CLASS OF 1974 | 2021 | ISSUE 1

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Monique Witt reports, “My younger son Ben was just named among finalists, 2020 JazzTimes Poll for best new artist and best new instrumentalist, and Dev, my older, was just reviewed by Brian Bender (TapeOp) for his groundbreaking monitor technology, and EcMachina is doing well.  Who knew two attorneys would produce musicians?  I was assured ducks had ducks.  Steve is working way too hard from the family room chair, and I’m still working on book on aesthetic philosophy with running partner (curator at Cooper Hewitt), running early morning and booking three albums (all jazz, different formats) to record early July.”

 

Blaise Noto is still teaching at Barton College in North Carolina and still loving life in Chapel Hill.  Also, he has been active with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences serving on numerous committees including the Feature Animation and the International Film Nominating Committees for the Oscars, as well as the Student Academy Awards and Nichols Fellowship Awards for Screenwriting. 

 

Also, this year, he has been virtually interviewing applicants to Wesleyan not only in the USA but internationally from Moldova, Kathmandu, Moscow, China and Istanbul.  

 

Finally, he already received both COVID vaccinations thanks to the amazing efforts of Duke University Healthcare.  

 

Pat Mulcahy shares:  “Listed below is a little squib I did for a blog. I am really happy to have three projects coming out in one year–not the usual! The book business has weathered the pandemic in pretty good shape all things considered. And as someone who has long worked from home, I’ve been very fortunate. No vaccination yet–NYC is currently short of supply. I hope to get a slot at Citifield where the Mets play, which is supposed to operate 24/7. Not operational yet….

 

My neighborhood in Queens was the epicenter of the epicenter last March, a ghost town of screaming sirens. A year later, it is a very lively place, much more so than Manhattan. There are vendors on every street corner selling masks, kitchen appliances, arepas, tamales, and even toys. And the outdoor dining structures are packed with customers. Hope is in the air….now we just have to deal with the thirty people (is it that many??) running for mayor.   

 

2021 got off to a great start with the publication of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour (Houghton Mifflin), a first novel I reviewed back in 2019. This workplace satire in the format of a sales manual follows the path of a young Starbucks barista who transforms himself into a super salesman at a tech start-up. It attracted attention from the get-go, with a rave endorsement from Colson Whitehead, who called it “full of verve and dark, comic energy.” Soon it was a selection of Jenna Bush Hager’s Today Show book club. And on 1/17 it hit the New York Times bestseller list! Mateo made the ultimate sale….

 This April, Vertel Publishing will release a business memoir, Authentic, by the founder of the Vans shoe company, Paul Van Doren. I worked with ace editor Amanda Murray to integrate Paul’s business lessons with his personal narrative in this very American story of a high-school dropout from a blue-collar Boston family who worked his way up the ladder in the sneaker trade, wound up in cahoots with a crew of renegade skater kids in Southern California, and never looked back. A fascinating look at the making of an iconic American brand. 

In the fall, Mango Publishing will release Alex Amouyel’s The Answer is You: Creating a Life Full of Impact. Alex is the Executive Director of MIT’s Solve, an accelerator platform that supports innovators, inventors, and social impact entrepreneurs. Her guide is aimed primarily at millennials and GenZers who want to craft a life of purpose above all. I am her collaborator on this timely and vividly detailed book.” 

John McLucas’ second novel, Spirit’s Tether, the sequel to his debut novel Dialogues on the Beach (2017), came out in late 2020 from BrickHouse Books in Baltimore.  It continues the story 20+ years later, and explores issues like mourning, coming out, marriages gay and straight, attachments across the generations, the seasons of an academic career, and sex in maturity.  There is a lot of local Baltimore color, some trips to Italy, and music sacred and profane.  Ask for it at your favorite independent book store; it is also available, on paper or as an eBook, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites. 

 

Jonathan Weiss writes:  “I live in Andover, Mass. with my partner Bonny,  and work in the next town as an outpatient psychiatrist.  Currently doing all appointments by phone.  Things are busy, as you can imagine.  For fun I play guitar and sing, ski (except this winter,) and do puzzles.   My eldest Sam lives in Palo Alto,  and works as CTO for a startup called Instrumental. He and his wife Alice had a girl six weeks ago.  My father Herbert (Wesleyan ’48) died in October,  so I went quickly from being a son to a grandfather. My daughter Hannah (Wesleyan ’12)  lives in Australia, she is a citizen there and it’s a long flight to see her.  She loves it there.” 

 

The extended family of Scott Michael Karsten, of Glastonbury, is heartbroken to announce his passing on January 6, 2021. Scott was embarking on a Florida RV adventure to escape the New England winter when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. Scott was born to Harold J. Karsten, Jr. and Jayne Gourley Karsten on October 2, 1951 in Oklahoma City, OK. The eldest of four children, Scott was the lovable “sheriff” and instigator for his other siblings, and ungrudgingly assumed the role of surrogate father after the tragic and premature passing of his father at age 59. All knew that Scott’s occasionally tough and crusty demeanor belied a tender, loving, and generous heart. Scott’s formative years were spent free-range in the idyllic environs of Chagrin Falls, OH, where he, his close friends and often tag-along siblings terrorized the muskrats, bluegills, reptiles and amphibians of Paw Paw Lake. He competed in classical piano competitions, played Professor Henry Higgins in local youth musical theater, read constantly, and dabbled in taxidermy and fly-tying in his few spare moments. The family move to Westport in his early teens brought Scott to the state of Connecticut, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Scott was an all-star varsity football and wrestling athlete at Staples High School, earning the 1969 title of CT state heavyweight champion. He continued pursuit of his many passions as a student at Wesleyan University, where he was a member of the DKE fraternity. After college, Scott attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he was third in his class and graduated with honors. While attending law school, and wanting to deepen his personal understanding of the noble profession he was to later enter, he served as a police officer and president of the police union in West Hartford, CT. Scott began his law career with the firm of Day, Berry, and Howard, and went on to become partner in the firm of Sack, Spector, and Karsten. Before retiring, Scott was the founding partner of the Karsten & Tallberg law firm, from which he recently retired. His legal practice focused on jury trials of complex civil actions at both the state and federal levels, trying more than seventy cases to verdict or court judgment. His primary focus was on the defense of civil rights actions against state and municipal government employees and officials, education agencies and employees, public and private sector employment matters, and professional liability claims. He was a skillful, dedicated, and relentless representative for his various clients and brought his integrity and deep love for the rule of law to his practice. Ever the mentor, he frequently shared his insights as a speaker at continuing legal education seminars through his various bar associations. For over a decade, his peers repeatedly selected him as a New England and Connecticut “Super Lawyer”. He was a member of the Connecticut Bar, the Pennsylvania Bar, and was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Connecticut, Vermont and New York (Eastern and Southern), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, and was an emeritus of the Oliver Ellsworth Inn of Court. It was in law school that Scott met his future wife, Elizabeth (Beth) Alspach. They settled in Glastonbury and welcomed daughter Jules into their lives. Sadly, their romance and happy family togetherness was cut short as Beth courageously, but unsuccessfully, battled cancer, dying at age 41. Scott was a devoted single parent for many years after. A second marriage to Emely Karandy (of Gladwyne, PA) ended in divorce. Most recently, Scott found great love and happiness in his relationship with Gail Petersen. He embraced her children and grandchildren as his own, and in Scott they found a loving and engaged surrogate father and grandfather. Scott was a true Renaissance man, whose intellect, passion, and deep ethic infused all of his endeavors. He was an avid fisherman and hunter who was most at peace wading in a pristine trout stream, landing a bone fish in the Caribbean, or plucking a freshly acquired goose for New Year’s dinner. He was a skillful cook, a wicked card player, a smooth dancer, and a surprisingly effective karaoke singer – no doubt informed by his stint covering 1960s hits as an electric organ player in his high school band. He was an honorable leader who helped energize his friends, colleagues, family and the community. All that being said, Scott’s greatest passion was his devotion to family, and particularly to Jules. He was exceptionally proud of her and the creative, independent, young woman she has become. A dedicated and caring father and son, a loyal and supportive brother, uncle, grand-uncle, and partner, Scott was reliably available to provide advice, comfort, an occasional necessary scolding, or a haven for those needing a bed and a good meal for the night. His sense of humor was an extraordinary combination of wit, timing, intuition, and a genuine love of sharing a great laugh with those he cared about. Often it involved props of garbage bags, dead fish, strangely knitted caps, or whatever else he might have at hand. He cared deeply about those he loved, and was not afraid to show that, in fact, real men do shed tears – of joy, of sorrow, of genuine happiness, and of love. In addition to Jules, her fiancé Zach Burt-Axford and partner Ken Johnson, and Gail, Scott is survived by: his 96-year old mother, Jayne, of Annapolis, MD; sisters Tracey Karsten Farrell (Glenn) of Lafayette, CA and Jill Karsten (Rodey Batiza) of Eden Prairie, MN; brother Kurt Karsten (Michelle Smith) of Annapolis, MD; nieces and nephews Caitlin Echelbarger (Nick), Shannon Baskauskas (Brian), Devon Kufske (Brad), Travis Batiza (Alyssa Curlee), Conrad Karsten (Ali Hakusui), Nora Karsten (Chris Olsen), Emma Karsten, Garrett Karsten, Eric Batiza (Molly), Rodey Batiza (Anna Wang); great nieces and nephews Helen (7), Chase (4), Jack (2), Cole (7 months), Logan (9), and Kyle (6); and cousin Barbara Karsten Rose (John) and AJ. He is also survived by his “adopted” children and grandchildren: Andrew Petersen (Tory Beavens) of Sinking Spring, PA; Mark Petersen (Jesse Ramos) and their children Pamela and Audrey Petersen (of Glastonbury, CT), Emely and the Silverman children (Kirkley, Eddie, Molly, and Schuyler) and their families, as well as numerous dear friends. To paraphrase Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It, Scott was “very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Scott Karsten Scholarship Fund at Wesleyan University, newly established in his memory. Donation checks payable to “Kent Literary Club (DKE)” with “Scott Karsten Scholarship Fund” in the memo section should be mailed to: Kent Literary Club, 196 East Main Street, Suite C Box 352, Milford, MA 01757. A joyous celebration of Scott’s life will be scheduled for the Summer of 2021 once it is safe for everyone who loved him, to hug, dance, and laugh together, as we share stories about this remarkable man who touched so many lives, so deeply. 

 

Chris Moeller reports, “My family and I are well.  Like many others, we have tried our best to endure that last 12 months and avoid getting sick.  So far, so good.

 

Nearly all social activity stopped as of March, 2020 and we maintain
contact with friends primarily via Facebook, phone calls, and email. 
Fortunately for us, both of our children live in the Twin Cities, as does
my sister.  That way we do get to visit other humans now and then.

Last February our daughter gave birth to a daughter, Liselore.  So, we
are now happy grandparents of two grandchildren.  And, of course, we
are anxious to get vaccinated so we can see them more frequently.  Some
activities, like reading, cooking, and gardening go on at home.  We look
forward to resuming other activities, like folk-dancing, playing music and
visiting friends, once the pandemic subsides.” 

 

Steven Cutts writes,  “I’ve remained hunkered down here in Washington, D.C. — distressed by all of the security fencing downtown, tired of the monotony of the COVID restrictions, but healthy with one of two vaccinations in my arm as of mid-February.  Two-plus years into retirement, I have been very happy not to have had to teach remotely, but my wife and I have benefitted from (and been distracted by) learning in various online courses through our robust Osher Lifelong Learning Institute based at American University.   

I continue to find things to write songs about, and since May 2020 I’ve streamed four hour-long concerts of my original material from home on YouTube Live.  (Links to previous shows and announcement of future streamings are easily found at my website ThePrimeCutts.com.)   I’m grateful to a stalwart band of Class of ’74 friends who have tuned in to one or more of these evening entertainments.”

 

Sally Hernandez Pinero updates,  “I am currently a member of the Board of DireCroesus  of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation which oversees 13 public hospitals, 5 nursing homes and 20 community health centers in New York. I am also Chairperson of the MetroPlus Health Plan, a 600,000 member public managed health care plan in New York. Although housing development, financing and management were the focus of my career, I have found a second passion for health care.
I will forever cherish my time at Wesleyan. It was life transforming for me.
I am retired and live in Riverdale in the Bronx with my husband Hector. I am the proud mom of two wonderful young men, Justin and Eric.” 

Harold Sogard reminds us that our classmate Henry Willis was also once a contestant on Jeopardy but was somehow overlooked in Wesleyan’s news release about the many Wes contestants.

SHARON PURDIE | spurdie@wesleyan.edu