YAM Notes: July/August 2017

By Christopher T. Cory

55th Reunion

Our reunion was predictably smaller than last time, but better than the AYA had projected. It included a significant number of wives, widows, and companions and an infusion of mutual respect and caring. With ambitions and failures now largely realized or reconciled, we have “mellowed out,” as outgoing secretary Dave Honneus noted. Total attendance: 208 (124 classmates). Class gift: over $7.4 million from 52 percent of us; Alumni Fund contribution: nearly $354,000 from 35 percent.

Genial conversation was the main attraction, in a groomed Jonathan Edwards courtyard enlivened by undergraduate aides, baskets of flowers, a nice bar, multiple food choices, and on the last night, lots of dancing to Joe Holmes’s tight swing band. One girlfriend, new to the rituals, asked a classmate if he’d spotted her man in the mix, saying he had “white hair and a blue blazer,” and was politely told “I’m sorry, ma’am, I can’t help you”: white and blue was the uniform for most of us as well as our tent. Chats mostly passed up Trump for topics including children and grandchildren, who we’ve raised to generate knowledge and rescue animals, staff pro sports teams, and, in the case of David A. D. Evans ’92, the son of George Evans (who couldn’t be there), to become the head of Berkeley College, where his dad lived as a student. In his role as professor of geology and geophysics, the personable Evans gave one of about 30 tempting presentations by faculty and senior staff members, his on the “revolution” in understanding the movements of the earth’s crust over the last 200 million years at a rate, deep beneath us, that’s akin to how fast fingernails grow and is influencing future energy and mineral resources.

At a previous reunion, classmates gaped as Benjamin Zucker, a dealer and connoisseur of gems, casually passed around a fabulous diamond. This time, precious stones he’s given to the Peabody Museum of Natural History were included in his tour of its newly expanded hall of minerals. Other crystalline concentrations of art and knowledge were illuminated by a reception hosted by Steve Susman at the Yale Art Gallery for current shows including light projections of the artist Thomas Wilfred; by Rob Irving’s sold-out tours of the Art Gallery and Center for British Art, and by Alex Garvin’s explication of his latest summa, “What Makes a Great City.”

Spotlighting more of us, the troika of reunion cochairsPeter Clark, Dan Koenigsberg, and Peter Sipple—marshaled round-robin glimpses of classmates’ experiences and specialties by Tappy Wilder, Warner North, David Scharff, Mike and Ann Moore, Steve Buck, Bill Boyer, Bill Weber, Murray Wheeler, Dave Honneus, Chris Cory, Kent Hughes, Roman Weil, Ellis Wisner, Burr Robinson, Charlie Mills, Tony Giamei, Ken Luke, Bill Shipley, Fred Starr, Louis Audette, Don Metz, and Dick Riesling, as well as Garvin, the Peters Sipple and Clark, Susman, Koenigsberg, and Zucker. The troika also swung its influence to bag exclusive talks by no less than Yale president Peter Salovey; Beverly Gage ’94, director of the university’s Program in Grand Strategy; emeritus political scientist Ted Marmor; and the outgoing dean of Yale College, Jonathan Holloway ’95PhD, who touched on Yale’s increasing share of foreign students, saying, “Yale is growing toward the world to do good work for the world.”

Peter Sipple organized a moving memorial in Battell Chapel that drew many of the class, and wrote a wonderful series of responsive readings recalling the joys, sorrows, contributions, and sacrifices of the 70 members who have died since last we met. We all were quietly reminded to “deepen our affections” and be “a comfort to one another.” Like, indeed, the reunion itself.