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Juan F. Punchin

Died: November 15, 2017

I met Juan in the first few days of our freshman year as we were on the same floor of the same entryway in Vanderbilt Hall. Juan’s family in Lima, Peru were Chinese immigrants of modest means, but Yale knew a gemstone when it saw one and gave Juan a full scholarship. Juan was diminutive (5’2” on his tiptoes), shy and quiet. Despite Juan’s soft spoken and self-effacing manner, he was in fact an accomplished athlete having made the Peruvian National men’s volleyball team. Considering his height, that seemed to me improbable until I witnessed with my own eyes Juan spiking the ball during an intramural volleyball game. I later learned that he had a 36” vertical leap, which was WAY over half his height! When he fielded the ball, there was never a noise as the ball rose softly off his hands and came down in exactly the right place for his teammate.

Juan was a Math major, the perfect choice for him to escape this imperfect world for a perfect one. On completing his studies at Yale, Juan continued mathematics at Michigan and became an actuary before joining the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and rising eventually to the level of Corporate Strategic Planner. Wonderfully fluent in Spanish, Juan was the perfect choice to head MetLife’s international operations in South America, including Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, where in each country Juan served as chief financial officer for the various MetLife subsidiaries. Juan’s usual tour in these appointments was about three years, during which time he was responsible for training local actuaries and financial personnel. He returned to New York in the late ’90’s where he continued to be active in the international arena, particularly in the development of training programs for foreign personnel.

Along the way, Juan met and fell in love with Robert White, a Harvard grad (1950) some years his senior, and with whom Juan shared a warm and fulfilling relationship for more than 30 years before Robert’s death in 2006.

Great value sometimes comes in small packages.

Lynn Harrison