Alumni Notes: March/April 2013

I write this on a cold Monday in New York City, MLK’s birthday and Barack Obama’s second inaugural, recalling my own shivering presence as a reporter at Johnson’s inaugural in 1964 and Nixon’s in 1968 and 1972. How much this nation has changed since then, mostly I think for the better. This computer I’m typing on is just one example. But let us hope for better still, less partisan rancor, sounder and more robust economic growth, more application of advanced technology to global problems like climate change. I have the sinking feeling, however, that Obama will spend much of his time as Bush spent his — dealing with foreign policy, not least, America’s implacable enemies on the fringes of Islam. Let us I hope I am wrong, not for the first time.

With the migration over the years of venerable Wall Street firms to midtown, and the total disappearance of others, I realized I had not been to the old financial district since my days as a cub at Dow Jones, except to see the destruction at the World Trade Center. Alex Ercklentz remedied this with a kind invitation to lunch with him at Brown Brothers Harriman, where he had a long and successful career and keeps a desk as a retired partner, and where he dispenses sage advice to younger partners when he is not traveling abroad and attending to his duties as a board member at the American University in Beirut. He gave me a tour of the premises and a fine salmon lunch and also a couple of pieces of news. In November, he attended a discussion at the Council on Foreign relations of Anne Applebaum’s new book, “Iron Curtain — the Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956.” Anne won a Pulitzer for non-fiction in 2004 for her book “Gulag.” She is married to Radek Sokorski, Poland’s foreign minister. Proud father Harvey Applebaum, a classmate and a former Yale medalist, was in attendance. A couple of weeks later, Alex attended a symposium on Chinese-American relations at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy moderated by Winston Lord, whose CV — including his service as ambassador to China and president of the CFR — is well known to this class and who remains active in foreign affairs as a private citizen.

One classmate who has not been shy about sharing his hopes for the next four years in Dick Michel. Writing from his home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Dick registers a powerful if forlorn (“I know that I am quite probably a naive old man”) protest against the present de-regulated system of campaign financing in which both parties indulge with equal greed and shameless disregard for its corrosive effect on our democratic institutions, not least Congress. Dick includes with his note a remedy — an 8-section proposed XXVIIIth amendment to the Constitution, the first section of which that would prevent any entity, individual or otherwise, from giving more that $1000 to a candidate for public office. If only!
In retirement, many of us are astoundingly mobile. Dave Anderson, retired from a lifelong career as an educator, began the summer with a visiting professorship at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with wife Sue in Slovakia, seeking her ancestral roots, then to Paris, then to Germany for an tour of 14 historic organs with 30 other organists (he plays), then to Martha’s Vineyard for a visit with Alex and Betty Boyle , then to music in Tanglewood then a cruise on the entire length of the Erie Canal on classic 1954 wooden cruiser. By now it is October and time to go back to South Africa. As to Alex Boyle, he and three other former members of the freshman golf team — Dil Cannon, Steve Clarkson and Charley Nolan — met for the 4th year in a row, this time as Charley’s guests in Seattle, to re-awaken the competitive juices that produced an undefeated season in 1956.

And as for travelers, Peter Haight gives Dave a run for the money, having fly-fished with wife Gretchen in Alaska and Patagonia, visiting children east and west, and getting ready for Italy this spring.

As mentioned in an earlier column, Jim Pender is doing what he can to improve the dismal job prospects of disabled veterans and notes the following name change of his organization : DVIC, for Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers, located at PO Box 369, Gates Mills, Ohio. Jim also sent his annual Christmas update on the Jack Stemple family and Emps the Wonder Dog. The family ran into big trouble this year when Jack, in a jingoistic fit, refused too drive on the left hand side of the road during a visit to England. I’ll have complete details on the Stemples, a figment Jim’s vigorous imagination (but then again, who can be sure?) in the very last column I ever write for this magazine.

On the creative side of the class ledger are David Shire and Dick Maltby, both of whom I was delighted to run into when Lisa and I attended the successful, long-running revival of their show “Closer Than Ever” at the York Theater (mentioned in an earlier column); and the Contiguglia brothers, Richard and John, who this summer received a Grand Prix award from the Liszt Society of Hungary for their latest Liszt CD. Among those in the Budapest audience were Steve Adams and his wife Denise, whose spectacular $100 million 50th Reunion gift has put the Yale Music School on a firm footing forever.

Our condolences to:

Ed Ghent, whose wife, Gretchen, passed away last October. The extended family (including daughters Paget and Eliza, brothers Rob and Stow, and many cousins, nieces and nephews)_of Dan Walker, whose death after multiple illnesses was noted very briefly in the last column. Dan was a member of Fence Club and Berzelius, and, armed with his experience as an editor on the Yale Daily News, began his professional career at the St. Petersburg Times. He later worked for the Providence Journal, the Brooks School (his alma mater) as director of admissions and development, for the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Mass., and for Yale, in both cases as a development officer. Dan was a terrific person who maintained his optimism (and always his loyalty to Yale) despite crippling physical ailments later in life.

Wendy Kelly, who sent word of the death of her husband, Dan Kelly, at home in Durham, N.H., in November. Dan also leaves a son, Nicholas. Dan received his doctorate in history from Wisconsin, served in various posts in the Foreign Service and came to New York to teach modern European history at NYU in in the mid-1960’s. He soon joined the faculty at York College of the City University of New York, where he remained for three decades before his retirement in 1996 and move to New Hampshire. He wrote books on two conservative scholars who were close friends and allies of Bill Buckley’s, James Burnham and L. Brent Bozell. The Bozell book, Living on Fire, is forthcoming.