A brutal summer both for weather and seven more classmate deaths. I’m determined however to include some “living” news to balance the obituaries. For instance the thoughtful note from Arnie Brill who posted that with the volcano problems in Hawaii, he was concerned about the safety of Lou D’Avanzo who is a retired ophthalmologist living on the island. So he reached out, made contact and found all was well with Lou who was out of danger and living a fair distance from the threat. Arnie himself is fully retired with many of the same physical problems that plague us all and fortunate to have his wife Mary Ellen to provide support and care. A note from Dick Malzahn, who has been out of touch for awhile, alerting those of us who might be interested what he did as a 35 year CIA officer (retiring in 1991), in the July WW Norton publication of the book “Reagan, the CIA and The Cold War Struggle in Poland”. The author is Seth G. Jones outlines the story of one of the CIA’s most successful Cold War intelligence operations featuring an extraordinary cast of characters including spymaster Bill Casey, CIA officer Richard Malzahn, Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, and Pope John Paul II. That’s quite some company you kept Dick! A surprise and welcome note was received from David Linett who recently moved to Cape Cod after retiring from the practice of law in New Jersey. He’s keeping busy leading a Rotary International Leadership Development Program that entails world travel. His interest in Yale has piqued due to the fact his granddaughter is now a sophomore in JE, his former residential College. She is the fifth Yalie in the Slover-Linett families. He and classmate Bill Slover are now grandparents, and if you attend a meeting of the Yale Club of Cape Cod, you will meet up with David who is now serving as vice president.
Jim Don reported hearing that Hamilton Southworth died in July. Ham was in Silliman with Jim and they both played on the Silliman soccer team which had some success having traveled junior year to Boston and defeat their Harvard counterpart. Jim also reported on a fun visit from Martin Bowen who recently came to Annapolis, and joined him on a jam packed sightseeing tour while reconnecting after many years. From Crystal Pennsylvania we received news of the death of John Niles on July 1. Many will recall that John held a world record for the Yale swim team in the 400 yard freestyle relay. Yet another classmate, William R. Trippe III passed away May 25 in Summerville South Carolina. Bill was the recipient of many military awards. A skilled pilot and most proud of his participation in developing the capability of refueling helicopters in flight. After retiring as an Air Force Colonel, Bill began teaching at The Citadel and Trident Technical College where he became a permanent faculty member. He is survived by his wife of 51 years Edna, six daughters, ten grandchildren and four great grand kids. Carl Swett passed away July 12 in Newberg Oregon where he was residing at Friendship Retirement Center. Carl founded and served as President of Goodway Copy Centers, which became PrintRight and ultimately LazerQuick under his tutelage. He is survived by four children and six grandchildren. His wife Brenda died in 2016. T.Downs Mallory died on June 2 in Palm Beach Florida. A long time resident of Tuxedo Park where he balanced his brokerage career with his outdoor sporting life. It is said that angling, wing shooting, golf and wine were his life’s passions. He is survived by his wife Barbara, three children and nine grandchildren. Lawrence Sucsy died on June 29. After graduating from Harvard Business school with the School’s highest honors, Larry founded and was named President of Sucsy, Fischer and Company a middle market investment banking firm. He was also a cofounder and registered principal of SF Investments Inc. He loved hiking, sailing and raced BMW ’02 series with the Midwest Council Sports Car Club. He is survived by Rowena Boyson, two daughters and three grandchildren. The seventh name on my list of recently deceased classmates was one of our all time super stars Gib Durfee. After a long period of debilitating illness, Gib passed away in Washington the weekend of July 7th. I felt privileged to have known him as a true friend. My memories of our family interactions, particularly when we both resided in Pittsburgh rank among the highlights of Robb family memories. Gib’s undergraduate life as a musician, arranger and singer becoming the music director of the acapella group known as The Duke’s Men was a particularly rewarding experience for him according to his widow Camilla who reveled in 62 years of marriage. Jim Downey, reporting on the memorial service held to honor Gib wrote: “Gib’s service was quite wonderful. Several of his children spoke, one played the guitar, Tersh Boasberg gave a fine tribute, and Lin Knight gave the homily by phone which was excellent.” Jack McGregor and John Eaton were additional classmates who attended the service. Quoting from the closing of Tersh’s remarks summed up what could well have been our class tribute: “Goodbye my good friend. You have brought us much love and happiness into all our lives. We shall miss you.”
I close with a reminder to enjoy accessing our revived class website at www.Yale-56.org. I encourage one and all to share with me and Bill Rees any criticisms, comments or suggestions you have.
Flash! A few months ago a 1956 class ring was found on the ground outside the New York Yale Club. Any class member missing such a keepsake, please contact me, and I will put you in touch with the finder. Receiving living news from classmates makes my day, and I recently enjoyed three such news receipts. Arnold Kaplin, who has cut backhis psychiatric practice to half time after 53 years is pushing the travel button. His recent peregrinations include Bhutan, Myanmar and Baltic States plus Portugal, Prague and Croatia. Life is Good! Allan Baldwin is working part-time as a visitation minister, after having twice retired. Visiting shut-ins and others, along with a weekly Bible Study, his teaching brings him great satisfaction. From Branford Connecticut, fascinatingly, Peter Tveskov reports: “I am doing well since my stroke a few years ago, even if I have to mention to young peoplethat I am neither drunk nor crazy when I talk to them! One unfortunate result of the stroke was that I lost the ability to pronounce my rolling Castilian “R”. During speech therapy I happened to deal with a Spanish speaking speech therapist (try saying THAT) and found to my surprise that I carry on perfectly fine conversations—even about politics—in that language, while I sometimes stumble over words and phrases in English! Spanish was my first language when I came to Yale in 1952, but I have seldom had the opportunity to use it inmany years. So somehow that language was hidden somewhere in my Addled brain, which was a great surprise.”… Good for you Peter. Dick Wilde alerted me to the only classmate death that I have to report this month. Timothy Cooley died March 18. Tim was born in Hartford and would live in the greater Hartford area for most of his life. A graduate of St. Paul’s School, and the Wharton School of Business at Penn. He worked as a financial consultant for Williams Inference Service prior to his retirement. He was very active in his community, serving on the Board at ADRC at The Gengras center, volunteering at the School for Young Children at St. Joseph University, President of the Windsor Recovery Club, and was active at the East Haddam Fishing and Game Club. He Is survived by his wife Kathryn, four children and three grandchildren. I apologize for blatant huckstering of my grandchildren by featuring George Litton’s report that “New York’s Premiere Boutique Festival” which he’s been presenting since 2006 on September Sunday afternoons at Verdi Square, Broadway and 72nd Street, has also become a showcase for Yale offspring talent. George reports this event traditionally features emerging talent from area Conservatories, and last year the Festival also presented the unusual Flying Fingers Jug Band bringing a puzzled smile to Verdi’s statue and a standing ovation from the audience. Guitarist for the group was David Barron, lawyer son of Yale graduate Bill Barron. “On September 16 at 5 PM we open the Festival with an afternoon of Shakespeare presented by Ellie and her brother Jeffrey Robb, young actors who bear an uncanny resemblance to our Class Secretary. Come early. Admission is free, seating is limited, and we always play to an SRO open air “house”. On September 23, the Manhattan School of Music presents a group from its terrific Afro-Cuban Jazz program, and on September 30 its opera program concludes the Festival with some of Verdi’s popular compositions. Can’t make it to Verdi Square, but might be in New Haven on Sunday October 14 at 2pm c’mon over to Woolsey Hall for the rescheduled 65th Anniversary Concert of the Yale Russian Chorus. Grandpa Robb fully expects to be at Verdi Square September 16, and would enjoy seeing some of my New York area classmates. George, you a producer of so many venues of interest, and I’m so appreciative of you risking your reputation to include my family.
I hope all of you have been able to access our renewed web site our webmaster Bill Rees has been working so hard to improve with new and exciting material. He has now assembled the list of all Davenport Fellowship winners going back to the start of the program in 1984. Bill, we arevery appreciative of your hard work to make our website the best Yale has to offer.
A veritable pot pourri of communiques from classmates all over the globe with news of published books, dramatic endeavors, firefighting, complaints about Yale/Harvard tv coverage on the gridiron, and the frustration of aging. Sabin Robbins, on Cunard stationary where he continues to captivate audiences with his talks on zoo related experiences, forwarded me a clipping about John Phair’s daughter Liz, chanteuse extraordinaire, authoring her first book after taking the music world by storm. David Supino weighed in with the word that Liverpool University Press had published in 2014 his book “Henry James”, a bibliographical catalogue of editions to 1921. On the subject of bookpublications, I want to remind everyone of our revised class website at www.yale-56.org wherein our webmaster Bill Rees is compiling a list of class authors who havepublished works since our 50th reunion. Let Bill know if we are missing your masterpiece.
Other quick notes from classmates included a good natured complaint from Don Chatfield who, though pleased with the final score of the Harvard football game, took issue with the networks failure to show the enigmatic Yale marching band or the playing of “Bulldog” after each score. If our recent success on the gridiron continues, we’ll have to explore the chartering of a special plane to New Haven for our west coast friends so they can enjoy both the fun of the football game, and the camaraderie of the classdinner that was so well attended this year. Dr. Claude Offenbacher ,in retirement, is adding to his dramat resume by performing in two local Eugene, Oregon, productions, an old Angela Lansbury musical “Dear World”, and A.J. Gurney’s “Love Letters”. Greetings were received from Gil Leppelmeir our correspondent from Finland, whose reported old age maladies include Lyme disease and palsy, though he was pleased that immunotherapy was successful to ward off his bladder cancer. Ivan Phillips and his wife Winnie spent his summer in the Hudson Valley recuperating from serious spine surgery last May, noting recovery is on track, but slow. Peter Hutt was priviledged to attend and send a photo of the ceremony honoring fellow classmate David Pearson at Sidwell Friends School where a newly constructed athletic center was dedicated in David’s name. The Reverend Hugh Magee forwarded his Christmas/Epiphany-tide letter announcing the completion of his third book, though yet unpublished,ugghH taking the form of a ‘spiritual autobiography’, and
Along the lines of outstanding summer adventures, I received the following note from Bruce Dunn. “Tersh Boasberg, Ted Robb (your loyal secretary) and I joined by Dave Wimberly, a friend from HBS, spent five moving days with Professor Jay Winter on The Yale Educational Travel Trip “Remembering WWI: Belgium and France”. Prof Winter, the Charles Stille Professor of History Emeritus, has dedicated 50 years, some at Cambridge before Yale, to study the history and meaning of this horrific war. We walked the battlefields and trenches of the Somme and Verdun, heard the echo of the famous Flanders Field poem honoring soldiers who sleep the sleep of immortal death in the field of poppies. We stood silently before elegant statues of permanently grieving parents mourning the loss of their 18 year old son to whom they had given permission to enlist. We walked around an ossuary holding the bones of 130,000 French and German soldiers, mixed randomly in tangled piles, dead without identity forever. The WWI trip took us into rooms of unredeemable tragedy and spaces of memory and permanent mourning without redemption. Our foursome of 83 year ols went on to Paris for a little R&R with gratitude for each other’s company—and for the privilege of travel with and sharing of thought with Professor Winter. A great trip” Tersh and I both agree. George Litton reports that on September 23, The Yale Russian Chorus which he co-founded celebrated its 64th anniversary with a Battell Chapel concert performed by 62 members of The Yale Russian Chorus alumni, 8 members of the current campus Yale Russian Chorus, and a special guest appearance by the Women’s Slavic Chorus. Classmate John Brightly was also on stage. The Yale Russian Chorus, dubbed by “The Wall Street Journal” as the “diplomats of song”, helped tear down the Iron Curtain through its pioneering tours of the Soviet Union. A gala 65th anniversary concert at Woolsey Hall is scheduled for September 22, 2018. George says it will be well worth a trip to New Haven.
We lost nine more classmates in the past few months. Bob Wheeler passed away November 1. Bob was a class leader of immense stature and was a longtime member of the class executive committee. During his stint with the Yale Admissions Office, he was one of our key New Haven contacts. Who can forget the leadership role he played on behalf of the 1956 I Have A Dream Program under which 99 classmates raised over $1 million to adopt a junior high school class in New Haven to help underwrite their education…54 through high school, 37 through college, one PhD and another 29 who started post high school and vocational School. Bob was the leader of one of our class’s finest initiatives, and he will be sorely missed.
John Hesse died August 7. Jack, who served on the Yale Development Board, was an entrepreneur, investment banker and venture capitalist. He was President and CEO of American Garden Products, one of the largest wholesale distributor of garden products in the country In 1981 he founded one of the first biotechnical venture capital firms that provided start up financing to, among many others Amgen, Biogen and Genentech. In 1977, Jack established a bioscience scholarship fund at Yale. He is survived by his wife Catha, and three children. Anthony Hale Palmer passed away September 2 in Dover NH. He attended M.I.T after graduation, and was known for his mathematical and gardening skills. Stanton Merriam passed away September 14 in Orange Connecticut as I was informed by his wife Penny. Stanton spent more than 30 years working for the Southern New England Telephone Company as a manager in various departments. An avid Yale football fan, he rarely missed a game in person or on the radio. Bart Kagan of Randolph MA died September 10. It’s been said that there wasn’t a math problem he couldn’t solve, and a dog that he didn’t love. He is survived by his widow Barbara and three children. Thomas Vennum died September 24. Other than his having received from Harvard a PhD in Ethnomusicology I could find little about his life. Likewise Ronald M. Glick of Mamamroneck New York who died April 19 and is survived by his widow Sarah Robbins Evans and two children. J. Reid Williamson died on September 10 in Savannah GA. Reid was a recognized leader in the field of historic Preservation. He was the first Executive Director of Historic Savannah Foundation, where he played a vital role in advocating for the protection and preservation of the Historical District against the then prevailing pro demolition attitudes held by most of the civic leaders. He moved to Indianapolis in 1974 where he was the President of the Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, the second largest historic Preservation organization in the country. In 2005, Reid’s proudest career recognition was in receiving The Crowninshield Award, the most prestigious honor given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is survived by his widow Wendy and two sons. James Watt died September 12 in Salisbury Township PA. He served as Assistant Solicitor for Lehigh County, And as Administrator of the Magisterial District Justices. He is survived by his widow Beatrix, four children and Ten Grandchildren.
I close with happier news. The Class of 1956 Memorial Scholarship Fund which plays a vital role in making Yale education accessible to all qualified students regardless of their financial background, has announced, yet again, that a descendant of our class has been chosen to receive the scholarship award. She is Abigail Hopkins, the grandniece of deceased classmate James Moore. The yearly cash award is now up to $12,000. We can all be proud to have initiated and funded this class memorial that our heirs, who are designated priority awardees may well be able to enjoy.