Alumni Notes: July/August 2020

Despite the fears of some of my editors, I have not been deluged with accounts of how classmates are dealing with the virus. In fact, nada. Which I take to mean, perhaps optimistically, that we are all facing the same inconveniences with equal stoicism. It is May 10, and

Lisa and I have now completed eight weeks on lockdown in our apartment at 74th and Lexington. There’s an upside. The Upper East Side is deserted; those that have places to go have gone. Rentals have boomed in Westchester, Long Island, Connecticut. The result is a peaceful city. I enjoy the quiet. But how much longer before serious cabin fever sets in is hard to tell.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been online discussion among classmates of the pandemic and its broader truths. Sandy Wiener, Erik Esselstyn and Don Watson have constructed a particularly lively exchange, the basic theme of which is that on matters involving not only public health and related subjects like climate change, the solutions are there, the leadership is not. The indefatigable Mr. Watson, who reviews books for an outfit called Recovery Diva, has also established a website, www.the, a handy reference guide to organizations addressing resilience and sustainability.

All of which makes Dick Rhodes’s present book project on the legendary biologist and environmentalist E.O. Wilson, a project mentioned in my last column, all the more timely. Wilson, among others, has urged humanity to set aside a large percentage of the earth’s land and water for permanent protection from human activity, in that way to give the natural world a fighting chance and to limit the intrusions that may lie at the bottom of the pandemic.

Some upbeat news:

John Huss reports from Massachusetts that the “numbers are beginning to add up in my favor —20 years cancer-free after prostate treatment, 39 years in a historic 1725 home in Manchester-by-the-Sea, 49 years of marriage to stunning, athletic Sally.” John keeps busy as a curator at the Manchester Museum and as a docent at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester. Has given up paddle in favor of pickle ball. He’s not alone there.

Fred Cowles in South Salem, N.Y: “So far, so good… lots of hiking… summer in Nantucket, automobile excursions to Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, completing wife’s bucket list of all the lower 48 states….. Alaska on the docket this fall and Hawaii next summer for 60th wedding anniversary with the entire family.”

Ed Bloomberg, in Kentfield, CA.: “Well, I’ve quit hunting, not because I’ve become an angel, but because all my hunting pals are either dead or incapacitated. Still fishing, skiing, reading French literature and working. All is (pretty) well. Do not approve of Yale’s hyper-progressive tendencies. You might want to read “Student Violence” by yours truly for a different point of view.” (Ed’s little book, really a monograph, discussing the moral limits on student disobedience, was published in 1970, at the height of the antiwar protests. It is available on Amazon).

Some distressing news:

As several classmates reported, Nick Ciriello died April 5 in Los Angeles after battling both cancer and Parkinson’s. A graduate of Taft before Yale, and Harvard Law afterwards, Nick had a busy and fruitful life as an attorney (with, among others, Cleary Gottlieb in New York), as an investor and investment adviser in Los Angeles, and as a prodigious fundraiser and benefactor for various non-profits, including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and as a founding board member of the Los Angeles Opera. He also gave generously of his time to Taft and Yale. His inventiveness (and sense of humor) were the stuff of legend. Essays in The Way We Were, our 60th Reunion book, recount how Nick, as a freshman, boldly telephoned the lofty Paul Tillich in London to help him scope out the questions on an upcoming Philosophy 10 exam, and how he finagled his way backstage to get a signed photo of Maria Callas after her performance of Tosca in New York. We really thought we could pull off anything in those days. Nick is survived by his wife, Janet, and three sons.

Alex Boyle reports that Pat Beairid, his roommate for four years in Davenport, passed away in Shreveport, La. , in late April. Pat did not often return to Yale, but Alex recalls a wonderful person with a cheerful disposition and a ready sense of humor. Pat went on to a master’s degree in business at the University of Texas and a long and successful career as a broker/manager/financial planner. Because of the mergermania of the 1980s and ’90s, Pat’s letterhead read, at various points, E.F. Hutton, Smith Barney, and, finally, Morgan Stanley, from which he retired as Senior Vice President in 2014. An avid duck hunter, he was a major contributor to Shreveport’s civic health. Classmates Terry Coombs and Joe Staley, our class secretary, were honorary pall bearers at a private funeral. Pat leaves his wife of 60 years, Kathryn, a son, and two daughters.

Edward Mewborne died in Roanoke in March after a long stretch of suffering from memory loss. A Virginian for most of his early life, he was born in Newport News, and received his medical degree from the University of Virginia and rose to Captain in the U.S. Army.After further study at Vanderbilt, he took his skills in pediatrics and radiology to California, and thence to San Antonio in 1971, where he became a prominent member of the community and finished his career in 2006. There was no public service , owing to the virus, but there is a livestream on the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Facebook page, He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary Ann, and four sons.

Richard Koffler, who lived in Teaneck, N.J. for the last 40 years, died in April in Cresskill. After Yale, he set out for Europe, tasted various cultures, and returned home to get a doctorate in comparative literature at Rutgers, which pretty much set the course of his life — a life he described in our 50th Reunion book as consisting of three careers: as a university professor (“at MIT, uneasily, for some years”); as a “‘wretched bureaucrat”at the National Endowment of the Humanities in Washington; and finally as a book editor, publisher and writer in New Jersey. In all this, he said, he was greatly helped by his marriage to a fellow Ph.D in Romance Languages and Literature, Florette, who survives him, as do their three sons, all with academic, bookish and artistic bents.

That’s it — until, one hopes, something resembling normalcy.