Alumni Notes: January/February 2022

I found myself worrying in a recent column that COVID-19, which thankfully has so far spared our class, has nonetheless had something of a soporific effect, judging by the mostly empty mailbag. Not so! Dick Rhodes, for one, remains amazingly productive. Already the author of 20 books, and the winner of one Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Rhodes has most recently published (through Doubleday) a biography of E. O. Wilson, the legendary biologist and naturalist. The timing could not be better, since climate change continues to exact an alarming toll on the world’s species. For Professor Wilson, now 92 years old, the natural world since childhood and throughout a distinguished academic career has been and continues to be, as he often says, “a sanctuary and a realm of boundless adventure; the fewer the people in it, the better.” The New York Times calls the book one of five “new biographies to read this season,” the others examining H. G. Wells, Stephen Crane, Pablo Picasso, and Oscar Wilde.

Also the subject of accolades were Dick Maltby and David Shire, honored on November 1 by the York Theater Company in New York with the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement for their many contributions (BabyBigStarting HereStarting NowCloser Than Ever, etc.) to musical theater. The two, who did so much to enliven our 60th reunion, have been writing together since 1958 at Yale, making theirs the longest-running collaboration in musical theater history.

One guy whose motor never stops is my old friend Art Kelly, who has downshifted, but only slightly, in retirement. He is now emeritus on the University of Chicago board, but active in Europe as a board member of the Stuttgart-based Robert Bosch Company, a formidable multinational which every year invites him to give a speech on what’s happening in America. They give him all of ten minutes. This year’s topic was climate change; Art said it went well and left his European audience surprised by the progress the United States has made on the path to renewable energy and happy that Washington was no longer in denial.

Thanks, as always, to Bobbi and Charles Griffith, who again hosted Saturday tailgates at Yale’s home football games. The last of these games, against Harvard before 49,000 people, produced a disappointing outcome with Harvard scoring in the final seconds—almost a mirror image of Yale’s dramatic win in the pre-COVID 2019 finale. Survivors, including Ed and Sue Greenberg, repaired afterwards to Al and Peggy Atherton’s in downtown New Haven. A possible Zoom meeting of the class officers was discussed and, with luck, will have occurred before my next notes are due early in the new year.

Our class as a whole (in addition to several magnificent individual gifts) has given copiously to Yale, but one of the most unusual and least-known vehicles is the Edward B. Greensfelder Jr. Scholarship Fund, established a little over two decades ago by Ted’s roommates and friends after his untimely death in 1998. Thanks to Yale’s wise investment management, the fund has now grown to $821,000 and, for every year since about 2000, has supported a deserving Yale undergraduate. Several of those roommates have themselves passed on, but their generosity is built to survive.

Now for the inescapable roll call. Here are the four I ran out of space for in the last notes: Mike Clark taught history for 40 years at the University of New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina drove him out of the city and into retirement in Durham, North Carolina, hard by the University of North Carolina, where he received his doctorate. His challenging essay in our 50th reunion book describes his ambiguous intellectual relationship with the historian/philosopher Henry Adams, at once an irritant and important point of reference in his teaching career. He leaves his wife of 55 years, Mary, and two children.

Robert Jon Eugene Anderson died in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, in April. Jon, as he was known, graduated from Yale with a degree in electrical engineering and worked for most of his professional life in the aerospace industry as an engineer and computer specialist, including contract work on the Voyager spacecraft at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Jon is survived by a sister and five children. Gerald Pitcher, also an engineer, died in October 2020 after struggling with Alzheimer’s for several years. After the Navy, Gerry took his engineering skills to North American Phillips Labs, Honeywell, Bristol Meyers, and, until retirement, to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, near the house he and his wife Kathy retired to in South Kingstown. He also leaves two daughters. Yet another engineer, Robert Coe, died in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in October 2020. Over the years he worked for United Aircraft, Raytheon, Xerox, and the City of Cambridge. He also cofounded Softech, an early software development company in Waltham. He attended all of our class reunions and served as an alumni interviewer. He is survived by his wife, Martha, a son, and a daughter.

Art Hotchkiss, mentioned in this space various times for his considerable post-retirement athletic skills, died October 3 in Westerly, Rhode Island. A graduate of Andover and the dental school at Tufts, Art served in the Air Force, played ragtime piano, practiced dentistry, sailed off Watch Hill and Stonington, and won numerous racquetball trophies in various groups as a senior. Art leaves his wife, Mary, and his former wife and mother of his three children, Linda Lindquist.

Harold Donegan, who by his own admission never really left New Haven (unless you count three years at Harvard Law School), came to Yale from Notre Dame High School in West Haven and—after OCS, the Navy, and the judge advocate general’s office in the Pentagon—returned to New Haven where he practiced law until his retirement in 2001. He served as corporation counsel for the city and chair of the Greater New Haven Community Foundation in addition to many other volunteer activities. He is survived by Karen, a son, and two daughters.

“We have lived our lives in an artificial bubble of plenitude. My family gobbles up energy. I live with mental blinders.” Those are three of the sentences In Frank Albers’s essay in our 50th reunion book. Frank was an economics major at Yale who, quite conventionally, did graduate work at Harvard Business School and at Penn, and then, quite unconventionally, spent most of the rest of his life as an inventor, a tinkerer, a dreamer, and entrepreneur. Walter set up an outfit in Arizona (where he died of lung cancer in August) called Albers Technology Corporation. The company researched advanced energy systems for air conditioning and desalination as well as cleaner alternatives to oil, gas, and coal. Frank wrote an essay called “Gently Fixing Global Warming,” which was anything but gentle in its conclusion, namely that the world was pretty much cooked unless its inhabitants became much more efficient in the ways they used energy and much more creative (and cleaner) in the ways they generated it. Along the way he obtained 47 patents and wrote essays on climate change and technology on his website, My sense is that if Walter’s ideas had obtained commercial scale, Art Kelly would have had even more to talk about in Europe. Survivors of this creative man include his wife, Mary Grace Warner, a doctor; their daughter Ashleigh Albers; a stepdaughter; and his companion of many years: Merlin, an African Gray Parrot.