Meticulous Caring (continued)

Other difficult obituaries have involved people who seem to have no survivors, have not left addresses with Yale, or seem to lack contactable family members. Nothing daunted by dead ends, as it were, for another classmate Bob called the funeral parlor and got the name of a minister who had not only befriended the man but arranged the funeral when there was nobody else.

“Class of 1962 obituaries are more comprehensive
than those of most Yale classes.”

Bob is a devoted volunteer for a small army of causes (including chairing both our 15th and 50th reunions). He got started on obituaries when he was inspired by a class book done by his father’s class of 1934 at the U.S. Naval Academy. Before our 25th reunion he volunteered to assemble write-ups for the 35 classmates who then were known to have died. He found the job a “satisfying” change-up from lawyering. Besides, he says, “I enjoy the detective work.” As of this writing he has researched, written or supervised 170 obituaries, with six still to be finished.

Class of 1962 obituaries are more comprehensive than those of most Yale classes. According to Jennifer Julier ’77, the officer at the Association of Yale Alumni who shepherds official activities for ’62 and other classes, we are “one of the few classes that have devoted significant time to this and sustained it.”

In our Yale ’62 archive are, of course, chronicles of Yale-nurtured achievement in virtually every field of human endeavor open to males. But most ’62 obituaries also include hints of the future hidden in past campus activities like majors, sports and extracurricular activities — and give weight to the equally significant but more private accomplishments of creating marriages, families and children.

These stories make good reading on this website, where they are alphabetical, with recent ones highlighted in a separate list and the most recent ones pointed out by an asterisk. The 25th, 40th, and 50th reunion books also reprint the obituaries completed up to those occasions. (Recently, the obituaries section of the Yale Alumni Magazine website has begun to give mostly bare-bones accounts supplemented by available web links provided by the service Legacy.com.)

The basics of ’62 lives come to Bob mostly from widows, to whom he writes personal letters, other family members, friends, and the Yale Office of Information Resources, which passes raw information along to contacts in all classes. Sometimes Bob draws on an obituary from a local newspaper, either a paid death notice placed by a funeral home or, for members with public profiles, a journalistic report.

Reminiscences and photos

But we are apt to care about matters others dismiss, so Bob uses Google, the 1962 Yale Banner, and the autobiographical notes that classmates have written for reunion books. He has a well- thumbed copy of the Old Campus directory of 1958, which lists first-year roommates, whom he contacts because many have turned out to have been among classmates’ closest friends through life. He also checks past class notes in the Yale Alumni Magazine, which he had digitized several years ago with help from an intern.

Bob has encouraged reminiscences with growing success, and as the web has become more visual, he also has started asking for photos of the deceased. Even-handed and nonjudgmental, he tries to respect family wishes about what to include and omit, though in the interest of candor he will usually give brief mention to touchy items that have become public information.

In future years the burden of ’62 obituaries will increase, so Bob has started getting help from a backup team of other classmates. To date its members have included Sam Knoll, John Stewart and David Finkle. If you would be willing to contribute research and writing, please let Bob know at oliver@moglaw.com

Why bother so much about this sad activity?

In his introductory note, Bob poignantly makes a key addition to the Whiffenpoof song’s mordant prediction that “we’ll pass and be forgotten with the rest.” He writes:

“We celebrate their lives that none shall pass and be forgotten in silence.”

–CTC

SUGGESTIONS FOR YALE ’62 OBITUARIES

(You may want to share these with your likely survivors.)

  • Initial notices. The Yale College Class of 1962 tries to list, briefly, each death we learn about, noting it as soon as possible in our website, yale62.org, and in the ’62 Alumni Notes column that appears in the print version of the Yale Alumni Magazine, usually about three months after the column is written. (The YAM website now calls this column “Secretary’s Notes.”) Later, when Bob Oliver and his team complete a formal obituary and it is posted on our website’s necrology section, we announce the posting in a second notice both on the website and in the printed and online Alumni Magazine.
  • As part of your advance planning (see article by Bill Stork in this issue), please include Yale among places for your survivors to notify. A death certificate is not needed – just a simple note with the person’s name, date of death, and, if someone is willing to be contacted, their contact information. Send to:

contacts

(This University office reciprocally shares information with the class and the obituaries section of the Alumni Magazine website, but appreciates getting death notices separately.)

  • Consider preparing notes for your own obituary. Many funeral parlors provide a questionnaire and your notes can help survivors fill it out.Leave a note requesting Bob Oliver be included among those getting these materials. If a survivor is willing to be reached in due time for details and comments, please include their contact information.If you can, leave a list of suggested media that also should get the information, including newsletters as well as newspapers. (Interestingly, suggestions for sending obituary notices do not appear in either of the two useful new AARP books that are mentioned in Bill Stork’s article in this issue.).
  • Decide on a photo to be sent with other obituary information. ’62 is now including photographs in the obituaries on this website, and some newspapers will want one to run with their news story or paid death notice (usually for an additional fee).
  • If you wish, discuss whether and how your survivors can notify classmates about any memorial service One method is that for the last year, we have run the following notice in every edition of this website:

If you would like classmates to be notified about your funeral or memorial activities, if we get the information in time the Class of 1962 will send information to the names on our class email list. Please ask those who will be in charge to send the details to Bob Oliver at oliver@moglaw.com, 203-624-5111, and for backup to John Stewart, Co-Corresponding Secretary, at johnhargerstewart@gmail.com, 845-789-1407. We will not send out information unless someone makes this request.

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