MARGARET E. ELKIND-VAN GELDER, an educator and counselor, died Jan. 30, 2014, at age 52. She received a master’s degree from the Bank Street College of Education. Survivors include her husband, Todd Van Gelder, two sons, her sister, and her brother.
Greetings, everyone. Sipping coffee at my kitchen table, looking outside at the daffodils and forsythia beginning to open, birds are singing in the background, and there is a pair of cardinals darting about the woods. Gonna spend the day in NYC with an old friend and kids are all doing well freshman year. Life is pretty good. Well, almost, —one gray cloud hovering, divorce. But, I recently got Reiki certified and am focusing on the positive energy. To that end, it is heartwarming as classmates continue to share their stories and thank me for compiling these notes. The truth is, I have to thank you…it’s wonderfully fun reading all the interesting paths everyone is on and catching up with former friends and acquaintances. Besides, it is easy…I just cut and paste (how did we ever survive with typewriters back in the ’80s?), and interweave a few connecting sentences to make it flow. Here now the news, which the editors have shortened to fit our allotted space. Please see the full notes at classnotes.blogs.wesleyan.edu/:
Children are a common theme. Marc Mowrey writes, “My son, Tennessee, graduates this spring and wife Susie and I will be in Middletown to see his senior thesis recital and again in May for graduation!” Mitch Plave shares, “My son, Aaron Plave ’15, is studying abroad this semester in Budapest at the Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT), which is a computer sciences program for very serious students and professors. Aaron is a computer science major at Wes.” Mitch looks forward to visiting Aaron in Budapest and adds daughter Leah is a freshman at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a thriving cellist. She received high honors on her recent boards, which confirms for her unbiased dad that she is extraordinary. Mitch’s legal practice as a banking regulatory attorney D.C. continues to interest and challenge him. Mitch is in touch with Liam Newberg, who does analytics for Anheuser-Busch in California and Beth Tractenberg, who focuses on complex estate planning matters as a partner in NYC at Katten Muchin, Rosenman.” Small world…because, I (Laurie) work with Beth’s dad, Paul Tractenberg ’60 at Rutgers and he is a Wes alumnus, too, and apparently a very good cyclist.
Keeping with the law theme: Todd Maybrown does trial work (mostly criminal defense) and teaches at the University of Washington Law School. His daughter is a first-year at Oberlin and a musician. Todd sees David Kauff who lives just down the block. Miriam Hiser celebrates 15 years of practice with her own law firm in San Francisco and spends her off time swimming in the San Francisco Bay. She did a relay English Channel Swim in 2011 and would enjoy hearing from other Wesleyan classmates. Karen Liepman joined the Office of Counsel at Arizona State University after 26 years in private practice of law. In her role, she assists ASU with intellectual property protection and complex transactions.
Back to kids: Ken Fuchs reports, “I am now closer to Wes than ever, as my son, Ike Fuchs ’17, is finishing up his freshman year. I returned to campus a few times during fall to watch him play for our amazing NESCAC and Little 3 Champion football team.” Ken is proud of Ike and our classmate Mike Whalen’s team! Ken attended Homecoming and got re-acquainted with many old friends, including Alan Dorsey, Glenn Duhl and Mark Armstrong, and hung with his siblings and cousin, Fred Fuchs ’77, Paula Fuchs ’78, Ike Fuchs ’17, Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer ’74 and Marni Pedorella ’90. I (Laurie, again) was fortunate to see Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, who happens to be my former babysitter, and her beautiful daughter when I last visited Wes, a few years back.
Ken Fuchs adds, “I’ve been working in production since graduation and I love my job as a television director. I am fortunate to work on three hit shows: The Bachelor/Bachelorette (29 seasons), Family Feud (13 seasons) and Shark Tank (6 seasons). It’s hard to believe I get to do something I love so much for a living and never had to grow up and get a real job.” Ken credits Wesleyan with helping him see the endless possibilities available in life. He has lived in Los Angeles since graduation and sees and works with Matt Ember, Laurie Sklarin Ember ’84, Murray Oden, and childhood friend Richard Saperstein.
Sharon and Michael Steinberg relate, “Our three daughters are now young adults: Hannah Steinberg ’16 attends Wes and her twin sister, Kayla, is a student at Macalester College in St. Paul. Our eldest, Davia, will attend the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit next fall. We are excited to have another psychologist in the family and to enjoy her company close to home.” Additionally, Sharon writes she has a thriving psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor and after leaving the University of Michigan, she co-founded Partners in Healing in 2011, which offers training and consultation for therapists who are interested in enhancing their emotional resonance with clients and in integrating psychodynamic and mind-body approaches in the treatment of trauma. Michael Steinberg shares, “In addition to my duties as legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, I am a visiting professor this semester at Wayne State University Law School, where I teach a civil rights clinic.” He also teaches public interest litigation at the University of Michigan Law School.
Michael Sommer and Taya Glotzer write: “Our son Adam, 22, is graduating from Duke in May with a double major in computer science and public policy, and will settle in DC working as a software engineer at a company called Appian. Our daughter, Carolyn, 20, is a junior at the University of Michigan and in Rome for a semester.” Taya practices electrophysiology in northern New Jersey and New York, and conducts research and writes for the Heart Rhythm Society, a national organization for the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Michael practices law at Wilson, Sonsini in NYC.
Holly Gruskay is raising two busy teenagers on her own in Westchester…and this school year her company partnered with a major Wall Street firm to start a FIRST Robotics team at the local high school. Both her kids are getting turned on to engineering, as are the other 20 in the club. In April the team competes at the Javits Center in NYC where Holly is one of the program emcees.
In addition to raising families, classmates have pursued a host of fascinating career paths and are award winners in diverse “spaces”: Ken Schneyer is nominated for the Nebula Award for his short story “Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer.” The story originally appeared in the anthology Clockwork Phoenix 4, and has since been translated into Chinese and read aloud on a podcast. Ken is also chair of a university speaker series that lets him chat with fascinating people. His wife, Janice Okoomian, teaches gender and women’s studies at Rhode Island College; daughter Phoebe Schneyer Okoomian is choosing among several colleges for the fall; son Arek Okoomian Schneyer is acting, writing, and taking a deep breath before the start of 9th grade.
Nancy Rommelmann writes that her e-book, “Going to Gacy: A cross-country journey to shake the devil’s hand”, about a trip she took to interview the serial killer John Wayne Gacy before his execution, will be released in May 2014. She is working on her next book, “To the Bridge” about a filicide in Portland, Ore., and she writes book reviews for the Wall Street Journal. Keeping with the author theme, Pat Roth’s recently published book, The End of Back Pain, came out in April 2014.
Alice Jankell is the creative director of FAB (For, About and By) Women, a theater company under the Off-Broadway umbrella of The Barrow Group in NYC. The company is 100 women strong, all professional actors, directors and writers, ranging in age from the 20s to 70s. Janet Lambert Preston entered the workforce again and teaches at Unity College in Maine. She and husband David Preston ’81 are celebrating their 28th anniversary and have two children, Elizabeth, 22, and Richard, 17. The Preston family enjoys life on China Lake—especially in the summer! Karen Adair Miller, resides in Lake Placid, N.Y., home to a number of Sochi medalists and enjoyed the town’s giant parade honoring all the winter bobsled, luge, skeleton, alpine/nordic skiing, biathlon, and snowboarding athletes.
Carl Sundberg works in Fukushima, Japan, on a cloud-computing start-up, “Smart Technology Partners,” that predates the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters by several months. His idea had been to de-centralize Japan’s computing infrastructure from its over-concentration in the Tokyo earthquake/volcano risk area. Little did he think he was walking into a more immediate and global disaster! Carl writes working with the refugees and helping them to find new careers has been rewarding even if the business plan execution has had its set-backs. Carl is recycling abandoned elementary schools that were closed due to rural aging and de-population trends and refurbishes them cheaply to use renewable energy and air cooling to reduce the overall cost of the computing infrastructure as well as to create local, sustainable jobs. He adds, “The liberal side of a Wesleyan education obviously weathered a long career in banking as a CIO and is emerging intact if slightly aged!” Go, Carl!
Helen J.C. Uddoh Matausch is president and chief operations officer for Infinilytics— an analytics company based in Silicon Valley, Fremont, and Canada. She and her husband reside in Sonoma County, an hour outside of San Francisco. Hey, Helen, we were roommates sophomore year, so when I visit my daughter at Berkeley next year, may I take a side trip?) According to Bob Gordon, other West Coasters, “Bruce Glassman and Tracy Hughes are now empty-nesters. Son Nate studies film at NYU, and daughter Emma studies communications in the honors program at Emerson in Boston. Bruce publishes books in the food industry (chef bios, cookbooks, and the like), and is something of a local celebrity in San Diego’s craft beer industry (having written the leading guide). Tracy is a successful clinical psychologist.” Bob Gordon’s other news: Brad Galer is married to Lele Herron Galer for 25 years. They live in Pennsylvania and own an award-winning winery: Galer Estates. Chuck Schneider ’84, a highly regarded oncologist in Pennsylvania, writes fiction (check out A Portrait in Time—it’s terrific) and travels the world with soon-to-be wife, Dessi.
Notably, many of our classmates have pursued careers in education, including yours truly. I continue to conduct research at Rutgers on education reform. My latest endeavor is to map education (PreK-12 and post-secondary) and work force attachment which requires lots of state and federal agencies to cooperate and share data, which is easier said than done. Mark Kushner and wife Dr. Mimi Winsberg reside in San Francisco and have two wonderful kids (Kyra, 11, and Tor, 8)! He teaches at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Graduate School of Education, and is opening cutting-edge high tech “blended” preK-12th grade charter schools in a number of states and D.C. Marc is always looking for Wesleyan educator talent (e-mail him with résumés at firstname.lastname@example.org) and he recently saw fellow Wesleyaners in D.C., including Ben Binswanger, Billy Weinreb, Lisa Goodman, Akiva Goldsman, Ted Kennedy, and Scott Pearson ’84.
Susanna Sharpe is the communications coordinator at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and Benson Latin American Collection (aka LLILAS Benson) at the University of Texas at Austin. The Benson houses the largest collection of books, publications, and archives from Latin America outside of the Library of Congress and the institute offers interdisciplinary degrees in Latin American studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as scholarly exchanges. Susanna continues to perform Brazilian music in Austin. Eileen Kelly-Aguirre works at The Gunnery, a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9–12/PG. Eileen heads up the strategic partnerships and global/summer program development. She had a great time at last year’s Reunion with Eclectic residents (absolutely delightful reunion buds), as well as with dear friends Cindy Robinson, Rick Velleu, Alice Jankell and Bennett Heart. Diagnosed with colon cancer last June, Eileen was declared disease free a few weeks ago. She would love to reconnect with more classmates via Facebook. On behalf of the class, I wish you continued health and strength, Eileen.
I have so gone over my space allotment. Forgive me if I did not include your information; I’ll add it to the next issue. Until then, Namaste.
LAURIE COHEN | email@example.com
I write this sitting at my kitchen table on the first cold night in mid-November. The house is suddenly very quiet ever since my trio started college in the fall. Realizing my kids would soon leave the nest, I threw my hat in the ring last spring and offered to be class secretary; I figured I would have some free time. I must admit, being an empty nester is quite nice. Yes, I miss the kids and the hustle-bustle, but it is rather nice going to the supermarket every two weeks and having a clean house. Besides, only 16 more days until Thanksgiving…but I’m not counting! Professionally, I’ve returned to my Wes roots for a PhD in sociology, have been working at Rutgers University, the School of Public Affairs and Administration, conducting research on urban education and school reform, and am writing a dissertation. What was I saying about free time? Here now, the news:
George Russell writes: “I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with my partner, Dave, and my dog, Buck. I do bodywork, movement analysis, teaching and chiropractic in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. In July 2013, I directed a dance/theater version of a play by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin called Savage/Love. It was produced by a performance space called HERE in Soho, and performed by De Facto Dance, which included Meg Fry ’91 and Kelly Donovan ’93.” George adds he recently saw Heather Masri, who works at NYU and is writing a book on science fiction writers; Carol Einhorn ’84 and her son, Griffin, age 5; and Melissa Wood, who teaches art at the Kent Place School in Summit, N. J.
Lee Hass reports she moved to Tasmania in 1993 and runs a nonprofit, Future Tasmanai, which works to help transition Tasmania towards a sustainable future, economically, environmentally, and socially. Kirsten Wasson has been transplanted, too. Kirsten has run away from upstate New York to the City of Angels and has landed in Beverly Hills. She works at a juice bar, seeking fame and misadventure. Kirsten’s son is also in Southern California and both are available for life-crisis consultation. Former class secretary, Cheri Litton Weiss, is also on the West Coast. Cheri recently enrolled in a graduate program in cantorial studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and continues to be the broker/owner of a real estate firm, Top Coast Properties.
Back to the East Coast: Jonathan Chatinover is the swim coach for the Martha’s Vineyard High School co-ed swim team and Craig Edwards, married to Mary K. Bercaw, lives in Mystic, Conn. Craig continues to perform, tour, and teach music (private fiddle lessons at Wes) when he is not developing exhibits and soundscapes for the Ellis Island, Lyman Allyn, and Mystic Seaport museums. David Frankfurter and Anath Golomb live in Durham, N.H., with their dog, Sadie. David is chair of the Boston University’s Religion department and Anath maintains her private psychotherapy practice in Portsmouth. Their daughter, Sariel, is in her second year at Columbia and their son, Raphael, graduated from Princeton last year and is the executive director of Wellbody Alliance, an NGO based in Sierra Leone.
Pam Dolin Mitamura shares that her oldest daughter is a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, the middle one is a sophomore at Vassar, and the youngest daughter is a senior, applying to college. On behalf of the class of ’83, I want to express our condolences to Pam on the passing of her mother last year.
Also, our condolences to Kate Rabinowitz and Rameshwar Das ’69 on the tragic death of their 14-year-old daughter, Anna Mirabai Lytton. The full obituary can be found here. May their memories forever be a blessing in your lives. Kate wrote: “This year is beginning a new life, after the death of our 14-year-old daughter this summer from a tragic bicycle accident. Rameshwar Das ’69 and I have two children, James, 16, and Anna, 14. It is the greatest loss, as she was the greatest girl. She was the joy of all of us, smart and funny and independent and creative, beautiful and ‘better’ than her parents…she got the best of us, and took it much further. In her brief life, she lived in a beautiful oceanside retreat near New York City, traveled to India, Italy, England, Scotland, Canada, and all over the US. She experienced city life and the wilderness through the farm and wilderness camps in Vermont, camping with her family, and adventuring all over the West. What a gift that she had so much experience and joy to live and share. It is not for any of us to know how long we are to live.
We miss our dear Anna more than words can say.
A foundation has been established in her name that promotes arts and wellness programs for underserved populations in schools and community centers. Contributions can be made to Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation, PO Box 625, Amagansett, N.Y. 11930.”
Thank you to everyone who sent me information for these Class Notes and/or a private e-mail to catch up. I’ve enjoyed checking e-mails these last few weeks and reconnecting with Wes folk. Until the next installment…stay in touch.
ROBINSON K. NOTTINGHAM JR., 46, an attorney who founded a residential real estate firm in Washington, D.C., and in Palm Beach County, Fla., died July 18, 2007. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and practiced law in New York and in the District of Columbia for 12 years, including seven years as a prosecutor in the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division. He is survived by his parents; one brother, Charles D. Nottingham ’89; and two nephews.
WILLIAM H. DAUGHERTY JR., a pharmaceutical consultant, died July 5, 2010. He was 49 and had most recently worked for CIGNA in Tennessee. Among those who survive are his wife, Laura Lamb Daugherty, his mother, his daughter, two aunts, and many cousins.
RICHARD Q. BENSON, 47, died Sept. 16, 2008. An economics major, he had worked in sales. Among those who survive are his parents, two brothers, four sisters, and several nieces and nephews.