Dear classmates, thanks to all of you who joined Michael and me at our first Class Notes Live. Special thanks to talented performers Bill Anschell, Steve Budd, Ron Mendelsohn, Jeannie Gagné, Beck Lee, Ginny Pye, and Danielle Rudess’s husband, Jordan Rudess. Happy 60th, all!
Not surprisingly, news has been a little scant. We’re all Zooming with friends, watching the roots of our hair grow, cooking, drinking too much, and maybe reading that pile of books by the bed.
But a few updates: Suzanne Kay has been in New York. “Many of my friends are working on the front lines helping the black and brown communities of this city, which are hardest hit, the epicenter of the epicenter.” Last October, Suzanne’s mother, Diahann Carroll died. “She was a pioneer in the entertainment industry as a black woman. I held a beautiful memorial for her at the Helen Hayes Theater with dear friends like Lenny Kravitz, Cicely Tyson, and Laurence Fishburne.” Suzanne is working on a memoir, as well as a documentary of her mother’s life, “based on both her personal journey and the historical times in which she lived, from the civil rights movement through the Sexual Revolution all the way up to our first black president.”
Susan Bodnar has also been in New York and recovered from likely COVID. She and her husband have been sheltering with her daughter, a sophomore at Northwestern; their son, a rising senior at UChicago, is fresh off the Buttigieg campaign and sheltering in Iowa with campaign friends. “It feels weirdly normal, but some days I’m hit with the rush of how abnormal and crazy this all is.” She is working clinically via Zoom, trying to keep sadness and loss at bay. So glad you recovered, Susan.
Stephen Daniel responded to the pandemic by setting up the Chatham Impact Fund to help local families. Chatham is a resort town, the type turning away cars with out-of-state plates. Stephen had a different idea: Why not start an emergency relief fund to help local people, and finance it with donations from summer people? He and his wife, Mary Beth, seeded the fund, which raised over $270K in two weeks, dispensing grants to residents in need. Stephen has been having Zoomtails every Saturday night with Alex Thomson, John Mooney, Peter Frisch, Kevin Foley, Bruce Crain, Dan Hillman, Jack Taylor, and their wives and children who are all friends.
(I glimpsed Peter Frisch when I crashed a Zoomtail party with my husband, Peter Eckart’s [’86] class, and spied another ’82 lurker there, Beck Lee. Nice to see all those faces!) Meanwhile, Bob Russo has been doing the Hollywood Squares thing with John Brautigam, Joe Barrett, Nettie ’84 and Mike Greenstein, Steve Davies ’82 and Laurie McFarlane, Anthony Pahigian, Tom Davis, Mike Levine, and Mark Sirota.
Lyndon Tretter celebrated his 60th birthday via a Zoom cocktail party with Mike Plotnick, Vin Bonazzoli, and Fran Hack and their respective spouses. Lyndon’s daughter, Rachel Tretter ’12, helped curate the online party with photos of the birthday boy over time streamed to the tune of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.” Lyndon noted that the juxtaposition of the video montage with live, present-day images of himself and his William Street 10-man suitemates “neatly and poignantly drove home the ravages of age.” Thanks for that.
Susan Budlong Cole ’82, MALS ’97, an Etherington scholar who graduated with us at the age of 42, has been retired for 16 years, but secured a part-time position in finance (after a 25-year career in substance abuse prevention and treatment, 16 of them as a volunteer teacher with author Wally Lamb at York Correctional Institution in Niantic). “Of all the things I miss during this crisis while being ‘locked down,’ it is the women’s prison and the remarkable and talented women there with whom we have forged bonds.” She says a number of the women participating in their writers’ workshop also participate with the Wesleyan college behind bars program.
Kweku Forstall’s youngest daughter, Cailey, married Caleb Rash in Kannapolis, N.C., on Jan. 4. Joining her and her family at the celebration were members of their WESU Crew from the Class of ’82: Ron Comrie (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), John Johnson Jr. (Far Rockaway, N.Y.), Cheryl Stevens (Oakland, Calif.), and via WhatsApp, Nasser Ega-Musa, class president (Nairobi, Kenya). Nasser is the director of the United Nations Information Centre in Nairobi.
Matthew Capece is spending his time at home fulfilling a lifelong dream assembling a woodworking shop in the basement when he’s not working for the carpenters’ union from his laptop.
Weirdly, I got my first full-time job ever during the pandemic as a “wordsmith,” working with MacArthur fellow Saul Griffith, a physicist and inventor, helping him to write about climate change, so that feels useful. How great would it be if we could keep these clear skies and clean air after COVID by switching to a decarbonized economy? Meantime, Peter and I are riding electric bikes and don’t care if anyone thinks it’s cheating. They flatten the curves in San Francisco.
Cheers to all of you.
Laura Fraser | firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Ostacher | email@example.com