Gregory L. Allcroft ’80 passed away on March 7, 2022. A full obituary can be found here.
Forty-one-plus years after our Wesleyan graduation, our class is at such varied points in our lives. Ranging from enjoying our grandchildren, the graduations of our children, and retirement, to raising younger kids, starting new careers, furthering our education, and publishing books. After so much loss, isolation, and challenges during the pandemic, it’s wonderful to hear that though we still face challenges, we are a resilient, creative, and hopeful class with so much to offer each other, our families, our communities, and Wesleyan.
A sad loss: Sydney A. Francis ’78 sent in the heartbreaking news that her former husband and lifelong friend, Idris M. Diaz, passed away on, July 22, 2021, having succumbed to a rare form of leukemia. We are so sad to receive this news and grieve for her and all of our loss. For a major part of his career, Idris worked with USAID, joining in 2002 and retiring in 2019. Idris had a deep affection for the people, music, art, and religions of each of the places where he served or visited. He embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as civil and human rights and justice from his days as a journalist—before entering public service—through to his time with USAID. Idris’s work, life, and worldview were rooted in his experience as an African American growing up in Queens, New York, and his avid interest in, and study of, diverse faiths, the martial arts, yoga, and meditation. Idris was especially proud to become certified as a yoga teacher last year. A memorial was held this past fall. For more information email Sydney directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The challenges: Melissa Stern spent a year of “Zooming” in at various art schools and institutions as a visiting lecturer and guest critic including: The Everson Museum of Art, Pratt Institute, NYU, the Pelham Art Center, and Indiana University. She said it was loads of fun, but like many of us, she longed for true, in-person contact. She noted that after a terrible slip and fall on the ice in the spring of 2021, which required major surgery to repair and eight weeks in a brace, she emerged in June with a wonderful 20-year retrospective of her work in Kingston, New York. The show has garnered great reviews and was just what her body and soul needed after a year of quarantine and recovery from the crazy accident. Entitled Stronger Than Dirt, the show has a theme of resilience. Jim Friedlich ’79 and Melissa are back and forth to the city each week, she’s still in intensive PT, but they hope to be full-time back upstate for August 2021.
Alan Jacobs spoke of post-pandemic silver linings: finally reading Don Quixote, As I Lay Dying, Things Fall Apart, and The Tale of Genji and weekly Zooms with my three best friends from high school. “I had a lovely dinner in Tel Aviv in May with my daughter, Avia, my girlfriend Dorit, and with Jeff Green—all of whom live in Israel. It was the first night after the rockets stopped so we each had bomb-shelter stories to share.”
The milestones: Gary Gilyard and his wife are expecting grandchildren number 3 (August) and number 4 (September) and are enjoying living in the same state (Michigan) as both of their daughters. Gary hopes everyone is vaccinated! When asked how the doc (Gary is a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon in Bingham Farms, Michigan) made it through the pandemic, Gary answered “COVID was challenging. Everyone has stayed safe. We shut down for about four weeks, then started telemedicine, then after about three months, slowly started operating again. So far it’s very busy and going well.”
Amy Natterson Kroll now has two grandchildren Max, 3, and Eliana, born July 7th. Otherwise, she says all is well and life continues. She’s still practicing law at Morgan Lewis, gardening, exercising, trying to keep a positive outlook, and looking forward to vaccines allowing us all to return to a “new normal.”
Mark Zitter celebrated the 2021 Wes graduation with honors in Archaeology and Classical Civilizations of his daughter Tessa. Mark noted, “it brought back many memories of my/our graduation in 1980. Tessa’s honors thesis was on war wounds in the Classical and Archaic eras, and one of her three readers was Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, who was my freshman advisor 45 years earlier! After the ceremony we recreated a photo from 1980 where a hairier me was flanked by my parents versus one with Tessa between Jessica and me, with exactly the same buildings in the background. It was a very fun dual celebration of Tessa’s graduation and homecoming for me.”
Mark added, “BTW, although everyone joked that Tessa would never get a job in her obscure liberal arts fields, she confounded the pundits and did it. She’ll move from intern to a paid position for Julie Burstein ’80 on the podcast Live From Mt. Olympus that you mentioned in the prior Class Notes. Go Wes! Stay healthy!”
Frank White’s daughter graduated (in Philosophy) this spring from McGill and one son is headed to University of Colorado at Boulder in the fall; the other son is a rising sophomore in high school. Frank is taking an MFA in screenplay writing. Frank saw Christian Herold (in person) a couple of months ago.
Jay Borden said, “I spent most of COVID times hunkered down in my machine shop, welding and brazing custom bicycle frames (www.roulezcycles.com), my semi-retirement gig. Everyone in the immediate family stayed healthy, and we’re all grateful to be vaccinated and on the other side. With summer, I’m off to Vinalhaven until late September, kayaking and carpenting, and spending time with my oldest grandchild, who just turned five, and with the rest of our family.”
Randal Barron wrote in, “After having survived COVID in February of 2019, my partner and I have now both retired. We are taking a number of trips to see the USA and finally will be getting back to Europe in October. This last year has been an amazing roller coaster. I am grateful to have survived and that our democracy survived and that we are finally starting to address racism. I have learned so many things this year. I have been taking Zoom courses on Michelangelo and Leonardo as “gay” artists, Jewish Morocco, the architecture of Basilicata and Puglia, and a host of other obscure subjects that can now be found online.”
New ventures: Dan Connors shared that “after 20 years in retail, I launched a new career as a Certified Public Accountant in 2008. Through all of that time I’ve also been a freelance writer, publishing articles and essays in magazines and my local newspaper, the St. Louis Post–Dispatch. Now I am in a new chapter of my life, publishing my first book, Skunked. This book has been a labor of love and taught me a lot about writing, publishing, and storytelling. The editing process has taken several years, but it’s been a blast. I continue to practice accounting during tax season and am amazed at the complex stories I’ve observed coming from my clients. Thanks to all of you for letting me serve you. I’ve actually been more in touch with Wes folks via Zoom than in past years. Regularly Zooming with classmates Ken Freeman, Jon Nimer, Joel Tillinghast, Rick Levine, David Engstrom and Master of Ceremonies Will Rowe. Saves a lot of money on airplane tickets! Still thankful for my health and family and blogging on my website, authordanconnors.com.
Andrew McKenna left solar, which he worked in since graduating Wes, and just before the onset of the COVID pandemic, invested in with friends and started running Journeys Aviation, a private business providing all the services to the Boulder Municipal Airport (flight training, fuel, front desk/radio, facilities). He said that Journeys thankfully survived the pandemic with assistance from the federal programs (PPP, EIDL). And he’s still searching for Amelia Earhart with TIGHAR!
Wendy Davis Beard provided the following update: “My husband John and I rebased ourselves in the British countryside in October 2020 in preparation for his two solo exhibitions locally in Tisbury, Wiltshire. I have absolutely loved being in the country and we are now planning to sell up our Wesleyan Chapel studio residence in Greenwich, London, to move around here. We have already met an interesting mix of writers and artists, some with ties like ourselves to Australia. While being in lockdown is not so different for us, as we both work in a kind of isolation wherever we are. I have found a market for my writing about disability and travel that has in turn circled back to creating a website as a vehicle to reach stroke survivors their caregivers, friends, family, and even medicos. This sharpened practical focus has diverted my attention from finishing my memoir of recovery, but then it adds to the content as well! We were both double jabbed by Easter, enabling us to see our 23-year-old daughter and her boyfriend for Easter (both had mild COVID in the first lockdown). I am leaving today for a short trip to Greece, possibly extended by quarantine upon return in the UK. We hope to return to Sydney in October for another exhibition—if Australia will let us in. . . then if the pandemic doesn’t clip our wings from flying into Boston, we hope to celebrate Christmas in Cape Cod with my 90-year-old mother, brothers, and our extended family! Until next time! Recently converted into a football fan of Euro cup and English supporter like London-based Peter EisenhardtSpace!(Who knew!?) Keep rolling!”
Contributions to the Wesleyan: Scott Price, CEO of Fort Construction in Fort Worth Texas, says, “I’ve been fortunate this summer to employ a future Wesleyan basketball star. Jared Langs (’25) is six foot ten and will be a freshman this coming season. He has worked for me as an Assistant Superintendent during the summer. It has been great fun to stay in touch with Coach Joe Reilly and provide a little support for Wesleyan basketball. My two boys both live in Colorado and are enjoying the lifestyle I hope to retire into—they outsmarted me!
And finally a blast from our past: Scott Hecker let us know that the combined personnel of Praxis and Urban Renewal joined forces and rocked the house with a two-night reunion concert July 23–24 at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Under the musical direction of Robert Levin, participants included: Matt Penn, Bill Yalowitz, Dave Samuels ’79, Doug Cuomo, Billy Hunter ’78, Paul Spiro, Joe Galeota MA ’85, and Bryant Urban ’81.
Idris M. Diaz ’80 passed away on July 22, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
David Kohane ’80 passed away on February 27, 2021. A full obituary can be found here.
Thank you, wonderful Wes ‘80 classmates, for all your responses to my late request for submissions – maybe a benefit of our all being stuck at home after a year of the Covid pandemic.
David Garfield was the first to send his update and save the day: “I am still alive. Still an immigration attorney. Still living with my wife Jung Hwa and youngest daughter 17 in Honolulu. She is attending Iolani and loves musical theater and hates ultimate frisbee. Up to 4 grandkids, my granddaughter #4 born last month on my birthday..yay. no more ultimate ugh.”
For many around the world, this past year has been a period of time of great loss. On behalf of our class and Wesleyan, I send our deepest condolences to Wendy Kosakoff ’81, “I share with profound sadness that my husband, David Kohane, passed away at the end of February from pancreatic cancer. David and I met at Wesleyan in Clark Hall in 1977 and got married at Russell House in 1982. He was my best friend and the love of my life and the father of our three wonderful sons.
And to Demie Stathoplos, “It’s been a time of loss for my extended family: my close cousins, sisters and I lost my mom, two aunts and an uncle in a 3 month period, between November 2020 and February 2021. All were close to or older than 90 years old, but it was still a lot to experience, especially needing to be distanced from each other. I’ve spent the past 6 years managing my parents’ medical and financial affairs, so the death of my mom (after the passing of my dad 3 years ago) has ended a significant part of my day-to-day work. My husband Dan has been working for Boston University from home since March, and my 21-year old son Alex tried online college courses, but found the experience was not for him. It’s rough launching as a young adult in the middle of a pandemic. Our dog Karma has seen a lot more of us, but much less of our friends she used to play with. I’m a volunteer climate activist, and have been busy (on Zoom) with 350Mass in my hometown of Newton, as well as with UU Mass Action. I’m also leading a group of city staff and civic volunteers in implementing communication of the city’s Climate Action Plan. This past year I gave (Zoom) talks at my church as well as to the greater Boston area about taking action on climate change. I’m also on a leadership team at my church teaching an anti-racism curriculum (The Richmond Pledge to End Racism). I stay in touch with Nancy Stier and Sharon Grady. For Dan and my 20th wedding anniversary, we traveled in July 2018 to Alaska, and got to spend time with Scott Taylor in Anchorage. The trip was amazing, and included both seeing Mt Denali from below, and taking a plane ride to a glacier on the mountain. Given the work I’ve been doing on the climate, I’m thinking about how to minimize my air travel in the future. I hope we get to see each other in person in the near future.”
Jay Borden, “Amazing what difference in mindset a vaccination can create. Somber to upbeat. Dimly present to planning for the future. The change in Administration helps. I can read again instead of ceaselessly doom-scrolling. Now, I’m right in the middle of planning our first post-vaccination trip to go see my brother in Albuquerque and my youngest daughter in Santa Monica. My wife gets her second jab early April, so we can start looking forward to a little more light.
Carolyn Sullivan, “This time last year I was visiting relatives in England when I had to cut my trip short due to COVID. Everyone has COVID tales to tell, I’m sure, so I won’t go there, but suffice it to say that as an introvert I have been doing just fine. My husband and I have evaded the dreaded virus (knock on wood), I’m happy to report, and are looking forward to getting vaccinated and seeing our similarly vaccinated friends and family SOON! My sister and her husband recently moved to Nashville–it’s been almost 25 years since I had family on my doorstep, so that’s wonderful. My husband and I are working on our third self-produced album of original songs in our home studio–these projects are always fulfilling, but especially so during the pandemic. Our music falls into (or between!) different genres… Rock, pop, blues, even a little bluegrass/folk… We studied songwriting in Nashville but apply the principles to just about everything but straight-ahead country! You should be able to find us on iTunes or Spotify under Carolyn and Dickie Sullivan. Our last two CDs are “Love and the Cold, Hard Ground” and “Sail On Through.” I’m trying to up my audio engineering game via lots of YouTube videos and online courses, which is definitely keeping me out of trouble! I’ve lost touch with most of the people I knew while at Wesleyan, I’m afraid, but I always like reading the Class Notes!”
Chris Carey, “I wanted to shout out to all my Psi U Brothers from Cleveland, Ohio. I have resided here with my wife Donna since leaving ol’ Wes and have two grown boys who both reside and work at opposite ends of California in San Diego and San Francisco. We are scheduled for our Pfizer two shot this week and are excited to go visit them in the coming months. We hope to head east to Middletown sometime this fall and pay a visit to our Connecticut friends Earl Mix and Marshall Stearns, not to mention Bruce Bunnell in Boston where my brother resides. I continue to manage money for my clients providing Financial Planning services as an Independent Advisor and made the switch to independence after 30 years working for the man. I can see this continuing for another 15-plus years God willing. Keep us posted on our reunion timeline, as I would love to see everyone on the grounds of Foss Hill. Maybe Orleans or Todd Rundgren can pay us a surprise concert visit!”
Prompted by cabin fever and a lack of exercise, Faith Fuller (started with class of 1980, diploma reads 1981) wrote: “I am in Mexico, travelling around the Puerto Vallarta area, swimming in the Pacific, taking long walks, and working from my laptop. In 2020 I surpassed my goal of raising $10 million for nonprofits (partly due to the CARES Act releasing additional funds) so I had a productive year, but felt physically run down. I’ve been out of the country since January and am taking all the precautions to stay COVID safe; which is not hard with all of the out of door markets. I work as an independent consultant/contractor and my clients are 3 Substance Abuse Treatment providers in the Oakland/Berkeley area, 2 providers of services to the homeless (one to adults, the other to youth) in Alameda County CA, 3 nonprofits working with black youth in Compton CA and Oakland CA, the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives; and another who provides in prison programming. Love it!”
Peter Scharf noted that he came to Pune, Maharashtra after his fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla ended at the end of December. He and his wife are teaching Sanskrit on-line and just announced their spring and summer course in Sanskrit and Prakrit (sanskritlibrary.org/coursesnow). They plan to return to their home in Iowa in April.
David Claman, “My wife, Sunita Vatuk, and I have been enduring the pandemic in Queens, NY. I’ve been teaching music online at Lehman College-CUNY since March 2020, and for 12 years before that. At this point I’m thinking of retiring to have more time to write music. I’ve been able to complete two projects in the past year, although not because the pandemic allowed me more time to do so. In October 2020, I released a CD of my own compositions entitled “Gradus” on Albany Records. I’m quite happy with the variety of music and the quality of performances. It can be streamed on Spotify and other platforms. More information is available at: https://davidclaman.com. More recently, I released something entirely different (for me) on YouTube, which is an arrangement of Wes Montgomery’s classic “Bumpin’ on Sunset.” Aside from me faking that I can play jazz piano, the four other players are excellent young Hindustani classical musicians who I worked with for several months in New Delhi in 2019 while I was on a Fulbright grant and a visiting professor at Delhi University. Their interpretation and improvisations bring new dimensions to the tune. It is on YouTube with an accompanying music video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhwH0cPkAJA.
Vic Tredwell, “I remain as Station Manager for the community radio station of Belfast, Maine (WBFY). We’ve survived the pandemic well. I set the station up from the start to allow remote programming of shows, so I was seen as prescient when the bug came along and made it required. Not true, but I’ll take it. We have replaced a number of cancelled events with radio versions, such as Belfast’s monthly contra dance and the New Years Eve concerts. The station’s latest fund-raising project is selling off an amazing collection of 78-rpm records that were donated to us. Any collectors out there?….”
Alan Jacobs, “I just returned from what was supposed to be a one-month trip to visit my daughter, Avia, in Tel Aviv but it turned into three months because my friends in New York said stay there, the beach beside my apartment agreed, and then I heard that because I’m over 60, I could get vaccinated. I was never so happy to be this age. After the second jab, I had a lovely dinner with Jeff Green ’80, who lives in Tel Aviv part-time, and our two daughters, who are about the same age. While Avia and Lia were chatting it up, I turned to Jeff and said, “That’s our daughters.” Jeff nodded, “Yep.” As for Israel, the good news is it’s a democracy — the only one in the region — and as Jews, we can get involved and have real influence. I’m not interested in politics but many of my friends there went out every Saturday night to join protests in Jerusalem demanding Netanyahu’s resignation. The country has many challenges and social ills, but democracy itself is alive and well and Israelis are very active participants in it.“
My daughter and I are on right.
Mark Zitter, “I’ve taken advantage of COVID isolation to reconnect with some old friends. I have regular 3-way Zoom calls with Scott Hecker (still working in biotech in San Diego) and Paul Singarella (a retired attorney who just moved to Florida). I do the same with Irene Chu (still a graphic designer in the Boston area) and we’re trying to rope Julie Burstein into those calls. Julie is working with my wife, Jessica, on some radio programs and podcasts related to end-of-life issues. Julie also has worked with my daughter, Tessa (Wes ’21), on two podcasts. My wife and I recently hosted a virtual cooking class and dinner party with four couples, one of which included Daryl Messenger. Last month I chatted with Rick Smith, who lives in DC and is a top pharma consultant. I’m also in touch with Paul Oxholm, Jane Polin, and Melissa Stern (as well as her husband, Jim Friedlich ’78). I’m in a busy semi-retirement phase, hosting many COVID-related programs for the Commonwealth Club (https://www.commonwealthclub.org) (including Biden senior advisor Andy Slavitt this month). It was great seeing so many of our classmates during last year’s reunion calls. Hope all are staying healthy and sane.”
Halsey Frank, “Here’s my decennial update: After 34 years with the Department of Justice, I retired as US Attorney for the District of Maine this past February. I never expected to stay that long but found I liked the people and the work, and before I knew it the years were gone. I am taking a break to decide what to do next and would like to find a way to continue some of the civic education initiatives I started as US Attorney. Otherwise, our daughter Laura just moved back to New York City to resume her independence and continue working for a startup. Our son Alex is on track to graduate from college this May, albeit likely without the customary pomp and circumstance. My wife Eva continues to do the many manner of things that she has done since she stopped practicing law when we moved to Maine years ago. Our dogs, Jeeves and Henry, keep each other company and us entertained.”
Ellen Haller, “I happily retired in July 2018 after 30 yrs on the full-time faculty in the UCSF School of Medicine and am so relieved to not be Director of a Psychiatry Clinic during a pandemic! My wife is Chief of Infectious Disease at UCSF, so it’s been a rather busy time for her…The only silver lining in this pandemic is that our son unexpectedly moved back home after recently graduating from college, and he has become a quite successful professional magician including a performance on the Penn & Teller TV show, “Fool Us,” and regular Zoom shows for corporations, private parties, and ticketed audiences (danielroymagic.com).”
Amy Natterson Kroll, “All is well here. I’ve been very lucky as I had a home office set up from when I had a home business 20 years ago, so when my office went remote over a weekend in mid-March, I missed nary a beat. We had our son with us for the first seven weeks of the pandemic, then he drove across the country to start his new job in Utah when things seemed to be getting under control, and two weeks later our daughter and her then 2 year old arrived for 7 weeks. It was wonderful, and exhausting! In the autumn we decamped for the mountains of Idaho where I worked remotely for 5 weeks, and then back to DC, where we have been increasingly reclusive, pending my getting a vaccine. There have been wonderful silver linings, and lots of reminding ourselves of our great fortune in staying healthy (so far). I have hiked weekly in the parks in DC that I had driven through for 38 years; I have walked through numerous neighborhoods now quiet as life in northwest DC remains pretty much WFH; I have become very proficient at building a campfire in our two firepits; and over last the summer I grew a bumper crop of string beans, onions, rosemary and radishes. Hopefully, society will stay slower, children will continue to play outside and the air will stay a bit clearer once we can all fully emerge.”
Alan Jacobs wrote, “I ventured out of my COVID-19 cocoon in NYC to shoot a film in Marfa, Texas. Minimalist artist Donald Judd moved there in the 70’s and inadvertently created what is now an odd (and very Wesleyan mix) of artists, cattle ranchers, carpetbaggers, and random oddballs with an official slogan: ‘Small town, no hospital.’ Reconnected with our classmate Scott Karlin, who has not yet lost his Long Island accent even after multiple decades in Atlanta. Some things never change, y’all.”
Best to all from Ken Toumey: “Hello Classmates and Merry Christmas! I am a happy man, enjoying life. I have three children: two are married, one has two kids of her own. They are all wonderful people who are positive contributors to society who I am grateful for every day. My wife Shari and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary. We both still live and work in New Jersey. I have been taking guitar lessons for the past three years—my six string therapy.” Looking forward to the next part of the journey.”
Demie Stathoplos wrote: “My husband, Dan Stoll, 21-year-old son Alex and I have been living in Newton, Massachusetts, and around the Boston area since 2010, after a six-year stint in Great Barrington, Masschusetts, where I was the health and healing director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. The 2010 recession motivated a move back to the Boston area, where I was executive director of Pathways to Wellness, a nonprofit acupuncture and integrative health organization. Family health issues led to me resigning in 2015 to care for my aging parents. I still take care of my mom’s financial and health issues, while spending the rest of my time as a climate activist. I speak about climate action locally to my Unitarian church community, to other faith communities and to community groups in my city. I’ve also been coordinating the communication team for our Newton Climate Action plan and lead a Climate Task force at our church. I’ve kept in touch with Nancy Stier and Sharon Grady, and have been Facebook friends with Gigi Peeples, Pam Keon, Betsy Levine and Dana Felt. I’d love to hear from others—especially if you’re in Newton or nearby!
From John Singer: “Really enjoyed getting together with classmates through our virtual reunion events. One unanticipated benefit of meeting through Zoom and random assignment to breakout rooms was speaking with classmates who, realistically, I likely would not have spent as much time with had we been together in-person on campus. I also especially enjoyed working with the other members of the Gaiter Team who brought the gaiters to fruition. Perhaps as we eventually return to some type of new normal classmates can send in pictures of themselves wearing their gaiters in interesting local a la Douglas Cannon photos. After a quiet and healthy summer at home in Baltimore, we went to the Aspen area in late August for about three weeks to visit our son, Charlie, who works in finance and project management for the developer of the Snowmass base Village. In our time there we had summer the first week, winter the second week (4″ of snow), and moved to fall in the third week with the aspen tree leaves turning yellow. While my wife continued her law practice remotely and I taught my law courses online, it was a welcome change of scenery and provided opportunities for biking, hiking, swimming and other outdoor activities when not working. While we were out west, after two years in AmeriCorps (and a hurried evacuation from Guam due to COVID-19) our daughter, Amy, started working for FEMA at HQ as the executive assistant to the assistant administrator for field operations. With hurricanes and wildfires, she says it is an exciting time to be at FEMA and she feels she really is doing valuable public service. Though it’s not a term I typically use, Karen and I are truly blessed to have kids who are nice people, healthy (physically and mentally), and giving back to their communities in their own ways (Charlie is on the board of a not-for-profit focused on organ donation based in Aspen). Stay healthy.”
Jane Polin, as a NYC-based philanthropic advisor, wrote in about her work on 12 case studies for “Scholarships for Change,” a new
candid.org resource for donors:
Peter Scharf, president of The Sanskrit Library in India shared, “My wife and I took the opportunity of staying home to work to launch on-line courses in Sanskrit and the literature of India through the non-profit I started 18 years ago: The Sanskrit Library https://www.sanskritlibrary.org/courses.html. Twelve students have begun studying with us this fall semester in two courses. Otherwise, I’ve been spending the year at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla with a fellowship to translate a work in Paninian linguistics. After December, I’ll teach again at the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad where I taught before the fellowship began. We just bought a townhouse in Fairfield, Iowa this summer, unpacked my belongings from where they were in storage for the past four years, and now are ready to head back to India. We plan to spend more time in the comfort of our own home when we get back here next spring.”
Jonathan Needle sent in his class notes confession and photo: “Hello to Wesleyan friends and classmates. I am in Houston enjoying taking pictures of nature subjects. Sometimes, it seems nature would like to take Houston back from civilization and development! Hurricanes are not to my liking. I’ve been in touch all these years with John Emerich and of course with my fantastic brother Nat Needle ’76. I send John photos; he sends me art books in Russian (what a deal for me). John and Nat were best men at my wedding some years back. I am lucky to have two great kids, one in college and one in high school. I practice law in Texas, managing around the pandemic, but there hangs another tale. I have mixed feelings about getting senior discounts, but it’s nice to be a senior again. All my best wishes.” This species of lizard is taking over Houston at the ground level. They leap.”
Jay Borden says “I always loved dystopian fiction. Never really meant to live in it. We’re all safe, though. Granddaughter number three was born in May, she and numbers one and two are a joy to me in a dark era. I continue to work on my welding and metalworking skills as a custom steel bicycle frame builder (aka Roulez Cycles). Check it out on Instagram. Becoming a machinist teaches me patience, mindfulness, precision, and tolerance for my own errors. My machine shop is my refuge.”
Our 40th reunion, scheduled for this May, has unfortunately been postponed again. Keep an eye out for news this coming spring. Fundraising for our reunion gift is happening all year long. For all gifts greater than $180, you will be thanked with a commemorative gaiter (while supplies last), and we hope to schedule some virtual events throughout the year. If you want more information or want to get involved, contact Mike Schramm at email@example.com.
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | firstname.lastname@example.org
We are all going through unprecedented experiences with COVID-19 so I asked to receive your stories of hope and resiliency, family milestones, and special experiences. We’ll continue our 40th Reunion Zoom connection calls and look forward to meeting in person in 2021! If you haven’t received the emails or participated in the Zoom calls, please let me know and I’ll make sure Wes has your correct email so you can get connected! Sending out a big thank you to all our classmates and their families for your work on the front line and/or for your just showing kindness to family, friends, neighbors, and community. I hope you and your families are all well and safe.
Steve Mooney: “It makes me sad to pen this note, not because of any tragic news, but because we will not return to campus for our 40th Reunion this year, something I’d been greatly looking forward to. You see, I don’t remember much about Wesleyan, other than the wonderful friends I made. When I arrived in 1976, I wasn’t ready to be a serious student, and so I imagined a return 40 years after graduation where I discover what I know to be true—that Wesleyan mattered greatly to me, just not in a way that’s ever been easy to express. I didn’t find law, or finance, or even a likely career path while enrolled, and yet my time did spark curiosity and creativity, which in turn lead to something worthwhile—a passion for photography and storytelling and a marketing career made up of pictures and ideas. For that, I am forever grateful. It gave me such pleasure to see our classmate Jenny Boylan on the spring cover of this magazine—she is truth lived large. I was so looking forward to hugging everyone after what would have been a standing room only reading from her new book, Good Boy. Virtual hugs to all. Life is short. Have some fun and see you at the 45th!”
Randal Baron: “This has been an eventful and emotional quarter for me. First, I went on a fabulous trip in early March to see antique cars which are my passion. In seven days, I went from retro-classics in Stuttgart to the museums for Maybach, Audi, Skoda, Austro Daimler, and Zeppelins as well as exhibitions in Basel, Antwerp, and St. Augustine, Fla. Seven countries in seven days. I came home with COVID-19 which my husband and I both weathered successfully without permanent damage. I am retiring at the end of May after 36 years working with the Philadelphia Historical Commission. I have been working from home since my trip, but it is with great sadness that I will finish up without seeing my colleagues in person since February. I have had a friend die last week from this disease, but thanks to unknown angels, my loved ones and I have survived. I am grateful to be here. I wish good health to my classmates.”
Alan Jacobs: “What’s all this about a virus? I am connecting with more Wesleyan folks than ever. Dave Stern joined our Billionaire Boys Club monthly Zoom last week from a basement hideaway that revealed a little too much information. Also joining was Kyle Wilkinson, who is stowed away in the Berkshires with spouse, Vicki Cohen. And I just heard from three of my In Town housemates: Jeff Green, who sent a lovely news profile about his globetrotting medical practice, Scott Karlin, who retired from ENT medicine in Atlanta, and Nancy Danielle Rudess ’82, whose husband Jordan and I are working on a movie/music gig. Okay, as we say in the movie business, ‘enough about you, let’s talk about me.’
“After years of longing, planning, and dreaming, I finally moved to New York City on Jan. 31. My timing was impeccable. At first, I behaved like a kid in a candy store, frolicking at the Met, the Whitney, the gloriously refurbished MOMA, all three Soho Houses, four jazz clubs (including the highly recommended Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem), running three races in Central Park, and one in Prospect Park, until, alas, the tsunami hit six weeks later and I fled to my brother’s place in Weston, Conn., for a month—taking long, cold morning walks in search of Keith Richards’ mansion. I seem to be accomplishing more than ever, launching a new TV series and reading all those books I missed at Wesleyan, including Don Quixote. I figure if Cervantes could write it in a prison, I could read it in one. On the home front, my two older boys, Gil ’16 and Ron ’16 are hanging on in the live music business, and my daughter, Avia, is a year out of Mount Holyoke and heading to Israel for a while. My youngest, Guy, is completing his freshman year at University of Oregon. And now, I must return to tilting at windmills…”
Jeff Green: “I unexpectedly ended up locked down in Tel Aviv for seven weeks and just recently went back to work in the emergency department at Assuta Ashdod University Hospital in Israel. I cannot express the joy that I feel returning to my work family and my comfort zone. Here’s a piece that was just published about my odd turn of events.”
Wendy Davis Beard described her life in the U.K. with COVID-19: “Our daughter and her partner, who had been living together with us 24/7 before lockdown, moved out to protect my husband who is high risk; they’ve been isolating at his parents with his siblings. They are taking the day off tomorrow to come see us through our front door window. We are very paranoid, but I would like to use the occasion to step out of our front door for the first time in months to go to the park; our only nature are fresh cut tulips which do life cycle beautifully!”
Sara Epstein: “I am well, and my three kids and their partners, too. My oldest and youngest, Ben and Nora, work in the family business (power generation—generators for homes, hospitals, etc.) with their dad Owen Duffy. My middle son, Sam, is in his first year of medical school at George Washington University, and luckily, he finds studying online is fine. The kids and I communicate often during the pandemic, usually by text messages about what food we are cooking up. I am able to work from home as a therapist and find that the kids in my psychotherapy practice have lots of good ideas for stories. I’m working on a book of short poems for children; these rhymes are also featured on a new app called Juna, which teaches American accent for English language learners. I am finishing a book for children called The Princess and the Dragon, about a girl who tires of being cooped up in the castle all the time and finds a way to tame the dragon on the sly.” Read two of her recent poems here.
Owen Duffey, president of Kraft Power Corporation which sells and services generators and industrial engines used for generating power and also ship propulsion: “Interestingly, several years ago we sold a combined heat and power system that’s installed at the Freeman Athletic Center at Wes; it is part of their microgrid, providing efficient electricity and thermal energy, while helping make the campus more resilient. Nothing too dramatic in my life: riding a bicycle a lot, figuring out how to put my canoe on the car so I can go down the nearby Assabet River, and working in my company. Three grown kids, two of whom are working with me, which is very rewarding. Hoping to harvest from my vegetable garden before the woodchuck and rabbits discover it.”
Terri Jalenak Mendelson: “My Wesleyan daughter, Sara ’13 (post-wedding her name will probably be Martinez Cruz Mendelson), is living in Nosara, Costa Rica, and had to Zoom her May wedding. My other daughter is in New York going to grad school at Columbia. I have enjoyed working with community banks for the last 30 years, mostly in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, though the work is especially crazy right now, of course. I am very proud of all my amazing classmates.”
Scott Hecker: “When I was a sophomore at Wes, I remember David Schenkein ’79 telling me in Hall-Atwater that Rex Pratt had just been awarded a big grant to study beta-lactamase enzymes and their inhibitors; these are produced by bacteria to ward off beta-lactam antibiotics like penicillins and cephalosporins. Fast forward about 40 years and his company, Qpex Biopharma, is developing a new beta-lactamase inhibitor to address all of the new enzymes that have emerged to cause resistance to this very important class of antibiotics. They just published a paper in the Journal of Medicinal chemistry on the discovery of QPX7728: DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b01976. Respect the chemistry!”
Mark Zitter: “We’re riding out the pandemic at home in Oakland, Calif., with our three kids. Sol missed graduation and most of his final semester at Brown, where he majored in computer science and won the senior computer science award. He hopes to head to Israel, COVID permitting, for five months before starting a software engineer job at Facebook. Tessa ’21 is double majoring in archaeology and classics, giving tours, and singing a Capella. She’s the lead fight choreographer on campus and recently was awarded the Ingraham Prize for excellence in Greek. One of her favorite professors is Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, who was my freshman advisor! Sasha just finished high school and will start at UC Berkeley soon—whether on-campus or remotely. She volunteers for Crisis Text Line, which has been flooded with pandemic-related stresses. My wife, Jessica, has been volunteering remotely as an ICU and palliative care doctor for COVID patients in NYC. Her new documentary, Caregiver: A Love Story, just launched amid the pandemic. She’s also working on a podcast with our classmate, Julie Burstein. I sold my company in 2019 and chair the Zetema Project, which brings together America’s healthcare leaders to discuss thorny issues—fascinating conversations during this pandemic. I also have been doing extensive health care programming for the Commonwealth Club, the nation’s largest public affairs forum, which for now has gone completely virtual. One plus of being cooped up has provided extra time to reconnect with several classmates, including Irene Chu, Paul Singarella, and Paul Oxholm. And I’m delighted to see so many of us at our virtual reunion Zoom calls. Stay healthy and maintain social distance.”
Halsey Frank, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine since October 2017: “Alex is a rising senior at Cornell in the School of Ecology’s Policy Analysis and Management program—a quantitative social science. He’s interested in a range of things from government to business to consulting. Much to our surprise, Alex followed Laura to Cornell (we suspect her good reputation helped him get in). Laura, who graduated from Cornell last year, has been working for a startup in Manhattan that does market research for the hospitality industry. She teleworks from Maine.”
Walter Calhoun: “Stephen “Fritz” Freccero, my Wesleyan freshman and sophomore roommate and Chi Psi fraternity brother, reached out last week to say he had a reduced role as a California state Judge to a couple of days a week and that his family is all excellent. Prior to my self-quarantine, I had a wonderful dinner with Psi U friend and 1980 classmate Andrew Parkinson and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, along with my New Trier East High School friend, Mary Gately, at my favorite North Shore restaurant, Apple A Day, in Glencoe. A great time was had by all. Wishing everyone well.”
Amy Natterson Kroll: “Still living in D.C., married to Steve Kroll (35 years and counting!) and am a partner practicing securities law at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius: “Our kids are grown and flourishing—Hannah (31) is in NYC, a school nurse (so currently mainly tracking the many current issues) and mother to Max. Sam (25) moved to Park City this month (yep, drove from D.C. to Utah last week) for a new job. I’m a besotted grandmother of Max, 2-years-old in July. They are coming here for the month of June and maybe longer, so that Max can have the backyard to play. Suddenly the house is filling with little kids things…we have a small slide and chalk, and a booster seat…Rejoined a book group this year that I left 15 years ago when I went back to full-time work; I found myself yearning for the connection. Still wondering what I want to do when I grow up, but this time its ‘what’s my second act’…and where do we want to be in the next phase. We bought a condominium in Sun Valley, Idaho, and hope to spend time there this summer, but we may be driving there! Loving the planning group for the Reunion that isn’t! I want a reunion/connection with all of you forever. It’s making me value my role as class agent again.”
So, please, contribute to Wes, even a small amount to the fund established to support financial aid and the annual fund more generally. So, so important these days!
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | email@example.com
After working briefly in D.C. after graduation, Jonathan Nimer went west for law school at UC Berkeley and, almost 38 years later, is still in the Bay Area. Following a few years in law firms, he went in-house to Sun Microsystems back in 1990 and then, after Oracle bought Sun in 2010, moved to VMware where he spent the past 10 years. Jonathan says that the front row seat to see the evolution of the tech industry has been fun. He and his wife Alicia Torre, (Williams ’75) have three boys (28, 28 and 25). “Life has been kind to me and my family and I feel very fortunate.“
Susan Carroll has been living in the Triangle area of North Carolina since 2004, after living and working for many years in Geneva, Switzerland, and Cambridge, Mass. She spent about 20 years working in the field of international humanitarian assistance, most of this with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She now directs the Rotary Peace Center at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a joint graduate program for mid-career world-wide international peace practitioners. Susan’s three children are spread around the East Coast, the oldest a software engineer in the D.C. area, one graduating from Appalachian State University in May and the other taking time off and working for Habitat for Humanity through the AmeriCorps program.
Melissa Stern said that 2020 is starting out as a fun and busy year. Her work will be featured at the Taipei Art Fair in Taiwan from Jan. 16-20. After that she will participate in a show in Long Island City, NY called Claytopia at the Plaxall Gallery. It’s a 12,000 sq. ft. former factory space. Melissa will be having a solo show entitled Strange Girls Shanghai in April at Longmen Arts Projects in Shanghai. She’ll be in China for the opening and hopes to see WesTech folks there!
Irwin Gelman says he especially gets to kvell at the success of his oldest daughter, Audrey, who broke another male glass ceiling by appearing on the September cover of Inc. magazine while eight months pregnant. Audrey’s company, The Wing, is a taking off as a women’s club workspace, and general medium promoting women-to-women business networking. They now have over 10,000 members at sites all over the U.S. and in London, with sites being built in Paris and Toronto. This kvell includes his newest role as a zeide (Yiddish, for debonair grandfather who has retained a full head of dark hair) to a very cute grandson, Sidney Allen, Wesleyan Class of 2042!
Cesar Noble has been in the Hartford, Conn. area since graduation and is a judge of the Superior Court. He says there are lots of Wes grads in the legal community including Carl Taylor ’78 and Bob Nastri ’77 (also judges), Chris Lynch ’81, and Tim Hollister ’78. Cesar has been blessed with three daughters with his youngest graduating from high school this year, his second is in flight school and oldest now lives in Nashville.
After 40 years in the wilderness, Alan Jacobs wrote that he is returning to the Promised Land (Manhattan Upper East Side, of course) and feeling like it’s graduation day all over again. Alan is working on a historical film set in Antarctica and a bunch of short ones on the other six continents. His recent travels allowed him to connect with far-flung Wes friends and family: spent a wonderful weekend at the Berkshires-adjacent home of Vicki Cohen and Kyle Wilkinson, saw Jeff Green on a break from his ER shift in Tel Aviv, Paul Edwards in San Francisco, Dave Stern at his birthday party in NYC, Nancy Danielle Kornfeld ’82 and husband Jordan at their home in New City, New York, and his son, Ron Jacobs ’16, who just started a great job at Live Nation in West Hollywood.
Paul Singarella retired from Latham & Watkins effective Oct. 1, 2019 and opened a family office with his son, Nick. They are focused on large-scale water, energy, and real estate infrastructure projects in North America that are both economically viable and socially valuable. Right now, they are focused on the restoration of the iconic Hotel Laguna next to Main Beach in Laguna Beach—a landmark property on the State’s historic register. Humphrey Bogart and the Hollywood set visited Hotel Laguna in its glory days decades ago.
Ellen Haller happily retired in July 2018 after 30 glorious years on the UC San Francisco School of Medicine faculty. She wrote that her time is now spent “cycling, playing ice hockey, taking a ‘weightlifting for seniors’ (oy!) class, and traveling! My wife is taking a sabbatical in Switzerland, so off I go to keep her company!” Her son, Daniel, will be graduating from Penn in May. He studied molecular and cell bio and was pre-med, but he’s now decided to pursue a career as a professional magician in Chicago. It’s been a passion of his since he was 10, and he’s been offered a few different performance opportunities there starting in late May. “We’re thrilled for him!” (magicofdanielroy.com)
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to say that we have the BEST class! I put out a call for notes a couple days before the due date, having let the request from Wesleyan fall through the cracks, and my fellow alumni rallied. Maybe the last minute thing is the best for us overly involved high achievers. In any event, it was wonderful hearing from a lot of new folks and reconnecting with new and already connected classmates. This is the best “job.” No big themes this issue — I threw the net wide and got back a wonderful variety of responses. And thank you all who wrote to me noting their appreciation for my class secretary efforts. It really is fun!
Paul Oxholm wrote in for the first time, noting he has never embraced social media so is not in the habit of posting . . . anything! Thank goodness he made an exception: Paul said he is celebrating:
- 28 years of marriage to Karen Stevenson, whom he met in banking and who now is a very accomplished Pilates instructor
- 25-year-old daughter, Sarah, who graduated from Lehigh, a senior associate with KPMG in Manhattan and making the most of her career and many great friendships
- 22-year-old daughter, Catherine, who just graduated from Denison and has accepted a great teaching position with the Windward School, also in Manhattan
- a successful exit for investors, equity holders, and employees after 15 years turning around a highly leveraged medical device manufacturing and distribution company in Pennsylvania
- the many long-term relationships that have blessed his life and are helping him to identify his next career!
In short, he said life has been very kind to him. His family had the pleasure of visiting Middletown and their nephew, Cole Stevenson ’21, in February for the CSA National Squash Championships. Paul said Wes looked great and hopes to make our 40th Reunion.
Frank White commented that he never knows what to write but he said the breadth of my suggestions gave him the impetus to send in the following submission: “These days, folks like us of a certain age tend to bifurcate our time between living directly and vicariously. Thus, I find myself alternating between appreciating the milestones of my children and my own life, more or less equally. My humble highlights are, therefore, as follows: daughter a junior at McGill majoring in philosophy (I said nothing), one son a star of his high school soccer team (center back, what’s up with that?) and the other a budding middle school intellectual/athlete as well; for my part, I’m leading a team of software developers for Cision.com and writing two books on the side, a memoir and a historical thriller about Afghanistan. All the best to the class of ’80/’81!”
Steve Kaufman reported that after almost 10 years in D.C., he is now back in Denver. Steve retired from the private practice of law and is now working for Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser as the deputy attorney general for consumer protection. Steve says it is great to be back in Colorado working with a talented group of people and having a great time.
Walter Calhoun (Chi Psi) sent in such uplifting news on Sept. 8. He started with: “Good Sunday morning. I am overwhelmed with joy this morning. I have two children: Sammy, 34, and Daniel, 32. On Oct. 16, 2018 Sammy was married in a wonderful wedding celebration at the Bronx Zoo in NYC. Both Sammy and her husband work for CDW out of their Bridgeport, Conn. offices. Last week, they bought a bigger house for themselves near the shore in Bridgeport. I can’t wait to visit them as I still live in the Chicago suburbs. Meanwhile, Daniel was previously accepted at the University of Michigan Law School, which I graduated from after Wesleyan in June 1983. Daniel began his orientation week in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week. I could not be more overjoyed with the development and place of both of my children and the choices they are making for themselves and society. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share.”
Walter and I corresponded a bit back and forth which brought out more news I hadn’t heard before. In May 2002, Walter was hit by a car, was in coma for a month and hospitalized for another six. He has executive function limitations and has been on disability since. That said, he noted that people have generally been pleasantly surprised, as he is, about both the nature and extent of not only his original injury but also subsequent recovery. Walter has been on the board of Family Focus Evanston for the past 35 years and is a three-time past-president. Family Focus Evanston is a social services organization specializing in helping broken, primarily black, families where 95% of the people served live under the poverty line.
Walter is planning on attending our 40th Reunion!
Rachel Conescu Barany says she is doing really well! She’s going into her sixth year teaching at Friends Seminary, just east of Union Square in Manhattan. She taught for seven years right after graduating Wes before taking a 27-year hiatus. In that interim, she worked continuously, though part-time, in museum education, foundation consulting, and nonprofit development; married and raised two wonderful daughters; and realized that her calling was to be back in the classroom. She is now teaching ancient and medieval History (with an emphasis on non-western cultures) to middle school students, and loves her work. Rachel has very fond memories of her education classes at Wes. Rachel has two daughters, ages 25 and 23, with bright futures ahead of them (even though neither was interested in even applying to Wesleyan!). Isabelle is in her third and final year of an MFA program in creative writing at the University of New Orleans. And her younger daughter, Lilly, just started NYU law school. Rachel is divorced, now for three years, but has an amicable relationship with her former husband Francis, a molecular biologist at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Karen Murgolo announced a change in her career. Karen, who was most recently VP, editorial director of Grand Central Life & Style, left the corporate publishing side to work at Aevitas Creative Management as a literary agent. She represents authors who are authorities in their fields, have original voices, and/or are adding to the cultural conversation in an original way. In the past, Karen has worked with authors from Gwyneth Paltrow and Misty Copeland to Nobel Prize winner, Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, and Harvard endocrinologist, David Ludwig, M.D. She had also edited the Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson ’95. Now, in addition to the journalists, scientists, doctors, and chefs, Karen has signed up thus far, she is working with recently retired Wesleyan professor, Gary Yohe, who shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Julie Burstein says “Giving a TED talk a few years ago opened up a new and rewarding focus for my work — coaching authors, scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs as they raise their voices in public — while I continue to work with cultural organizations to create radio shows, podcasts, and live events. Taking time for a daily tea meditation has grounded me through the past few eventful years, and I am spending more time in the pottery studio. Several of my tea bowls have been accepted into national shows.” Julie is tickled that the pottery bug has just bitten Nancy Rosenberg, and in early September they spent a marvelous afternoon together at the Brooklyn Pottery Invitational, and then visited The Old Stone House, which is the vibrant heart of that part of Brooklyn, and where Nancy has been board chair for several years. Julie is looking forward to seeing fellow alumni in the spring at our 40th!
Gary Gilyard has some fun news: “My wife and I celebrated our 35th Anniversary in Paris. Our middle daughter will be having our second grandchild, a girl in October! I’m planning to come to our 40th this spring. Nancy, Ray, Ron, Dale, Donna, Lisa, Teri, Moon, and anyone else I forgot, come!”
Vic Tredwell is our “Steady Eddie.” He writes “Nothing new with me. I remain the skipper and primary voice of my community radio station, WBFY in Belfast, Maine.”
Mike Zackin and his wife, Mary (Nastuk), became proud grandparents of William Francis Roose in May. Mike noted that hopefully their grandson would continue the Wesleyan legacy as both his parents (Katie Zackin ’09, and Robert Roose ’04) are proud Wes grads. They reside in Portland, Ore. The retirement bug has not bitten Mary and Mike just yet. Mike just passed 25 years as a pediatrician in Weston, Mass., and Mary celebrated 10 years as editor of Journal Watch Woman’s Health at Mass Medical Society. They still enjoy the suburban life in Sudbury Mass but spend a lot of time at their cabin in the woods in the heart of the Berkshires.
Dan Connors just celebrated his eighth anniversary as a CPA, and is currently working in an accounting firm and for a local symphony orchestra. Now that his youngest is graduating college next year, his big bucket list goal this year is to get his book published, and he has finally set up a website, blog and video site to say what needs to be said. (Authordanconnors.com) Dan is looking forward to the big 40 next year.
Will Rowe, for the last four years, has visited Wesleyan during the months of September or October to interview students for summer internships or full-time positions at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has been with Booz Allen for the last 23 years and is amazed at the level of talent of the Wesleyan students he meets with on each visit. They now have an active group of Wesleyan graduates working in government consulting, mostly in the Washington, D.C., area. They also had several students join their Summer Internship program this past June. Working with the career center is a great way for Will to stay connected to Wesleyan. He is thinking his next visit after this fall will be for our 40th Reunion. He hopes Dan Connors, Ken Freeman, and John Nimer will come too, his Williams Street roommates!
Leslie Landau really put a smile on my face when she wrote, “OK, so this is my first time writing class notes. But after nearly 40 years, maybe it’s time.” I LOVE it! Leslie has been with Jim Shankland ’78 since they hooked up in the back room of 72 Home Avenue in the summer of 1979. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they settled in 1984 after getting graduate degrees at Cornell (J.D. for Leslie and M.Eng in computer science for Jim). Leslie was a Big Law partner, and then was appointed to the Superior Court in 2003. She has done stints in criminal, family, and now sits in a juvenile law assignment.
Leslie says “It is hard, sometimes gut-wrenching work, but it also is immensely satisfying—a place where a judge can make a huge difference in the lives of kids and families.” Leslie and Jim have two sons: Sam (27) is a professional chess player, a Grandmaster who was a 2018 U.S. Champion, plays on the US Olympiad team, and is currently in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, getting ready to play the World Cup. Alex (24) is a software engineer by day and Renaissance man by night; he served for several years as a Wikipedia administrative editor focusing on politics articles, and is revising the novel he wrote for his senior thesis at Tufts. Jim has been in tech for almost 40 years, in various companies, including most recently the Internet Archive and Google. He is taking a break from software to figure out what is next. Leslie is in touch with some folks from Wesleyan, including Debbie Ehrenthal, Jane Cooper, Susan Freinkel, Eric Arnesen, Julie Light ’81, and Laura Schulkind ’81.
Aleta E. Staton has survived her first New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas as she finally gave in (after 20 years) and decided to work in New Haven full-time, managing the Department of Community Engagement. Aleta says she loves New Haven, and loves living in New Haven, with its rampant culture of academia and arts and greenspaces and disparate neighborhoods and flaws and possibilities.
With her daughter living her best life as an artist and stylist in Times Square, Aleta is an empty nester, but there is plenty to busy herself with in the Cultural Capital of Connecticut. Right now, at the Festival, in addition to being in the planning phase for international works, they are devising two performances—one that is music centered, and one that is movement centered—both featuring residents of their community. Look for the resulting performances presented in June 2020 at www.artidea.org.
Aleta is also directing a full-length production at Quinnipiac University this fall. Baltimore, by prolific award-winning playwright Kirsten Greenidge ’96, is an examination of racism on a fictional college campus. Curtain went up on Nov. 7. Aleta is in her seventh year at Quinnipiac University as an adjunct in the department of theatre, working with a dynamic staff and student body.
Aleta says she is loving the Facebook updates from classmates Gary Gilyard, Synaia McQuillan, Ron Riddick, Ray and Cheryl Riddick, Lisa Nelson-Robinson, Allison Brown, Gloria Penny Mullings, and Michelle Mullings!
Keith Sklar‘s Mass MoCA show opened to the public on April 13 and will be on view through February 2020. As always, Keith said he is grateful for the extraordinary insight and support of Professor Emeritus John Paoletti and the rest of his teachers and peers at Wes. He added, “It’s always a pleasure reading about the paths people have taken since our Wesleyan experience so many years ago. I wish you all the best.”
Rick Smith said he hasn’t written in about 20 years but my appeal moved him to jot down a few thoughts. “Introspection after beating cancer in 2012 led me to make some changes. Replacing my job with solo consulting gave me the opportunity to devote more to family, friends, and an array of interests while continuing satisfying work in health policy. Three years ago, my wife and I moved from the Baltimore suburbs to Takoma Park, Md., which borders D.C. We’re enjoying the urban setting. We travel often to see our three sons, who for the moment are split among Northern and Southern California and New York.
Over this past summer, Andrew McKenna participated as a member of the National Geographic Dr. Robert Ballard Expedition to Nikumaroro Island in the Phoenix group, Kiribati, searching for further evidence that Amelia Earhart’s last flight ended up there, and she was marooned as a castaway. The expedition was chronicled in the Nat Geo TV special Expedition Amelia that aired in October.
Andrew worked with the archaeological team seeking to find artifacts at the site where a castaway’s partial skeleton was discovered in 1940. Andrew was quoted in one of the Nat Geo articles which you can read here.
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | email@example.com
Alumni magazines, similar to Facebook and Instagram, are filled with our best news. But our class, as with all classes, at all schools, are living our lives with both challenges and successes. Life isn’t so perfect—some of our classmates are batting serious illnesses, others are rebuilding their lives after failed businesses or divorces, and still others are surviving natural disasters or struggling to keep their children on track. And some haven’t made it—we have sadly lost another class member, Retired Federal Judge Patricia (Patti) Minaldi who passed away in December. Patti earned her law degree from Tulane University before serving as an assistant district attorney in New Orleans and in Calcasieu. She served as a judge in the 14th Judicial District Court from 1996 to 2003 before being appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 as a federal judge in the Western District of Louisiana, where she served until July 2017. So I salute all of us as we overcome the challenging times and losses and also hail our exciting successes and important milestones.
Here’s a toast to the classmates who reported in on their new careers (how inspiring!):
Cindy Ryan graduated last May (age 60!) with an MA in mental health counseling – expressive arts therapy from Lesley University. Cindy is now working at a residence for clients with brain injuries. Cindy said that while many of our peers are retiring, she’s finding this new late-life part-time career to be very meaningful. She has enjoyed counseling many wonderful clients and interning at some amazing organizations including a farm and a cancer-care center. She noted that creative arts, which includes movement, drama, music, and play therapy, prove to be a beautiful means to restore vitality and enhance emotional well-being. Cindy has been finding a new relationship with the power of creativity, in addition to painting. She said that her children, Juliet and Jonah, have been launched for some time, living in California and Canada respectively; both great places to visit.
Freddi Wald has spent her career in marketing, education, and the arts—working in creative businesses and start up creative ventures at Time Warner, Amex, and Pace University as chief marketing officer. Since Wesleyan, she has been committed to the arts (always her passion)—working as a volunteer and on boards in theatre, arts in education, and arts advocacy and policy. After taking a year off to consult, most recently Freddi started her new position (as she noted, “yes, you CAN get a new paying job at age 60!”) as head of membership at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Freddi is living in NYC with her husband of 25 years, Roger Sherman (Yale ’78) and daughter Nora, a high school rising senior. Freddi caught up with Jacquie and a few others at the November Wes weekend for Sons and Daughters—a great introduction to the admissions process and to Wesleyan for our daughters. Freddi hosted an evening of Wes Women in NYC with help from the development office to gather alumni classes of women 1975-1985 for conversation, wine, and cheese. Among old and new friends were Janet Grillo, Elise Wagner ’78, Trustee Anne Goldrach ’79, Charlotte Van Doren ’84. Freddi is in touch with Wes alumni in NYC but would love to hear from anyone from class of 1980, as we head into our Reunion year!
Mark Zitter and his wife, Jessica, recently participated in a life-planning workshop for couples to figure out what they want to do when they grow up. Meantime, Mark has big news! Feb. 1 was both the 30-year anniversary of the founding of his company, Zitter Health Insights (formerly The Zitter Group), and the day he sold it. It’s the second company Mark has sold to a private equity firm and he states that there will be no more startups for him. Mark took his Wes roommate, Scott Hecker, and Scott’s wife, Gail, out to dinner in La Jolla in January to celebrate Scott’s 60th birthday. Scott is still in charge of chemistry at biotech startups, inventing the next antibiotic to save the world. Mark is in frequent touch with Julie Burstein, who is working on a podcast project with Mark’s wife.
Mark has plenty to do, he just doesn’t get paid for it. He still owns a part of his former company and will serve on the board, though he won’t have any operating responsibilities. His nonprofit, Zetema Project, a group of U.S. healthcare leaders from both parties and all major stakeholder groups, is very active and will consume plenty of his time. Mark is the facilitator for an exciting initiative aiming to reform California’s health care system, and he continues to produce health care programs at the Commonwealth Club. Mark is now unemployed for the first time since Stanford Business School, and says happily so.
Mark’s daughter, Tessa Zitter ’21, finished her junior year at Wes, way overcommitted and loving it. Tessa is planning to triple major, twirls fire, sings a capella, choreographs fights for plays and films, co-writes a TV series, does chemo-analysis on Wesleyan’s mummy, serves as a tour guide, is on the Chabad board, and more. Son Sol is starting his senior year at Brown majoring in computer science and doing tons of swing dancing. His high school senior, Sasha, and their mini-poodle, Jinx, last summer were on the first U.S. team in dog agility to win a ribbon in international competition.
Our class has been significant contributors to the arts including:
Michael Bell, playing banjo and mandolin with his “class-grass” band Graminy, released this year in June their most recent album: Live at the Brink, which can also be found on Spotify. Mike is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Community and the Environmental Sociology, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Religious Studies, and the Agroecology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His most recent book, City of the Good: Nature, Religion, and the Ancient Search for What Is Right, was published in 2018 by Princeton Press.
Vic Tredwell, musician and radio maven, has come back to one of his Wesleyan interests, radio—he was a regular on WESU. These days, Vic is the operations manager at the Belfast Community Radio, WBFY, in Belfast, Maine.
Lisa Olsson still lives in Dobbs Ferry and teaches cello, currently at Hudson River School of Music, and Trinity School in NYC, and performs in the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hudson String Quartet. In addition to her music career, she began writing poetry about five years ago and has been published several times. This year, she was a winner in the Poetry in the Pavement contest in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., where one of her poems is inscribed in the new poetry walk. She also has a poem in Lumina, the literary magazine published by Sarah Lawrence College. Lisa showed her art for the first time in April, at the Blue Door Art Center in Yonkers, in a show of art made from recycled, reused, repurposed materials. Lisa’s daughter (19) just finished freshman year at Rice University, and her son (29) has started his own business in gems and minerals in Brooklyn.
Mike O’Brien played on May 24 for the Wesleyan Class of 1979 Reunion at Eclectic with a whole bunch of Wes alumni. The gig was organized by Jack Freudenheim ’79, and featured the following alumni musicians: Charlie Berman ’76,Ann Beutler Millerick ’77, Banning Eyre ’79, Jack Freudenheim ’79, Wil Galison ’81, Chuck Gregory ’74, Tom Kovar ’76, Robert Levin ’81, Bill Levinson’79, Win Lockwood ’78, Beth Masterman ’79, Jim Melloan ’77, Matthew Penn ’80, Greg Shatan ’81, Tom Valtin ’79, and Dirck Westervelt ’82. Mike sang 70s and 80s classics—pretty much the same type of stuff he sang on campus with The Bees, back in the day. Mike stayed with Kevin Markowski ’79 in his lovely Middletown home. Mike and Dave Stern still get together every year to play Beatles songs at the annual benefit Mike organizes in Northampton, Mass., for a local music school; most recently they got together in March, when, among many other things, they played a tribute song for Mike’s brother, Greg, who died last summer. Greg was not a Wesleyan student, but he was a member of Mike’s college band and had a lot of friends on campus.
Alan Jacobs(managing director of Archer Entertainment Group) is working on a big film about the first men to reach the South Pole, which is moving at an appropriately glacial pace despite major assists from Vicki Cohen and Brooke Elkin ’91. During a brief stay in Tel Aviv, Alan met up with classmate Jeff Green of High Street fame. Jeff visits a few times a year to work at an ER in Ashdod and plays music in the evenings at a club called Jessica, where Alan heard him. While Alan was in Tel Aviv, Alan’s sons, Matan Green ’15 and Ron Jacobs ’16, were meeting in Los Angeles to plot their takeover of the music industry. The legacy continues.
Alan said, “The four of us met for dinner recently, which was more trippy than any drug I took at Wes.” Alan’s four have all left the nest, and two of them are off the payroll. Alan added, “I don’t know what all this talk is about turning 60. Don’t you remember that elementary school student on campus? That was me. Okay, I celebrated my 60th birthday in December with close friends and family at a lovely Italian restaurant in downtown Manhattan, then we all walked to a Twyla Tharp performance at the Joyce Theater. It was heaven. Joining was my 85-year-old mother, who in the fall of 1975 barged into my high school physics class with an envelope from Wesleyan (opened, of course) and a big smile on her face. She dropped me off in Middletown a year later and said wistfully: ‘You’re on your own now and I won’t be interfering any more. You can be any kind of doctor you want.’ Hey, there’s still time.”
Irene Chu is doing well—her graphic design business has been rewarding for the past 30 years or so, but is wondering if and what a next step might be. Between that and having both her kids in high school, Irene felt like she could do more traveling on her own this past year. High points were visiting Barcelona, Marrakech, seeing family in San Francisco AND reconnecting with Mark Zitter(after 10-15 years of doing nothing more than exchanging holiday cards at best). When she heard from me in June, she said that same week; she was starting a family road trip south to look at colleges. Her daughter is a rising senior. And yes, they’ll be stopping by Wesleyan! Irene also has done a few more grown-up things locally. She said that kind of by kismet, she has gone with Sarah Liepert ’87 and Ilana Newell ’94 to a few Mistral chamber music concerts, with Julie Scolnik ’78 as the artistic director! Talk about small world. She said it was SO great to catch up with Mark Zitter,compare notes, and reminisce about things like bowling with coconuts in Ft. Lauderdale over spring break. She said she can’t always remember what she did yesterday, but it’s amazing some of the things they could remember from 39 years ago.
Keith Sklar is currently showing his art in Suffering From Realness, a major group exhibition, and as he noted, curated by the extraordinary Denise Markonish at Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). After years in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, Keith has been living in Chicago since 2012. He said he had the miraculous fortune to meet his wife, Katie, in Chicago and they’re the proud parents of Nora, their 4-year-old daughter. Daily, Keith is happily shocked and wildly grateful that he is a fairly new parent at this point in life. Keith’s Mass MoCA show opened to the public on April 13 (he said the opening came and went fantastically) and will be on view through February 2020.
Keith continues to work as an artist and educator. After decades of an independent artist practice supplemented by grad and undergrad adjunct work, Keith teaches art at a private school. He added that in 2014, he was awarded a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency Fellowship. Fellows don’t apply, they’re selected, and Keith was lucky enough to live and work with several other artists, writers and musicians for five weeks in the ecological paradise of the late artist’s studio complex in Captiva, Florida. Keith finished by saying it’s always a pleasure reading about the paths people have taken since our Wesleyan experience so many years ago.
Our class is pretty active in the international arena as well:
David Claman, along with his wife, Sunita, is coming to the end of another long stay in India. He has been on sabbatical from Lehman College-CUNY this year where he is an associate professor of music. David received a Fulbright-Nehru grant to go to Delhi and has been teaching at Delhi University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music since September. David is composing and collaborating with some excellent young Indian classical musicians and has also been studying the sarod, an amazing stringed instrument used mainly in Hindustani music that he’s wanted to learn to play for 25 years. He says it’s been great and the time has passed too quickly, but they are also looking forward to being back in New York City.
Andrew McKenna reported across the table that he would be on another expedition in August sponsored by National Geographic, continuing the search for Amelia Earhart on the South Pacific island of Nikumaroro, again with forensic dogs. Look for a potential National Geographic TV release this fall.
In June, Wendy Davis caught up with Peter Eisenhardt at a local pub the same week he was jetting off to Sydney, Australia, where, after 20 years of residence, she had lots of local knowledge to share. Wendy said as a late bloomer, she is currently waiting the result of several “mentorship” grants for disabled applicants (noting, one has to play to ones’ strengths). With a professional mentors’ sage advice, she hopes to improve and publish the manuscript of her recovery from a 2007 massive stroke and terminal cancer diagnosis. Wendy and her husband John relocated to Greenwich, London, from Sydney three years ago. They are returning to Australia in June for a couple months. They are back in the UK in September for their daughters’ graduation from University College London. Then they’ll travel across Europe until Christmas, which they will celebrate in America for the first time in decades. The last time Peter and Wendy met was in November; they had the last turkey burgers left after Thanksgiving celebrations—for a little taste of “home.”
James Lynch, working with the UN Refugee Agency, was out of town when I sent out the request for submissions, but in his automated response he includes a thought provoking quote: “Every year, refugees walk over two billion km to safety. Please join our solidarity movement to honour their resilience: stepwithrefugees.org.”
Scott Phillips, back in New York after working in London, says it’s a short bike ride to work for him, as he still works for Société Générale (23 years and going strong). Scott says that he and his wife Crystal are doing well—their fourth and youngest child is graduating University of Denver in June so they headed there with the whole family to celebrate the “last” graduation. Crystal and Scott are enjoying living on the upper West Side of NYC, which is close to two giant parks and all the entertainment and food a body can need. They don’t have any grandchildren but they see their grand children plenty and love that.
And a few classmates wrote in about their 30-plus year anniversaries—Congratulations!:
Gary Gilyard and his wife just celebrated their 35th anniversary in Paris. They have a grandson and another grandchild due in late October. Gary is planning on attending our 40th Reunion and says, hopefully many others will as well.
Will Rowe and his wife Teresa Kosciuk-Rowe ’81 are approaching their 29th year living in Annandale, Va. June marks 35 years since their wedding (they had 18 Wesleyan classmates with them that day in Meriden, Conn.). Will plans to be at our 40th Reunion.
This year Jennifer Boylan and her wife, Deirdre Finney Boylan ’82, celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary—12 as husband and wife, 19 as wife and wife. Their children are now in grad school and thriving. In 2019, after almost 30 years as a professional writer, Jennifer finally got a piece published in the New Yorker—“What ‘Peanuts’ Taught Me About Queer Identity,” (The comic strip’s lessons about unrequited love and self-acceptance.) Jennifer added that it was very cool, although she preferred her original title, “You’re Weird, Sir.”
Jenniferis in her fifth year as Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence and Professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University. This has Jennifer in New York from January to May each year, after which she returns to her home in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, where she continues to live with Deirdre. Her writing life continues too: she writes a column for the op/ed page of the New York Timesevery other Wednesday. Last year Jennifer published a novel, her first for adults since 1999, Long Black Veil. And next year, 2020 will see a new memoir, which is a kind of memoir of masculinity, centered around the seven dogs she owned during seven phases of her life pre-transition. The title is: GOOD BOY: A Life in Seven Dogs. Jennifer is already thinking about our 2020 Reunion and hope everyone is doing okay. She is sending love to all her classmates in Wesleyan 1980.
Okay, amazing graduating class of 1980—Freddi Wald, Jacquie McKenna, and Kim Selby have committed to work on our 40th Reunion and they welcome fellow ’80 alums to join in the planning. Please let Jacquie know if you’re interested in joining our reunion committee or the Class of 1980 contact at Wesleyan, Kate Lynch ’82. Kate’s contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org 860/685-5992.Kim suggested that all those who already are planning to come, think about the roommates, hallmates and others you may like to see in May 2020, contact those folks and start building a collection of groups who want to reunite!
Jacquie Shanberge McKenna | email@example.com