Alumni Notes: November/December 2017

Belated congratulations to Herb Hallas on his third book, “Guardians of the Record: The Origins of Official Court Reporting and the Shorthand Writers Who Made It Possible.” Published in May by the Rivulet Ferry Press (and unreported by me, due to sloth or an excess of emails), it is available online in and in brick and mortar stores.

Herb has an amazing knack for unusual topics, and the results are invariably entertaining. An expert on upstate New York, he wrote a book about the 19th Vice President, “William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country, in 2012,”, and then “Going Up South: Historical Gleanings from New York State’s North Country.” Add now to the Hallas pantheon the tales of 11 gifted people — reformers, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, scientists — whose skill at shorthand and dedication to the rule of law gave the profession of official court reporting its start in America. Herb was a history major at Yale, has a master’s degree from Wesleyan and a law degree from Connecticut. He has put all of this to good use in his books. He also owns the record for the longest punt return in the history of the Yale Bowl, but that is another story altogether.

Speaking of court reporters, one classmate who has seen a ton of them (but maybe not so many going forward) is Dick Posner. Here is the lead on a story in the Times on Sept. 11 by our Supreme Court reporter, Adam Liptak.:

“Judge Richard A Posner, whose restless intellect, withering candor and superhuman output made him among the most provocative figures in American law in the last half-century, recently announced his retirement. ” Dick is 78 and has been a a judge since 1981, when Ronald Reagan appointed him to Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He offered several reasons for his decision to retire, one of which was pitch-perfect Posner: “What kind of a person wants to have the same identical job for 35 years? It’s too muc. Why didn’t I quit 10 years ago? I’ve written 3,300-plus judicial opinions.” Another reason is that he would like to address an issue that has been on his mind for some time, namely, the plight of litigants who represent themselves, and who often receive short shrift. He said he hoped to work with groups concerned with prisoners’s rights, and with law firms, to bring attention to people who are often too poor to afford lawyers. And of course he’ll write a book. He’s written, what, 40 or so? Something for Herb Hallas to shoot for, in any case. .

Speaking again of Hallas, he and Barbara and Bobbi and Charles Griffith (with their usual great spread) and, briefly, Sue and Ed Greenberg, gathered at the Bowl for opening day against Cornell on September 23, with a satisfying result and a promise of even greater things to come.

Two sad notes.

John Lydgate’s death in Hawaii in May was reported by his alma mater, the Punahou School, in Hawaii. John gave much of his life and energy to many different causes in his native state, his family having donated the land for the Lydgate Beach Park in Wailua. Educated at Yale and in England, he taught history at Georgetown and served a three-year mission with the Episcopal Church in India. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and four sons.

Peter Sears, who served as Oregon’s Poet Laureate from 2014 to 2016, died in July. Educated at Exeter and Yale, he went westward to Oregon in 1974, where he taught writing and composition at several universities; his work appeared in Te Saturday review, The Atlantic, the New York Times and Rolling Stone, among other venues. “If a person has an opportunity to engage imagination, ” he once said, “as they do in writing, things can happen that they never saw coming.” Peter was as beloved by his Yale friends, and leave his wife, Anita Helle, and a daughter.