YAM Notes: September/October 2022

By Bob Semple

Word arrived today, Aug 1, too late for the next couple of print editions, but not too late to be recorded here on the class website, that on Aug 31 Yale will break ground for a new Neurosciences Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. The time is 11:30 a.m. and the place is 659 George Street. The center will be built in large part because of the extraordinary generosity of our classmate Steve Adams and his wife Denise, yet another milestone in an amazing philanthropic narrative in which Yale has been a major beneficiary. Steve and Denise gave $100 million to the music school in 2009, contributing decisively to our record-breaking 50th Reunion gift. Our admiration and thanks, again.

With an impressive display of technical wizardry, Ed Greenberg and our webmaster Jean McKillop hosted our first class Zoom call on June 7, and it went off without a hitch. It was also, I might add, timely, lively and informative, not least because our inaugural speaker, well chosen by Mr. Greenberg, was Jack Maresca, a lifelong diplomat and expert on Europe and the Soviet Union.

Jack, as we have reported in earlier columns, has a new book out, “The Unknown Peace Agreement,” a formal document that Jack helped negotiate and signed in 1990 by the nations that had participated in World War II in Europe, officially ending that war and signifying that these nations were no longer enemies. Jack discussed the book — but no less riveting to me and the two dozen or so other classmates who tuned in was Jack’s analysis of the situation in Ukraine, his thoughts about Putin’s character and motives and his sense that, however eccentric and even dangerous Putin may seem to us, his fierce belief in Russia’s destiny has considerable support even among the citizens of the old satellite nations that escaped Moscow’s yoke only when the USSR dissolved. Many of them are, after all, deeply Russian. On this, too, Jack is an expert; in early 1991, Secretary of State Jim Baker named Jack a special envoy to the newly independent states of the USSR. As such, Jack was the first American official to visit those countries, including Ukraine, a task that took over a year.

Dwight Miller, who retired in 2019 after 52 years in the Harvard admissions office, was among four recipients of the coveted Harvard Medal awarded by the Harvard Alumni Association on June 3rd. The Harvard Gazette describes the medal, first awarded in 1981, as recognition “to those who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the University” and further describes Dwight as “beloved by many for his kindness and sense of humor” that welcomed and inspired generations of students at Harvard College. Dwight joined Harvard’s administration in 1967, having served as a platoon leader in the Marines, and over the course of his career navigated an applicant pool that increased from 5,000 in the late 1960s to 43,330 for the class of 2023 (which is a lot of platoons). At some point we should depose him on the change he has seen in the applicant pool and in the composition of the undergraduate population.

Shorter notes: Peter Haight, retired from Fiduciary Trust since 2002, designs and builds furniture for family and friends, spending summers at workshops at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Me. He and Gretchen are well and active in Los Angeles, with energy to spare for fly-fishing in New Mexico, Oregon and the Eastern Sierras. Alki Scopelitis, former ace point guard and one of our premier jazz pianists, has a new CD on our website. It is delightful. Ted Mollegen is the owner and operator of a ham radio station KB1OLU. His electronic tentacles have reached as far as South Africa and Japan and are moving inexorably towards Australia.

Jim Pender reports that Bill West’s children and Nancy West organized a celebration of his life on June 24, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland. A strong Cleveland and family contingent included, from the class of 1959, Jim and Kathy, Bill and Claudia Parkhurst and Jim and Betsy Sampliner. We reported on Bill’s passing in earlier notes. Memorial services have been few and far between in the age of Covid. Salutations to the Wests for organizing one such gathering for a good man and, to the end, a loyal friend of Yale.

No sooner had Lee Smith alerted me to the death of Peter Pohly than there appeared in the New York Times of July 15 a lovely and extensive obit. I cannot much improve on it. Peter died of pancreatic cancer. For four decades he ran the family-owned company, Beekman Paper, in downtown New York, on Varick Street. He loved Yale, where he was a member of the fencing team, was a charter member of Ben Gertz’s monthly lunches at the Yale Club, traveled widely, and spent his retirement years soaking up whatever New York had to offer in the way of jazz, classical and avant garde music. On a nightly basis, he explored the city’s nooks to find new sounds and expressions, and on occasion opened his own apartment on the Upper West Side to musicians as rehearsal space. He leaves three children and his former wife, Hallie Rosenbloom, and a bunch of Yale pals, now sadly diminished in numbers.

Charles Green Banks, aka Chuck, died in May in Harrisburg, Pa., of complications following surgery. A member of ROTC at Yale, he served with distinction in the Marine Corps, flying aerial observance in Japan, teaching at Camp Pendleton and leaving the Corps with the rank of Captain. After Columbia Law School, he spent the greater part of his professional career in Westchester County, where he practiced law, engaged in local politics and raised a family with his late wife, Susan. In retirement in Pennsylvania, he cultivated a lifelong interest in Episcopal canon law, providing legal counsel to the dioceses of New York and Central Pennsylvania. He was a sportsman and conservationist, and is survived by a son and daughter.

We are late with three more. Lauren (Larry) Williams, an outstanding football player at Yale and later a very successful corporate executive. He died last year. Also Ken MacArtney and John Bendler. We will have more on all three next time.