Alumni Notes: May/June 2013

First off, apologies to Dave Martin, misidentified as Dave Anderson in the last column. I had Anderson doing all kinds of great stuff, teaching in South Africa, celebrating his 50th anniversary in Slovakia, visiting Alex and Betty Boyle in Martha’s Vineyard and cruising the Erie Canal in a classic mahogany boat. A lucky man, this Anderson! Also an imposter, Mr. Martin kindly informs me. I believe this was a first misspelling of a last name for this column (though there have plenty of misspelled first names, as the Charlies and Charleys remind me every so often), and I’m sorry he had to be the victim.

Thanks to a kind invitation from Diane and Art Kelly, who some time ago tired of spending entire winters in Chicago and acquired a sunnier foothold in Palm Beach, Lisa and I enjoyed a mini-reunion of sorts at the Everglades Club in March. The centerpiece of the evening was a concert by the Whiffs, nearly 20 of them, mostly retired in South Florida but not from singing. They were just terrific, as strong as I have ever heard the Whiffs, and funny in the bargain. Among their number was Jim Cowperthwaite, and in the audience I spotted Jim Lineberger, Pete Thorson and Fritz Bell, and possibly others I can’t remember. The Kellys organized a festive table. Our chauffeurs for the occasion were Hoyt and Ashley Ammidon, who very kindly drove us from Hobe Sound, where they and we were in residence and, where, once again, I enjoyed the company of my old roommate, Ted Hamm. All in all, a welcome break from what has been a dismal March in New York.

John Knott, a kindred conservationist and now mostly emeritus at the the University of Michigan, where he ran the English Department for many years English and wrote excellent books on Michigan’s (and the Upper Midwest’s) environmental challenges, has lately transported his wife Anne and his love of the outdoors to other longitudes, hooking up with walking tours in Ireland, Spain (portions of the Camino de Santiago) and an even more strenuous one that took him coast to coast across northern England three years ago. Demonstrating that the apple does not fall far from the tree, John sent me the trailer for a documentary his grandson Josh has made about the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, a giant gold and copper mining project that many believe would despoil if not totally destroy the headwaters feeding Bristol Bay, one of the world’s richest and most productive fishing grounds. The state and federal governments have yet to rule on whether this project should go forward, so stay tuned. It is one of the most interesting, if still largely hidden, environmental stories in the America.

Tom Freiberg, part of our splendid tennis team back in the day, says his life in Los Angeles continues on an even and healthy keel— practicing law, celebrating his 49th wedding anniversary with Brenda, playing tennis at least once a week with friends from his junior circuit and college days, hanging out with his lovely daughter and blossoming granddaughter, who starts college this fall, traveling to France and elsewhere when time allows. On the pro bono side, he gives time and money to the Inner City Law Center, which sues slumlords.

I have a bunch of shorter items about other classmates for the next column. In the meantime, as always these days, some sad news:

Henry Bakewell, of Old Saybrook, died at Yale-New Haven Hospital last December after a brief illness. An aeronautical engineer with a bent for the sea, he helped develop sophisticated acoustical systems for submarines, and was a division chief at the Naval Underseas Weapons Center in New London. He was, among other things, an ardent sailor and a devoted alumnus of Groton. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Elsie Ives-Goodrich Bakewell, and is survived by four daughters and his companion of 13 years, Carolyn Barter.

Charles Van Tassel died in January, according to a note from his wife, Cecile. Charles was a singer, and a very good one, who interpreted more than 100 operatic roles, including some with the Boston and Chicago symphonies, before moving in 1975 to The Netherlands, where he became a Dutch national. He continued to perform recitals in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1997, with yours truly in attendance. A wonderful evening. He leaves Cecile and three daughters, Hannah, Josse and Louise.

Peter Higuchi, for many years a senior vice president at Shearson, passed away last September at the Arcadia Retirement Residence in Honolulu. He is survived by three children Daryl, Michael and Jennifer. Peter came to Yale from the Punahou School and sent much of his life in the islands.