Donald B. Gratz ’72 passed away on March 30, 2022. A full obituary can be found here.
The countdown to our big 50th Reunion is measured now in months rather than years. May 19. Be there!!
To add to tales of prolific class authors, Art Vanderbilt just had a website go online, arthurvanderbilt.com, which chronicles what he’s been doing since writing weekly papers at the CSS! Let me particularly recommend Fortune’s Children, an eminently readable and entertaining history of the Commodore and the other slightly more famous members of Art’s family.
Our wonderful Class Agent Bob (“I Love Wesleyan”) White has been writing about the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis for some years now, and his work appears to be nearing fruition. He had a letter to the editor of the Washington Post published last July urging Black Americans not to shun vaccines because of the Tuskegee study (letter). He is working on two other manuscripts, one of which has been accepted and the other one is in peer review (“This one should be a paradigm breakthrough,” he writes). “And there is a third manuscript that I am finishing up and tweaking. This manuscript may be exposing some shenanigans in the field. I have no idea what to call what I stumbled on (it must be because of all those math and science courses I took at Wes Tech, i.e., 25–27 courses). But what I can say is that now I may be getting that CSS experience that I couldn’t fit in.”
Bob Purvis sends some good news from Vermont. Three years have passed since his lung surgery and chemo and he is still cancer free. If his August scan is negative he’ll go to annual checkups. Bob is still working full time as director of the Turning Point Center of Central Vermont, a peer addiction recovery center, the longest he’s been in any job in his life “and certainly the most rewarding.” He plans to stay in this work for another couple of years, at least, in order to finish a few major things he’s started, such as moving into a new facility that doesn’t reflect the pervasive social stigma of their origins. But the day is coming when he will need to step aside for someone younger who has new vision to carry the programs forward in this evolving field. Bob claims to be enjoying his brief elevation to the solid middle class, with Social Security added to my salary. “My best to all in our class who are still with us,” he adds, “and I look forward to seeing folks at our 50th next year.”
Geoff Rips’s second novel, Personal Geography, will be out in September of this year. In the course of contacting classmates for Reunion, Geoff learned that the Wesleyan agriculture curriculum has really paid off. After retiring from his medical practice, Burt Feuerstein is now a gentleman farmer in Arizona, growing apricots and peaches. Jim Trump (no relation) is one of the largest macadamia producers in Hawaii. Burt says that he’ll come to Reunion if he can find someone to take care of the fruit.
Charlie Smith is a true polymath. He has just finished his third year of “official” retirement from Western Kentucky University but has been keeping active through various writing projects, including his eighth and ninth books: 2019’s An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion (University of Chicago Press), and a novel, Many Miles Away (named after a line in an old Malvina Reynolds song, “Morningtown Ride,” a big hit in England for The Seekers in 1966. The novel is about an alien being and his family who suddenly show up one day in upstate New York (with no memory of their former circumstances, nor having a stated mission), and his following Earthly reception. A bit of “unfantastical” science fiction/paranormal, but more particularly, social criticism “(an allegory, as well—note the link at its beginning to a nearly perfect cover of the Reynolds song by the Australian classical crossover singer Mirusia: I don’t think we’ve quite reached our destination . . .).” Charlie also continues to write shorter analyses, especially on Wallace (but also some actual science, and musicology). Beyond that, from 2018 to 2020, he did a genealogy project on his ancestral lines in this country and found out some interesting things; including that of all the sum of about 15,000 first-generation settlers of 17th-century New England, close to 10 percent were nth generation great-grandparents of his! This turns out to be not that strange or even rare. A couple of years back Charlie was a featured speaker at a Sherlock Holmes conference (he says there is a strong connection between Wallace and Doyle, beyond the fact they are both usually known by three names!). Charlie adds that he will come to Reunion IF one of our many class screenwriters will turn his novel into a screenplay.
Bruce Hearey reports that Robbie Brewster and Bruce Throne, within a few months of each other acquired one new ankle and two new hips among them. They jointly offer a toast to joint replacements!
Bonnie Krueger has finally retired after 41 years of teaching at Hamilton College. She is now Burgess Professor of French Emerita. Various publication projects will keep her busy for the next few years. She is finally hoping to get together with her far-flung children and grandchild, whom she has not seen since January 2020.
The Class of ’72 achieves another milestone: We will be the first 50th Reunion Class to meet face-to-face after 2019. Keeping in stride with innovation, our Reunion will run from Thursday to Sunday, May 19–22. That means, fellow alums, to plan your travel accordingly.
Events include an exclusive wine tasting on Thursday evening, a Friday dinner hosted by President Roth, the Alumni Parade, our traditional festive Reunion Celebration on Saturday, and a Sunday brunch. Commencement follows on Sunday, as well. For those of us who arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday, tours to revisit the campus and see the new buildings will be available. Throughout Reunion several Wes alum seminars will be offered, ranging from the Music of Our Time to Life-Altering Events of the ‘70s.
Jean K. MacMillan MALS ’72 passed away on May 9, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
Robert “Rob” R. Rich ’72, P’05 passed away on July 31, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
Peter T. Phinny ’72 passed away on August 13, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
Donna Miller-Benjamin ’72 passed away on March 29, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
R. Robertson “Rob” Hilton ’72 passed away on January 30, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
As I write this I just heard a news bulletin that the former president of France was found guilty of corruption, and sentenced to a year’s confinement in his home. Sounds like the sentence that all of us are just finishing. I would like to salute Elisa Serling Davis ’76 as the rightful winner of the title Best Person With Whom To Be Locked Down.
I sent out a request to the whole class for “good news.” Many wrote that they had been or shortly would be vaccinated. Pardon me for not enumerating them, but that is indeed good news. Jean Christensen wrote “We have a real president now. That’s the best news in four years.”
Less than good news is the passing of Rob Hilton in January. Rob had a very successful career in finance, then gave it up to become executive director of the A.M. McGregor Foundation, focusing on the needs of the elderly in Cleveland. Many will remember him speaking about his career change at a panel on “giving back” at one of our reunions. Many classmates have fond memories of Rob, and I am among them. He lived next door to me freshman year. Dale, his wife of 44 years, survives him.
Paul Vidich has published another marvelous spy novel—The Mercenary. Read it—and his previous ones—if you haven’t already. Paul and Steve Schiff had a particularly enlightening online discussion of the book, spy fiction, and writing in general, hosted by the Wesleyan bookstore. The conjunction of two such perceptive, articulate, and creative individuals was a truly exciting event, and I am blessed to know each of them. If only it could have been in person.
Rachel Klein, who teaches U.S. cultural history at UC San Diego, recently published Art Wars: The Politics of Taste in Nineteenth-Century New York (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020). It deals with the early history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other things. Since the 1980s Rachel has been living in San Diego with her husband, Robert Westman, a recently retired history professor at UCSD. They have two sons. The youngest is a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. The eldest (actually Rachel’s stepson) is a musician in Northern California. He and his wife just had a baby, so the most interesting thing in Rachel’s life at the moment is being a step-grandmother to a sweet little baby girl.
John Hagel’s eighth (yes, eighth) book, The Journey Beyond Fear, is about to be published by McGraw Hill. This volume is, according to John, “a pretty significant departure from my previous books which were largely business books.” The blurb on amazon.com modestly claims that the book “provides everything you need to identify your fears, face your fears, move beyond your fears and cultivate emotions that motivate you to pursue valuable business opportunities, realize your full potential, and create opportunities that benefit all.” He has “at least” two more books in the pipeline.
Nat Warren-White’s book about his circumnavigation, that he and his wife Betsy began in 2006 and completed in 2011 aboard their 43′ cutter, Bahati, is also about to be released. It’s called In Slocum’s Wake, in honor of Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail solo around the world alone in the late 1800s. They followed much the same route he took and competed with him on several legs. Sometimes he won, sometimes they did. He did it all by himself; they had more than 50 family and friends join them on various legs. His voyage took two years less time overall than theirs, mostly due to their long visits to a number of wonderful countries, including a year in New Zealand and four months in South Africa. Nat is glad they decided to do it when they did—taking it on now at our age is a daunting proposition. Me? All I’ve written is this column.
Bonnie Krueger is retiring from teaching French at Hamilton College at the end of the spring semester. Going out via virtual teaching is not what she imagined—she last taught in person a year ago. Bonnie and husband Thomas Bass have not seen their children in Texas, Belgium, and Austria since the pandemic started, and have missed a whole year of their young grandson’s life. They plan to spend long summers and extended falls in Truro, Massachusetts. Bruce Throne is now on the “glide path to full retirement” after 44 years of law practice. He recently went skiing in Santa Fe and met a (masked) young man on the chairlift who said he’d just moved from Middletown to teach fourth graders. “Wes Tech?” Bruce asked. “Yes,” he said, class of 2020 that graduated without any ceremony. “Class of ’72,” Bruce replied. “He looked at me somewhat incredulously, as if surprised I was still alive let alone still skiing. So good to learn Wesleyan is still producing some teachers.”
Six months of restricted life, no end in sight, and it will probably be the same when these words reach your eyes. As Shakespeare said, “oy gevalt.” My family and I are well and I hope the same is true for you.
Our Class Zoom in March was such a success that President Michael Roth ’78 wanted to do one with us. Organized by Ron Ashkenas and Peter Hicks, Michael joined us for a most interesting session during which he discussed Wesleyan’s response to COVID-19 and its re-envisioning of its future. Ron and Peter are busy organizing another set of webinars on various themes for our class, which should be of great interest to all and should build enthusiasm for our 50th reunion, which we really hope will come off as scheduled in May of 2022.
My old roommate Roger Jackson, now retired as professor of religion at Carleton College, has been awarded the 2020 Toshihide Numata Book Award in Buddhism (“Toshi Award”) for his book, Mind Seeing Mind: Mahamudra and the Geluk Tradition (Wisdom Publications, 2019). The award is presented on an annual basis to an outstanding book in any area of Buddhist studies. The award is typically presented at UC Berkeley, and is celebrated with a public lecture by the award recipient and a symposium focused on the book’s theme. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the celebration, including presentation of the award, public lecture, and symposium, had to be conducted remotely as a webinar. That webinar had not been held at the time of writing a few of us planned to attend, based on Roger’s assurance that some of his remarks would, in fact, be aimed toward “a not-too-deep-in-the-Buddhist-studies-weeds audience.” This is a most significant achievement, one that caps a distinguished and committed career. Well done, Roger!
Marc Bloustein wrote me from his home office, where he too was sheltering in place. Marc continues to work for the New York State court system. 46 years in all. He is the Judiciary’s Legislative Counsel and an advisor to the State’s Chief Judge and Chief Administrative Judge. He lecture to groups of judges frequently on court system history, constitutional law issues bearing upon the structure/operations of New York’s courts, and recent legislative developments. Once in a while, he even publishes something on these topics. The work is challenging (never more so than now, as they try to keep the courts operational during these fraught times) and, as long as his health is good, he plans to continue. Marc and wife Diane (Skidmore, 1975), continue to live in suburban Albany. Their daughter (Wellesley, ’03, Northwestern (master’s), 2005) is a journalist who has been an NPR reporter and is now a digital content editor for the local paper, The Albany Times Union. Their son (Northwestern, ’06) lives in Chicago, where he is “a freelance TV production guy.” He directs TV broadcasts of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls for NBC Sports Chicago; and Big Ten football and men’s and women’s basketball for the Big Ten Network. Occasionally he does NHL games as well. But the best thing about Marc’s life these days is being a grandfather. And that his two grandchildren, Kinsey, age seven, and Calvin, just about age three, live all of 10 miles away.
I am sorry to report that Arnold Hendrick lost his battle with cancer on May 25, 2020. I remember him as a delightfully learned and enthusiastic gamer, and he spent his life exactly that way. Capitalizing on his degree in history, he began with board games, including Barbarian Prince. He expanded his game sophistication as computers developed; he was most proud of his game Darklands. He expanded his interests to include online training for both medical crises (in coordination with Stanford University) and military training scenarios with the U.S. Army. Even after he retired, he began a small, international company to expand on the Darklands theme. He leaves behind his wife, Georgeann, a step-daughter, Dr. Heather Pua, and a brother, Stephen Hendrick.
Don Lewis is still practicing law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He and wife Michelle have been strictly sheltering in place since mid-March; their daughter Meredith’s husband is a health scientist who warned them about COVID-19 in January (when Don bought his first pack of N95 masks), and they are insisting on a very strict regimen. Meredith and her family (including three kids, ages two, five, and eight) are also sheltering in place about 15 minutes away. Their younger daughter, Emily, lives in Philadelphia and they have not seen her (except via Facetime) since March. Don has many regrets about his Wesleyan years, which were clouded over by the Vietnam War (especially after he drew number 4 in the draft lottery). Instead of reaching out to classmates back then, he curtailed his involvement in campus life, which he deeply regrets. Nonetheless, several people at Wesleyan, especially Prof. David McAllester, helped him obtain a CO classification. He served his two years of alternate service in a relatively low stress job with the Boston College Law School legal aid program, and credits Georgia Sassen ’71 with steering him to that job. Ironically, that set the stage for his unexpected gravitation into the legal profession.
Don was one of a few dozen classmates who participated in a Zoom session in October at which we whipped up enthusiasm for the reunion, but mostly just talked and had fun. I couldn’t talk to everyone, but here are a few highlights:
Steve Lewis—in Marin County, still practicing environmental litigation
Blake Allison—in Lyme, New Hampshire, active in conservation groups and the Town Band
Ron Ashkenas—Stamford, Connecticut—not-for-profit organizational consulting
Rick Berg—near Albuquerque, bed & breakfast, software business, Democratic politics, outdoors
Paul Edelberg—also Stamford, still practicing law with emphasis on China
Bonnie Krueger—sheltered on Cape Cod, preparing to teach her last semester at Hamilton College, albeit remotely
There will be more such get-togethers, and maybe one day we can do it in person again. Here’s hoping for May 2022, and see Kate Lynch’s note below about how you can help in the reunion effort!
Save the date for our 50th Reunion scheduled for May 19–May 22, 2022! Reunion planning and fundraising for our reunion gift is happening even now and for those that missed our virtual conversation with Michael Roth last June, other virtual events will be scheduled over the next several months. If you want more information go to wesleyan.edu/classof1972. Or if you want to get involved, contact Kate Quigley Lynch ’82, P’17, ’19.
Seth A. Davis | email@example.com
213 Copper Square Drive, Bethel, CT 06801
Norman R. Shapiro, Hon. ’72 passed away on April 3, 2020 at the age of 89. A full obituary can be found here.