Class Notes 2002
by Edward Wasserman
Year-end bonuses on Wall Street are down $4.3 billion or 30 percent from last year, which is almost exactly the same percentage that my 401(k) retirement account lost over almost exactly the same period. I should feel kinship with those captains of finance on the Street. Secretly, though, I suspect they aren’t hurting badly, leastways not badly enough
After all, the prices of first-tier Bordeaux wines, now being casked and sold for delivery in two years, have been bid way up, mainly by Americans, and Detroit is preparing a new generation of overweight, $40,000-and-up sport utility vehicles which, in spite of everything, are selling nearly 9 percent more than last year.
And who’s buying all those top-shelf goodies if not the investment bankers and fund managers some of the same people who collected fees for putting my nest eggs in the wrong basket and looking on as they cracked and dribbled onto the ground.
Still, like millions of other investors I was counting on bloated shares whose value was based largely on unsigned promises from untried entrepreneurs and institutional touts. Now it’s like the family whose kid thinks he’s a cow, but they won’t take him to a shrink because they need the milk. It wasn’t real, but it sure felt good.
(A procedural point. In future, I’ll assume that I can publish your e-mail addresses with your notes so you can contact each other as easily as I can. That’s unless you tell me not to.)
Attorney Joaquin G. Avila has received the California Bar’s highest honor for his nearly three decades of efforts to secure voting rights for Latinos. Last year Joaquin, a former president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.
Jon Nygaard, a onetime classmate who graduated in ’71, sent a clipping about Carlos Moreno, who has been elevated from the federal bench in Los Angeles to the California Supreme Court, perennially one of the most interesting and vibrant courts in the country. It’s notable that we have two classmates from L.A., both Latino, both with distinguished legal careers, who received big honors within weeks of each other.
William L. McLennan Jr. writes: "After 30 years of life in the Boston area, Ellen and I have moved to Palo Alto,where I am the dean for religious life at Stanford University. Our son Will is a sophomore at Stanford, and our son Dan is a senior at Milton Academy south of Boston."
The former Louise McCabe writes from San Francisco that she and Donald T. Gray were married in 1995 in Napa Valley, and he’s now the father of the lovely Sydney Dorothy Gray, born last February. Don keeps in touch with best friend and classmate Stu Gardiner and wife Mary Burns, and presided at their wedding in 1996.
Peter H. Behr Jr., sends word from San Anselmo, Calif., that his Behr Credit Service is working with two other companies to buy a small national bank in San Francisco.
Stephen Morris writes from White River Junction, Vt.: "I'm the classmate that time left behind. In spring 1970, as we all embarked to take our stations in the cultural revolution, I headed off to homestead in the northern hinterlands. A few years later, when I turned around to see how the revolution was going, I found most of my comrades had beat a quiet retreat to law or medical school. I'm still fighting the good fight, now as publisher at a small, independent company called Chelsea Green, where we specialize in books for sustainable living. As small as we are, we are the nation's leading publisher of information related to sustainable living.
"I'm still convinced that the way we will live in the future will take important cues from how our species lived in the past. (We might even discover that we prefer a lifestyle that emphasizes balance and meaning over accumulation of wealth! Not exactly what we learned at Yale.) If any members of the class of 1970 have book ideas that relate to our sustainable future, I'd love to hear them." (firstname.lastname@example.org.)
From Newport Beach, Calif., Alan B. Sellers (email@example.com) writes, for the first time in 31 years:
"I’ve been happily married to Joan for 29 years. We met when I was in the MBA program at Wharton (I proposed on our first date). We’ve been in Southern California for 25 years. First, as an M&A specialist at O’Melveny & Myers (after Columbia Law), then as a senior executive at David Murdock’s Pacific Holding Company, and later as a member of the office of the chairman of Dole Food Co.
"After my next wanderlust struck, I became a general partner at Westar Capital, the private equity/venture investment firm founded by George Argyros (currently ambassador to Spain). In that capacity I hooked up again with my long time good friend and fellow New Orleanian, Walter Schindler (’73). Walter asked me to join him in establishing our own venture capital firm, Odyssey Venture Partners.
"We focus on seed and early stage IT, life science, and environmental-related technologies, preferably based in Southern California. Ironically, we’re housed in the Newport Beach tower (and are a client) of O’Melveny & Myers, my old law firm. Our auditors are Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that suffered through training me in my formative years. …
"Joanie and I are happily ensconced with our two canine daughters in a home we built in Newport Coast. After graduating from UPenn (where she taught dance), Joan received her MS from Columbia. She became a psychotherapist, and founded several substance abuse programs. She is still trying to teach me how to dance. I refuse to give up."
From my old chum Aki Fleshler (fka Larry), now in Beaverton, Ore.,news that he and his wife Devora recently traveled to an orphanage in "deep Russia" to take custody of Julia (8) and Yefim (7). "The power of the media cut right through the fog of international adoption: Yefim's first question to us was, "Is it true that two huge buildings in America fell down?" The second was, "Is Portland, Oregon, near New York City?"
Rick Gold (firstname.lastname@example.org) reports: "I've been enjoying life near Alki Beach in Seattle with my wife, Celeste Ericsson, and our 16-year-old daughter, Perry. Six years ago I retired from Microsoft where my last job was managing editor at Microsoft Press. Since then I've been writing poetry and visiting teenagers in jails, detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and homeless shelters, to help them write poetry about their lives. I publish annual anthologies of their work -- seven 60-page books so far. The work with teens is a strange mixture of heartbreaking and fun. My approach is to use writing as therapy. I say, "Write from the heart about who you are as a person," and the teens write about things like being abandoned by mom at seven years old, having a sister murdered, growing up in a crack house, or being beaten by mom's boyfriend. At the same time, they are excited to be successful at writing and proud to be published.
"I print 2000 copies of each book (funded by grants and donations) and give away 80% to teens in jail, also to institutions, judges, therapists, libraries, etc. My books won an award for "Most Significant Contribution" at a Seattle book festival last year. The project is called the Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project (named after a character in my own poetry).
"An amazing aspect of the teens' writing is that it is not only poignant in its own right, it also lays out many of the relationships between abuse, neglect, shame, low self-esteem, anger, depression, drugs, gangs, and prostitution. My next goal is to look for someone to publish the work for a national audience.
Rick welcomes reactions to his teens’ poetry at www.pongopublishing.org.
From one of his pupils:
This winter of corporate implosion feels like a delayed hangover from the spree of manager empowerment that began in the ‘80s. That’s when a coven of investment banking wizards decided the way to revitalize industry was to give top executives the incentives of ownership. All very progressive and enlightened. Also lucrative. While the average CEO made 42 times a blue-collar worker’s pay in 1980, the multiple was 531 in 2000, thanks largely to all those shares and all those options.
Problem is, instead of the traditional CEO’s approach of thumbing his nose at the stockholders (never very satisfactory), the new stock-laced exec has the business instincts of a day trader, and lives to move the market. If that takes puffing the financials, ah well. Besides, when it comes to profitable lies, Wall Street can be very forgiving.
So instead of institution-builders, your New Age chief execs are transaction artists, with a planning horizon so close they can lick it, working to cash out and walk off. And the rest of us wait to see how many more Sunbeams and Enrons are out there.
I’m done. Now the news.
Alan B. Minier writes from Cheyenne, Wyo. (I used to live just up the road, in Casper. My eldest daughter was born there. We had Cheyenne jokes. Then again, winters were long.) Alan’s note is brief but eloquent: "Muffy and I had a watershed year. We both lost our mothers in the months before the terrorist attacks. Since then, my last unmarried stepson has taken that big step, and my daughter has once again started college, although this time at the University of Washington rather than Yale." (Alan’s at email@example.com.)
Time’s indeed a bitch, and a parent’s death is bitter at any age. A friend whose father recently died told me it was a shame mine died when I was 30. He said he and his dad didn’t even become friends until he was in his 30s.
John Boak (firstname.lastname@example.org) is having a painting show at Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado in Denver. The show of oil landscapes of Colorado and Utah will be up for the month of April. The opening event is friday, April 5 from 5-8.
But it does seem we’re not yet through with the upstroke of the life cycle. "Lila and I had our first child, a boy named Jack, in April, shortly after moving back to Wisconsin from Arizona," Bart Hobson M.D. writes from Marshfield, Wisc. "It seems I was still too young to retire and not too old to start a family. I’d appreciate advice from other 53-year-old new dads out there: vitamin supplements, back pain treatments, sleep deprivation aids..." (Send your tips to Bart at email@example.com.)
From Princeton, Prof. Thomas D. Kaufmann of the Department of Art & Archaeology reports: "My daughter Cassie has just been accepted into the class of 2006 at Yale and will thus be coming to New Haven after she leaves Andover next spring."
"I am sorry about the recent disruptions," writes Craig Slutzker from Jamesville, N.Y. "I live out of state, so I just am involved in going to my class reunion every five years."
Reid Detchon sends along a Washington Post column about Hassan El-Amin, who was known as Vernon Jones at Yale and who, as we reported a few columns ago, recently became Maryland’s first Muslim judge.
Titled, "A Judicious Approach to Life and Faith," it was the second time in a few months the Post not otherwise known as the kindest of papers did an admiring piece about Hassan. Savor this: "’The problem is, the law does not provide a remedy for every wrong,’ the judge softly tells the disappointed father of the victim. It's not a message many people like to hear in court. But it is the heart of El-Amin's philosophy of fidelity to the law and openness to all citizens."
All true, no doubt. Still, wouldn’t you just love to have the Post write about you?
Speaking of gush, Bill Littlefield’s new book, The Circus in the Woods, was praised by one reviewer as "a perfect pitch coming-of-age novel [that] delineates the mysterious terrain of adolescence with uncommon perception." Bill writes: "I’d be especially glad to get this news to anyone who is closely acquainted with Oprah."
Be in touch.
In light of virulent anti-immigrant movements in Europe, you have to wonder whether there’s a lesson for this country, which has somehow managed to increase immigration dramatically while keeping that increase from becoming a national political issue.
Understand, I live in a town whose miraculous transformation from a decaying tourist dive and old folks home into a vibrant cosmopolitan capital is due entirely to a decades-long influx of Cubans and Central and South Americans, that I’m the grandson of immigrants and am married to one.
But whenever issues are suppressed, I worry. That’s when demagogues arise. I worry that we don’t hear the people who mutter that a continuing inflow of foreigners means unwelcome competition for low-end housing and entry-level jobs. I worry that the champions of immigration seem to believe that any limits are inhumane, and when the only people who are paying attention are the bigots, who may need only a serious economic downturn for their following to achieve critical mass.
I also wonder whether we have a limitless right to strip-mine the rest of the world of its most ambitious and best-educated, which enables us to let our own educational capabilities languish æ and obliges us to build prisons for a million citizens that we never bothered to train and won’t now save from criminality.
Immigration has long been this country’s salvation, a source of unending vitality and strength. But that has never come without cost. And we’d better start listening to the people who are bearing that cost. Otherwise we’ll be hearing from our own Jean-Marie Le Pen’s.
Now the news.
I’m sorry to report that Craig L. Baskerville suffered a fatal heart attack April 22 while at work with the Elizabeth Development Co. in Elizabeth, N.J. At Yale, Craig was a Berkeley man, a member of Scroll & Key, a prime mover in creating African-American-oriented programming for WYBC and a founder of the House, the African-American cultural center.
The abiding passion of Craig’s subsequent career in community development was his hometown of Newark, says his nephew Dylan Craig Penningroth (Yale ’93). "He was a big booster of the city, and a major critic of the forces that were making it poor," Dylan says. Craig knew the town intimately. "He could point to any corner of the city and tell you what business had been there 20, 30, 40 years before."
Craig never married and remained close to his sister and her two children, Dylan, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, and Ailey, who works for the WNBA in New York. "He went to all my soccer games and track meets," says Dylan. "A few weeks before he died he and my mother drove down to Charlottesville, met my friends and came to one of my lectures, which happened to be on the ‘70s, on urban decline and renewal. That’s something I’m very glad of."
The family asks that donations in Craig’s memory be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 28 Kennedy Blvd. Suite 180, East Brunswick, NJ 08816. Dylan’s at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send me any remembrances you want to appear in this column.
An enviable vision from Augustine H. Lawrence III in Machipongo, Va.: "Maureen and I have celebrated 17 years of marriage and moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia at the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. Beautiful waterfront country with only 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Only one hour from Norfolk International Airport but a step back in time. We’ve built a barn for our six horses, a deck for the boat, remodeled a small house and are starting on the permanent home. Retirement means you get to work seven days a week without pay æ but no board meetings. Come visit on your way to Williamsburg or the Outer Banks." email@example.com
From Morgan McCall: "If Alan Sellers can write in after all these years, why not all the rest of us who disappeared? After 14 years at the Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina I uprooted to Los Angeles where I am a management professor in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. I am surrounded by scholars of all shapes and ages; my wife, Esther Hutchison, just got her master’s in mythological studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara and is pursuing her PhD; my son graduates this year from USC in political science.
"My newest book, Developing Global Executives, has just been released by Harvard Business School Press, and the one before that, Developing the Next Generation of Leaders, has just been translated into Japanese. Like Alan, we live close to the beach in Southern California." Mmccall@marshall.usc.edu
(My own forthcoming Scrapping the Current Generation of Leaders and Raising Goats Instead is close to publication, needing only a concluding chapter, an inexpensive typist and a publisher.)
From Dr. Henry Willner in Bethesda, Md.: "I left my family practice of 18 years to become medical director for palliative care at the Hospices of the National Capital Region. This is my new professional career, and I’m proud and pleased that I made the change. The work is soulful, rewarding, nontrivial, and I’m making regular home visits again." firstname.lastname@example.org
Collins Cavender is in his 25th year as a pediatrician in the Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata: "My younger son Joe (Yale ’97) has started law school at the University of Chicago. My older son Ben (Vanderbilt Univ. ’94) has started the executive MBA program at Vanderbilt. My wife Barbara retired at the end of 2000." email@example.com
"I am still engaged in technology-based venture capital in the Seattle area," writes Scott Drum from Bellevue, Wash. "My biggest accomplishment in 2001 was moving the decimal point two places to the left on the company portfolio. Apparently Prof. Shiller was correct æ albeit three or four years premature." firstname.lastname@example.org
From Visalia, Calif., George Pilling writes: "In October my daughter Melinda married Tom Chappelear (Saybrook ’94). My son Sam (Calhoun ’00) is living and working in Chicago." email@example.com
Robert Nath reports from Potomac, Md., that he’s now a senior tax partner at Goodman & Co., an accounting & financial services firm. "My family is three children, my wife Judy, and a year-old rabbit (name withheld for security reasons.)" firstname.lastname@example.org
"I have moved to Orlando, Fla., and am in a new practice," reports Jose A. Giron MD. (Jose’s move was from Great Neck, N.Y., to Winter Park, a lovely old town of trees and lakes.) "Johannah, Adam, Marissa and Leana love living here. Our life is very full." Jose sends his regards to Bob Yood, Dan Fink, Art Buckner, Bruce Soloway, Bruce Reynolds "and all my friends from Timothy Dwight." email@example.com
From my good friend Steven K. Miller in New York: "I continue working in the UN on a Youth Employment Initiative of the Secretary-General and am continually struck by the discrepancy between what we Americans think of ourselves and what others think of us." firstname.lastname@example.org
John W. Gahan III, in Belmont, Mass., had dinner with Steve and Myrna Greenberg in New Haven and Boston. "Daughter Kimi (Class of ’01) is at Cambridge University on a fellowship."
From Scott Simpson in Cambridge, Mass.: "In April, Nancy and I took a trip to Italy to celebrate our 25th anniversary. While in Venice attending a Vivaldi concert in an old church (the performers were in period constume), I got tapped on the shoulder by classmate Tom Weil, who was traveling with his 16-year-old son along with a gaggle of Yalies. Tom is based in Houston and is currently raking through the ashes of Enron as an attorney for Skadden Arps. We both agreed that while our children may be getting older at an alarming rate, we seem to stay exactly the same."
I recall a conversation from fall 1970 with the father of a good friend, a political scientist of the New Deal age. He was an intelligent man with humane instincts. He had hired me for some intellectual grunt work since he knew I was trying to put together money to go abroad. We sat on his porch in Maryland late one afternoon, and we talked about Vietnam. He said that as much as his generation had sweat, had toiled and had bled, he couldn’t help but wonder whether on balance, the world wasn’t a worse place than it was when they started out.
Thirty-some years on, I wonder the same thing about my generation.
It’s mid-August, and I’m thinking mainly about the still-cresting wave of business scandal. The real story, in my opinion, is much more disturbing tale than a few instances of big-time accounting fraud. It’s a matter of the country’s principal business and financial institutions being hijacked for the enrichment of insiders. It’s ATM Capitalism, the idea that businesses exist to produce quick cash for the right people.
That’s the subtext beneath soaring CEO compensation, the explosion of stock options, the still-unexplored scandal of the monumental dot-com IPO ripoffs.
I think about the disquieting reality that the liars and cheats who have hoodwinked people out of their savings are, for the most part, our contemporaries æ listened to the same music, shared the same ideals, were communicants of a counterculture that, among other things, extolled personal freedom and social justice.
It’s not that the disgraced (though still mighty rich) corporate chieftains were retired hippies, who one day left the Hog Farm to get their MBAs.
It’s that they breathed that air of Aquarian idealism. And it seems to have spawned a deep cynicism not just about what business ought to be all about, but about honor and principal and fairness in general. And that’s puzzling and depressing.
Now the news.
"As one of Craig Baskerville's roommates freshman year, I was indeed sorry to learn of his passing," writes Gerry Franklin GOFranklin@aol.com, who’s an internist and gastroenterologist in solo practice in Danbury, Conn. Gerry reports that his son Jordan is a freshman this year at Yale, where his daughter is a senior.
"In addition," he continues, "I have written my first book, a memoir of my expectations and experiences from the time I decided to go into medicine halfway through my sophomore year (with no math or science courses under my belt), through the application process, the pre-clinical and clinical years at Yale medical school, and my house staff and fellowship training. It was interesting and entertaining to see what the reality turned out to be, as opposed to what I expected at the start of the process. Now all I need is a publisher."
From Decatur, Georgia, Dennis McClure email@example.com writes: "Hewlett-Packard’s CEO, Carly Fiorina, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: Enhanced Early Retirement. It was May 2002, not such a bad time to begin relying on the investment markets for financial security. Now it is late July. My vacation is almost over. I’m considering the lemonade business."
Good news from Richard B. Hays firstname.lastname@example.org: "This past year I received an endowed chair at Duke, and I am now the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. I also received a Henry Luce III Fellowship and have spent the 2001-2002 academic years in Princeton at the Center for Theological Inquiry, working on a new book on the Synoptic Gospels."
"I seem to have reached the point in life where chance encounters are no longer that surprising," writes Scott Simpson from Cambridge, Mass. "In April it was Tom Weil in Venice. In May, while attending a function at Boston University, my wife spotted Jim Baker and his wife Nancy. Jim is a professor of music theory at Brown, and Nancy works in the president’s office at BU. It turns out our children are exactly the same ages their son recently graduated from Princeton, and their daughter is in Calhoun, where Nancy put in a stint as dean once upon a time."
To his immense credit, webmaster John Boak continues to labor on our class site. Early this year he took up Mark Zanger’s idea of expanding the links page on the site to enable class members to learn about web sites that feature other class members. Mark sent a slew of URLs over a few months, and the list now includes over 50 classmates.
Boak wants both to share the websurfing load with other class members and to expand our list. So he’s inviting all of you to use available search engines to ferret out and send him URLs that cover our classmates: personal websites, business websites,published articles, etc. You can see the current "links" page for examples. You’ll also discover if pages you find are already listed.
"Many are institutional bio pages," John writes, "but those do give a hint of our day job realities. Others are odd and special like Bob Witkoski's site or the link to Bryan DiSalvatore's shoe article for Outside."
If you can help, contact John at email@example.com.
Last, I got word belatedly of the death of onetime classmate Clinton M. Reed last October. All I was able to learn is that Clinton, who didn’t graduate with our class, lived in St. Louis. His phone has been disconnected. Anybody who knew him and can fill in some facts, please get in touch. Everyone deserves a better send-off than this.
A column like this one is for the most part a chronicle of successes. People write in with word of promotions, commendations, births, illustrious weddings, achievements of endlessly impressive kids. That’s largely because we don’t like to share the bad news. It’s burdensome, it’s depressing, we’re embarrassed to cop to it.
Yet at the last reunion I came away with the feeling that many of us wouldn’t mind sharing some of the darker sides of our lives.
Our parents sicken, languish and die. Our kids get stuck in a ditch, wheels spinning. Marriages crater. Portfolios go bulemic. Suddenly we’re dealing with disorders of our own that we never heard of, and have to negotiate an overwrought medical system that doesn’t care how brilliant we were as undergraduates. Careers go sour and we æ even we æ get laid off, and find ourselves with our noses pressed up against the shop windows of the affluent society, snow swirling around our legs.
I’m not proposing to turn these notes into a catalogue of misfortune. But maybe we can all be of some comfort to one another. We’ve hit the age when most of us have long since accepted that we had a lot of illusions during our bright college years. Things don’t always go well. People don’t always get what they deserve. Perhaps your classmates will understand, and care.
So go ahead and keep sending in word of your triumphs. I for one will be happy to lead the cheers. But think about confiding the other stuff too. As we once said when we were very young, with the hesitant wisdom of play school, maybe if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.
Now the news, sparse this month.
From Richard Gold in Seattle comes an update on Pongo Publishing: It’s “a non-profit, volunteer writing/publishing project with homeless youth, teens in jail, and others who are leading difficult lives. We meet with the young people personally to help them write about important life experiences, and then publish collections of this creative work. Sadly, the poetry often contains themes of early-childhood trauma, such as abuse and neglect. A large sampling of youth poetry and a history of our project is available at www.pongopublishing.org.”
“This year our principal work with young people has been at Lambert House, an activities and resource center in Seattle for LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning] youth. These young people have a variety of life experiences, but some important issues have emerged in their poetry. A number of the youths are homeless because they've been rejected by their families, or because they've run away from dangerous circumstances. There are strong themes of alienation as the young people strive to understand themselves within our society. I enjoy and respect these Lambert House authors, and I look forward to the book we will publish at the end of this year.”
Among the poems Richard included is “My Girlfriend Plays the Guitar,” by Judi, who describes herself as a 16-year-old lesbian:
“My girlfriend plays the guitar
And imagine them drawing my hair
John Perkowski sends word from Lambertville, N.J., that he was married in June of last year to Carleen A. Giacalone. Congratulatory e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay in touch.