Alumni Notes: May/June 2018

Let’s get right to it, shall we? Incidentally, the Times threw a hook in me on my way out the door, so I am now a contributing writer with my old email, Use that instead of Gmail, which is less friendly.

Like many of us, Bill Liddle celebrated his 80th birthday in the company of family, in his case in Phoenix at New Year’s. Bill retired as a professor of political science in 2011, but has kept an office at Ohio State in the belief that “work is the probably the second most important (after family) guarantee of longevity and enjoyment of life.” He recently published two books in collaboration with former students, and is working on another comparing five recent regimes in Indonesia.

In the same revelatory spirit, Ed Bloomberg writes from Kentfield, Ca., that he has at last stumbled upon the secret of wealth, hiding in plain sight — “longevity!” Lou Riggio, In Hollywood, Fl. recently celebrated his 49th wedding anniversary and retired after a long career working, consulting and contracting for the State Department. David Greer, a leading attorney in Dayton, Ohio, is still taking cases by day and playing classical (20’s and 30’s) jazz by night with the six-piece group he founded decades ago. He plays banjo and tenor guitar.

John Knott and John Stickler have each sent me two charming essays that cannot be reproduced here for obvious reasons of space but deserve a prominent place on our class website, which is set up to receive exactly these kinds of reminiscences and jottings.

Mr. Knott, upon reading of my retirement in the last YAM, sent me a chronicle of his increasing interest in conservation, a subject about which he has written extensively since his own retirement from the University of Michigan faculty some years back.His second piece deals with his search for, and friendship with, Aubrey Williams, an influential instructor in English literature our freshman year and one of several gifted inspirational teachers (I think of Richard Bernstein and Joel Dorius) who under Yale’s antique and ultimately self-defeating publish-or-perish system did not receive tenure, despite their effectiveness and enormous popularity.

Mr. Stickler’s offerings are, first, a lovely reminiscence of Tom Bergin, his master at TD and the great Sterling professor of Romance Languages, for whom John purloined a plaster bust of George Washington from the rubble of Hillhouse High, which was being demolished at the time and from which Bergin (and Vin Scully,too) had graduated; and, secondly, a reminiscence about Walter Sterling, an Anglo from New Hampshire who also happened to be John’s main competitors for various prizes in Spanish.

Which provides a bridge to this month’s roll call. John wrote the piece about Walter upon hearing that Walter had passed away last Christmas Eve in Concord, N.H. A graduate of St. Paul’s, Walter converted his lifelong interest in languages and Latin America into a diplomatic career that included stints with the United States Information Agency, US-Brazilian Cultural Center, various USAID projects across South America and the United States Navy. When he retired as an English-as-a-second language instructor in New Hampshire, he spoke eight languages and was a certified translator in four. Walter leaves his wife, Jiansheng Liu Sterling, a daughter and a son.

Joe Orgill died in Memphis on March 12. His obituary in the Commercial Appeal came to me courtesy of Alex Boyle, who did not know Joe at Yale but got to know him through his wife Betty, who also hailed from Memphis. Alex played golf with Joe on his visits to Memphis and describes him as a wonderful, gregarious person. devoted family man and and highly regarded in the Memphis community. For 45 years he worked in a legendary family business, Orgill Brothers and Company, a well-known hardware and construction wholesaler. He He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Irene Leatherman Orgill, and four daughters.

Bradley Todd Troost died last November in Winston-Salem, N.H., where he had had a fine career in medicine. Born in Mankato, Minn., Tod went on to Harvard Medical School after Yale, serve in the Army in Korea as a flight surgeon, and eventually wound up at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he r resided as chairman of the neurology department for 21 years, between 1983 and 2004. He was widely published in medical journals and continued to consult in retirement. His is survived by his wife, Gail, and and two daughters.

Another distinguished physician, Bob Schaefer, died in February in New York. Born in Brooklyn, Bob arrived at Yale from Iona Prep at the ripe old age of 16, At Yale he developed two other passions besides medicine that informed his life, history and music, and in his senior year served as WYBC’s director of music. The Marines grabbed him after medical school at Columbia and a residency at Vanderbilt, and between 1965 and 1967, as America’s involvement in Vietnam rapidly escalated, he served in Chu Lai as a medical officer with the First Marine Division and earned a Bronze Star. He spent the bulk of his career affiliated with Weill Cornell, specializing in gastroenterology and internal medicine and living within a stone’s throw of both Weill Cornell and Rockefeller University, where his wife, Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek, has had a similarly distinguished career as an expert in the biology of addictive diseases. She survives him, as do a son and daughter.

Thoughts are being given to our 60th (gulp) reunion next year. More on that later.