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YAM Notes: July/August 2008

By Gregory A. Weiss

A recent note from Jim Munson announces his retirement from active practice as a trial lawyer, after 37 years as a partner at Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis. He is, however, keeping his hand in the legal world by starting a practice as a mediator/arbitrator/alternative dispute resolutioner. It’s a little hard to think of Jim in the context of peaceful dispute resolution when we have so many memories of his wreaking havoc with opposing defensive linemen as an offensive guard on the Eli football team over 40 years ago. But don’t worry about Jim slowing down. His note goes on to say: “Life after K&E is good—acting classes, high school football coaching, trips to Florida, California, and Costa Rica. What’s not to like?” We are a little unsure about where he is going with the acting classes, but we know the boy knows how to have a good time!

Bob Hemphill’s career looks like it is about to become even more active. He was named president and CEO of a one billion dollar joint venture recently formed by AES Corporation and New York private equity firm, Riverstone Holdings. The JV, to be called AES Solar, will seek to become a leading owner, developer, and operator of utility-scale solar energy installations around the globe. With all the talk about the soaring price of oil and the need for alternative energy sources, Bob seems to have found himself a spot right in the middle of where things are happening in the energy world.

One of our first class dinners in recent years was held on April 16 at the Yale Club in New York. It was a resounding success, with 49 classmates and 19 guests in attendance. One classmate, J. K. Singh, came all the way from India for the occasion. During the cocktail hour, Cris Strotz hosted a wine tasting of his Pickberry wines and a 2005 T. R. Elliott pinot noir from Ted Elliott. Some of Josh Jensen’s Calera wine was also poured freely during the cocktail hour and dinner. Dinner featured a slide show of class events over the years, including photos from past reunions, tailgate parties at Drumthwacket, monthly lunches at the Yale Club, West Coast reunions, and Winterfest ski reunions. We are an active class! Judy Schiff, Yale’s chief research archivist, gave a talk on Eli Yale over dessert. She was introduced by Will Farnam, who had worked with her way back in his undergraduate years. After the talk Bill Hammock led a toast to old Eli that was followed by a rousing chorus of “Bright College Years.” Huge thanks to Bill and Tom Opladen, whose hard work made it all happen! Mark your calendars for Monday, April 27, 2009, for a reprise.

A note of condolence to Will Taft, who lost his wife of 34 years, Julia, to colon cancer in mid-March. As described in detail in an obituary in the March 18 New York Times, she had quite a career, both inside and outside of government, in international disaster and refugee relief and international aid and development. Among her many high-level positions was assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration for four years during the Clinton administration. She was someone whose life was dedicated to making a difference for people much less fortunate than the average American.