Class Notes: May/June 2021

Class Notes: May/June 2021

By John M. Pinney

Spring is showing some hopeful signs here in Maryland and the vaccination process is gaining ground. Donna and I got both our shots from Walmart after registering in multiple places. We will continue to exercise care until the CDC can give clear guidance on the risks of transmitting the virus even after being vaccinated.

Since the last edition, a lot has happened to try to make up for the loss of our 55th reunion. The monthly Zoom programs have been a great success with an estimated 1,000 attendees across the virtual class dinner and the three subsequent programs, including the most recent session on March 17. Following on the outstanding sessions in December (David Swensen), January (Bob Woodward), and February (David Hawkins), Prof. Jason Schwartz of the Yale School of Public Health gave an excellent overview of the COVID vaccines, progress on vaccination, and issues yet to be fully understood. Dick Kaslow and Walt Senterfitt, who have outstanding professional credentials in epidemiology and public health, did an excellent job of managing the question-and-answer period. The session was dedicated to the memory of our classmate Dave Barry, whose contributions to the science of virology and the treatment of HIV/AIDS are world renowned. Dave’s widow Gracia, a regular attendee at class events, was in the audience.

The team of David RoscoeDennis Mack, and Bob Hammond has committed to continuing these monthly programs for the foreseeable future and welcomes suggestions from classmates. Hopefully, you all will have joined the April Zoom with John Shattuck discussing the foreign policy challenges of the Biden Administration. If you haven’t been getting the email announcements for these events, there are two things you should do: 1) check to make sure your spam/junk filter isn’t blocking them, and if not, 2) email Jennifer Julier at the YAA to see if you’re on a “no email” list. 

On the question of what to do about our reunion, the YAA offered the option of an offsite event in 2022. All the classmates involved in reunion planning and class events met to discuss this and concluded that a better option is to continue the monthly Zoom programs and plan a series of mini-reunions and other events leading up to our 60th. In addition, during the reunion events Yale has scheduled for this coming June 4–5, you will be able to tune in to multiple virtual events, culminating with our own ’65 virtual social hour at 5 p.m. on June 5. More details on both will be forthcoming.

Several classmates continue to produce creative works. Ralph Protsik has published a short story entitled “A Dog’s Tale” following on the publication in February of his Shaggy Dog Limericks, a “collection of 75 irreverent limericks about popular dog breeds.” And Bill Torbert reports: “I’ve just published my final book—Numbskull in The Theatre of Inquiry: Transforming Self, Friends, Organizations, and Social Science, available at Amazon. It is part memoir and part theoretical essay, summarizing the theories of leadership, organizational, and scientific development I’ve been trying to research and practice. Yale plays a big part in the book since I was there throughout the ’60s. There are stories about names familiar to most of the class, like Bill Coffin and Chris Argyris, as well as about our classmates Mark Foster and Mac Rogers.” 

And, last but not least in the creative department, Chip Reames alerted me to a new advertisement for Audi, which ran on the Players Championship, featuring our own Marshall Bell. Unable to find it online, I asked the star to describe it for us: “It’s surrealistic. . . . I am an old-school toll booth guy who has seen it all and these new Audis appear, whereupon I make like ‘Whoa’ faces. I had to be subtle. . . . Very difficult.”

In other news, Bob Leich and several other classmates called attention to an article in the February edition of Sports Illustrated recounting the many facets of our late classmate Pete Axthelm’s life and contributions to sports writing: “Ax, as he was inevitably known, seemed to do everything better than everyone else. He wrote with more vigor and flair. He told the best stories—but he also knew how and where to find them.” The article also includes comments from classmates Bob Woodward, Jerry Libby, and Chuck Dillingham. 

Bill Lake sent the following update: “When I was fired from the FCC with the Obama-to-Trump transition, my wife Morgan and I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where we had long had a vacation home. Living on an island heightens my already great concern about climate change. The island has a vision of converting to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, and the new Biden interior department is at the final stage of authorizing Vineyard Wind, which will be the first major offshore wind farm in the United States, 15 miles south of the island. And an island has been a pretty good place to hide from the pandemic, though we’re greatly relieved to see the vaccine rolling out.” 

I’m very sorry to have to report the loss of two classmates. Phil Debenham’s wife Kathleen sent news that Phil died on February 2 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. And on February 15, I heard from John Schenck and Stan Trotman the very sad news that Jeff Miller died early that morning after a long battle with cancer. Jeff served as class secretary for many years and continued to serve the class until his untimely death, organizing the annual hockey dinner, the pre-reunion lunches, and giving advice and support to all of us who followed him in the position. I hope you will all visit the class website and post remembrances of Phil and Jeff, and other classmates you knew who are gone but not forgotten.

Stay safe, stay in touch, and look for more class events in the next few months.