Alumni Notes: November/December 2019

In my haste to meet an early deadline for the reunion notes a couple of issues ago, I neglected to mention one key member of the five-person gift committee: John Wellemeyer, long a major supporter of the university. The final tally was $54.8 million, the third-largest 60th reunion gift in Yale’s history, with 63 percent of the class participating, The complete list: Steve AdamsAlex BoyleCharley EllisJohn Moss, and Mr. Wellemeyer. The alert Phil Kopper called my attention to the omission.

Not a whole lot of news besides the ever-lengthening necrology list, but all sorts of upbeat stuff emerged from September’s monthly class lunch at the Yale Club, orchestrated by Charles Griffith and Ben Gertz and including Larry Krakoff, Bobbi Griffith and the two IttnersBob and Eleanor, yours truly, and someone I had not seen for a while, Hugo Kranz, a neighbor of the Griffiths in Woodbridge.

Mr. Kranz had a tale to tell. After many years at Turner Construction, which had a working relationship with UBS, he found himself out of a job in his late 70s when UBS decamped from Stamford. Unable at his age to make a connection inside his old industry, but eager to keep busy, he became a driver for Uber. He says that despite the company’s well-known problems, and the rather modest returns to the drivers, he has enjoyed it immensely, and—fully 11,000 passengers later—is still going strong. It occurs to me to ask: do we have any other Uber drivers, or even Lyft? Please advise.

As we have noted before, our class has a long tradition of helping Harvard. Kit Reed was managing editor of Harvard magazine for many years, and Dwight Miller a key figure in Harvard’s admissions office. The September/October issue of the Harvard magazine contains a long feature on Dwight, who joined the office in July 1967 and retired, after 52 years, on September 1. During his tenure the applicant pool increased from 5,000 annually to 43,330 for the class of 2023. But two of the biggest differences, he says, are that today’s applicants are “much more uptight about the process” and, on the upside, “the sense of entitlement” that prevailed at mid-century, when applications were heavily weighted towards eastern prep schools, has dwindled away.

This month’s roll call begins with Cheever Tyler, a friend since our time together on the Yale Daily News, where he was the business manager, and who introduced me to the Hungry i and Tom Lehrer and the Kingston Trio during a memorable visit to San Francisco, where he had spent some of his early years. After Yale and two years in the Navy, Cheever graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, then returned to New Haven, where he became a partner in Wiggin and Dana, and, over time, an exuberant and tireless promoter—some said savior—of the arts and culture of New Haven. In 1983, to cite just one example, he helped refurbish and revive the historic Shubert Theater, which had closed during hard times in 1976. He nourished the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, served as chairman of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and United Way, and, not least, helped bring back Mory’s from the brink. He also published books on the arts, wrote plays and poems, and became an accomplished photographer. He is survived by his wife, Sally, and six children. His daughter Katherine put it well: “He was a citizen of New Haven.”

Ben Zitron, a longtime member of the class council, died in August. Ben was a Milwaukee boy who made his career in New York. He was an entrepreneur and real estate developer; a lover of the arts with an eye towards American impressionist painting; and a patron of the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, and Lincoln Center. He is survived by three daughters and one son, one of whom told the obituary writer in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that through all his ups and downs, he had one guiding principle: “For God, for Country, and for Yale.”

Lori Humphreys informed us in August that her husband, David Humphreys, passed away in June in Stow, New York. Born in Pittsburgh in 1937, he retired to his Lake Chautauqua home in 2011. In between, he graduated from Yale and Dickinson Law School and practiced law in Pittsburgh for 48 years. He loved gardening, sailing, and long-distance running—one Boston Marathon and a bunch of triathlons. And music! Having played in the band at Yale, he took up violin lessons at the age of 67, and four years later, after diligent practice, he won a place in the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra.

That’s a level of dedication I can only begin to imagine. He also ran a sports management company that represented track and field athletes, and was active in community affairs in and around Jamestown, New York. He is survived by Lori, three daughters, and a son.

Peter Ulrich reports the death in Oxon Hill, Maryland, of his wife of 56 years, Jeanne Eloise Thornhill Ulrich—“mathematician, artist, elite athlete, community activist, cancer survivor, wife, mother, and grandmother.” Peter, following retirement after a long and distinguished career at NASA (where he managed space science projects including the Mars Pathfinder rover and the Cassini mission to Saturn), took up painting in watercolor, oil, and acrylic, eventually teaching classes in all three, in the Washington area, mid-Atlantic region, in England, and in France.

Quite a second career, of which our class has many. Even, as we now learn, driving for Uber!