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YAM Notes: September/October 2022

By Gregory A. Weiss

We recently lost one of the most accomplished and memorable members of our class: Josh Jensen. Renowned for his success in the wine business and remembered for his generosity in providing his wines to many of our class reunions and special events, Josh’s passing was observed in obituaries in both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The opening paragraph in the latter tells his basic story: “The limestone hills of Mount Harlan in California’s Central Coast are forever intertwined with vintner Josh Jensen. The founder of Calera Wine Company, Jensen was not only a pioneer for the region, located within the remote Gavilan Mountains near Monterey, but also a trailblazer for California wine. Jensen chased an impossible dream to make Burgundy-style pinot noir in California, and succeeded, becoming one of the state’s top pinot noir producers. The visionary and icon of the California wine industry died June 11.” A quotation in the obituary from Josh’s daughter, Sylvie, describes what kind of person he was: “Josh was a true original. He was larger than life, a dreamer, an idealist, a generous spirit, a man dedicated to his friends, community, and family, and, above all, to the ideals of friendship, truth, fairness, good food and wine, and stewardship of the land.” Classmate Jesse Lovejoy described him similarly: “Enormous talent, huge energy, genuine charisma. Josh marched to his own tune, achieved success his way, and never forgot his friends.”

Our recently established monthly class Zoom sessions (“’66 Live”) have been a huge success. Led spectacularly well by classmates Michael Dalby and Jesse Lovejoy, we have had three sessions so far, featuring classmates David ThorneYukon Huang, and John Bockstoce. All were fascinating and informative. If you missed any, go to the class website to see recorded versions of each. Michael and Jesse are hard at work in developing new sessions for the fall after a summer break.

A recent message from Mary Jo and Ted Shen announced Ted’s new musical We Shall Someday. In June, Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, presented four concert performances of the show as a preview in advance of its spring 2023 world premiere. The show chronicles three generations of a Southern black family as they trace the effects of racism, activism, and legacy from the Civil Rights Movement to the present.

Jeff Lewis has a new novel, Land of Cockaigne. It was the June/July selection of Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s statewide All Books Considered Book Club.

May was a memorable month for the Steve Timbers family. “Our theater director son, Alexander, published a children’s book, Broadway Bird. This clever and funny illustrated story is targeted at 4-to-6-year-olds and their supportive parents. Even more unlikely, I published my debut novel, a murder mystery entitled A Death at the Potawatomi Club. I credit COVID-19 for creating the time to work on these bucket list projects.”

Ken Bernhard reports, “With my professional career winding down, I now often speak in public forums about my role as a court-appointed animal advocate in Connecticut criminal cases as well as the connection between animal abuse and violence towards children, spouses, and the elderly.” Ken’s description (edited for space limitations) of his recent experience volunteering in an animal rescue effort to assist with the care of hundreds of dogs being readied for humane relocation is downright fun to read. “Most of the dogs were from research labs, and others had been saved from meat markets and hoarders. The pups were all as sweet and innocent as one can imagine. And, if one is looking to have fun, try entering a cage with ten three-week-old puppies, all of which are determined to escape at the same time. And, if you manage to close the door behind you, you are then attacked from all angles by the same crew with their needle teeth going at your pants, socks, and shoelaces. Once you settle on the floor, you become a human jungle gym with them tumbling all over you. Great adventure!”

It is not surprising that we are receiving notices of the passing of classmates more and more often these days. As noted in a recent column, to memorialize those we are losing, thorough memorials are being written for each newly deceased classmate for posting on the class website under “deceased/memorial.” One classmate about whom a memorial has already been written and posted (and which should be read for a complete description of his life) is Jay Westcott, who died in May. Jay graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969 and spent his entire career in Boston with the law firm now known as Wilmer, Hale. He was the captain of our tennis team and an avid participant in tennis and golf throughout his entire life.