May-June Reunion 2002
Kirkpatrick MacDonald, Secretary
114 W. 78th Street, New York, NY 10024
E-Mail: Kirkpatrick MacDonald
Al Chambers, Corresponding Secretary
2421 Powell Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
E-Mail: Al Chambers
It was the largest Yale 40th Reunion turnout in history, some 200 classmates accompanied by about 80 wives or partners. (See October column for update)
Most important was the outpouring of friendship and goodwill towards each other and gratitude to Yale. The class clearly shares a sense of trust and confidence in each other - 61-year olds enjoying each other's company and forging new friendships.
Important change is taking place for almost everyone. Many attendees commented that they felt better about their classmates and the tenor of this event than earlier reunions. Some called the tone mellow or noted that the status seeking and pretense of earlier gatherings was muted.
The Reunion was a nifty mix of walks down memorable lanes and conversations about joys, transformations, learning and challenges that we all are experiencing. Discussions jumped seamlessly from the first days at Yale in 1958 to the success of today's University; from careers to retirement, from children to grandchildren or the blessings of good health versus recognition of our own mortality and the memory of our classmates who have died.
Jim Litvack (Princeton, NJ) did a superb job organizing the weekend. There was a rich program but also plenty of free time for relaxed conversation and renewal. Jim has agreed to serve as our new class treasurer. Thanks to his Yale roommate Roman Weil (Chicago) for so many years of dedicated service.
President Rick Levin told us how well the University was doing in meeting both its academic and structural goals. Plans call for continuing expenditures of more than $300M annually for infrastructure improvement. Our thanks go to Steve Danetz (New York City) and Doug Charles (Elyria, OH) who ably chaired the class gift campaign, which raised more then $10M. That announcement brought cheers and surprise from the crowd.
The Yale '62 Art Exhibition -Silent Auction, was organized and managed by Steve Rose (Indiana, PA). Fortunate bidders took home original works by classmates with all proceeds going to Yale. Former E.P.A. Director Bill Reilly (San Francisco), responded to Gaddis Smith's comments on "What was in the Water in New Haven?: Why Yalies from the 1960's Rule the Country" -four of the past six Presidents plus long lists of cabinets officers, senators, ambassadors, etc. Reilly said he was disappointed to hear it was not the water, since that is now his business..
There were good turnouts for Rob Irving's (Avon, CT) personal tours of the newly renovated Yale Center for British Art.
The Class of 1962 Review organized by David Honneus (Brewster, NY) was a highlight. Man of many voices Phil Proctor (Beverly Hills) dazzled the crowd with a monologue, and then joined Honneus in a purely humorous update to our 35th Reunion Class Survey. Bill Stott, (Austin) attending his first reunion offered one of his well-delivered "depressing odes". Off-stage, Bill was one of many who spoke about being glad to "emotionally reconnect" with Yale. Class wives led by Jill Scharff in an uproarious original ditty, the zesty lyrics of which can now be found on our web site. The delightful program climaxed with the Whiffenpoofs running through a variety of their favorites, ably led by John Stewart (St. Louis) filling in as pitch pipe. Remarkably, 11 of the 13 were present. Following the scheduled program, almost everyone returned to the Jonathan Edwards Common Room for group singing led by the Whiffs. The next day, our Whiffenpoofs joined other Reunion musical groups at Woolsley Hall in a program, which again showed the strength of the music tradition at Yale. Most of us thought they stole the show.
Saturday afternoon was reserved for our own distinguished speakers. Renowned architect and city planner Alex Garvin (New York City) identified himself as a populist while sharing his own ideas and concerns about "Rebuilding Ground Zero" before a packed house in the Art Gallery Lecture Hall. He declared he "wanted his city back" but responded gracefully when an unidentified woman in the audience noted it was just a "piece of the city" that had been attacked. David Scharff (Chevy Chase, MD) and Kent Ravenscroft (Washington D.C.) partnered to explain their model for teaching psychotherapy. Benjamin Zucker (New York City) guided a group through the intricacies of his unique Talmudic Novels and also explained the unusual story of how "Blue" and "Green" had been written and published. Wine enthusiast Roman Weil (Chicago) shared his theories and data about Reserve and regular wines with a group of about 30 tasters.
Steve Susman (Houston) hosted a special cocktail reception at the Center for Jewish Life. Joe Holmes (Norwalk, CT) Swing Band played for the class during the dinner dance back at JE. John Fisher (Orlando), called the Whiffs back to the stage and realized a dream singing with the group along with a couple of dozen other classmates to wrap up a beautiful evening.
An exciting program and great weather help, but it is the people and the attitude they bring with them to New Haven that most determines a successful reunion.
Bob Breault (Tucson) said that he was so pleased and proud to be back at Yale that he called his wife on his cell phone during the class singing so that she could share the experience. John Knutson ((Birmingham, MI) was one of several recent retirees already devoting energy and time to community service. Jim White (Washington D.C.) promised new cards and e-mail addresses when he retires June 30 from the Department of Energy. Porter Knowles (Overland Park, KS) is still paying college expenses but was interested in how many classmates seemed to be seeking new meaning in their lives. Bill Rope (Washington D.C.) has become an elementary teacher in the inner city after completing more than 30 years with State Department. Roscoe Sandlin, (Lenox, MA) also served in the Foreign Service but now in a fourth career has become a country lawyer, which is what he says he always wanted to be.
Charles Merlis (Boulder, CO) said he felt more comfortable with our class than with the class of 1972 with whom he graduated. His experience offered an unusual perspective about Yale and change.
Bill Boyer (Cleveland) commented that he had done well focusing his career on things but often wished he had more chance to think and write about ideas. Writers in the same discussion said they sometimes wished they could have worked with more concrete products.
Roger Lauer (Bangkok), who is a psychiatrist for the State Department covering Southeast Asia, and wife Brenda came the furthest for the Reunion. He was seen talking global Freudian shop with Fred Ilfeld (Lake Tahoe, CA) Kent Ravenscroft and David Scharff. Charles Eisendrath (Ann Arbor, MI) and wife Julia probably won "the latest decision to attend the reunion award" changing their minds on Friday.
Arnold Lopez-Cepero (Austin), Kent Hughes (Washington D.C). and Chris Snow (Bainbridge Island, WA) were locked in serious discussion about the Kashmir problem and other global policy issues. Steve Buck's (Bethesda, MD) posed a challenging question in the excellent faculty lecture session on "Doctor-Patient Relationships in Today's World."
Serious wine drinker Michael DeHavenon (New York City) admitted he was puzzled by some of the wines in the class taste experiment.. One class with three Wheelers and they were all present. Artist William (Occidental, CA), former vineyard owner Bill (Belvedere, CA) and fundraiser Murray (Cambridge, MA) have had an extraordinary mixture of experiences in their time since they left Yale.