Alumni Notes: January/February 2018

Ed Greenberg, subbing for Joe Staley, presided over the annual Class Council meeting at the crack of dawn on Harvard Saturday. Ben Gertz reported that our finances are in solid shape, although he would like a full-throated response to his recent Class Dues mailing. We voted to continue our long relationship with Hopper, which Ed helped initiate years ago, underwriting summer fellowships and internships that been very popular with undergraduates who could not otherwise afford them.

We also heard an excellent presentation from Don Watson for a proposed publication for our 60th Reunion, tentatively titled “Yale ’59 Confessions and Confidences,” and consisting mainly of memories of our undergraduate years, serious or funny, but mostly true. Having worked with Sandy Wiener on a couple of more conventional reunion books,including the mammoth 50th Reunion number (to which Sue Greenberg and others also contributed mightily) , it is heartening to see the playful Mr. Watson, with his Yale Record sensibilities, stepping forward with a different take. Please watch the class website or this column for further developments, but for now Don would welcome ideas at or Keep in mind that the 60th (!) is only a year and one-half hence.

There was, obviously, much cheering on that day, as Yale completed a title-winning season by trouncing Harvard on a muddy and almost unplayable field. (With a $27.2 billion endowment, Yale might think of moving to artificial turf, though purists among us might object). The Athertons, Al and Peggy, gave a fine party afterwards, as they have before.

This month’s roll call includes four exceptional classmates:

At a time when there were few African-Americans at Eastern boarding schools and Ivy League colleges, George Bundy Smith, a contemporary at Andover and Yale, was a rarity–shy, soft spoken and clearly destined for an unusual life. Which he lived — as an attorney, civil rights advocate (he joined Bill Coffin on the Freedom Rides) and the third black person ever a appointed to New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. George died in August, in Harlem, where he lived with his wife, Alene. Guido Calabresi, who taught George in his torts class in 1959, said of him, “I couldn’t tell you very much about his politics, and that’s the way it should be. George is not doctrinaire and he is known for considering each case on its merits.” His independence drove the litmus testers on the New York Times editorial board a bit nuts on some cases, pleasing them on others: He opposed television coverage in courtrooms, ruled against same-sex marriage because in his view the state constitution did not authorize it (the law was later changed) but wrote the 2004 opinion essentially declaring capital punishment in New York unconstitutional. He was a brave and decent man.

David Mackie, a brilliant and inventive businessman, also died in August after an 11-year struggle with cancer. Born in Kansas City, David, a longtime friend of another Kansan, Ray Clevenger, served in the Navy, graduated from Yale Law School and practiced law in San Francisco before embarking on a successful careeer in the natural gas business. He served in the executive ranks of El Paso Natural Gas and Transco Energy before co-founding, in 1994, AltaGas Ltd in Alberta, Canada, which turned out to be a spectacularly successful enterprise. With six children from two earlier unions, David married Susan Kemp Chism in 1989. Together they lived a rich life together in California, New York City and Houston, where Susan lives. David and Susan were also involved in horse breeding and racing in concert with George W. Bush’s great pal, Will Farish.

John Thomas Gorby, aka Jack, who had a million friends in our class, died in September on the Connecticut shore, where he spent just about all of his life (except for the Hill School) as student, parent, businessman and sailor. After graduation from Yale, where he was a fine swimmer, and to which he was unfailingly loyal, he went to work for Booz Allen and Hamilton in Stanford, later founded his own consultancy, had six children with Martha Macoy and then, after a divorce, acquired three more with Gloria Drouet, who survives him. Later in life he moved full time to Stonington Borough, where he helped found the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club and where his funeral was held near the waters he loved.

David Fedson informs me of the death of Charles Ehlert, who started with us in 1955, took a leave in his senior year and graduated with the class of 1960. Charles , who died in January after a 10-year struggle with Parkinson’s, received a law degree from the University of Illinois, and moved to Seattle where he had a distinguished 40-year career in private practice and public service, including service with the city’s legal services project and the ACLU. His great love was the outdoors, in particular mountain climbing — he, David, Kent Keller (another roommate) celebrated their 50th birthdays with what David recalls as a memorable 35-mile trek along the Ptarmigan Traverse in the North Cascades. Charles is survived by two children. Remembrances can be found at

Until then, and please write.