YAM Class Notes: January/February 2021

By John M. Pinney

Our local area continues to show relatively low numbers of cases, although like almost everywhere, there has been an increase in the last several weeks. Hopefully by the time these notes arrive, vaccine distribution will be under way and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, classmates are busy planning more offerings to keep us all connected. 

Our first foray into remote events was a great success—thanks to the efforts of Bob LeichChris KinneyDavid RoscoeDennis MackFred KneipBob Hammond, and Jennifer Julier (our dedicated YAA associate director), the class dinner Zoom was a great success. David’s summary captures the highlights: “Most of the 140-plus preregistered classmates and widows showed up for our October 30 class Zoom call and were treated to an engaging 90-minute ‘virtual annual dinner.’ James (Jimmy) Hatch, a 51-year-old ex-SEAL and now a Yale sophomore in TD College, inspired us with his life story, followed by a gripping Q&A session covering his military and Yale experiences, his views on his own life, and his opinions on important current issues in American society. The results of our traditional election-year class survey were presented, and Jennifer Julier, our YAA rep, updated us on prospects for a rescheduled 55th reunion in 2021. A few technical Zoom glitches were met with understanding and good humor. Many attendees hung around for camaraderie and banter after the formal meeting ended.” 

Jimmy Hatch spoke about the nonprofit he established to provide financial support and advocacy for K9s, the trained dogs like the one he credited with saving his life. Click on the link to learn more about the organization. You can also see a recording of the event and other highlights, such as the quadrennial election survey, on our class website.

Given the success of the class dinner Zoom, Dennis Mack and Bob Hammond agreed to plan a series of similar Zoom programs, the first of which you hopefully have already seen: David Swensen discussing Yale’s endowment and investment philosophy. We’re also in discussions with Bob Woodward, who has kindly agreed to fill one of the monthly slots, possibly in January. This approach to keeping us connected features monthly Zoom sessions with classmates, Yale faculty and administrators, and other speakers. For those who miss the live program, recordings and other highlights will be posted on the class website. The hope is that this will be a lead-up to some form of our postponed 55th reunion, which increasingly looks like either a completely remote series of events or a hybrid with some portions being held in New Haven, but streamed to the rest of the class. The ultimate decision about reunions rests with the university and we may know more by the time these notes appear in January. Stay tuned.

Brief notes: Robbie Franklin sent the following news: “My publishing company McFarland has brought out a nifty book, Yale Football Through the Years, by Rich Marazzi. It covers 1872 through 2019; all Yale-Harvard and most Princeton games, record performances, great plays. Wife Cheryl, special son Nicky, and I are quasi-thriving in our Tennessee/North Carolina–border mountain home; I go to the office six days a week.” David Martin continues to anchor CBS’s coverage of national defense, most recently on 60 Minutes where he reported on the military’s role in distributing COVID vaccines. 

I’m sorry to have to report that we’ve lost several more classmates. Bob Polk died last June in New York City. Bob began with us and graduated with ’66. Many of you may recall that during a small disturbance on the Freshman Campus, Bob gained fame by dressing up in a raincoat and fedora and successfully impersonating a campus police officer. Dr. Eugene Overton died at home in Reston, Virginia, on August 18. And Hugh Macgill died last February in Connecticut. Their obituaries are posted on the class website. As reported in the last notes, Dan Bergfeld died on September 25 and a memorial service was held for Dan on November 21, with a recording of the service  available online. A small group of Whiff alumni sang at the service, including our own Jon Ingham. Please be sure to visit our website and post remembrances of these and other classmates we’ve lost in the past.

I hope as we begin the new year that you will all stay in closer touch and look to the class website as another avenue to let others know your news—we are adding a new section, “Y65 in the News.” I still want to get lots of material for these notes, so keep in mind that I have editorial license to make stuff up. May 2021 bring us all relief from the effects and the risks of the pandemic.