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YAM Notes: September/October 2009

By Gregory A. Weiss

Be on the lookout for Gene Dattel’s book, Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Price of Economic Power, scheduled for release in October. Having seen the jacket blurbs written by ten well-known and well-respected academics and others, it sounds like a truly fascinating and important book. An example: “Gene Dattel turns economic history into a gripping narrative, in this sweeping synthesis of an important but underappreciated chapter in the American past. From Whitney’s gin to the mechanical picker, Dattel shows just how close the links have been between King Cotton and the race issue. This book is highly recommended.”—Gavin Wright, professor of economics at Stanford. Probably the most interesting of the blurbs to us is the extremely favorable one written by former Yale professor Staughton Lynd. Gene explained the background: “I contacted him in November 2008 after not speaking with him since 1964! I took his course, and the ideas for this book began in his course and Robin Winks’s seminar at Yale. I don’t think that many Yale graduates get a blurb from a professor 45 years after his course. Lynd was important to our class because he led the educational part of the Mississippi civil rights summer in 1964. Many of our class were exposed to him. The symmetry is quite appealing.”

At the end of June President Obama announced that he was nominating David Thorne to be ambassador to Italy. David is a co-founder of Adviser Investments, one of the nation’s most highly regarded firms specializing in Vanguard and Fidelity mutual and ETF funds. He was the publisher of the Rome Daily American, one of the most successful English-language newspapers serving southern Europe. He has been an investor and entrepreneur in a wide variety of business ventures, including marketing, consulting, real estate, publishing, and financial services, and recently sold his publishing business to Martha Stewart Omnimedia. David is a former president and current board member of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and led the design oversight team for its new building in Boston.

Jon Streltzer and his wife, Sheila, traveled from their home in Honolulu to DC for the Obama inauguration. Jon writes: “It was fabulous. I got kissed by Obama’s sister. We stayed with Mark and Betty Greenwold, perfect hosts. Mark looks almost the same as he did in college.” Jack Dunn recently started work as a neurosurgeon at Tucson Veterans Affairs Hospital, taking care of “deserving and appreciative” veterans, young and old, male and female. He is also teaching medical students and neurosurgery residents at the University of Arizona, where his daughter, Erica, is a second-year law student.

A recent edition of the New York Times included a smiling photo accompanying the announcement of the wedding of Ed Warren and his new bride, Jo Geise. A Texas gal, Jo is the founder and president of MalibuGreenMachine, a nonprofit civic organization. Ed, who was formerly a senior partner in the DC office of Kirkland & Ellis, is now of counsel to the firm. Speaking of the New York Times, the June 8 edition included a long article about the testimony of Henry (Terry) Christensen III in the highly publicized trial of Anthony Marshall, who is accused of defrauding his recently deceased mother, the legendary New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor. Terry, a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell, had been Mrs. Astor’s trusts and estates attorney for 15 years. The article made clear that Terry was an “internationally renowned lawyer” in the field of international estate planning with “indisputable credentials.”

Again we are saddened to report the death of another classmate. Harold Thomas passed away on May 17. He was a long-time resident of New Orleans, where he worked as an attorney and provided years of service to the Blood Center. More recently he lived in Atlanta and Nashville.