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YAM Notes: May/June 2015

By Gregory A. Weiss

You will be hearing a lot in these notes about our upcoming 50th reunion. With good reason. It is going to be the reunion to top all reunions—the one we will be talking about for the rest of our lives! Block your calendars for June 2–6, 2016.

In the last edition of the alumni magazine we described the class book that we plan to deliver in the early winter of 2016. Howie Moffett and his team have been doing a lot of work preparing to launch the book, and it is shaping up to be amazing! Fred Berg has agreed to be in charge of editing that most important part of the book, the personal essays. (It is not too early to start thinking about what you will write.) Mike Dalby will lead the section of the book containing special thematic essays. Tom Porter and Steve Clement will be in charge of the In Memoriam section, another important part of the book in which we plan to have something written about each of our 150 or so deceased classmates. Finally, your corresponding secretary has been working hard to produce a class survey that will seek everyone’s views on, among other things, some of the more contentious issues of the day. The results should be fascinating and will be summarized in another section of the book.

By now all classmates should have received a letter and, where we have e-mail addresses, an e-mail from reunion cochairs Cary Koplin and me and class book editor Howie Moffett containing some preliminary information about the reunion and some instructions about how to access the class website (yale66.org) to provide information for the book, your responses to the class survey and, most importantly, your personal essay. Please let us know if you have not received this important communication.

Some exciting news from David Taylor: “After 20-some years writing for movies and TV in Los Angeles, we now live in Brookline, Massachusetts, and my first novel, Night Life, was published in March. It is the first of a series of noir thrillers set in New York City during the 1950s. In a moment of shameless self-promotion I include this from Kirkus Reviews: ‘Life for NYPD detective Michael Cassidy is black and Red all over in this thriller set during the McCarthy era of the 1950s.… Mixing fiction and reality-based characters (J. Edgar Hoover makes an appearance) and providing a wealth of period detail, Taylor works in what has become time-honored fashion since Ragtime.’”

Beutler Wins LIBA Debate” is the headline on a recent e-mail from Chris’s campaign committee. Chris is up for reelection as mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska. We wish him well.

Over 40 classmates, spouses, and friends spent four days in Vail, Colorado, for the 17th annual Class Winterfest. The snow was merely fine, but the weather was sunny and glorious. Of course at this point the skiing is secondary. The best part of these events is seeing old friends. Our headquarters was the Tivoli Lodge, which was well located at the base of the mountain. Leading the organizing group was Biff Folberth, ably assisted by Chip Stanberry, Jeff Jones’s wife Nancy, and Bob Hemphill and his friend Leah Bissonette. On three of the evenings we had some fascinating speakers: Ellen Miller, a Vail local who is one of only five women in the world who have climbed Everest from both Nepal and Tibet; Dan Smith, the president of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group, who had some hair-raising rescue stories; and classmate Ben Lipzin, who spoke about the strange story of the estate of recluse multimillionaire Huguette Clark. Next year will be Aspen, to be organized by Howie Mallory—dates TBD.

We need to report on the passing of three classmates. Don Gastwirth died on January 25. Don returned to New Haven after graduation and earned his JD at Yale in 1974. He was an attorney and president of Don Gastwirth & Associates, a literary agency representing notable nonfiction and fiction writers. As stated in the obituary that appeared in the February 1 New York Times, “Don’s sharp intellect, wit, and humor, his kindness and warmth brightened many lives. He will be deeply missed.” Don’s good friend Rob Van Leeuwen was supportive to the end: “Among those who were able to share Don’s last days and hours at the hospice in Branford and to give comfort there to his wife, Joanne, who was a true angel to Don these past years, were his roommate John Lindburg, Kas and Pat Kalba, Waring Partridge, my wife Richenda, and myself.”

Tim Roble provides some reminiscences on the passing of Jay Powers: “Jay died on December 21. He and I were assigned to the same floor in Wright Hall our freshman year, and roomed together in Branford for the next three years. Jay went to law school and practiced law in Florida,… later moving to Colorado and then California. We saw each other from time to time and otherwise kept in touch over all these years. There were a number of escapades we had in college that I think I still remember clearly and which were quite humorous. More importantly, Jay had many fine traits, including that he was particularly smart, even for Yale, and had a fine sense of humor.”

Many of you will remember Tone Grant playing quarterback for the Eli on Saturdays in the Bowl. Tone, we are sad to report, died on January 18. Among those at the funeral service were classmates Bob Riordan (who gave a very effective eulogy), Bob Brundige, Jim Munson, and Steve Gilhuley as well as former Yale football greats (and NFL stars) Calvin Hill and Gary Fencik, both good friends of Tone’s. Jim remembers Tone as “a remarkable guy with a huge spirit of generosity and a great sense of humor.” Tone’s passing brings back some fond memories from Steve: “I think you know that Tone and Bob Brundige and I shared a house in Nashville during our law school days at Vanderbilt; and Doug Moore was also a housemate until he found a better mate (his wife, Judy) in the middle of our second year.”