YAM Notes: September/October 2021

By Bob Semple

About this time of year, mid-June, I would be telling you where and when the hardy regulars at Yale football games would be meeting to tailgate with Bobbi and Charles Griffiths. But our old meeting ground, Lot B, has been usurped by the construction of a new lacrosse facility—so I don’t know the where, though I do know the when. The first home game, against Holy Cross, is September 18, followed the next week by Cornell. Either Bobbi or Charles or I will be updating you online at the class website. The best news is that there will be a football season, with a good many of the holdovers from Yale’s dramatic comeback win against Harvard two years ago, before COVID closed all athletics down.

One of the weirder side effects of the virus is that a lot of communication by snail mail and even texts and email has, at least in my case, declined. One would have expected the reverse since face-to-face communication all but disappeared for many months. But then again it isn’t so strange after all. People have been essentially landlocked, and thus have many fewer comings and goings to recount.

Whatever the reason, I have only a couple of items to report, and then on to the latest roll call of departed classmates.

Mike Cherry, inspired by our fond remembrance two issues ago to the late Ted Hamm, recalls happy if occasionally unnerving adventures with Ted when both were members of Fence Club. Mike himself went on to a peripatetic and rewarding investment banking career that transported him from the East Coast to the Midwest (Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago) and, eventually, California. He has lived since 2002 in Palm Desert in the Coachella Valley, where he shoots fairly fantastic golf and jealous-making golf for someone of his vintage and where, serendipitously, he reunited not long ago with another old Fence Club pal, John Walsh ’61, whose storied career as an art historian and curator included a pivotal role in getting the new Getty Museum in Los Angeles up and running.

An update from Winston Lord. In the latest issue of The Wire, an online publication which focuses on China and its relations with the rest of the world, Winston is interviewed by David Barboza, the magazine’s editor and founder (and former New York Times correspondent), about Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971, with Winston by his side, which in turn set up Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing the following year. Simply Google The Wire and right away you will find “Winston Lord on the Geopolitical Earthquake of Kissinger’s Visit.” You won’t be wasting your time. It’s riveting history.

A lovely if sad note from Barbara Ayer in Palo Alto reports that Doug Ayer, her husband of 58 years, passed away on March 18 at Channing House, a life-care retirement community where they had lived for the past 15 years. She says that during the past ten years, Doug was gradually losing his memory to Alzheimer’s, but that “quite unexpectedly it was lung cancer that swept him away in one grim week from diagnosis to death.” Doug roomed at Yale with Bob BurnettJim O’Connor, and the late Sid Holderness; studied political science; and was active in the Political Union. He graduated from Yale Law School in 1962, went back to school to earn a PhD in history from Stanford in 1983, and worked for many years in the development offices of colleges and schools. Academia was the centerpiece of his professional life.

I was late, as was the Yale records office, to the death of Al Liddell last November. Ed Greenberg, a summertime neighbor in Nantucket, alerted me to his passing. A Pennsylvania native, Al did his internship and residency in orthopedic surgery at Pitt and served the Navy as chief of orthopedics in Guam, where he developed a strong and durable passion for deep-sea fishing. He then returned to Pennsylvania, where he opened and sustained a thriving sports medicine practice and received many awards. Married for 57 years to Mary Frances Walsh, and the father of two children, he found plenty of time for fishing and sailing. Whether it was the youthful afternoons spent sailing on Lake Erie or the years mending bodies in the Pacific islands, Al never got the ocean and its lures and rewards of the marine environment out of his system. Nantucket, for all the obvious reasons, was a particular delight.

In his essay in our 50th reunion book, John Perry Adams said that he had “found my true love late”—really late—and did not become a father until about the time of our 40th reunion, when he would have been about 60, give or take. But it turned out just fine, he figured, both for him and for those he invited into his life, including his wife Brenda and his son Nicolas, for whom he was a wiser “if less agile” father than he would have been as a young man. John graduated from Andover and Columbia Law School, worked as an attorney for Coudert Brothers, and went on to lead several companies before starting Adams-Royer, an acquisitions firm based in New York and Paris. His other true love, apart from his wife and son, was Harryswood, a farm in Canaan, New York, near where he had grown up as a boy. John died on April 30 in Albany Medical Center, with instructions that any memorial donations be made to the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.