Alumni Notes: March/April '17

I’ve made mistakes before (see Whiffs in Seattle, below) but I am fairly sure our class, which has yielded authors, ambassadors, college presidents, professors, law partners, district and appeals court judges, surgeons, bankers, etc., etc, has not produced a member of the president’s cabinet. That omission will be remedied when Congress approves Mr. Trump’s nomination of Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce. Wilbur’s credentials are impressive and his potential conflicts of interest, if any, seem negligible. At 79, he will be the oldest member of the cabinet, a triviality considering the energy he has brought and still brings to a successful career of rescuing and breathing new life into industries with one foot in the graveyard. My main hope for him if he gets the job is to know that it entails a good deal more than promoting American commerce. Commerce also has a critical scientific role involving the atmosphere and the oceans, and is tasked with improving America’s threatened fisheries. Most secretaries of commerce I have written about over the years seem unaware that those matters are part of their portfolio.

A copy of Memphis magazine arrived in the mail the other day, and there, on the cover, was Charlie Newman, recently named the 2016 Memphian of the Year. (Charlie being a modest fellow, an associate at his law firm, Burch, Porter and Johnson, sent it.) Charlie had hoped to study and teach philosophy after he left Yale, but thought better of it, went to Yale Law School, and, for family reasons, returned home to practice law. Memphis was much the better for it. Charlie, whose law firm was retained by Martin Luther King to assist in a sanitation workers’ strike just hours before King was assassinated, has been a determined voice for racial harmony and progress in Memphis ever since. He has also done much to preserve and enhance his city’s natural environment, including a famous and successful lawsuit against John Volpe, Richard Nixon’s secretary of transportation, thwarting Mr. Volpe’s plan to build an interstate highway through the heart of the city. Finally, if you ever find yourself walking across an old Union Pacific Railroad bridge connecting Memphis and West Memphis, Arkansas—the longest pedestrian bridge over America’s greatest river—well, you can thank Charlie for that, too. Charlie was righthand man for the guy who dreamed up the idea, Charlie McVean.

As for those Whiffs, I listed eight guys singing selflessly in Seattle the first time, nine in the most recent notes, and now (thanks to one of the hosts of the mini-reunion, Larry Pierce), must add two more. Here they are, in their entirety: Dave Patterson, Al Atherton, John Stetson, Larry Krakoff, Herb Rule, Randy Ney, Ed Greenberg, Doug Banker, Jim Cowperthwaite, Paul Nyhus, and Mr. Pierce

Along with fellow Cape Codders, including classmates John Funkhouser and David Martin, Jim Hinkle is in the early stages of reviving the dormant Yale Club of Cape Cod. Jim is working with the AYA to set this up. The club’s reach will also extend to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Part-time Cape and island visitors will be welcome at all events. Jim hopes to be up and running by summer. His e-mail is

This month’s roll call:

Matty Mills, a dear friend to many Yale classmates, died in January. Matty had a dreadful time with esophageal cancer, and then open heart surgery, both of which he battled through with the devoted help of his wife, Cynthia, and good friends like Ted Ward. For years after graduation, Matty would gather with Ted and other former Marines including Tad Foote, Norm Benford, and Alki Scopelitis for annual reunions in Florida. Matty was an immensely talented architect on the West Coast—where he founded a successful design firm—and later, in retirement, in North Carolina. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Cynthia Kent-Mills. 

Sandy Tresan sends word that her husband, David Tresan, died in October. David received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee, received on-the-job training in psychiatry in the armed services, and was a practicing psychiatrist (and backpacker, fisherman, and clarinet player) for a half-century in San Francisco and Mill Valley, California. His essay in our 50th reunion book is a wonderful reflection on the possibilities, as well as the limits, of psychotherapy. He leaves his wife of 55 years, Sandra, and three sons.

William Frank Young died in December. I have little information beyond a short notice in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. Born in Albany, California, he became a major in the Marine Corps, a computer executive, and an entrepreneur. He had lived in Virginia Beach for the last 17 years, and is survived by his wife, Betty, and three daughters.