YAM Notes: March/April 2019

We have some interesting book news below, but first an important announcement regarding our 60th Reunion. In addition to the varied programming offered by the university, we have engaged two exceptional speakers who are sure to enrich our weekend. One is my distinguished colleague David Brooks, the author and widely-read New York Times columnist, who has agreed to address us on Saturday afternoon. David is one of the liveliest and most influential (and non-Trumpian) conservative voices in the country. The other is Guido Calabresi, known to many of us from his days at the Yale Law School, and now Senior Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Calabresi will speak on Friday afternoon.

Our opening reception and dinner, on Thursday evening, will be held at the Graduate Club, and our class dinner on Saturday evening will be under a tent in the Timothy Dwight courtyard. Our memorial service, officiated as always by Rabbi Bill Cutter, will take place later Friday afternoon.

I’ve attended all of our reunions, and helped assemble the panel with Henry Kissinger on it at our 50th, and this is the most attractive three-day lineup I can remember. If you have not done so already, you can register for the reunion at alumni.yale.edu/reunions/class-1959-60th-reunion/welcome-1959. You will be amply rewarded if you do, and I personally would get a big kick out of seeing the faces behind all of these cards and letters over the years.

Now, speaking of Dr. Kissinger, Winston Lord has produced the only oral history the former secretary of state has ever given — Kissinger on Kissinger, Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership, which St. Martin’s Press will publish in May, shortly before our reunion. It is, Winston says, “an astounding performance” by a man in his mid-90s who was able to recall, fluidly and spontaneously and without notes, events of nearly a half-century ago. As a member of Kissinger’s National Security Council staff, Winston (later our first ambassador to China) played a role in the several of the most important of these events, including the opening to China, detente and arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, and peace efforts in Vietnam and the Middle East. It’s a tidy book, 160 pages or so, and based on about a dozen hours Winston spent with Kissinger. Winston reports that Henry was reluctant at first, then got into the swing of things. The result is a remarkable portrait of a man and his time.

Three more books of note, two of them brought to this column’s attention by an item on our excellent (if regrettably underused) class website posted by Jim Cowperthwaite. Frank Porter, smart, witty and satirical as an undergraduate in JE, has written Semper Fee, a novel about a couple of competitive Boston lawyers and their professional and love lives. And Alex Ercklentz’s sister, Hildegaard Mahoney (a Miss Rheingold our freshman year) has written a memoir of her harrowing experiences during World War II called Journey Interrupted. Caught in limbo between Germany and the United States, the family found itself stranded in Japan until 1946, when it was able to return to America, there to rebuild their lives, and, happily for us, get Alex ready for Yale. The third book, mentioned in an earlier column when it was in progress, is Herb Hallas’s A History of Windsor, 1944-1962, a portrait of a historic Connecticut town drawn largely from the pages of The News-Weekly, a local newspaper founded by Herb’s parents. Herb worked at the paper as its managing editor before embarking on a career as a lawyer, teacher, and, ultimately, author of several books, of which this is the latest.

A note on our class website. It is reachable by Googling “Yale Class of 1959.” Seriously, that’s all you need. Please avail yourselves of it. It’s attractive and easy to use, and full of timely information . You can also bloviate to your heart’s content about almost anything you want. It also contains material I sometimes don’t have room for here, like the detailed biographies of two outstanding recipients of the Class of 1959 Fund for Excellence that’s awarded to Hopper (Calhoun) college undergraduates to help them defray the costs of special projects. Recent recipients include Lucy Tomasso, who is pursuing a career in film, and Kevin Ou, who is studying biomedical engineering as part of a planned career in medicine. Consult the site for further details about these two exceptional students.

Here are two news items that I have carelessly neglected to mention in earlier columns. Hosted by David Patterson, ten Whiffenpoofs convened in Washington last summer for a long weekend and the usual revelry of song, drink and dining: Al Atherton, George Buchanan, Ed Greenberg, Larry Krakoff, Randy Ney, Paul Nyhus, Herb Rule, Larry Pierce, John Stetson and David himself. Missing for various sound reasons were Rob Buck, Doug Banker and Jim Cowperthwaite. Susie Ravenscroft, Dick’s widow, joined for the weekend. The entire crew will be on hand for the reunion.

John Gardenier, who has had a varied career, as you will see in Don Watson’s forthcoming reunion book (now virtually complete as of this writing), has received two notable awards. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has elected him a Fellow for his contributions to scientific and statistical ethics, while Marquis Who’s Who has awarded him its lifetime achievement award. John’s wife Turkan (Vassar ’61 and Columbia ’66) has also won both awards.

This month’s roll call.

Kirby Westheimer died peacefully in his sleep in Princeton on July 17, leaving two children, Gala and Kai, and following a long series of serious heart problems. Kirby, a fellow St. Louisan (we were a year apart at the St. Louis Country Day School) was one of the most interesting and entrepreneurial individuals I have ever come across. He sold magazines door-to-door as a kid, imported the Mexican jumping bean to the United States at the age of 21 (by some accounts, much earlier), wrote a syndicated column on the elderly under a pseudonym, received an MBA from Harvard, where he also taught a course in sales, collected sculpture, some of which he displayed in the backyard of his Princeton home, traveled widely, read every newspaper he could get his hands on, and for at least three decades ran an investment banking firm, the Westheimer Company. At Yale he was a member of Berzelius and the Aurelian Honor Society.

John Hull Dorsey died in December in Pequannock, New Jersey, a state where he lived and worked all of his life. Born in Newark, he graduated from Blair Academy and Yale Law School, and practiced law in Boonton Township for 51 years, 42 in the firm now known as Dorsey and Semrau. First in the Assembly and then in the Senate, he presented his community for 18 years in the New Jersey State legislature. He is survived by his daughters, Jennifer and Stephanie, and their mother, Susan Dewitt Dorsey.

Richard Jacobson, who died in Fairfield in December, is another classmate who pretty much stayed home. Born in Bridgeport, he earned a law degree from the University of Virginia after Yale, then, after service in the Army, returned to Connecticut, where he turned his legal training to public service, practicing for the State of Connecticut as an Assistant States Attorney. An avid golfer and skier in his younger days, he received a kidney transplant 11 years ago, which extended his life but slowed him down and often left him in considerable pain. Still, he summoned enough energy to to volunteer at the Bridgeport Hospital, helping drug-addicted infants. He is survived by his wife, Carol, and a daughter, Donna.