YAM Notes: September/October 2020

Right about here in every fall  edition of the Class Notes I have summoned the faithful to Parking Lot B, near the Cage, for the start of another  Yale football season (and hopefully another championship season), with food and merriment provided by Bobbi and Charles Griffith. But just moments ago, as I was writing these notes on July 8,  the  Ivy League announced that there will be no football this year, and indeed not much else in the way of team sports — the Covid-19’s latest casualty. The decision makes sense,  given that teams practice, compete and travel in  close quarters,  given also that stadiums are likely to be empty. Yale had already announced that classes will be taught remotely, and that only 60 percent of the student body will be allowed to live on campus. Still, though inevitable and wise, it’s a sad development for those of us who enjoyed the weekly trips  to the Bowl, and especially for the kids themselves. Besides, we would have fielded a hell of a team. 

As to the plague, we have not, so far as I know, lost anyone to Covid-19, and I have heard of no illnesses. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some. This is an amazingly resourceful and tenacious virus;  those of us who live in New York City, which began as the epicenter of the disease in March and later became a poster child for good behavior, are taking matters one day at a time, wearing masks, eating at home or takeout, social distancing, avoiding public transportation,  the whole nine yards.  Lisa and I have ventured outside the city once since March 11, to a splendid June lunch in Greenwich courtesy of Alex Ercklentz and his lovely wife Margild at their beautiful home on Stanwich Road, where we reminisced and covered the news of the day for three hours, safely six feet apart.  Alex still occupies a senior advisory role at Brown Brothers, Harriman, and  he and Margild — at least in more hospitable  times — are often overseas in search of great music and in service to the various boards that Alex is and has been associated with.

We have all been in some form of self-storage. John Wellemeyer,  like me a dedicated Yale fan, has been  been isolating in Princeton with his wife, Louise, and their identical twin sons, Douglas and James, home from Yale and Columbia, respectively. This  experience has given them some appreciation for  online learning –“better than nothing”,  he says,  —  but  which, in their view,  can never  replace the on-campus experience.

One piece of literary news,  this in a message from Moose himself: “Jack Maresca has published a new novel, called “The Russian Operation,” which is available through major online book dealers.  “The Russian Operation” is an international adventure story which takes place in Washington, Moscow, and remote regions of Russia, and is filled with action and suspense.  The book was published by Edition Noema, an affiliate of the Columbia University Press which is based in Germany and publishes in English.  Jack has lived in Geneva, Switzerland, for the last twenty years, and has published several books and numerous book chapters and articles over the years.  This is his first novel, but he is already planning a sequel.  Jack can be reached at his e-mail address: johnjmaresca@gmail.com.”    Our congratulations to Moose, one of a robust number of classmates who have been both writers and diplomats.

Thankfully, only one passing to report this time, but for me it is an especially sad one. Bill West died  the night of June 24 in Cleveland, where he had lived his entire life, practiced corporate law as a partner in Thompson, Hine and Flory and contributed significantly to the well-being of this old Rust Belt city on the Lake Erie shore.   Bill adored his family, but as his  daughter Ashley said  in her note to me, “Yale was a very close 2nd…… anyone with a pulse knows how much it meant to Dad.”  Bill had been suffering from progressive memory loss for several years, but as his son Will once told me, he could remember his  Yale days and his friends there with astonishing clarity.  At Yale, Bill was a man of boundless energy  and enthusiasm, a fine two-way football player, at guard and tackle, president of Elihu, his senior society, and a  dedicated student of the Civil War who once coached me through a final exam.  He served on various Yale committees after graduation, and  leaves Ashley, Will, another daughter, Lisa, and their mother, Nancy. Donations in his memory can be directed to the West Family Scholarship Fund, Yale University, PO Box 2038, New Haven, Ct., 06521-2038. Attn: Jodcelyn Ryan-Small.