on the north shore of Boston. I’m happy to report Fred Boynton and his bride joined us here for a visit a few years ago. We are most fortunate to have both our sons and families here, too. Just gave my mooring to one of them as last year was my last sailing…not as steady on my feet as I used to be. Moorings are prized possessions here, with a reported 23-year wait list. Put your newborn on the list as they leave the hospital.”
And Mort Paterson: “My three sons and their wives/girlfriends and two granddaughters (from California) were here with Susan and me for Christmas in Philadelphia. We cooked for 10 for three days. It was worth it. Flew to Raleigh for New Year’s with Susan’s family. How about those Carolina Hurricanes! They beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ice hockey is a very fast game, I learned, often interrupted by overhead speakers blasting dithyrambic music. All about a black puck you can’t see.
“Before Christmas, I had been resting up after playing the lead in Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale with a local drama group. He should look 55. Died my gray hair. Took off 25 years. Crazy man! It worked out. Good reviews. Did two other big roles earlier last year. Addicted, can’t quit.
“No shows right now. Time to get back to work figuring out annuities.”
Tom Plimpton is “still alive and well. For how much longer, who knows? I am planning to go with my daughter, Liz, and her husband to the Dry Tortugas this coming October. If we do it, I will write you a little report. Peace and joy!”
Biff Bevins: “I had all five grown offspring and six (ages 12 to 24) grand-offspring here in Chapel Hill at Christmastime. My dear wife, Priscilla, died eight years ago, one day after my 74th birthday. I will never really get over that, but carry on with an incredible compendium of memories through the thick and thin of our 51 years together. My pulmonary health is poor, which prevents me from traveling, but I cope with that pretty well. Other organs are doing just fine, save for an appendix and a prostate which I sacrificed to colleague surgeons many years ago, but I am happy to say I am surviving and have no complaints, having made it this far.”
That’s all for now, folks.
George Chien | email@example.com
Glenn W. Boynton died on Feb. 28, 2018 at age 83 in Middlebury, Vt., after a recent illness. He was born on June 23, 1934 in Jay, N.Y. He attended Lake Placid High School before graduating from Northwood School in 1952 and received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University. On June 11, 1955, he married Rose Wilkins. After graduating from Wesleyan, they settled in Lewisboro, N.Y., where he worked in the petroleum industry with Esso. Glenn changed careers and served as vice president of Bard College, then as associate dean of the Harvard University Divinity School, on to the development office at Belmont Hill School, and as the development director of the Groton School. Glenn was a lifelong lover of winter sports. He played goalie on the first Wesleyan University hockey team, mentored Wesleyan hockey players, and was an avid supporter of the team for his entire life. He leaves behind his wife, two sons, and several family members, including a nephew, Russell Bradshaw Jr. ’70.
We thank the nephew of Mr. Boynton for this information.
Congratulations and wishes of happiness to Ron Benson, on “[his] marriage to Shirley Chitty, she 79, me 83, the second for each of us. Her first was 53 years, mine was 55. Each of our spouses had long bouts with dementia, and we met in a support group for caregivers. We began dating about three years ago, after each of our spouses had gone home.
“It is surprising and invigorating to touch strong affections that had not been a part of our lives for a while. In addition, the second wedding for me was an entirely different experience. The first time, I spent the ramp-up period in Seattle, while my bride-to-be carried the load of planning and executing the event. I hopped off a Navy plane in Atlanta on July 2, to be married on July 3 in Athens, Ga. This time I have had the pleasure of being in on the planning of every nuance and floral stem. Though the vows were much the same, their weight and significance have been subjected to greater introspection.
“We will be living in Peters Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh.”
The event of the Chien family’s year was August’s coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. We moved our annual family reunion from New York’s Catskills to a lake house in southeastern Tennessee we had rented the previous October—giving us 10 months to fret about the weather. Forecasts were dire, but we awoke on eclipse day to cloudless skies. Our eclipse was picture perfect! It was Ann’s and my 11th total, but the first for 13 of our gang of 20, ages 16 to 94, and including four Wesleyan grads: Al ’52, yours truly, Chris ’83, Judy ’84. It was especially gratifying for our granddaughter Jeannette, whose only previous try was foiled by rain in Shanghai in 2009. Now 16, she mused, “I’ve waited half my life for this.”
More about the eclipse.
Walt Ebmeyer writes, “What a wonderful way to do the eclipse. A few friends here at the old folks’ home planned to drive to Charleston. Even if it snowed, we could still have fun in The Holy City. But more and more people got sick as the great date approached, and we ended up watching a partial on the roof.”
Jim Gramentine gave it the old college try. “The day before the great event found my wife and me having lunch in Beatrice, Neb., with Shelia and Bob Runyon and their strapping grandson, Gabriel. That morning we had inspected Homestead National Monument, an official site for observing the eclipse, only to determine that by sunrise it would be hopelessly crowded. Therefore, we and the Runyons agreed to go our separate ways.
“By mid-morning the Gramentines had stumbled upon Fairbury, Neb., which seemed to have it all: few people, a large, treeless field, several porta-potties, and even a nearby McDonald’s. Partially cloudy when we arrived, the skies began to darken and then gently to rain.
“The horizon was brighter to the north, so on we drove to a dirt road traversing a corn field, only to move again yet two more times. In spite of the overcast, we enjoyed as much of the partial eclipse as we might have had we stayed in Milwaukee, but by 12:55 p.m. the sun had been swallowed, though not by the moon.
“We returned to Fairbury to drown our sorrows in Big Macs, only to find that the town had been true to its name. All who stayed had viewed a perfect eclipse. Would that some other life-altering celestial event had changed my restless nature before we flew to Nebraska.”
Alas! From John Foster: “Hate to say I’m not an umberphile, a word I suspect you must have created. I have been accused of having my head in the clouds occasionally though. Thanks for keeping flickering flame alive for the ’56ers.” (Actually, someone else made it up, though it’s not yet in the dictionary.)
But, Jim Wagner writes: “Betty and I saw the eclipse from Charleston, S.C. My brother-in-law had just moved there, so we were able to combine eclipse viewing with a nice visit. It was touch-and-go with variable clouds all day, but they parted just at totality and we could see the corona and the spectacular ‘diamond ring effect.’ It wasn’t clear enough to see planets or stars near the sun, but a bonus was visible lightning and audible thunder from a thunderstorm several miles away!”
Finally, from Frank Cancian: “Since our retirements from academic jobs in California, Francesca (a sociologist) has become a psychotherapist (part-time), and I’ve focused on the documentary photography I did with anthropology. Our kids, Maria and Steven, often use the Spanish they learned during many months in Mexico, and granddaughters, Emma and Rosa, are now in their 20s. We all travel a lot.
“My photos, taken in Italy in 1967, are now getting lots of attention there. See my websites: frankcancian.net and museomavi.it.
“I owe thanks to the memories of three Wesleyan people many of us knew: David McAllester, Sam Green, and Jack Paton ’49.”
That’s all for now, folks.
George Chien | firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a hoary joke about two old guys at a reunion. First guy spins a long, convoluted tale about his horrendous near disaster. Wide-eyed, the other guy asks, “Did you live?” First guy responds, “You ought to see me now!”
Last December, I had an aortic valve replaced, but, thanks to the evolving wonders of modern medicine, I went into the hospital on a Tuesday, came home on Thursday, and started cardiac rehab the following Monday.
Barry Passett asked, “George, what in the world are you doing with heart disease?” Darned if I know, but I’m pretty well back to what’s normal for me, thank you.
Walt Ebmeyer chipped in: “I had a similar heart problem in 2002: aortic aneurism pulling the valve apart. But in those days they opened the chest, put a nylon sleeve on the aorta and a titanium valve above that. Three weeks in the hospital! Things have changed for the better. Moved a year ago to a building for ‘active seniors’ in Silver Spring, Md. Dave Fricke’s grandson is in my granddaughter’s sixth-grade class. Is there a Washington Wesleyan club I could join?”
Back to business. Jay Kaplan writes: “I have been devoting most of my time to four activities: “1. The Cosmos Club (cosmosclub.org); 2. The Explorers Club (explorers.org); 3. The National Gallery of Art. where we are members of their Circle; 4. So You Want to Be an International Lawyer? (A b
ok I have written which is now being edited and hopefully will soon be published)
“Both my wife, Ann, and I still enjoy good health. I retired from the practice of international law and have cut back on my exploration. In the past we climbed live volcanoes in Kamchatka, Siberia; climbed giant sand dunes in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia; trekked through the Peruvian Amazon; and climbed the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
“We placed an Explorer’s Club flag and white roses on the grave of John Glenn on the day of his funeral in Arlington National Cemetery. He was honorary chair of the Explorers Club and a member of our chapter, of which I have been president.”
This from Dick Bauer: “Dave J. Cox visited Ginny and me. He’s tallied over 100 countries visited by this point, and still counting. Most recent discussion topic for my Linden Ponderers seminar: ‘Does religion make us better, or nastier?’ No one fell asleep; but there was no blood on the floor either. Still truckin’, albeit a bit slower.”
In brief: Dick Boyden: “Nothing really here to report from Mashpee on Cape Cod. Doctors’ visits, grandkids, and gratitude.” Bob Calvin: “We are leaving for a few days to visit friends in Wisconsin.” Dave Fricke: “Beryl and I are doing well here in Silver Spring, Md. Classmates and friends are welcome to visit.”
New digs: Dick Smith: “I retired for the third time after 22 years at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, where I had been doing eye research with mouse models. Linda and I downsized, so we moved to a smaller home in Orland, Maine. Four of our grandkids live nearby.”
Also Peter Gardiner: “Last year, after losing my wife, Jean, to pancreatic cancer, I moved back to Florida from Michigan. I’m in Port St. Lucie on the Treasure Coast. (Move coincided, so had to miss Reunion!)”
And, of course, here’s Bob Runyon: “Sheila and I are happily ensconced in our new apartment. It was the unique ordeal of downsizing from a large house in which we had been accumulating stuff for 36 years.
“A welcoming treat was watching a Canada geese couple in the pond just below our apartment window. The two birds seemed inseparable: always so close and attentive to one another. Then for several weeks, there was only one. Sheila said that the female must be away giving birth to their offspring. Just yesterday, she called me to watch the activity on the pond. There below our window was the happy couple with five little goslings paddling close behind. The lifelong bonding habits of Canada geese are one of nature’s wonders.
“When people ask about our future journeys, I tell them about our latest long trip—house to apartment in six months: two miles’ distance, still in the same zip code! The next real trip will be to Charlotte, N.C., in September, where Sheila will be conducting official conference duties for her Omaha chapter of P.E.O.”
Bob is stepping down from his role as class co-secretary. Over the past several years it’s been my good fortune and pleasure to have him as a partner—always helpful, full of good ideas, and devoted to Wesleyan and the Class of 1956. Thanks, Bob.
Gordon Rogers informed me of the death of his father, G. Ford Rogers III (Ford was a member of our freshman class, but transferred the following year), writing: “Dad died after being bedridden for almost nine years. We had a memorial service for Dad on May 7, 2017. My mother preceded my father in death 25 years ago. I was Dad’s full-time caregiver the last nine years after he became incapacitated.
“Dad told me some stories of his time at Wesleyan. He loved to laugh and share stories at times. I think laughing helped him hang on all those years. God answered my prayers and gave him more time after he almost died that first time in 2008, just two weeks after my Grandma had passed.
“Our travel business, Anchored Eagle Travel, helped us stay afloat as a supplement to his Social Security. I was able to work on that from home while taking care of him. Originally, he was going to do all the bookkeeping for our business and I would work with the clients booking travel. Dad was a great bookkeeper. He retired in 2000 as the docket manager of a major law firm in Chicago and he needed all his attention to detail and skills there.”
George Chien | email@example.com
Bob Runyon | firstname.lastname@example.org
Desperately trolling for class news, I threatened to write about my recent operation (a TAVR, for those who know), which would have made for dull reading. But that turned out to be unnecessary, since I received more responses than I could fit into our limited Wesleyan magazine space. Here’s what you missed.
From Don Price:
Happy to hear that your cardiac procedure went well and that you are on road to rapid and full recovery. Helen and I are now fully retired from Hopkins and spend leisure days with kids (all of whom are in medicine—eye surgery, neurology, and intensive care) and grandkids at our house in North Carolina, at our home in Columbia, Md., and at our home in Woods Hole, Mass., a place we first visited at the suggestion of Fred Millet ’65, who offered us his home in Falmouth, Mass., for our honeymoon in 1957. We love Cape Cod and have been going there in the summers since my training at MGH and faculty position at Harvard in Boston. Great place for family, friends, and science.
Grandkids are doing well. First grandson in medical school; second is a summa cum laude graduate from Chapel Hill; another accepted at Wesleyan for coming year. Very exciting.
Helen and try to see performances with George Ray ’54, Dan Josephthal, and other Bardolators at Blackfriars Theatre (Staunton, Va.) several times per year (8-10 per season). Great fun.
Let us know if you are in any above areas. Love to see old friends.
From Bill Moyle:
We are currently following the development and exploits of four kids and 11 grandkids. Schools have been all over the map from Bates to the U.S. Naval Academy to Elon to the Royal Academy of Music in London. Wesleyan unfortunately was deemed “too far out” by those who looked. Majors have varied from Arabic to business to psychology to becoming a mezzo soprano. Hard to keep up with them, even with Facebook. Anne and I have joined the legions having joint replacements. Keeping busy in choirs and with woodworking. Happy to hear your valve job went well via the latest techniques.
From Jim Gramentine:
In September, we drove to and from Colorado, and stayed at three mountain bed and breakfasts. The last one, our favorite, was 10 miles north of Durango. We arrived on my birthday, September 28 (yes, I was born the same day and year as Bridget Bardot), and stayed through my wife’s birthday, October 1.
On September 30, we visited Mesa Verde and took a ranger-led tour of Balcony House, which features three significant ladders and two narrow passages, testing the average tourist considerably, us especially. I do recall that it was about the last day that Balcony House was to be open in 2016 and that others were closed.
Brings to mind the lyrics of a song: “A Chi Psi went meandering . . .” Or was that from one of the many other fraternities I frequented?
Hoping a good new year clears medical issues for you both.
From Bob Runyon:
Good to hear from you and to learn of your successful operation. As per our Christmas letter, Sheila and I are taking off on Thursday for a three-week cruise from Miami to Honolulu. We have been immersed in preparations for the last several weeks to sell our house and move into an apartment. As soon as we get back we’ll be pounding that challenging decluttering journey again. It’s 38 years of stuff we’ve assembled that has to be parsed and parted with. Sheila is upstairs as I speak, re-reading all of yours and other Christmas letters and birthday cards, and shredding thousands of documents that contain account or Social Security numbers. This is a job to test your attention, stamina, as well as aortic and ventricle valves and more.
Happy New Year.
From Pete Deacon:
Glad you made it without open surgery.
In my opinion, that Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 is the best booster for Wesleyan in decades. The guy’s a genius. The school might now be enticing for my granddaughter, who is beautiful, talented, and bright, but, because of me, has looked upon a Wesleyan education as somewhat negatively liberating. (Her mother’s view coincides; She’s a Gator and Tea Party-ite. Our son went to Kenyon, but managed to survive as an English major.) Nice talking with you. I’m thanking you for doing a thankless job so cheerfully well.
From Gary Miller:
Nice to hear you’re doing well, but missed the games in the OR. As for me, I had a busy year also, but nothing like your adventure.
Marge and I started by visiting our granddaughter, Jenny in Bournemuth, United Kingdom, where she is studying costume design with a concentration in films. Evidently the construction of costumes is different for the stage and film productions. A very interesting arts university in a picture-perfect location. She loves the school and the country; we may not see much of her if she is able to get a work visa after graduation. After a good visit, we spent a week in Cornwall with visits to Port Isaacs (Doc Martin—if you’re a fan of the show), Penzance, and Land’s End. We’d still be on those roads if it wasn’t for GPS. Beautiful country, but we rented too big a car and had to fold in the mirrors many times to clear the buildings and trees on both sides of the road as we raced along the country roads. We were also able to score a couple of tickets to the musical Beautiful before leaving London for the return home. A good trip via Iceland Air which has about the best leg room in the international air travel business.
We followed that up with Jenny’s sister’s (Kyndra) graduation from James Madison University in Virginia. We were able to sit for three hours in 45 degree rain for the big event. Kyndra was sad to leave the university because she had a great experience, but landed a really good position with SEI (banking services) in Pennsylvania to match her degree in business. We had a good visit with her, our son, and our daughter-in-law before heading home to pack for the annual trek north to Maine.
Once in Maine, I received a heart monitor implant to enable the doctors to search my data recordings for suspected A-fib. So far, nothing to report, which is good news, but the batteries last for three years, so I’m going to have my new friend with me for another two-and-a-half years or so.
Summer was wonderful, but very dry as we enjoyed sunny warm weather well into the fall. The only problem came in the fall when I needed to get the boat out of the lake, which had fallen almost three feet due to the drought. Marge had to push me off the bottom to deeper water as I gunned it in reverse to get to the boat launch ramp. Getting the boat to the ramp required navigating several rocks I never knew were there before, scraping bottom all the way. Got it out on the first try, so all ended well and it is winterized and parked in the driveway up there. We’re hoping for lots of snow this winter to refill the lake and they’re off to a good start on that goal.
Since returning to North Carolina, we’ve had a family-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we wish all of the class of ’56 a Happy New Year.
From Walt Ebmeyer:
Neat trick with your valve replacement. In 2002, I grew an aortic aneurism and went into Johns Hopkins for an aorta sleeve and a titanium valve. I was very open and in the hospital for weeks. Now just fine. Moved at the end of May to a Maryland suburb called Silver Spring near my daughter and company. I like it very much—very divers and very blue. OK! No more politics! Phil Crombie, Jim Hartnett and I came back for May Reunion and had a fine time, to a great extent due to Alpha Delt’s miraculous survival. We had dinner in a big tent on the college lawn and looked sadly at Chi Psi, Eclectic, and Beta. It’s another era. If someone asked me why we survived, I’d say a large factor was the House going co-ed way back in the 1970s. Very civilizing. Happy New Year to you.
From John Foster:
Hello to those class members still extant and sitting up and taking nourishment. A good thing. But healthcare sure can occupy a lot of one’s time.
Sixty and one years out is quite a spell, and I’ve lost track of the many changes at WesTech, as we used to refer to it, since my son and daughter-in-law graduated. One of their daughters just finished a Wesleyan joint program in Paris and we all were fortunate to spend Christmas there with her and bring her home and back to Vassar. What a truly lovely city.
My wife and I still reside in our Marblehead home of many years and are fortunate to have both our sons here in this lovely seaside town as well…to take care of us as we become less capable. How good is that?
May you all continue to weather well.
From Dick Bauer:
Good to hear from you. Especially good to learn aortic valve replacement procedure (love that word) went smoothly. Speedy recovery.
[Ginny and I are into the “slow-go” phase of retirement]: less enthusiasm for driving; I gave up bicycling; Ginny surrendered her garden patch for the simplicity of windowsill plants…that sort of thing. But on balance, we’re very hale: exercising regularly, lots of reading, no traumatic health threats, and enough stamina to be able to make at least a modest contribution to the world around us.
For Ginny, this has meant coordinating a group of 10 volunteers to create and lead several botany enrichment programs in a local grammar school, actively participating in our photography club and book club, as well as keeping us socially engaged. For me it has meant monthly piano/vocal performances, reinventing the Linden Ponderers (monthly discussion group focusing on contemporary issues), participating on a panel featuring the DVD, Being Mortal, sponsored by the South Shore Hospice Association, and writing a column “Riffs on Aging” for our bi-monthly newsletter. Both of us serve as “ambassadors”—hosts for people considering moving into Linden Ponds.
Our progeny continue to contribute to the commonweal: Cindy as communications director for the Massachusetts General Insurance Commission; Steve with HP at a senior level position in the printing division; Andy as investment advisor. Our two sets of grandchildren—two in college, two in grammar school—make us keenly grateful.
A couple months back I spied an obit in the Boston Globe reporting that Russ Winslow from our class died. Lived in New Hampshire. Apologies for not alerting Wesleyan or you earlier. (Assumed, erroneously, those in charge of arrangements might have done that.)
I’ll be seeing Dave J. Cox this May at our side mini-reunion. (Regrets for missing last spring’s official Reunion, undoubtedly our class’s last hurrah.)
All good things for you this new year.
From Max Roesler:
Two great-grandsons have joined our family during 2016, and cancer has claimed a half-brother of mine. We volunteer weekly at a food center which serves poor people mostly from Trenton, N.J., and southeastern Bucks County, Pa., with staples and sundries. Curiously, since my major was math and Paula’s was human relations, she uses a computer to determine clients’ eligibility while I help deliver their groceries to their cars, wagons, bicycles, or whatever. We also help maintain a nearby nature center, keeping trails cleared of overgrowth and undergrowth and removing trash. As the son of a man born in 1882 and a woman born in 1912, I also wrestle with, not only generational ambiguity, but also, since I have lived longer than any of my direct or collateral ancestors, other than my mother’s two grandmothers, with “grand old man” status in my family. Being one of the youngest in our class didn’t help me prepare for that. Visited Venice, Florence, Orvieto, and Rome, last October. In Rome ran across a young woman from New Zealand who is probably a distant cousin of mine via common descent from the MacLeods of Skye. Was surprised to see that Forbes magazine recently rated Wesleyan ninth among all colleges and universities offering baccalaureate degrees. Best to stay humble.
All the best in the new year.
From Glenn Boynton:
Last summer I was contacted by two current Wesleyan hockey players who wanted to hook up with hockey old-timers, so I sent them some recollections and some remarks made at the dedication of the Spurrier-Snyder Rink. Now they know who Bill Spurrier ’58 was! Our class supplied many of the players on the original teams.
So glad your operation went well!
George Chien | email@example.com
Bob Runyon | firstname.lastname@example.org
You will have already savored George’s brilliant recap of our 60th Reunion in the last issue. He vividly captured the grand themes and many closely observed small details of that memorable event. His was truly a “you are there” essay, almost a Bach cantata, mirroring George’s passion for the great music master. George’s multi-generational family ties to Wesleyan are deep and lasting. It is an honor to serve as co-class secretary with him during these years of fond recall.
Nevertheless, I will try here to recapitulate a few other stirring moments and memories from that significant six-decade milestone in our Wesleyan journey.
Relax, Reminisce, Reunite: These were the three R’s of our days on campus during the 60th Reunion. Twenty-two stalwart ’56ers (with some more frosty than frisky) were on hand, along with spouses, to trip the life fantastic.
We formed a resilient coterie of WESeniors from 1935 to 1965. Old friendships were renewed and new ones formed. President Michael Roth ’78 reported on dynamite enrollment data: Twelve thousand applications for 740 seats, a rate far exceeding Amherst and Williams with less than 8,000 applications each. He also waxed eloquent, witty, and visionary on several occasions. His commitment to liberal arts education resounds with the same strong passion that drove former president Vic Butterfield. Roth has moved on from Vic’s “well-rounded man” mantra to new themes of diversity and multi-culturalism. With allusions taken from Thomas Jefferson and other historic figures, he portrayed Wesleyan’s goals as active verbs: assimilate, animate, cooperate, and instigate.
On each of these themes, he gave illustrations and examples of the process on campus, often with the names of prominent achievers. Notable among these was Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02. Lin-Manuel, along with Thomas Kail ’99, have taken Broadway by storm. With the blockbuster, hip-hop musical Hamilton, they have opened creative new streams of American ethnicity and creativity. President Roth had doubtless imbibed some of the hip-hop Kool-Aid as he bopped up and down and all around the Art Center auditorium during his animated presentation.
He followed this energetic performance later on during the traditional class luncheon in the ’92 Theater. His personal story and reflections on the life and death of Carl Schorske, who passed away at 100, were special since he was Carl’s last doctoral student at Princeton. These allusions rang the strong bells of Wesleyana memories in this rapt observer. President Roth reflected about the identification and passion for student learning and discovery that was the hallmark of Vic Butterfield’s leadership.
With the special THIS IS WHY issue of the magazine, you will have noted the results of the latest Wesleyan fundraising campaign—$482 million! President Roth’s commitment to Wesleyan leadership is seen in this important area as in so many others. In this volatile economy, with changing workforce and job structures, there are factors that push students toward vocational, technical, and job-specific university programs. Wesleyan’s emphasis on lifelong learning is counter to those national trends. To glean the enrollment and financial challenges facing small liberal arts colleges in this era, you should check out Roth’s Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (2015).
We have received a note from Sue Van Voorhees, that our classmate, Peter Van Voorhees, has died of natural causes. “Our family lived in Middletown and was the seventh family to move into Wesleyan Hills—a new concept in planned community living. Our children went to Wesley School (elementary). Harold Kaplan was the principal. We have fond memories of its safe, simple, lifestyle—walking to school, skating on the pond, parties and Scouts in the barn, and kids roaming free from one cul-de-sac to another.
“Peter was employed at Wesleyan from 1969-1970 under Colin Campbell. He was an assistant development officer. When administrations changed, he moved into banking as a trust officer in Meriden. This became his major career that ended in Philadelphia with First Pennsylvania Bank.
“While in Middletown, he was instrumental in helping Oddfellows Playhouse obtain nonprofit status from the IRS. This was the year they were founded and held performances in the old Oddfellows Hall on Main Street. Our children became part of the troupe from the first performance of Middletown Fantasia by Nat Needle ’76, until we moved away when they were teenagers.
“Peter was an avid fan of Wesleyan football, and our family did not miss many games. We attended with Joe Lynch ’47, who was your most loyal fan for many years. Peter loved Wesleyan as a student. He talked many times about the lifelong value of required Freshman English. It taught him basics he applied and quoted for years. He needed to leave Wesleyan for financial reasons. He worked odd jobs for two years, then transferred to the University of Vermont, where he earned a B.A. in geology.”
George Chien | email@example.com
Bob Runyon | firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you believe it? Sixty years! We’ve had Ike, Jack, Lyndon, Dick, Gerald, Jimmy, Ron, George, Bill, W., and Barry since we left those ivied walls and storied halls. Yet 22 of us, most accompanied by spouses, managed to make it back to Middletown for our 60th Reunion in May. Not too shabby. Don Ritt and Fred Boynton both came from La Jolla, Calif., where they never see each other. Getting them together in Middletown was rather special. Also from the Golden State was Jim Hartnett. Out from the heartland came Bob Runyon (Nebraska) and Tom Plimpton (Indiana). Larry Labrie (North Carolina) was our southernmost reuner; Gary Miller (Maine) our northernmost one. Sandy Mendelson (Maryland) and Jim Wagner (Virginia) ventured north from the Capital District. Max Roesler and Walt Ebmeyer (Pennsylvania) and Al Grosman and George Chien (New Jersey) represented the Mid-Atlantics. The rest were from Massachusetts (Harry Barr, Dick Boyden, Bill Horrocks, and Jay Jenkins) and the home state, Connecticut (Phil Crombie, Al Haas, Andy Mason, Dave Thompson, and Phil Trager).
For this observer, it was a grand weekend with highlights galore. Examples:
• Parking in the Usdan lot without a placard. We were waved right in and told to ignore the 15-minute limit. If that doesn’t say “Welcome back,” I don’t know what does. (My placard reached our mailbox in New Jersey about the same time we hit Middletown.)
• Peeking at the full moon through Van Vleck’s giant ’scope and showing Bill Herbst, who led Wesleyan’s eclipse tour in 1999, pictures from our six subsequent totals. (And learning there from Bill Horrocks about his distinguished ancestor, Jeremiah Horrocks (1618–1641), a pioneer of English astronomy. Look him up!)
• Telling tales about the good old days to members of the music and art faculties—as if they don’t hear the same stories every spring!
• Being whisked around the campus in all sorts of conveyances.
• Sitting in on the gamelan workshop. Our daughter, Judith Chien ’84, played in it as an undergrad, and we had just seen one in Indonesia. We declined to participate when we were told that we would have to lose our shoes (not a problem) and sit cross-legged (big problem). Incidentally, we skipped the WESeniors luncheon for the gamelan. Heard that President Roth’s talk was spot on.
• Viewing Phil Trager’s latest photography project and hearing him tell about it.
• Don Ritt leading an impromptu “Gimme a W…” cheer in Usdan’s Marketplace.
• Transporting Jim Wagner and his wife, Betty, to and from the far reaches of the Wesleyan empire, a hotel in Wethersfield. Unfortunately, neither of us signed up in time to get dorm rooms.
• Walking through the Lodge, courtesy of a band of alien invaders. Actually they were Alpha Delt alums who were temporarily domiciled at the former Chi Psi residence because there was no room for them in the inn (i.e. the Alpha Delt house). Remarkably, none of these alien creatures had green skin or two heads. They looked astonishingly just like real people!
• Hanging with Don Ritt.
• Wondering just how long it would take to wipe off the 3000 or so wet folding chairs set up on Andrus Field for Sunday’s Commencement.
• A delicious dinner, followed by heartfelt camaraderie and some serious and not-so-serious talk. Sandy Mendelson spoke about the remarkable developments in cardiology that have taken place over the course of his career. Don Ritt told how he got into gastroenterology (it took guts) and his current work in and urgent concern with palliative care. Bill Horrocks took us back to 1896, and how the 60 years before we graduated stack up against the 60 since. What will transpire over the next 60?
Thoughts about Reunion from Jim Wagner: “It was truly a great pleasure to participate in the 65th Reunion of the Class of 1956 and see so many classmates again. My wife, Betty, and I decided it was too much of a hassle to fight the traffic all the way from northern Virginia to Middletown, so we went via a combination of Greyhound and Peter Pan busses, taxis, and Uber. There is definitely something to be said for leaving the driving to someone else!
“Highlights for us were seeing both yet another and completely different fascinating exhibit of Phil Trager’s photography and senior thesis art projects by graduating students, hearing three other graduating seniors give oral presentations of their senior theses projects in the College of the Environment that sounded as good as many a master’s thesis at MIT, and seeing the 100th anniversary exhibit at the Van Vleck Observatory, complete with a peek at the moon through the 20-inch refractor telescope.
“With four independent adult children and four young grandchildren nearby, we stay happily involved. During the past five years since our 55th Reunion, we have enjoyed renewing our interest in art by taking classes at a local senior center. We also enjoy occasional concerts in the area, as well as an annual pilgrimage to the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, where one can hear quality performances not only of Bach but of other great composers.
“I still take weather observations in the back yard and continue to be active in church, keeping alive my interests in science, music, art and a faith-oriented life. My Wesleyan liberal arts education encouraged and helped develop all these interests. God willing, we hope to see you all at the 65th Reunion in 2021.”
And from Dick Boyden: “I was struck by the differences of the Wesleyan of our time and the Wesleyan of today, as I saw countless students with their heads bowed to a myriad of electronic devices.
“The Wesleyan of 60 years ago numbered 740 men. Most of us were in fraternities or eating clubs, where personal interaction was the norm. Our interaction of necessity was face-to-face with our peers and it was also the expectation. We did learn to go beyond our initial visual or quick impressions of our classmates that were often wrong. We matured to a greater understanding, affection and acceptance of our differences.
“Our classes were small, our struggling opinions were valued, and we grew in understanding, knowledge, and creative thinking, thanks to the fine group of faculty that President Butterfield had assembled. I was a history major but several courses outside of that realm—such as geology, music appreciation, and humanities—have lasted far longer and have been recalled much more often in my life. Most of us could say we had a place or places in the ‘sun’ of Wesleyan, areas where we shone within a particular organization, academic area, sport, fraternity or club.
“Over the intervening six decades I have learned that to nourish the special associations of our years has required caring and contact. When those are given by us ‘the fires do still more brightly glow.’ How fortunate we are to have gathered again to sing the old songs and renew friendships, casual and close, even though we might have had to sneak a quick peak at a name tag to remember a face or friend. Hoorah for the Red and the Black.”
On to 2021! We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
Addendum: The saddest news: Frank Avantaggio, our forever president, died Feb. 8, 2016, in Damariscotta, Maine. Reunions weren’t his thing, but the Class of 1956 was always close to his heart. We’ll miss you, Ollie.
Bob Runyon | email@example.com
George Chien | firstname.lastname@example.org
From Sandy Mendelson: “After 60 years, Bob has persuaded me to put pen to paper for his deadline.
“I’ve been a cardiologist at Washington Hospital Center my whole career. At various times I’ve taught house staff, fellows, and technicians; directed the coronary care unit; introduced formal CPR, advanced cardiac care courses, and paramedics in the DC area; and practiced clinical medicine. Our department staff totaled two of us when I arrived, and we did ‘everything’ that could be done for patients in a community hospital in 1967. Now the department is huge, with nine subdepartments, a nationally ranked program. My present activity is small, but it’s been wonderful to play some part in the amazing progress of cardiology! Beyond hearts, I consult in bioethics, as part of our hospital’s Center for Ethics.
“Irene and I are healthy, travel a lot—in ’15 to China and to Patagonia, spend time with our three sons and their families (including six grandkids), and do volunteer work. I’ve served as synagogue president and remain deeply involved with other Jewish educational organizations.
“We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Reunion!
“A sad note: the passing of our dear friend and my Wes roommate, Rabbi Harold S. White ’54. Hal was beloved and effective in his career at Georgetown University and in the DC area more generally. He attributed his passion for learning and teaching to his Wesleyan education and is widely mourned in this community.”
From Bill Bixby, several warm handwritten notes: “Hope to see everyone in May if Fran is well (dementia). Love Wes… Did not write Christmas letter last year due to a stroke Dec. 19th. In rehab six months—couldn’t drive and really missed it! Still have speech problems and work with a UMass graduate student here two to three hours a month…I can walk our dog, Barney, now but not like before!! He has to settle for 15-minute jaunts, not one hour, miles-long hikes. I miss not being able to read the way I could—I haven’t been able to finish a book yet!! Reading newspapers takes several days. (By then, it’s old news). I also missed my 64th high school reunion and Cape Cod this year!
“Mark (son) is with the same law firm (27 years) and has finally given up coaching soccer after 15 years. Jen (wife) fell on ice while walking the dogs last January and is still having headaches. Tucker (grandson #1) will be a senior at Trinity College and a U.S. Marine Reserve. His girlfriend graduated this year. They are very serious. Reed (grandson #2), will be a senior at Union College, will go to Italy to study Italian and the culture. Kevan (grandson #3) is a freshman at Hobart-William Smith College, five hours away in the Finger Lakes area. Kira (granddaughter) is a freshman in a new high school a half hour from home. She’s a goalie in field hockey. Mark picks her up on his way home. Merry Xmas, Fran and Bill.”
From Al Haas: “Not many of us could match George’s journey back through time to revisit his roots. My story is serendipitous but inauspicious. I spent three years after graduation as an officer on a destroyer with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, then a year at the University of Copenhagen, before coming back to the USA as navigator on the maiden voyage of a new yacht built in Germany. I was at the Berlin Wall when it was built, and our daughter was there when it was torn down,” he reports. He taught math at Hotchkiss School, returning each summer to Copenhagen, where he met and subsequently married Loni. The next two-plus years they lived in Micronesia, where he was deputy regional director of the Peace Corps. “We had our first child in the village [there] among the people…quite a spectacle!” They moved back to Cambridge, Mass., where Al attended graduate school in counseling and educational leadership.
“Over the years, I have been the principal or director of three secondary schools, two in Connecticut and one in Geneva, Switzerland. In between, we packed up and ‘hitchhiked’ around the world for a year, during which my wife and I were our two children’s teachers. Family and friends thought we were mad, but it was a life-changing and enhancing experience for all of us, especially for our son, 8, and daughter, 6. We ended up in Geneva at the International School. During our time there, I started helping expat children with the college admission process. This turned into Educational Futures (educationalfutures.com} that I co-founded with a Dutch woman in Geneva. This was in the mid-’80s, and the rest is history. I am still working full time with students from around the world who wish to study in North America at boarding schools or colleges and graduate schools. Working with young people keeps me legitimate and relatively ‘with it.’ Although I cannot keep up with them technologically, I continue to learn from my students, which helps to keep me in the game of life and a changing world. Loni and I are celebrating our 50th anniversary with a family cruise to Alaska this summer. Health is good, thanks to seven stents. Our two children have made us proud and have produced six unique and wonderful grandchildren. Basically, I think I have survived ‘old age’ by taking each obstacle in life as a challenge and turning each problem into an opportunity. We have few regrets and hope to see many classmates in May.”
From Phil Trager: “Ina and I plan on coming to the Reunion and look forward to seeing you there. To coincide with Reunion, there will be an exhibition of photographs from my forthcoming book, Photographing Ina. The years have surely flown by!”
“Dear Classmates of Robert J. Kaplan: I am so sorry to send you the news that Robert died of cancer in 2014. He was a wonderful father to our four children of whom he was very proud, a beloved husband, and a great cook. A psychiatrist, he worked in diagnostic centers for troubled youth in the ’70s and ’80s, and his unpublished manuscript, We Are All Afraid, was inspired by his compassion for disadvantaged youth. Subsequently, he was appointed by the New York City Family Court to evaluate custody cases, where his judgment was well esteemed. Wesleyan was the only educational institution of all he attended that Bob spoke positively about—for opening up new worlds of possibility and stimulation. Best regards, Peggy Jarrell Kaplan.”
See you in Middletown!
Bob Runyon | email@example.com
George Chien | firstname.lastname@example.org