Alumni Notes: May/June 2014

These will be brief in anticipation of a full account of our 55th Reunion May 29-June 1 that, I’m guessing, will get underway a couple of weeks after you get these notes. If you have not signed up, and still wish to do so, you had best call the reunion hotline at 203-432-2110 or email at or check online at The official literature you received in March from the AYA had the dates completely fouled up; it can only be hoped that the immediate alarms sounded by our chairmen, Austin Hoyt and Fred Vanderkloot, got everyone straightened away. What the literature did get right was an exciting menu of lectures, panels, tours, music, dinners and dancing — some specific to the class, some offered by Yale — that should make for a warm, lively and well-attended gathering.

One of the pleasures of this job is the materializing of something that seems completely out of the blue but actually has a history of sorts in this column. Early last year, I noted the passing in late 2012 of Daniel Kelly, a classmate who earned a doctorate at Wisconsin and then went on to a teaching career at NYU — and who just before his death had completed the manuscript of a book about L. Brent Bozell, Jr., Yale ’50, Bill Buckley’s great friend and brother-in-law and a leading light in the modern conservative movement. To my surprise, last week’s mail brought a copy of the newly–published book,courtesy of Dan’s widow, Wendy Anne Kelly, who lives in Durham, N.H.

I I thank her for it. I read the book and enjoyed it greatly. Dan deftly and sympathetically chronicles Bozell’s life at Yale, his conversion to Catholicism, his marriage into the Buckley clan, his profound influence on Barry Goldwater and Buckley’s magazine, National Review — as well as his struggles with a bipolar disorder and alcohol. This is a compelling book about a charismatic but troubled man and an interesting slice of American political history .Its publisher is a conservative house, The Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Wilmington, Del. Dan himself, it should be added, was unswerving in his own lifelong devotion to the conservative cause, having developed his views as a member of the small but vocal Party of the Right in the Yale Political Union more than a half-century ago.

The last event at the Reunion will be a memorial service and choral tribute to classmates who have died since the 50th Reunion. Here, regrettably, are four more whose names will be called:

J. Meredith “J.M.” Neil died in February in Boise, Idaho, the state where he was born and to which he returned later in life to write history, support musical groups and sell real estate. In between he headed Seattle’s office of historic preservation and an art museum in Casper, Wyoming. He is survived by his son John.

Rogers Weed, who died in Spartanburg, S.C., in February, graduated from Roxbury Latin, attended Yale on a NROTC scholarship, received an MBA from Harvard, and joined Deering Milliken in Spartanburg before embarking on a long and successful career as general manager of a major trade group, Associated Petroleum Carriers. He was deeply involved with the Catholic Church and its associated charities, and is survived by his wife Lynne, four sons and two step-children.

Bill Fitch died in January in Washington, Pa. Bill also served in the Navy and graduated from the Harvard Business School, and returned to Washington, his birthplace, where he served as as an executive with Washington Steel and in several of his own businesses. He is survived by his wife,Natasha, and three sons.

Bernhard Lettau died of cancer in Arlington County, Va. in December. Bernhard worked for 31 years at the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic program, where he was a program director for polar oceans and climate systems. Born in Germany, he became a U.S. citizen in 1955, his freshman year, and later received a doctorate in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin. He made 25 trips to Antarctica, where a triangular peak in the Royal Society Range is named in his honor. Bernhard is survived by Kathryn, his wife, and three sons.