CLASS OF 1975 | 2016 | ISSUE 2

Be careful what you wish for . . .” the saying goes. You responded to my e-mail with 4,270 words for my 1,000-word column! So bear with me as I abridge some and delay other items for next issue.

I’m sorry to start with news that in March a sudden heart attack took our classmate, Alan Kraus. Alan was an outstanding business trial lawyer, most recently partner at Latham & Watkins in New Jersey. Charlie Stolper recalls, “I knew for years that Al and his family had a history of heart problems. Mary Anne, the high school sweetheart he married, and two sons, survive him. Al was a groomsman at my wedding and a close friend over the years. He was captain of the Wesleyan golf team and we enjoyed playing golf (despite him giving me 20 strokes per round). He is the first of my generation of close friends to die. I will miss him.” (Charlie recently moved to Austin, Texas, much to his surprise. Their son will be a professor of Computer Science at Southwestern University, so they said they left Boston to follow him.)

More life transitions: After 38 years, Tom Wheeler left software systems engineering to pursue writing and art. This spring he is driving cross-country. Tom’s wife, Sondra ’79, teaching at Wesley Theological Seminary, will take a 2016 sabbatical to finish writing three books. Tom plans to travel, including time living in Europe. Their oldest daughter and her husband are completing medical fellowships at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and raising a 3-year-old son. Their second daughter, her husband, and a year-old son are moving to western Massachusetts. Tom’s son edits commercial and political polls in DC.

Paul Bennett wrote during his first week of retirement from Chevron after 36 years that, “life is the same and good.” Married 30 years, he has two 20-something sons. Elsewhere in the oil patch, Bob Pristas, of Hillsborough, N.J., worked 27 years with ExxonMobil as a chemist specializing in industrial hygiene, Q.A., and business travel (41 countries). Bob, who golfs, gardens and travels now, has sons Tim, 33, and Jon, 31, and grandchildren, ages 3 and 5. Thanks to social media, Bob’s reconnected with ’75ers Rich Grayson (Hartford area podiatrist) and Mike Lehman (professor at University of Mississippi Medical Center), and Frank Bresnick. He’s also in touch with Pete Stack ’77 (Dallas physician) and Bruce Kaplan ’77 (music director at a theater in Chattanooga).

Arthur Gaither married Alfreda George ’74, and they have three adult children and three grandchildren. Arthur retired last year after 40 years working with retirement plans. “I spend days housekeeping, preparing meals, and babysitting, and I teach classes at church. For my next part-time career, I want to pastor a small Protestant church near Middletown.”

In 2007, Inara de Leon retired early from the NBC/WNBC news division after nearly 30 years. A great work “perk” was Inara’s meeting Todd Norbitz, her husband of 29 years, in the documentary unit at NBC right after she started. Inara now produces and writes TV stories for Consumer Reports’ video service that supplies content to local stations throughout the country. She also does corporate media training, speech writing, and related coaching. Inara and Todd have two grown children, both working in newsrooms: daughter Chiara at NY1 (marrying in June), and son Ben at WNBC. Inara writes, “I feel very close to Wesleyan still. My mother, Camilla, taught in the music department for many years until her death in the late ’90s.” She sees Marjie Melnick ’72 frequently, Stephen Policoff ’70, Joel Bernstein ’70 and Janet Biehl ’74 (who recently published a biography of social ecologist and anarchist philosopher Murray Bookchin). She is also in touch with Peter Stern ’72, Nat White ’72, Morgan Muir ’73, Michael Wolfe ’68, Scott Karsten ’74, and Peter Woodin ’71. She observes, “All those great guys seem to be taking the aging process in stride, or downright ignoring it. They are mostly still in the thick of their careers, though there is some talk of slowing down.” She also sees several early WesWomen—Claudia Catania ’74 (known for her Playing on Air radio series), June Anderson ’74, Naaz Hosseini ’74, Vicky Bijur, Pat Mulcahy ’74, Ellen Driscoll ’74, and Claire Gruppo, and Nina Jaffe ’76.

Jan Schwaner happily retired in 2013 after 30 years in pediatrics, stays busy visiting family (son, wife, and perfect 2-year-old granddaughter in Philadelphia; son and husband in NYC; father in DC), playing cello, attending chamber music camp, and giving tours at the Museum of Fine Arts to disabled visitors. Tim owns Westwood Duplicate Bridge Club and directs tournaments for the American Contract Bridge League. Jan sees Luann Semeraro Hanley every few months and Rachel Adler Hayes in nearby Massachusetts.

Wondering what happened to Jim Forster, whom we last saw in 1973? He transferred to Rutgers College of Engineering after sophomore year, but is back in touch. After working in NYC, and then years of Silicon Valley startups, he is semi-retired, but active with some projects in India and Kenya. Married twice, Jim has a 27-year-old son and enjoys traveling and sailing. He’d enjoy meeting anyone from the old days—find him on the net. Jim stays in touch with Knox Cummin. Knox writes he’s a new EMT for the volunteer fire department in Huntington, Vt. He recently started playing Scottish small pipes; his daughter Elizabeth is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence.

Other quick newsbites: Pam Swing’s and Marty Plotkin ’76’s son, Ben, will not graduate in May 2016, but a year later than previously reported. June Jeffries has a new granddaughter, Cathy Gorlin has a new grandson, and Jeff McChristian has a new son-in-law. Dave Rosenthal is moving from Baltimore to Buffalo. I’m saving the much appreciated news on Vinnie Broderick, Pat McQuillan, Ellen Remmer, Mike Minard, David Bickford, Amy Bloom, David Drake, Michael Hamburger, Larry Greenberg, Nancy Robinson Neff, David Lipton, Russ Munson, and Bob McNamara for next time.

Cynthia M. Ulman |

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