YAM Notes: September/October 2009

The Parking Lot B Special gang appeared in its entirety at the 50th reunion and all will be on hand next to the cage  when the home football season resumes against Cornell  on Sept.26. Diehards will recall that it was Cornell that got last year’s promising season off on exactly the wrong foot, and the following with spouses, expect an entirely different result this year: Herb Hallas, George Piroumoff, Charlie Kingsley, Charley Griffith and your correspondent, with occasional drop-bys from Ed Greenberg and Ben Gertz and assorted others.  A scheduling quirk has us at the Bowl for three consecutive Saturdays — Cornell, Lafayette on Oct. 3 and Dartmouth on Oct. 10. After three away games, the team returns to New Haven on Nov. 7, against Brown, and then Harvard on Nov 21.  All games except Harvard (noon) begin at 12:30.  It’s BYOB as usual, as well as a  sandwich,  but don’t worry about dessert. There’s plenty. 

The 50th pretty much ate up all the news,  although  kudos continue to roll in for the overall choreography, the music, the creativity, the general spirit of lightheartedness, as well as for Sandy’s great book, which is still providing unexpected surprises. The final reunion figures were robust indeed: 350 classmates, 290 guests, for a grand total of 640.  A tremendous turnout, and thanks again to Mr. Greenberg and his many helpers. At some point I’ll get the exact number for our 50th Reunion gift, but what we do known is that it was north of $120 million, an all-time 50th reunion record, thanks to one very big donor (Steve Adams, as you all know by now), some big donors and a multitude of  medium and small donors.

Charlie Hoyt informs me that we also set a one-year record for dollars raised for the Alumni Fund — $1,022,834, all of which counted towards the grand total. Contributions were made by 441 individual donors, representing 60 percent of our class.

One of those most responsible for our fine showing  was Charley Ellis, who ran the major gifts campaign . Charlie reports that he will be on the bookshelves with SIX entries this fall,  counting translations: A paperback edition of The Partnership, a history of Goldman Sachs; the Chinese and Japanese translations of same; the Japanese translation of Joe Wilson and the Creation of Xerox;  the 5th edition of Winning the Loser’s Game; and a new super-short book with Burt Malkiel aimed at busy people whose retirement security   depends on their 401-K that takes less than 2 hours to read (he promises) and is 100 percent straight talk. Mr. Ellis is giving Dick Posner and Dick Rhodes, our most prolific authors, a run for it.

Bob Pellaton has functioned, over the years, as a link between various classmates and Fernando Portuondo, a member of our class who returned to Cuba after graduation, became an accomplished engineer and  hoped until his final days that Castro would provide ordinary Cubans with the kind of democratic freedoms and economic prosperity they had never known under Batista, the Cuban dictator  who had made life difficult for Fernando’s parents, noted historians and Cuban intellectuals

Fernando was discovered  by Dick Lightfoot in 1992 on a visit to Cuba, and was shoehorned into the United states for a series of lectures a few years later, including one at the Yale Club  in New York. He had  hoped to attend the 50th reunion, but died on Dec. 27, 2007, as reported here. Since then, Bob has functioned, in effect, as custodian of Fernando’s legacy,  and in a recent email he tells me that a special collection of letters to, from and about Fernando has been added to the Class of 1959 Archives at the Sterling Memorial Library. Much of it documents his extraordinary life in Cuba after the revolution and the enduring bond he managed to keep with his friends at  Yale, despite many obstacles.

Charlie Kingsley, who has seen the papers (Charlie served as Sandy Wiener’s archivist for the class book, and put together the wonderful “scrapbook” section),  says he has seen the papers, including copious email exchanges with classmates. He and Bob advise that anyone wishing to add photos or reminiscences may do so by mailing them to William Massa, Head of Collection Development, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, PO Box 208240, New Haven, CT., 06521 (Re: Accession # 2009-A-210). For an overview, see Bob’s essay in the class book.