YAM Notes: July/August ’17

I am constantly amazed at how many classmates are still going full tilt and finding life as we approach octogenarian status to be “more fulfilling than it’s ever been—somewhat ironic for someone who thought that active life ends around 65.”

Those are David Shire’s words, and Mr. Shire is a case in point. The inexhaustible writer/musician/producer has been mostly on the road since the beginning of the year, first in Toronto December through March, rehearsing and previewing the latest (Dick) Maltby/Shire musical, Sousatzka; then on to New Haven to rehearse yet another musical, The Most Beautiful Room in New York, which he coauthored with one of my favorite New Yorker writers, Adam Gopnik. Meanwhile, a major production of Big, the Maltby/Shire musical from the 1990s, may be headed for London’s West End; and if that were not enough, the amazing duo has another musical, an adaptation of Wyckerly’s The Country Wife, on the drawing boards. I have no idea how he finds time for his family, but his wife Didi knows the score, and has been writing a one-woman play for herself that may hit Broadway later this year. No telling what the status of any of this prodigious output will be when this issue of the alumni magazine appears two months from now (now being mid-May), but I would bet that the sound of smash hits will reverberate on two continents come fall.

Phil Kopper has also been busy, busy. His latest book appeared in December—a revision, update, and enlargement—to six pounds—of his 1991 illustrated history called America’s National Gallery of Art. The new edition is deemed “official,” as it was published by the NGA itself. This is Phil’s fifth museum book, the others having included histories of the National Museum of Natural History and Colonial Williamsburg. Meanwhile, Phil continues to publish others at Posterity Press, which he founded 21 years ago to provide a high-class venue for books aimed mainly for private distribution—memoirs, history, and the occasional novel. Posterity, he writes, is proudly (and successfully) “retro.”

Phil also sends word of a classmate with whom he once ran before the bulls in Pamplona, Andy Fitch. Andy ran the Fitch-Febvrel Gallery in New York for many years before going private in 2005 in Croton-on-Hudson. Andy was a national-champion wrestler at Yale, represented the United States at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, and has never lost his enthusiasm for the sport. Born in New Rochelle, a graduate of the Hill School, and now a Croton resident, Andy was recently inducted into the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame.

Ron Stackler, after 25 years in the movie capital of the world, has at last become a producer. His first (and we hope not his last) effort, which aired in February on PBS, was True Honor: Jewish American War Heroes. The movie recounts the feats of 20 American Jews who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, in some cases after a long wait because of anti-Semitism.

This month’s roll call:

Stoney Hallquist passed away in February at home in Tulsa, where he had been a leading urologist for 47 years. Stoney received his medical degree from Northwestern, and met his wife, Minette, during a rotating internship in Detroit in the mid-1960s. They had one child, a daughter, Nina Hallquist-Sykes. Stoney served in the Air Force in 1968–1970 and then moved to Tulsa. He loved to ski, travel, and play golf with family and friends, among them Alex Boyle, who first tipped me to Stoney’s death. Alex describes Stoney as the “finest, most decent, and thoughtful” of friends, a view shared by all who knew him.

From Lydia Garrett comes word that her husband of 59 years, Larry Garrett, died in January in Prescott, Arizona. Larry was a good deal older than we were when he joined our class, having first arrived in New Haven in 1949, then detoured into the Air Force where he became a Russian language expert. He met Lydia, a Swiss, while stationed in London and married her in 1957. Later, he worked for Boeing, the Computer Sciences Corporation, and the state of Washington. With Lydia, he also conducted a small business, Swiss Hike, which organized and led hiking tours in the Swiss, Austrian, and Italian Alps. He leaves Lydia and two daughters.

The usual suspects—Griffith, Hallas, the undersigned, and various part-timers—will once again convene on Saturdays at home football games in Parking Lot B. The first home game is against Cornell on September 23. Bobbi Griffith offers a great lineup of snacks, but BYOB. We are still in the Harvard afterglow and expecting great things.