CLASS OF 1976 | 2021–2022 | WINTER ISSUE

Byron Haskins and his wife Gabrielle have moved to Montreal so that Gabrielle can take her dream job. They’ll be figuring how to split their lives between Montreal and their home base of Lansing. What a wonderful adventure!

Sue (Feinstein) Barry and her husband Dan spent the pandemic in Arlington, Massachusetts caring for their granddaughter. Sue also finished her second book, which was published by Basic Books, last June. It’s titled Coming to Our Senses: A Boy Who Learned to See, A Girl Who Learned to Hear, and How We All Discover the World.

Joe Mabel has retired from the software industry and is working with soprano Juliana Brandon on the Weill Project (, dedicated to the work of composer Kurt Weill  (1900–1950). They have created 15 original guitar-and-vocal arrangements of Weill songs, and have also plunged into a critical and historical study of Weill’s life and work. They’re putting together a series of academic lectures and demonstrations with collaborator German artist Yvette  Endrijautzki, which will include visual art related to, or inspired by, Weill and his songs. Their first major performance will be February 2022 in Seattle. They hope to showcase the amazing range of Weill’s work, from opera to cabaret to Broadway, and from innovative expressionist music to tangos and foxtrots. In addition to several songs from Threepenny Opera and his other collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, they will perform two lesser-known environmental protest songs from 1928. They’re also working up two songs he wrote in France between leaving Germany and coming to America, as well as a World War II Allied propaganda song he co-wrote with Howard Dietz, and three Broadway songs he co-wrote with Ogden Nash.

Oliver Griffith is still living in Paris after retiring from his last job at the World Bank in 2016. He is doing some freelance writing for NGOs and French companies, and regularly playing in jazz clubs.

Debra Haffner is leaving her position as minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston after five years. She’s returning to a community ministry of teaching, writing, preaching, and consulting, primarily in areas related to congregations and sexuality issues. She’s not ready to retire: “I have at least one more professional act in me.”

Leslie Anderson, reference librarian at Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections, was recently named a Virginia Humanities Scholar by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. Twenty scholars were selected on the basis of their expertise in history and genealogy, framed within an understanding of the African American experience. Leslie served as the Project Editor for the Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853–1865, which has become a standard reference work in public and special libraries.

Adrienne Scott writes: “After 22 years, raising 2 bonus children and now 5 grands, my husband and I are divorcing. I retired from college administration and an adjunct faculty position and enjoy part-time English language tutoring, specializing in work with local indigenous tribes, which I will return to in the fall. Here in Roseville, California, in 2016, a local TV station acknowledged my work as the first African American television news reporter in Rhode Island in 1977, by doing a story on my personal interview with Muhammad Ali and how he gave me an exclusive. ‘He took care of his community,’ I said, because he knew how disrespected I was, and that I was told by my news director that Rhode Island isn’t ready for a black anchorperson. The flirtatious Ali took away some of the sting of racism.”

Deb Neuman lost her husband Paul last year after 35 years of marriage. She remains in Mystic, and continues to work as the VP of Advancement for Enders Island, a beautiful Catholic retreat in Mystic that has a small residential community for young men in recovery from addiction. She notes that participating in the 40th and 45th Wesleyan Reunion committees and renewing acquaintances with fellow alumni has been a positive experience.

Cathy Popkin has officially retired after 35 years in the Columbia Slavic Department. She recently became a grandparent and is dividing her time between New York and New Hampshire. She adds: “Happy to be alive.”

Robert Osborne continues teaching voice in the music departments of Vassar College and Columbia University/Barnard College.

Joe Mingolla writes: “After Wesleyan, I attended and graduated law school at Boston College.  Subsequently, I returned to the place where I grew up, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I worked for my family’s construction company for a few years and then, in 1990, I opened my own practice and right from the start my career took off. I ran a boutique criminal law practice focused on primarily federal crimes and appeals taking place in the Caribbean and Florida. The Caribbean is the sunny place for shady people! Lots of cartel people, money laundering, and con men down there. My slogan was “Reasonable doubt at a reasonable price!”

“Meanwhile, in 2001 I met my future wife, Lia. She was a senior executive with a Canadian bank and was assigned to head up the Compliance Division for the banks in our region, where she used to find money launderers, have the FBI bust them, and then, often enough, the miscreant would come crying to me for help! It was a beautiful thing!

“We married in Stowe, Vermont, in 2005 and have been living happily ever after. When Lia was reassigned to headquarters in Toronto in 2012, I was burnt out on my criminal practice, and so we relocated to Toronto, and after she retired we left Toronto to live in the country on Lake Ontario. I love Canada and its people very much. I’m becoming a dual citizen. Too much craziness in America right now.

“During the past 45 years, I traveled extensively, learned to fly, collected exotic and classic cars (25 or so), rode motorcycles until this year, became an expert scuba diver, sailor, and yachtsman. We have no children, but few regrets.

“I’ve been writing humorous short stories for a few years and living a quiescent life. It’s such a contrast with how I used to live, but the ubiquitous stress that was my daily companion is no longer extant. Who would have predicted that I would enjoy tending our flower gardens?”

Leslie Gabel-Brett continues to teach a course each spring at Wesleyan called “Social Activism and Theories of Change.” She adds that she gains a little dose of hope and optimism each year by meeting students who are ready to change the world. She has retired from her other work obligations and looks forward to being with Carolyn and her family to see what retired people really do all week.

Bruce Demple writes: “In mid-June, my wife Sue Avery and I made our first foray out of New York state since March 2020. There was a time when staying so close to home for that long might have seemed unremarkable, but over the years we had gotten quite used to frequent trips away, both for professional and for personal reasons. This time, we had a ‘tour’ of our long-time home, Massachusetts, staying with four different sets of friends not seen for the past 15 months or more. It was sublime! We started by spending a long weekend with our dear friends, classmate Rich Gallogly and Bonnie Katz ’77 (whose expected in-person Reunion next year we certainly plan to crash!). We lived within 2 miles of each other in Newton for almost 20 years, and our children grew up together. We then stopped with a former Harvard colleague in Brookline, in order to celebrate a colleague and close friend—our former department chair—who passed away in May 2020. From there it was down to Martha’s Vineyard, where a close friend from Exeter has a wonderful house. He generously invited us and three other couples  (including none other than Danny Ruberman ’77 and his wife Anne) to spend a week there, ahead of the arrival of their three sons and their children. This group usually meets up in the winter in Maine for a ski trip, which in fact was our last out-of-state trip in early March 2020. So this year’s gathering was a much warmer consolation prize, with ample conviviality, aptly described by our host as ‘several days of hiking, biking, dining and general carrying on.’ Our last stay was in Grafton, with a very close friend from the very first days of grad school in Berkeley, and his wife—they were also the last folks we stayed with before coming home for so many months. And we finished with a stop in . . . Middletown! That was to visit Anthony Infante, with whom I did my senior thesis research, and the person I credit with sending me irreversibly on the road to being a biochemist. We have remained friends, but last saw him only on the occasion of our 40th Reunion. He is well, and very sharp, and 90 minutes together was nowhere near enough.”

Sid Cohen recently retired after a career in academic medicine and biomedical research, and now consults for medical device companies working on cardiovascular devices. Sid and his wife reside in Pleasanton, California, where he is an avid gardener, photographer, and amateur radio operator, and also stays busy with home projects. Retirement has allowed him to pursue interests he never had a chance to enjoy while working, such as music and art. Sid has two grandchildren; he adds that they “are a delight to watch grow although taking on the role of grandparent, while delightful, it is a bit sobering. I wish all my 1976 classmates happiness and health.”

Nat Needle teaches piano to about 40 students, ages 5 to 75 in Worcester, Massachusetts, which, he writes, “is home to the whole world. My students look pretty much like the city. Until now, their work with me has been one-on-one. However, the spirit of mutual support at our (second online)  June 2021 recital made me think more seriously of how much nurturance and inspiration they would receive from connection with one another throughout the year. That vision is even more compelling because of barriers that would ordinarily exist between them in society being lowered thanks to this special vehicle they all have in common. So, as we enter ‘post-pandemic life,’ we’ll be co-creating our own ‘piano college,’ blending online and in-person activity. As we musicians like to say, stay tuned.”

Bob Craft reports that after 35 years in Los Angeles, he and his family have moved to Portland, Oregon. He says: “Now it’s time to enjoy my retirement.”

Finally, I am sad to report that Winifred Van Roden ’77 passed away on June 6, 2021.

CLASS OF 1976 | 2021 | ISSUE 1

Alan Miller was recently named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine. Thirteen years ago, after a full career as a journalist, Alan founded the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan resource for educators and the public to develop critical thinking skills for evaluating news and information. One of the great features of NLP is the Checkology virtual classroom, a tool to help students and educators recognize credible news stories.

     Tom Kovar is still working at the V.A. and living near Northampton.  He’s still struggling with health issues that arose in part from a possible case of COVID last winter but remains cheerful and optimistic.  Given that gigging is out of the question right now, Tom has been continuing to play and write songs, and has found outlets for sharing music online. He’s looking forward to travelling to the Cape and to seeing friends and family in person again—soon!

     Arvid Bloom retired eight years ago after teaching psychology at West Chester University for 25 years. He remains active in his local photography club near Philadelphia; all meetings have been virtual lately. He enjoys taking long daily walks with spouse Gretchen, who retired from veterinary practice when he retired. Their 30th wedding anniversary is quickly approaching. He also stays in close touch with his 100-year-old dad, often remoting into his dad’s computer in Rhode Island to keep it running smoothly and to teach new computer skills.

     Ken Wagman reports that after transferring to UC Santa Cruz as a junior, he stayed in Santa Cruz—and he’s still there! He has been teaching math at Gavilan Community College in Gilroy and is looking forward to the day when he can leave Zoom behind and return to the classroom. He’s a member of the local masters swim team, working to swim 100 yards in fewer seconds than his age in years. Ken says he’ll retire when teaching is no longer fun.

     Jaimee Kurfirst spent the first 20 years of her career in advertising TV production, and the next 20 years as a high school English teacher. She and her husband are now happily retired and have moved to Morristown to be with their grandsons.  They’ve been able to spend the quarantine with their family in beautiful rural New Jersey.

     Joe Reiff just retired after 30 years teaching religious studies at Emory & Henry College. He spent the second semester of junior year at Millsaps College in Mississippi, with the intention of returning to Wes for senior year. But he fell in love and stayed at Millsaps, and he and his wife have just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.  They’ve retired to Abingdon, Virginia to be near their three adult children and three grandchildren. Joe writes: “I loved teaching and will miss working with students; I won’t miss grading and assessment.”  In 2016 Oxford University Press published his book Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi’s Closed Society.

     Polly Hays writes: “My personal COVID story is that I got sick in March 2020, just as Colorado was shutting down. Not sick enough to get tested at a time when tests were reserved for those on the verge of needing hospitalization, but in June I went for an antibody test out of curiosity, and it came back positive. I am now tested monthly as part of a study at Kaiser, and as of this note, still have antibodies 10 months after my presumed COVID. Some of my pandemic pastimes have included yoga, Feldenkrais, and qi gong classes in my living room; Zoom sings; and bike riding.”

     Carol Bellhouse is riding out the pandemic in Victoria, British Columbia, where she notes that the people are nice, the architecture is gorgeous, and spring flowers are in bloom. (Sorry, Texans.) She continues to write books, make movies, and practice law.

     David Harmin (I begged him to give me a note) says: “I’m still happy and privileged to be doing bioinformatics in Mike Greenberg’s neuroscience lab at Harvard Medical School. I miss visiting my two adult sons, who are scattered to the winds, one a geographer near Raleigh, North Carolina and the other a martial arts expert who is managing a pot shop in Saskatoon. I’d love to hear from Bernie Possidente and Jabez McLelland.”

     Keep in touch! Send me notes at any time; you don’t have to wait for the inevitable mass email plea we send out three times a year.

CLASS OF 1976 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Not surprisingly, we all seem to be retiring this year! 

Byron Haskins, our stalwart class secretary of many decades, has retired from his career, only to be elected precinct captain for his county’s Democratic Party. As if that weren’t a full job (and more!), he’s serving on the board of Single Payer of Michigan, an  organization promoting universal healthcare, and he’s continuing his work with the Michigan Capital Area chapter of the Project  Management Institute. He’s also finding time to continue to create music and poetry. Byron has been my hero for some time now,  but now’s the time to make him a role model as well. 

Karen Gervasoni is managing the pandemic by buying a travel trailer with her partner. They’re heading to the Cape this fall to see if  they can travel safely; if it works out, they’re heading cross-country next summer. Karen, let us know how it goes on the Wes ’76 FB  page! 

Nat Needle has been teaching piano in Worcester, MA, recently facing the challenge of moving to remote piano lessons. Like so  many, he was unable to play a public gig for nearly 6 months but got the chance to perform on 9/11. He has been deeply involved  with his local branch of Stand Up for Racial Justice, working to remove police presence from Worcester public schools. You can find  his music on YouTube. 

Tom Kovar is doing well after having had way too many medical issues early in the year. He may well have had a case of COVID in  January and ended up with a pacemaker in March. But he remains his wonderfully cheerful self, is still playing and posting music  (and waiting for social distancing to end so he can gig again), and is watching his son Sam start to think about applying to college. 

Larry Davis and his wife Ronna managed to take a trip around the world early this year, staying just ahead of the pandemic. He  followed that with a week of watching football matches in London and Liverpool, then going to Israel to co-lead a geology course on  the Dead Sea Rift Zone. The pandemic put an end to travels, and Larry and Rona have been devoting themselves to an organic  vegetable garden since. 

Michael Kennedy-Scanlon writes from Catalonia that the “second wave” of COVID-19 is underway. The pandemic has pushed him  into early retirement, but universal health care has made that an easy transition for him. He says that people are good about masks  and distancing, but that the need to socialize in groups is just too strong to be suppressed. 

Katey Downs retired in January after 25 years working in private equity investments in Latin America, the last ten years with the  IFC/World Bank. She and her husband, Felipe Ramirez-Gaston, were splitting their time between D.C. and Lima, Peru, but will  remain in D.C. until it’s safe to travel again. 

Jeff Frank loves retirement. He’s keeping busy as a Lyft driver in Columbus OH, which has to be a terrific way to meet people of  every possible background. Jeff says that the work is showing him that people aren’t as seriously at odds as the media often  portrays. He loves the expression of diverse viewpoints that he hears from his passengers. 

Will Rodman and his wife moved from Boston to Dallas last year to be closer to their grandson. Will reports that the heat of Texas  summer is more than balanced by not having to shovel snow in the winter. He’s still working, having joined the Texas A&M  Transportation Institute as a research scientist. A planned cruise up the Rhine to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary was  cancelled due to the pandemic, so they made due with a lovely trip to the Ozarks. Will says if any of his old friends are coming  through Dallas, get in touch at j.william.rodman [at] Gmail. 

Melissa Blacker and her husband (David Rynick ’74) have been keeping their Zen temple in Worcester going with Zoom services and  classes, but happily were recently able to return to outdoor services (with appropriate precautions). Their discussions groups  engage with topics such as racial justice, ethics, and Zen koan practice. (  

At the time of writing these notes, most of the West Coast was on fire, so I asked West Coast let me know how they were doing with  extreme temperatures, terrible fires, and appalling air quality. The reports: 

Ellen Seh lives in the Bay Area, so she’s been enduring not just the pandemic, but the effects of apocalyptic fires, smoke and heat as  well. She’s been working with the Red Cross to help victims of the Northern California fires, and spending free time hiking with her  new dog (presumably in search of better air quality).  

Sid Cohen has retired after a long career as a cardiologist. Another Bay Area-ish resident, he’s also been dealing with extreme heat,  forest fires, and terrible smoke (and air quality). Retirement will give him time to explore all the things that interest him, to enjoy his  children and grandchildren, and to getting back to running and biking when the air finally clears.

Jay Abramowitz reports that as of mid-September there were no fires in Santa Monica, but the air was filled with ash from the  Bobcat fire. Fingers crossed that the Santa Ana winds don’t set the Santa Monica Mountains on fire, Jay! 

Rob Sloss has moved out of Los Angeles to retire in Ojai, one of the loveliest spots in California. In spite of this fall’s extreme heat,  Rob seems to be in an area not terribly affected by the fires, so he’s able to enjoy the coyotes, owls, and all the other native wildlife. 

Martha Meade shared photos of the brown skies and red sun over west Los Angeles during the Bobcat fire. Like everyone else she  stayed safe indoors, and put her time to wonderful use by painting lovely still lifes and landscapes. 

David (Harmin ’76) and I are much the same; I’m retired, David isn’t. David works with Mike Greenberg, who is doing an  extraordinary job of keeping the Department of Neurobiology and his lab at Harvard Medical School functioning under very difficult  circumstances. I’m at a loss to explain how it is that Mike never seems to age! 

And, finally, I am saddened to report the death of Michael Dimin, founder of Sea to Table (no other information available) this  summer.

Karen Harmin |

CLASS OF 1976 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

Libby Horn has joined the growing ranks of retired folks. She’s busy at a food bank and a local hospice and keeping up her music.

Karen Gervasoni is retired, enjoying life in Maine with her teenage daughter and her partner, Greg. They’re splitting their time between gardening, baking, crafting, and political activism.

Andrew Brotman is the chief clinical officer at NYU Langone Health, so the last two months have been all-pandemic, all the time. Andrew, thanks to all of us for your hard work in this very tough time.

Matt Cartter is the state epidemiologist in Connecticut. A recent article described Matt as “Connecticut ’s Anthony Fauci.” He teaches at Yale and UConn.

Rob Briskin has not opted for retirement! He’s in his 36th year in practice in internal medicine in Florida. He has 10-year-old twin daughters and two adult children.

Tom Kovar is working for the VA in Northampton, Mass. Until January, he was gigging regularly, but the pandemic intervened. Tom responded by recording original songs at home and posting on Facebook; his many friends are grateful.

Jonathan Cleworth has been managing MS since he earned his MBA at Columbia in the early ’80s. He credits being captain of the 1976 crew team with giving him the skills to minimize the effects of MS.

Jeffrey Frank retired last year after selling his company in Ohio. He’s driving for Lyft and enjoying socializing with customers from many backgrounds and occupations.

Melissa Blacker has been married to David Rynick ’74, MALS ’85 since 1981. They have been sheltering with their daughter and grandson during the pandemic. Melissa and David are Zen teachers/priests, running a temple in Worcester, Mass., which moved online in March. They welcome anyone to join them at

Jack O’Donnell practices as a criminal lawyer but says the quarantine might have convinced him to scale back a bit.

Dan Herr had a different take on retirement. Nine years ago, he left a career in the semiconductor industry to become chair of the UNC Greensboro’s nanoscience department. He now focuses on diversity/inclusion, advising, and education. He’s enjoying having more time to spend with his wife of 37 years, four children, and five grandchildren.

Betsy Eisenmann is experiencing the pandemic that most retired people seem to be experiencing: All social/church/organized activities shut down, waiting to see what the governor does next.

Steve Smith and his wife have retired, so quarantine hasn’t been such a big adjustment. They take daily walks in the North Carolina mountains, pursue music and hobbies, and celebrated their 45th anniversary in May.

Ollie Griffith is now “mostly” retired from the World Bank. He’s still freelancing/writing for corporations and NGOs, and plays in Paris jazz clubs (pre-pandemic).

Jody Snider is hunkering down on her farm in Rhode Island. Jody works as executive producer for a film company (Smartypants NYC), producing orientation films for the new Wes freshman.

Ellen Seh sent her first class notes in since 1976! She’s had a fascinating career: she worked in sustainability in Maine, then moved to Boston and worked in public relations. She moved to NYC, and eventually to San Francisco, becoming a passionate sailor. She’s now retired, still advocating for issues centered on climate change and saying “yes” to new adventures.

Barb Birney is now retired. She’s a citizen/scientist volunteer, helping researchers catalog data from cameras capturing animal behavior in the wild.

Carol Bellhouse is still practicing law part-time, working on the final edit of her 30th book and working in her garden.

Debra Neuman’s husband of 35 years, Paul, passed on in March. Debra, our deepest sympathy. Debra works as executive director of advancement for St. Edmund’s Retreat on Enders Island (Mystic); she’d welcome a post-pandemic visit from any Wes alumni.

Byron Haskins is retired, but he’s working harder than most people! Byron and his wife, Gabrielle, care for their granddaughter, whose parents are essential workers. Byron’s son, an anesthesiologist, came down with COVID-19, and may have passed it on to Byron and Gabrielle—all have recovered. Byron is active in Michigan and national politics; is diving deep into music composition; collaborates with classmate Carol Bellhouse on poetic video shorts, and he’s media director for the local chapter of the Project Management Institute. And he’s got eight grandchildren, with another on the way!

In memoriam: I’m sad to report that Bruce Herring and John Rankin ’83 have both passed on.

I retired on April 30 (while recovering from a mild bout of COVID-19), but David Harmin works full-time as a bioinformatician in Mike Greenberg’s lab at Harvard. We regularly see Marjorie Dauster and Nina Rosenstein, and irregularly see Tom Kovar, Mel Blake, Karen Gervasoni, all of whom are doing well. If you make a post-quarantine trip to Boston, get in touch!

Karen Harmin |

CLASS OF 1976 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

I find myself surprised and delighted to become the new class notes secretary. Thanks to Byron Haskins and Mitch Marinello, who did a wonderful job keeping us all up to date since 1976. My apologies for the absence of class notes this time around. I need one cycle to get up to speed on what to do and how to do it! Class notes will resume in the next issue. Please let me know what you’ve been up to and how you’re doing.

Karen Harmin |

CLASS OF 1976 | 2019 | ISSUE 3

Dear Class: Jay Abramowitz has published Formerly Cool, a comic novel that has received accolades from, among others, the Al Jean, the executive producer of The Simpsons. Learn more at

Mark Berger reminded me that most of our class is on the verge of a big birthday this year. I was doing my best to forget, but I am afraid he is right. Mark is married to Jane Eisner ’77 and is the chief medical officer at Actinium Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm working on cancer treatments. He has two grandchildren and just bought a vacation home in Hillsdale, N.Y., where Sandy Krieger is a neighbor.

Meredith Gang Bergmann has been commissioned to create a sculpture in Central Park that will honor pioneering women’s rights advocates. It will be the first statue depicting real women in the 165-year history of Central Park!

Barbara Birney visited with Gail and Peter Hanson this summer in D.C.

Ethan Bronner, formerly with the New York Times, is a senior editor at Bloomberg, where he writes and edits features on international politics, mostly concerning Latin America. He is especially focused on the crisis in Venezuela and the threat it is posing to many of its neighbors. His older son, Eli ’10, manages artists, including Michael Gittes ’10.

Sidney Cohen and his wife, Carol, reside in Pleasanton, Calif., and are proud grandparents of Eon and Eliza. Sid remains busy in clinical research at Medtronic and spends his free time doing gardening, amateur radio, and photography.

Larry Davis ’73 has transitioned from president and managing director of Map Energy, LLC to senior advisor and chief scientist. This leaves him with more time for travel to places like the Amazon in Bolivia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Central Europe, as well as many cruises with family. Larry invites anyone taking I-35 or I-40 through Oklahoma to stop by for a visit.

Karen Gervasoni just built a new house near her old, too big one in Kennebunk. She notes that downsizing is no fun when you have to sort through 40 years of accumulated stuff.

Dan Herr continues his impressive work in nanoscience and was interviewed by the podcast NanoTube. In addition, Ethan Logan Herr, Dan’s fifth grandchild, was born on Aug. 30.

Deb King and her husband, Daniel Toth, both retired this May and took a trip to celebrate, which included a visit to friends in Bordeaux with side trips through France, Barcelona, and Crete with great sightseeing and local cuisine.

Dan Henry’s wife, Jean, retired in January but he is continuing his part-time business as a technical consultant which leaves him free to join her on many travels, including trips with their two married sons and two young granddaughters and to California, Aruba, and Florida.

Norm Kerner has opened his second recording studio in Hollywood (Hollywood Hills and Silver Lake areas) where he focuses on modern pop, R&B, and hip-hop. Norm also continues his real estate work at Sotheby’s International Realty specializing in properties with recording studios on site. He can be reached at

Tom Kovar and Charlie Berman were at a gig at Eclectic during Reunion weekend. Lots of ’79ers were on stage and the music was great.

Jaimee Mirsky retired from her second career last year and she and her husband, Jay, spent a lot of time enjoying their first grandchild (a second one is expected in December). They also moved to their dream home in Morristown, N.J. Jaimee would love to reconnect with Mark Stratton.

After living in Boston since 1978, Will Rodman and his wife, Pam, have moved to Dallas, Texas, lured there by their first grandchild. Will says he will greatly miss having an occasional beer with Rook Van Nest ’75 and his wife, Annie. Will, Rook, and Davie Terrie were back at Wes in 2018 to honor the 1973 soccer team that won the ECAC.

Steve Smith and his wife, Jean, retired this summer and went on a week-long cruise to celebrate. Steve has been a ham radio operator for 53 years.

Steve Schwartz and his wife, Janelle, have been living in Dallas, Texas, since 2015, and are still getting used to the Cowboys fans. Steve plans to continue his work as a VP with Charles River Associates, his children are doing well, and he and Janelle have five grandchildren to keep them busy.

Becky Vose and her husband, Steve Schreckinger, are enjoying their second home in Scarborough, Maine, Becky’s hometown. They are on a tidal river and a short walk from a long stretch of sandy beach. Son Ben reports for Politico.

As for me, I have been class secretary for a while now and have enjoyed it, but it seems time to let someone else give it a try. One benefit of a change is that we all know different people and a change may inspire a new group to write in. If you are interested in the job, please contact Randi Plake at

Mitchell Marinello |

CLASS OF 1976 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

News from classmates covers the range of human experience and emotions, and this word-limited column cannot do justice to them. Perhaps it may cause some of us to reconnect with old friends.

In early April, Susan Avitzour lost Daniel, her husband of 42 years. Daniel held a PhD in pure mathematics from UC Berkeley, worked all his life as an inventor-engineer, and was a devoted husband and father. Susan is grateful to her seven children, friends, and religious community for support during this difficult time.

In June, Barbara Birney will help celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of her parents Margaret and Robert Birney ’50. Her brother Bob ’81 also plans to attend.

Rob Buccino plans to spend three weeks this summer in France following the women’s world cup soccer tournament and bicycling along the Rhone. He is enjoying semi-retirement fully.

Betsy Eisenmann, a retired RN, exercises regularly and does volunteer work, including at her church’s thrift shop.

Ron Epstein found the memorial for Jon Barlow to be a wonderful opportunity to see classmates influenced by his work. Ron’s daughter is becoming a physician, and he continues to find purpose in palliative care and in the mindful-practice training he does for physicians.

Karen Gervasoni’s daughter is graduating high school and heading to Champlain College to major in film. Karen is downsizing, staying in Kennebunk, and wishes everyone well.

Joellyn Gray’s son Malcom’s movie 21 Bridges opens in late September. It is named for the 21 access bridges out of Manhattan, stars Chadwick Bozeman and is a psychological thriller.

Peter Hansen and his wife, Gail. live in DC and are consulting part-time. They regularly visit their granddaughter in NYC and daughter in Seattle and this spring traveled to Greece.

Byron Haskins just returned from Dublin, Ireland, where he attended the Project Management Institute Leadership Meeting. At the same time, his son Stephen was giving a TED-style talk at a medical conference in Belfast. Check out Byron’s music video hobby on YouTube.

Polly Hays retired from a 34-year career with the U.S. government, mostly with the Forest Service in water resource management. During her last years of work, she also spent much time helping her elderly parents to the end of life. She finds herself enjoying leisurely days at home with friends and family with time to pursue new interests.

Jim Johnson, to celebrate the 15th year of his company and his 65th birthday, threw a free, full-day Bluegrass festival for his community which attracted 2,000 people and featured a farmers’ market and some of the region’s top bands. Jim recently started an organization called Chattanoogans for Responsible Development and has earned himself the names “community activist” and “flaming urbanist jackal.”

Sad to report that, on March 31, Nancy Kathan passed away. After Wesleyan, Nancy earned a fine arts degree from Yale. She was a leader in women’s issues and the arts and for the past 30 years, worked in Philadelphia with several theatre and film organizations.

Thomas Kovar plans to work another five years at the VA and is still doing plenty of music. In late May he performed at Eclectic for the ’79 Reunion.

Chris Mahoney and his wife, Joan, are on their second trip to Israel with plans to see the Galilee, the Golan, Jerusalem, the Negev, Eilat, Aqaba, and Petra.

Dave Eckert retired last year and moved back to Cincinnati. He recently had a hip replacement, his recovery is going great, and he hopes to be back on the tennis courts by mid-summer.

Jaimee Mirsky and her husband Jay retired last summer and are now grandparents to Jordan via their older daughter Joanna.

Nat Needle met for dinner with both of his sons in Worcester, Mass., and gave his first-ever piano recital for his students and their families and guests.

Debra Neuman’s son Josh will receive his master’s in agronomy at Oregon State in June. Debra enjoys her job as the executive director of a Catholic retreat center with a small addiction recovery residence for young men.

Jack O’Donnell’s daughter Maggie ’19 graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wes this May with a near perfect GPA. Congratulations!

Pam Swing ’75 and Marty Plotkin’s son, Ben, is getting married this fall. Pam is a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center and co-authored a play about the suffrage movement. Marty is a software development VP at Oracle. He plays the violin and is deeply involved in chamber music.

Gerry Rau received excellent medical care at modest cost from Taiwan’s socialized health care system. Gerry’s authored a textbook for engineering and science students that will be published in August.

Steve Smith and his wife Jean are retiring this summer and celebrating with a long, relaxing cruise.

Craig Tighe and his wife Ann live in San Mateo. Craig is a partner in the Silicon Valley office of DLA Piper where he works with technology startups. Ann is retired from an environmental nonprofit.

Mitchell Marinello |