We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we danced, we told stories and said things about ourselves not said before—in short, it was an extraordinary Reunion!
Many thanks to the committee who put it all together and to the 93 classmates—a 50th Reunion attendance record—who returned to our beloved campus.
The university honored a number of our own:
Hugh Wilson: Distinguished Alumnus Award for his remarkable achievements as a mathematician, philosopher, biologist, chemist, physicist, researcher and professor.
Mark Edmiston: Outstanding Service Award for his many years of service to Wesleyan as a trustee and alumni association leader.
Rob Abel, Don Crampton, and John Hall: Wesleyan Service Award for sustained service to the college as fundraisers, alumni club leaders, donors and admission volunteers.
Joseph’s Robe, the ’65 award for meritorious service to the class, was presented to: Gary and the Wombats (John Dunton, Steve Flance, Brooke Jones ’64, Leon Robinette ’64 and Richard Smith), and to Reunion juggernauts Dave Dinwoodey and Bob Barton. (To further sway the judges’ votes in their favor, The Wombats put on a spirited performance on Friday night and we all danced like it was 1965 once again!)
The festivities, which began on Thursday, featured a nice mix of seminars, time for socializing and sports (some of us played golf, tennis, and basketball), and space in the schedule just to relax and walk the expanded and beautiful campus. We also had three enjoyable banquets: a Kickoff Reception/Dinner on Thursday evening; the President’s Reception/Dinner in our honor on Friday, featuring Michael Roth’s ’78 remarks on the state of the University and his vision for its future; and Saturday’s celebratory Class Dinner with Professors Anne and Nathaniel Greene, and Wendy and Karl Scheibe; Coach Don Russell and his son, Andy; long-time administrator John Driscoll ’62 and his wife Gina; and special guest, Linda Burton, widow of Mike Burton.
Seminars and panels featuring the ’65 family included: “Butterfield 2020” organized by Bob Barton, which explored the reasons Wesleyan went from one of the wealthiest colleges in the country to the verge of financial crisis in the 10 years after we graduated.
“Our Times” was an interactive discussion among classmates moderated by Tony Schuman concerning the turmoil of the ’60s—the civil rights movement, Vietnam, the social revolution—and its influence on our lives.
“Skills for the New Economy,” a WESeminar organized by Kirt Mead examined the skills that Wesleyan grads will need in a new economy dominated by technology and rapid change. Presenters included Kirt, who consults throughout the United States and Europe on business leadership and strategic planning, and Molly Barton ’00 (Bob’s daughter), who is a leader in digital publishing.
“Architect as Artisan and Community Activist,” was a WESeminar presented by Steve Badanes regarding his decades of work in community-based architecture and design. Steve is a noted speaker, author, itinerant designer/builder and the Howard S. Wright Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington.
“Global Warming: What the World’s Climate Scientists and Policy Leaders Now Know, Fear, Hope and Plan,” moderated by Bill Blakemore, featured classmate Jerry Melillo, along with Wes Professor Gary Yohe, a leading climate-impact economist. Bill began writing about global warming for ABC News in 2004, and Jerry chaired all three government National Climate Assessments and served as environmental adviser to the President.
(In this regard, a number of classmates attended an informal meeting afterward to discuss ways to encourage University initiatives, such as focusing endowment investments in cleaner energy rather than fossil fuel companies. For more information, please contact Woody Sayre; Robert.Sayre@u-pem.fr
Another major highlight were the three “’65 WesShorts” sessions designed for classmates—scripted or not—to speak briefly about their lives, professions, passions, families, and reflections on their Wesleyan experience. They were organized and moderated by Bob Barton, Hugh Wilson and Tony Schuman and were extremely varied and entertaining. (Most of them were filmed and will be available to the class online—details to be announced.)
Ron Young came back and spoke several times with eloquence and passion. Ron left Wesleyan to pursue a career in civil rights, world peace, religion, and education. He developed a lifelong relationship with Professor John Maguire and met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on numerous occasions. Here are excerpts from a message he sent to the class following the Reunion: “Warm thanks for welcoming me in the class, despite my not graduating until 1986…. Connecting and reconnecting with many of you, experiencing Wesleyan’s wonderfully diverse community, learning in the Wes Seminars…. listening to the WesShorts…were incredible and very emotional for me. Reading the Remembrances about guys I knew and others I didn’t brought tears…
“Given how significantly my taking off from Wesleyan affected my life, I don’t regret what I did, but I do have a much deeper personal appreciation for what I missed.”
Ron wrote a memoir concerning his work in support of civil rights, opposition to the Vietnam War and efforts to foster peace among Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, entitled Crossing Boundaries in the Americas, Vietnam and the Middle East.
In addition to the Reunion committee, individual kudos to: Rob Abel and Bob Barton for producing a marvelous 50th Reunion class book;
David Dinwoodey, editor, and the many contributors for their efforts in putting together the touching Remembrances booklet containing personal memories of deceased classmates;
Don Crampton for his tireless and long-time work on the class’s support of the Wesleyan Fund and his committee, for their efforts, as well;
Hal Gorman, Bill Knox, Mike Maloney and Hugh Wilson for their donations of some truly fine wine for our enjoyment throughout the weekend;
Peter Kelman, expert in Web communications, who spearheaded the critical effort to locate lost classmates and to urge all to attend.
Now, thanks to Peter’s ongoing wizardry, coupled with Bob Barton’s wes65stories website, we are well-positioned to build on the relationships renewed and begun at our 50th. And, later this summer, all of us will receive the Class Book Addendum, and those who missed Reunion will also receive the tribute to deceased classmates and Peter Whiteley’s fabulous ’60s CD. (Thank you, Peter! I listen to it all the time!)
This will not be our last class gathering or Reunion! We have a great opportunity to continue to make new friendships, renew old ones and engage each other in beneficial ways for years to come. So, save Nov. 6–7 (Homecoming), the dates for our next get together. Details to follow!