CLASS OF 1959 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Your scribes for the Great Class of ’59 offer this poem by Henry Longfellow, written on the occasion of his 50th Reunion at Bowdoin in 1825.

“Ah, nothing is too late

Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.

Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles

Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides

Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,

When each had number more than fourscore years,

And Theophrastus, ‘Characters of Men.’

Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales,

At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;

Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last,

Completed Faust when eighty years were past,

These are indeed exceptions; but they show

How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow

Into the arctic regions of our lives,

Where little else than life itself survives…”

Cato learned Greek at 80! So, what have we all been doing?

Bonnie and Bob Waterhouse report on their “last Big Adventure” having moved from Massachusetts to Venice, Fla., and “love it.” Good people, great beaches, and an afternoon alligator. They stay in touch with Bob Mann and Herb Steiner.

Joe Vander Veer has found the antidote to today’s discouraging political year: The arrival of two great-grandchildren. They seem unfazed by gridlock and the rest.

Steve Kaplan reports continued traveling, some brought about by providing expert testimony to the federal judiciary. Will be attending graduations of grandchildren from Clark and Barnard just before our Reunion.

Don Hinman wrote: “The deaths of classmates Ernie Dunn and Doug Bennet have brought back some vivid memories of the late ’50s. Doug was the president of AXP and sent Ernie and me to the AXP National Fraternity meeting in Buck Hills Falls, Pa., to ask them to include others than white Christians in the brotherhood. The Inn at Buck Hills Falls did not know quite what to do when Ernie and I arrived at the front desk. I was astonished, naive enough, I guess, to think that all college people were like our colleagues at Wesleyan. Ernie knew better, I think. We were essentially ostracized by most attendees. Allegheny and Dartmouth were the only sympathetic attendees. Doug would have been a better representative, but he, too, would have failed, in spite of his eloquence and logic. I admired Ernie for his courage and calmness throughout it all. Both are to be much honored by all of us . . . for supporting our stand.”

Bob Czepiel wrote in a note to Tom McHugh that he planned to attend Reunion! “Should be particularly interesting to look back over 80 years and reflect on the importance of a Wesleyan education has had on all our lives. Eleven years ago, in 2008, I spent a considerable time on campus producing a video, 50: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same, as part of a film class I took at Wesleyan.

“Surprisingly, only a few things had changed: Women, of course, the PC/cell phone phenomena, and some modern buildings. The student body’s personality, education process, and faculty were much the same as when we were in Clark and the Beta House years ago.”

Cyndy and John Spurdle spent six weeks in London over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. The highlight was a week together with daughter Meg ’86 and her English husband, Giles, and grandchildren, Nick, 18, and Maud, 17. Lots of great music (the highlight was the carol service at the Royal Hospital Chapel),ß fun theater including a rollicking “pantomime” of Sleeping Beauty, and a good old Don Quixote. Attended the London Library Christmas party hosted by our new honorary president, Sir Tim Rice.

Weg Thomas is continues to produce some wonderful photographs of the season.

Dick Wenner reported on a recent trip to Europe. “The first week was spent on a cruise from Paris to Normandy (and the cemetery) and back. The second was a week on the road in Switzerland with my son and 16-year-old grandson. The second week ended with a family reunion of some 150 Swiss and 25 American relatives, including all seven of my descendants. All in all, quite an experience for one who thought he would never see foreign shores again!”

Dick Cadigan urges all of our classmates to make it back for the 60th. “I truly hope that as many as possible will return for our 60th. Sixty-four years of contact and friendships is a bit staggering to think about. I have been to every Reunion of our class since the 15th (nine in all). I have always come away with joy, and a deep appreciation for our classmates and Wesleyan.”

Wolfram Thiemann is also planning to attend Reunion from Bremen, Germany. He writes, “”Since I have long been formally retired from active teaching Physical Chemistry at the University of Bremen/Germany I have been busy since in teaching abroad, sharing exciting research projects, visiting conferences, and reviewing doctoral theses and scientific manuscripts submitted to various peer-reviewed international journals. About once a year I have been invited by either some universities in Maharashtra/India to deliver lectures on various topics in environmental issues and space research, or by some academic institutes in China, in particular by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Peking to contribute to specific research subjects in Bioanalytical Chemistry. My most challenging research project, named ROSETTA-PHILAE, was the active participation of a soft landing of a probe on a comet (called Churymosov-Gerasimenko) carrying an analytical instrument developed in our laboratory to search for prebiological organic matter on the comet’s surface, – of course I was only one out of a number of researchers sponsored by the European Space Agency, yet one who was privileged to have contributed to one of the central experiments searching for the origins of life on Earth and in the Universe. Imagine the enthusiastic excitement in our team when the news came through that our lander has in December 2014 finally arrived safely on the tiny (its size is roughly 2 x 3 km!) comet’s surface after a 10-years-journey through space.

“Privately I (together with my wife, Wen, born in China) have been lucky to enjoy the fact that my two daughters, one adopted son, and four lovely grandkids are living not too far from Bremen, and that we have met regularly with a huge number of cousins within Germany.

“Looking forward to this great chance of seeing some of my classmates again, at the very site where I learned so much from Wesleyan which inspired all my life.”

On a sad note, Betsy Lindgren wrote that her father, David Larson, passed away suddenly on Dec. 20. Dick Goldman ’58 reported that Wayne Fillback’s wife, Mary Ellen, died recently. Wayne was part of the Deerfield gang who spent two years with our class and transferred to Colby.

Alan Dieffenbach passed away shortly before his 82nd birthday. After earning an MAT at Oberlin, and an early career as a smoke jumper, he taught secondary school in Salt Lake City and New York State. He volunteered for the Peace Corps in Nepal in 1964 and spent considerable time there on the Peace Corps staff while trying to climb extremely difficult mountains in his spare time. After moving back to Providence, the Dieffenbachs left to work on a water project in Yemen for a year, ending up eventually in Brattleboro, Vt., owning the Upper Crust Bakery! Our thoughts are with his family.

Skip Silloway |; 801/532-4311 

John Spurdle |; 212/644-4858