YAM Class Notes: July/August 2015

YAM Class Notes: July/August 2015

50th Reunion

There is a 50th class reunion every year at Yale. Ours may or may not have been the best, but I am certain there has not been a better one. It bears noting again that our 50th was the result of an enormous amount of work by a large number of classmates; from “official” committees to volunteers, all of whose contributions helped fill our three and a half days with panels, reminiscences, and just plain fun. Space limitations for this column preclude me from recognizing everyone. Yale did an outstanding job of organizing, feeding, and edifying us, and the New Haven Chamber of Commerce delivered two of the most beautiful sunny days in memory. The attendance count stands at 385 classmates, 10 widows, and 274 guests. Thanks to Bob Leich and the many classmates who helped drive attendance.

It’s fair to say the reunion really began when the class book arrived. Our Stories is a truly outstanding accomplishment: the over 500 personal essays, special essays, and remembrances present a remarkable picture of our history and our views. The credit goes to all of you, and especially to the class book committee, listed in the book.

Early Thursday, a stalwart few either rode 50 miles, rowed a few miles, or played golf (less stalwart) and survived to enjoy the day. David Roscoe’s choice of Our Stories as the first panel that afternoon set the tone for everything that followed. Led by Bob Woodward, panelists gave brief synopses of their Our Stories essays, reflecting the broad spectrum of life experiences to be found in the class book. John Shattuck led the second panel, Our Civil Rights Experience: The Dream, At Fifty, and a thoughtful and sobering assessment by classmates Carl Gershman, Ron Wilmore, Jim Marshall, and Al Sharp, who’ve dedicated much of their lives to civil rights and advancing democracy.

Friday’s highlights were the panels on Aging and Health, moderated by Steve Guss, and Climate Change, led by David Hawkins. Our own Richard Hodes, who heads the National Institute on Aging, gave an update on aging research, and the panel covered a wide range of issues, including end-of-life. Mike McCaskey showed a touching video he produced on hospice. The Climate panel gave only modest hope for the future, but George Frampton’s description of the carbon tax legislation he is championing to incentivize reductions in emissions offered a partial solution. We then moved to our memorial service, led by Ron Wilmore, who once more gave us a spiritual and ecumenical experience as we remembered all of our deceased classmates. The evening ended with our class dinner in Commons with a brief address from president Peter Salovey, presentation of our 50th reunion class gift of over $36 million, and class awards for distinguished service to Ralph Protsik, David Roscoe, and Ron Wilmore.

Saturday featured Dave Martin emceeing a panel in which 11 classmates each provided six-minute samples of personal passions in their lives. Next, Bruce Smathers moderated a panel featuring Yale veterans and ROTC, including comments from Bill Nelson and Bob Woodward. The night’s entertainment was a serenade by our own timeless Whiffs, followed by the XPD’s, a Maryland band whose excellent performance of tunes from our time at Yale prompted a record number of 50th reuners to dance until closing. With no aspiring competition, Fred Kneip and I were affirmed to serve another stint as class treasurer and secretary.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. The weather was great, the food, drink, and gifts selected by Carl Farrington were excellent, the overall feeling of camaraderie and good will was inspiring. I wish more of you had been able to join us. If it’s any consolation, we’ll do it again for our 55th, and the same outstanding reunion team of Farrington, Leich, and Roscoe have signed on. For those of you who attended, please send pictures to David Roscoe (david.roscoe3@gmail.com) or Jean McKillop (morgana@downeasthost.com). If you have suggestions or constructive criticisms to make the 55th better, please let me know. Regular class notes will resume with the next issue of the magazine.

By John Pinney, ’65