Alumni Notes: September/October 2018

With another fall comes another football season, and while the home opener against Maine on September 29 may have come and gone by the time this issue of the magazine reaches you, I’ve been looking forward to the usual mini-reunions in Parking Lot B with the usual suspects, among them Bobbi and Charles Griffith, Ed and Sue Greenberg, Al and Peggy Atherton, and Barbara and Herb Hallas. The university website has the complete schedule, but we’ll have our usual tent for the Princeton game November 10. I like to think that Yale’s two national championships in the spring (lacrosse and men’s heavyweight crew) have set us up for a successful autumn.

Speaking of Mr. Hallas, the indefatigable author is at it again, this time with a work in progress about his hometown of Windsor, Connecticut, where his family owned the local newspaper for about two decades (1944 to 1962), and where Herb worked from his grammar school days through his time at Yale, even dropping out of Harvard Law School to run the place when his Dad was ill. Herb has excelled at writing about local history and bringing communities and regional figures to life. We’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the prolific Richard Rhodes, who won a Pulitzer for The Making of the Atomic Bomb way back when, has another book on the market, Energy: A Human History. Dick does not think small, and this time he has given us a magisterial history of how humans have progressed from one form of energy to the next—from wood to coal to oil to natural gas to nuclear to renewables like wind and solar to, well, whatever science brings us. It is not a dry tome; as in all his works, Dick is fascinated by human beings, by the engineers, scientists, inventors, and discoverers that populate and animate the energy landscape. Nor is it a moralistic tale, although he acknowledges that climate change and its unsettling consequences will have much to say about our energy choices going forward. The Times and Wall Street Journal have said great things about it.

Meanwhile, Don Watson is continuing to solicit submissions for the book he and Dick Bentley and others are putting together for our 60th reunion next May, a compilation of reflections and reminiscences, long or short, of our time at Yale. My last notes gave you a couple of examples. I have seen some mock-up pages and they are great. Don’s inbox is Our chairs, just to repeat myself, are Randy Ney and Charlie Nolan.

The roll call this month includes three lives that were so busy and creative and varied that you wonder how their occupants found time to go to work. But they did.

Mabel Grainger sent an obituary from the Buffalo News of her husband, Dick Grainger, who died in March. Dick, who came to Yale from Ohio and played football, spent his professional career as a manager and director of sales in the computer field, including a long stint with IBM. He retired 15 years ago and promptly ramped up a life of multidimensional outdoor activity that had already acquired considerable momentum. He ran a ski club in upstate New York; organized, with his wife, ski trips and whitewater rafting expeditions out West; sailed competitively in Lake Erie; built six sailboats on his own; and owned eight power boats. Just for the heck of it, he took up flying and became a licensed pilot. Somehow he found time to counsel inmates in a local penitentiary. Survivors include Mabel and a son.

Sheldon Jones forwarded an obituary of Al Gerrish, who died in May, that appeared in the Boulder, Colorado, paper. Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, and summering as a young man on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, Al spent a productive professional career as an electrical engineer in the early years of high-speed digital transmission—first in New Jersey with Bell Labs, and then in Colorado, where he began rock climbing, backpacking, rafting, and skiing. After early retirement in 1990, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by climbing the Matterhorn, whose summit he reached in 1991 on his first try. He taught for a while on the West Coast, then returned to Boulder to more fully embrace the Rocky Mountain lifestyle. But he never forgot his New Hampshire boyhood, and among his many philanthropic efforts was the protection of the Castle in the Clouds property in New Hampshire’s lakes region. He leaves his wife, Gail, and a daughter, Allison.

In April of 2016, Joe Barker, a faithful correspondent of ours, died of a heart attack at his home in Omaha. Joe’s ancestry in Omaha dated back five generations to the 1850s, when a traveling Anglican minister, also named Joseph Barker, set down roots. One of downtown Omaha’s classic buildings bears the family name, as does a street in midtown. After Yale, Joe returned to the family insurance business; but his main enterprise, in a manner of speaking, was Omaha itself. He served on countless medical and hospital boards and civic associations, and was particularly active in trying to unite the city’s white and black populations during the civil rights and wartime turbulence of the 1960s and ’70s. He lost his first wife at the age of 38 and a son to suicide, but was sustained by his second wife, DeDe, and his dedication to the Episcopal Church. His son, Scott, is now bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and survives him, as does DeDe, a daughter, and two other sons.