YAM Notes: January/February 2007

I’ve apologized to Ed Greenberg and now apologize to you for misspelling the Internet address for our new class website. Rather than risk any more typos, let me recommend this: go to Google, type in Yale Class of 1959, and click on the first item on the list that pops up. There it is! Then bookmark it.

I’m writing these notes having just arrived back in New York from Cambridge, still basking in the warm glow of Yale’s convincing and satisfying victory over Harvard, a triumph in which a resilient group of Yale players rebounded from the previous week’s depressing and unnecessary loss to Princeton, caused-or so it seemed to 30,000 spectators-by the coaching staff’s insistence on sticking with offensive and defensive strategies that were manifestly not working. The preparation for Harvard was infinitely superior.

Much of the sting of the Princeton defeat was removed by a truly elegant post-game gathering hosted by Charlie and Barbara Griffith at their centuries-old house in Woodbridge. On hand were, among others (I put that there in case I’ve overlooked anyone), George Piroumoff, Larry Williams, Herb Hallas, Bill West, Fred Vanderkloot, Bob Darling, Fred Lovejoy, Al Friedman, Ed Greenberg, Tom Haines, Joe Staley, Jim Connors, and Terry Weaver-all with lovely spouses or companions. Walt Levering and Jim Lineberger appeared earlier in the day in our tent and on the 50-yard line where members of Yale’s 1956 Ivy League champions-the league’s inaugural season-were introduced at halftime.

Earlier in the day, your class council met for breakfast at Mory’s. Chairman Tom Maxey unveiled a financial report which, thanks to Treasurer Ben Gertz’s exertions, shows plenty of money on the plus side of the ledger to sustain the class’s relationship with Calhoun College, where we help subsidize undergraduate activities the college could not otherwise afford; the four community service fellowships that we have also underwritten for more than a decade; and preliminary planning for our 50th reunion in 2009. On that score, Ed Greenberg is moving briskly ahead, appointing committees to deal with various reunion chores and setting up benchmarks that each committee must meet between now and then. Ed remains, of course, open to any and all suggestions, at “esgreenb@optonline.net.”

We heard reports from Calhoun’s new master and from several of the summer interns, who seem to have profited greatly from the experience. There was also a brief review of the successful Santa Fe reunion (Joe Staley was on hand to receive further plaudits for the wonderful lunch he hosted at his New Mexico ranch), as well as a brief discussion of another mini-reunion at some point before the Big One, possibly in New York to coincide with a class dinner. We will keep you posted.

Four sad notes:
Kathy Gertz, Ben’s wife, died on November 20 after a long and brave struggle with cancer, with Ben at her side, at Mt. Sinai in New York City. Kathy, an accomplished writer, was virtually a member of our class, appearing at nearly every class gathering and helping to organize the women’s forums at the last two reunions. Several classmates visited her in the final stages of her illness, and it was from one of them, Nick Ciriello, that I heard the sad news. When Ben himself called moments later, he said, in typical Ben fashion, “She was glad that we beat Harvard.” Our deepest sympathies to Ben and Maggie.

Francis L. (Skip) Burns died at home in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 26. Skip graduated from Providence Country Day and Yale, and also studied at the Sorbonne. He was a freelance writer, pianist, and world traveler. He also owned a home in West Palm Beach. We have no information as to survivors.

Stephen H. Haynes died on July 8. He served in the Army and lived and worked in Denver for many years, retiring to Sarasota about eight years ago. He was a member of the Siesta Key Association and a benefactor of various cultural and civic institutions in and around Sarasota. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Virginia, two daughters, and two sons, all living in Denver. Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1230 S. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota, FL 34239. Gerry Studds died in Boston from complications arising from two blood clots in his lung. Gerry, who lived in Saybrook at Yale, joined the foreign service, worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, taught history at St. Paul’s, toiled for the McGovern campaign, and was first elected to Congress from Cape Cod in 1972. He served 12 terms in the House of Representatives, where he became known for his work to protect the marine environment and New England’s faltering fishing industry. In 1983, Gerry became the first member of Congress to declare openly his homosexuality following a scandal involving a relationship with a 17-year-old Congressional page ten years before. He conceded that the relationship between a young page and a sitting member of Congress had been “a very serious error of judgment,” but he did not apologize for it and described it as consensual. Though censured by the House, he continued to command the respect of his colleagues and to wield influence on matters of importance, including gay rights. His constituents also returned him to Congress every two years until he retired in 1997 to become an advocate for the oceans and other environmental causes. He is survived by Dean Hara. He and Gerry were married shortly after same-sex marriages were legalized in Massachusetts two years ago.