YAM Class Notes: January/February 2020

YAM Class Notes: January/February 2020

By John M. Pinney

If you had any doubts that fall is in full swing, our local harbinger appeared last weekend: every year when the ospreys leave the nest off our property, a few days pass, and then a bald eagle sits in the osprey nest, signaling the official beginning of fall. What he does while in the nest is the subject of much conjecture.

On October 25, we had another terrific turnout for the class dinner as over 100 classmates and guests came to hear David Martin share his insights on the Trump administration’s foreign policy and the situation in Syria. David’s observations were from his vantage point as the CBS News national security correspondent for the past 36 years. His talk left little doubt that the Middle East remains a complex and dangerous mix of competing interests, made more so by the decision to withdraw American troops from much of Syria. 

The annual class council meeting was held prior to the dinner. Discussion focused on our upcoming 55th reunion, scheduled for May 28–31 2020. David Roscoe reported on current plans for four panels, one of which will be a joint panel with the Class of 1970, based on results from an upcoming survey of both classes, with the expectation that the five years between us may show marked differences in our Yale experiences, some of which may have carried forward into the subsequent 50-plus years. Ralph Protsik’s stage adaptation of Warren Rothman’s Kafka in China, reported in the last notes, will be another of the class events, as will a panel on our passions, like the 50th panel, and one on retirement. 

The 55th class book is under the able direction of Ralph and John Schenck. You will already have received a notice inviting you to update your profile and add an essay. If you missed or misplaced the instructions, here they are again: Ralph and John “are asking classmates to update their 50th class book profiles and add new photos and essays. It’s an easy exercise—just log on to www.yale65.reuniontechnologies.com and follow the prompts. Be sure to save all your changes. Last time we had a robust 514 respondents. No reason we can’t have that number again.” The book won’t include an in memoriam section as we are shifting this to the class website, where all are encouraged to post memories of deceased classmates.

The council also discussed efforts to ensure that our class widows are aware of and able to attend the 55th. Dorothy Armstrong continues to devote her time and energy to helping us improve our outreach and engage our widows in all class activities. If you have not connected with Dorothy, please contact her. One final 55th topic: pre-reunion lunches. John Schenck reported: “Henry Hacker and I are hosting one at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge on January 22 and Fred Kneip is working on one for NYC.” Mike Hanson and Dar Gillett are planning a SW Florida gathering at Babcock Ranch, Florida, on February 19. Save the date and look for more information to come soon. 

More news from the council meeting: after much research with the YAA and other classes, David Roscoe presented a proposal to move the class listserv to Google Groups as the platform. Those of you registered on the listserv will already have heard about the change, but for all who may have left or never joined, we are embarking on what will be a much-improved experience. Among the features: easy to join, private and secure, easy to post, and unlike the current listserv, incorporating all the features of a modern communication platform. The class council approved the following recommendations at the meeting:

1. Create a Y65 Discussion Group (DG) built on Google Group technology; 2. Migrate to the new Y65 DG in two steps: (a) By yearend 2019, ensure the 76 current listserv subscribers to the Y65 DG are fully acclimated, and (b) in early 2020, actively recruit the rest of the class to join the new Y65 DG prior to the 55th; 3. Adopt the Y67/Y69 terms of use agreement as condition for subscribers; viewable on Yale1965.org; 4. Designate John PinneyFred Kneip, and Bob Hammond as moderators, as required under these new rules.

Other classes have adopted this approach and have seen substantial increases in the number of classmates participating, as well as improvements in the quality and tone of the discourse.

In other news, Chris Cooke sent the following: “In October generations of Whiffenpoofs gathered at Yale to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the group’s founding. A performance by the Whiffs of 1965 was, as usual, the highlight of the singing weekend and the envy of all. Should there be any doubt about that, just ask those who were there: Ken BardachDan BergfeldChris CookeDennis CrossSteve FjellmanBill HartDave HawkinsJon InghamBill PinneyRalph Protsik, and Kyle PruettWarren Rothman, on the temporarily injured list, was unable to attend but has vowed to be fully recovered for the 55th reunion.” 

Bob Rounsavall reported he and Mary witnessed Bob Woodward receiving the 2019 Brandeis Medal from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law at an October 16 presentation and dinner. The medal is awarded to “people whose lives reflect a commitment to individual liberty, concern for the disadvantaged, and public service.” This recognition followed closely on the heels of Bob’s being singled out (positively) in a tweet by President Trump for his performance on CBS’s Face the Nationwhile sharply criticizing the other journalists who appeared on the show. Joel Papernik wrote: “Barbara and I spent several days at Dick Stasney’s Stasney Cook Ranch. Joining us were opera students from the Houston Opera, as well as other supporters of the Opera. Dick and Susan have been honored by the Houston Opera on several occasions.” Jeff Miller reports he attended the Yale Russian Chorus concert on October 6 in Battell Chapel. “A joint effort of the undergraduate chorus and its alumni, they sang almost nonstop for two hours. The highlight was the last piece, featuring solos by Charlie Stone and John Shattuck, who sang the deepest bass of the afternoon in his first-ever solo performance.” Bob Hammond will be sending his excellent summary of the council meeting and class dinner, followed by his report on the YAA Assembly November 21 and 22.

I’m sorry to report that Robert Dodds died at his home in Santa Fe on September 10. Bob’s obituary is posted on the class website. Please visit the site and post your remembrances. Jim Wood sent the sad news that his wife, Jeanette Hall Wood, died October 4, at Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Massachusetts, from complications of an auto-immune disease.

The 2020 class hockey dinner will be held Saturday, February 8, at Mory’s before the Yale-Princeton game. Mark your calendars; an invitation will be on its way soon.

I look forward to seeing you at the 55th reunion, May 28–31, 2020.