Alumni Notes: November/December 2021

Joe Staley, for more than a decade our Class Secretary, and one of God’s noblest creatures, died after a struggle with cancer on Sept. 11 in Dallas, where he and his wife Linda have lived for nearly all of their married life. A swimmer on one of Bob Kiphuth’s legendary teams at Yale, Joe married Linda, his high school and lifelong sweetheart in1959, rose to Captain in the Marines, won a law degree from the University of Texas, became a partner in a big Dallas firm for several decades, specializing in land use law, and opened his own firm in 1999. Along the way he worked for Senator John Tower, a friend, and served on the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, an experience that persuaded him to run, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for Congress in 1970. Joe was a compassionate and generous philanthropist, a rancher, an outdoorsman (flyfishing and wing shooting), a storyteller — all of those larger-than-life Texas things . But anyone who takes to the time to read his moving essay in our 50th Reunion book will find that, as a friend of Bill’s, as are others of us, he derived his greatest satisfaction from helping people struggle with addiction and achieve serenity by learning to “live life on life’s terms and not mine; to play the hand I am dealt without unrequited turmoil.” A man in full, Joe leaves his wife, three children and multiple grandchildren.

Joe’s death puts me in mind of a subject I have been meaning to write about for some time, namely the value of strong leadership in individual Yale classes, by which I mean not only value to the members of any given class but to the university itself. We have had just four secretaries since graduation: Harvey Applebaum, Ed Greenberg, Tom Maxey and Joe. In the last 35 or so years, with the assistance of Ben Gertz as Treasurer, various class agents and tremendous on-the-ground support, we have enjoyed splendid reunions every five years plus mini-reunions in Charleston, Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Santa Fe (when Joe hosted us at his Belden Ranch), and established two important philanthropic efforts — the Grace Hopper (formerly Calhoun) Fund for Excellence — monies the head of college can distribute to deserving students for special projects — and two endowed summer fellowships. A universe of talent makes these things possible — hardworking hosts for the mini-reunions, Whiffenpoofs who show up to sing, luminaries who populate expert panels, not to mention all those who loyally pay their class dues, But leadership at the top is crucial. As I write, Ed Greenberg, who is sort of our Swiss Army knife, has agreed (after soliciting the views of the Class Council) to return for a second term as Secretary. And he in turn has persuaded Al Atherton to take over the retired Ben Gertz’s duties as Class Treasurer, succeeding Ben, who has retired. Got all that? Bottom line is that we remain in good hands.

Tailgate info. On opening day at the Bowl on Sept. 18, when Yale lost to Holy Cross on a last-minute field goal, Bobbi and Charles Griffith hosted their usual fine spread for a small group including Hugo and Eve Kranz, the Semples, and, from the class of 1958, Carl and Annemarie Lindskog and Richie and Harriet Case. Also, from Singapore, Charles Griffith Jr., and his wife and three daughters. The Griffiths are in Lot F this year, a festive place indeed, and unless there’s a separate tent, that is where we will convene for Harvard on Nov. 20.

Besides Joe, there are three recent deaths to add to the lengthening roll call. Roger Anderson, who seemed indestructible, died in Utah in June. An Olympic-quality swimmer, Roger shared a world record in the men’s 4×100 relay in 1958, and is in the Swimming Hall of Fame. Born in Cincinnati, the son of a WW2 Colonel, he learned to swim in the first grade in Westfield, NJ, and to hear his brother tell it (Bruce, class of 1956) he never really got out of the water. I knew him as a spookmate in Elihu — charming, funny, movie-star handsome with a mischievous smile. He worked at Reynolds Fasteners as a salesman and warehouse manager in Chicago, where he kept up with classmate Art Kelly, but his first love was always the ocean. He lived for at least 15 years in the LA area, in Huntington Beach, then for about 20 more on the north shore of Oahu, the famous Pipeline, where he owned a house and surfed and where the waves were biggest and best. Later he moved to Utah, for the outdoors and the skiing. He never married, though according to Bruce he came close a couple of times, “He did what he wanted to,” Bruce says, “when he wanted to.”

Remember the high tenor who sang “Scarlet Ribbons” with the Whiffs? Impossible to forget. It was Larry Pierce. Larry died of cancer in July in Seattle, near where he had grown up, and graduated from West Seattle High School in 1955. After Yale, he served in the Navy, won a Fulbright to the University of West Indies and two degrees from Cornell, both in government and political science. He settled with his first wife Robin in Eugene, Oregon, where he taught political science and occupied important administrative jobs at the University of Oregon. Robin died in 1985, and Larry moved to Baton Rouge, where he became dean of the College of Education at Louisiana State and, in the process, met and married his second wife, Donna Mealey. Back he went to Seattle to build a house, raise two daughters in addition to a son from his first marriage, teach some more, do a lot of community work, and tend to a large garden. He was also — no surprise here — a devoted member of the tenor section of the choir at Fauntleroy Church United Church of Christ, where he also helped lead a capital campaign.

David Inkeles died in August at The Newton Medical Center near his home town of Sparta, N.J., where he had lived for 45 years. David earned a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Economics from Yale and then, after the Army, became a commodities broker at E.F. Hutton. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but then came a headspinning career switch in 1968 — a medical degree from Alfred Einstein in the Bronx, an internship in San Diego, a residency in ophthalmology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, then a lifetime of saving peoples’ eyesight as a member of Eye Physicians of Sussex County, where he was still practicing months before he died. David traveled the world (50 countries), ran marathons (9 of them) and camped out with his family every summer. His two sons went to Yale, and the three of them helped with the renovation of Branford College by donating a new computer center. David’s first wife, Margery, died in 2017. He is survived by the two boys and two daughters.

I have three other brief death notices on my desk — Michael Clark, Robert Jon Anderson and Gerald Pincher. With some more research, and a bit more space, I will be able to do them justice in the next notes.

See you, I hope, in Parking Lot F on the 20th.