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Yale 62

Happy 80th Birthday, Y62 style, in the COVID era

 

Several classmates have responded to our request that they let us know how they’re celebrating our collective entry into our ninth decade – and none of us ever envisioned we’d be celebrating our birthdays in the midst of a global pandemic! All accounts which we’ve received are listed below.

It’s most definitely not too late to join in the fun! Please email us at YAM@Yale62.org to let us know what your celebration was like, or if it’s still in the works, what you envision for it. Photos are most welcome, too, and add a terrific personal touch to each entry.

 


Tim and Mary

Tim Adams: “On May 17th we were planning to embark on a 10-day river cruise in Southern France, after a few days in Paris marking Mary and my 80th birthdays. This, after a few days in Boston celebrating our granddaughter’s graduation from Simmons, and a visit to “old” Yale classmates.

“All is cancelled; maybe next year! Will be stuck on The Farm in Minnesota assuming we can socially distance ourselves back from Arizona where we have enjoyed our 20th Winter. Best to all, Tim and Mary Adams”


Steve and his cake

Steve Buck: “A Wondrous 80th. I had been anticipating my 80th birthday on May 6th with mixed feelings. I’ve always liked birthdays, but that said, the thought of being 80 made me feel old and vulnerable, particularly given the threat of the coronavirus hanging over us. I’m an extrovert by nature and love reaching out to people. Since early April, Hala and I have stayed home, not even going out to buy groceries. We walk in the neighborhood, but with masks on and we, like most people, cross the street to keep a good distance from anyone. Hala loves to smile but that doesn’t register through a mask!

“So the lead up to May 6 was mixed with an underlying fear. And then May 6 happened – starting with morning phone calls, Facetime and a very moving email from our daughter, throughout the day two dozen emails or calls from family, many distant cousins and friends. All this was topped off by a 90-minute session of my men’s group with each man sharing how I had helped them and affected them in the group. It brought me to tears. Little did I know that the men had coordinated all this with Hala, requiring her to intercept emails to my computer that would have given their plans away.

“After the Zoom with the men, Hala presented a book from the men including poems, limericks and a song with lyrics by one man and music by another, which they performed over Zoom. Finally, five of the men showed up on our front lawn with signs wishing me happy birthday. Whenever I feel down or scared in these difficult times, I will go to that book and remember that I’m not alone and have so much to be grateful for. What a gift!

“I include a photo of me blowing out the candles. Only 8; didn’t want to cause a fire!”


Janet and David Hopkins

David Hopkins: “Two years ago Janet and I drove across the country and back, over the course of two months. The picture is from Jenny Lake in the Tetons. We followed Route 20 from Massachusetts to Oregon, returning on a route a bit south of that. We had a great time, and we had every intention of doing it again this year, following Route 2 from Maine to Washington (via Canada for a bit), from late August to October, including a birthday celebration somewhere along the way. Needless to say, that ain’t happening. So the celebration will be at home, in semi-confinement. I plan on a 2” rib-eye steak, potato w/ fixings, butternut squash and some kale (don’t ask). Some brandy. No cigar. And, maybe next year…

“Meanwhile, some thoughts on the number 80…

The View from 80 . . . Or: What’s in a Number?
(Anticipating a September 1 Birthday)

“80. A nice number. A round number for sure – not a straight line in sight. A pretty flexible number – it has 10 factors. It is considered a semi-perfect number, because you can add up 6 of its factors and get 80. It is also (if I read Wikipedia correctly) the number of different ways that you can seat 6 male-female couples at a dining table in boy-girl sequence and nobody sits next to his/her partner. And it is an important element of the Pareto principle – aka the 80-20 rule.

“But there are other nice numbers. 66 is a pretty round number . . . or 69. Other numbers have lots of factors. There are equally interesting, or arcane, characteristics about other numbers as well.

“So why is 80 significant? For a while I thought it was. Beginning sometime last year I started to note, occasionally, that I was creeping up on this big, round number. Mostly I thought of it with a touch of amazement; I had not thought of it happening to me. I noted how far back I could see, how much I saw at first hand that “most” people today can only read about in history books. If they even care.

“Occasionally I thought of the down side of 80: how much time is left from then on. What is still left to get done . . . or what is likely to be left undone. Bummer!

“Then I found myself thinking about it more often. If not careful, I could get to be wallowing in the whole idea of 80. I could see myself becoming rather unpleasant to be around, just harping on the subject.

“So, I simply decided that 80 is not a significant number, after all. “You’re only as old as you feel, or as you think you are.” “80 is the new 60.” Or, better yet, don’t even think about it. Get on about those things left to be done. Plan on seeing how some of the interesting questions our society faces today turn out in another 10 or 20 years.

“I used to live in Sherman, Ct, where also lived Malcolm Cowley, world-renowned writer, editor and critic, and Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a seat I filled for a while some years later. I feel a “connection” with Malcolm.

“When he turned 80 it was a very visible affair, in particular because of an article he wrote for Life magazine titled ‘The View from 80.’ That was in 1978. The article was expanded and published as a separate, small book of the same title a couple of years later.

“I have tracked down a copy of the book, and I plan to read it, thoughtfully, over the next few weeks. I shall be interested to see how the view has changed in 40 years.

“The little bio in the book notes that seven of Malcolm’s thirteen books were published after he turned 70.

“And, the dedication of the book is: ‘To the Class of ‘19.’

“Here’s to the Class of ‘62.”


Steve and family in January

Steve Howard: “Hi all,

“My birthday is in January, so it came at a time when most of us were blissfully ignorant of Covid-19. The occasion was celebrated with a small gathering of family and friends in San Francisco. The attached photo shows me, wife Marilyn, daughters Hannah and Ali, and son-in-law Philip.

“Since the early 2000s, Marilyn and I have been taking at least one international hiking/treking trip a year, sometimes two or three in a year, mostly in the Himalayas, the Alps, and Patagonia. Now 80 and staring at Covid-19, I have to wonder if our serious hiking trips are over. Hope not.”


Photo 2/28/20, 5 months shy of 80th Bday
In Naples FL, flanked by 2 Brown U! alumni

Mike Kane: “My 80th birthday is July 29, and was going to be the occasion for a rare family reunion at our summer place on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Attending would have been a core group consisting of my wife Nancy, Goldendoodle Lacey, my daughters Margot (from Philadelphia), Sara (Miami), my brother William (Asheville) and my sister Barbara (Nashville), plus grandkids and in-laws, plus-TBD – local and Boston friends. Happily, so far no COVID in the family, nonetheless, Maine’s very reasonable pandemic restrictions, notably a 14-day home quarantine for all out state visitors, plus the lack of enthusiasm many have for air travel at this time, have meant scaling down that birthday plan to an all-local friends version. No doubt the family will have some form of virtual get-together via ZOOM. Not bad, but not the same.

“But as my wife might say, I am lucky just to have an 80th birthday.

“Oh well, things may improve in time for the 81st! with best regards, Mike (former Corresponding Secretary) Kane


Charles in his uniform

Charles Mills: “On February 29th I turned 80. I am not quite sure whether this was my 80th birthday or my 20th since February 29 only occurs every four years.

“I live in Front Royal, Virginia and two of my local friends took me out to dinner. Some of my friends in Vienna, Virginia had a small birthday party for me the following week. Virginia is theoretically under a ‘shelter in place’ order but in the much of Virginia, including the five county one city area around Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley one cannot see any signs of it. That area has not had a virus death, and nobody seems to care about the fact that I go shopping virtually every day.

“The attached photo is probably something like 3 to 5 years old.

“Front Royal is the site of Christendom College with one Yale graduate on the current faculty and one a very distinguished retired professor. I know both of them from Yale Political Union alumni related events.”


Phil Moriarty: “Turning 80, Feeling 50, Acting Alive!”

“Just reread a piece I wrote on ‘Grandparenting,’ perhaps on the occasion of our 40th Reunion. Much of what we held as true, close to 20 years on, is fortunately still very much part of our lives today (faith, family and friends).

“Meredith and I are both still working, she as an interior decorator and I as a management consultant. We will celebrate my 80th birthday and our 54th wedding anniversary on June 3 and August 20, respectively. While most of our memorable family events have been celebrated in Maine, the summer of 2020, with COVID-19 reining supreme, may be the first time in 55 years we may not be heading out to Northeast Harbor. Here in Hinsdale we remain hunkered down and obedient to what the ‘experts’ are telling us to do, ‘staying at home,’ ‘flattening the curve,’ ‘being together apart,’ ‘masking’ and ‘social distancing.’ Whole new world, whole new lexicon!

“Education has always been important for our family (Meredith and I met in 1964 teaching at Oak Park River Forest High School outside of Chicago). Two of our three children are Deans at academic institutions; son Brooks, Yale ’91 is Dean of Students at Exeter, his alma mater. Daughter Katie Whittier, SLU ’93 is a Dean at UVa.’s McIntire School. Sadly, our son Phipps, Yale ’89 died in 2017. Two of our grandsons have graduated from college, Georgia Tech and Georgetown. Three other grandchildren are currently in college, Tufts and University of Virginia and Wisconsin. Three others are studying at Exeter and Western Albermarle High School.

“Zoom has become a welcome new friend to the Moriarty clan with special family “meetings” each Sunday afternoon. Our children, their spouses and all 8 grandchildren enjoy “gathering” virtually. Poking fun at Grandpa Foxy Phil is always a highlight. That handle has nothing to do with my company, Moriarty/Fox. No, it is based on our evening TV news preference!

“College of the Atlantic and Acadia National Park have been enormously important educational institutions for many years. Meredith recently left the Park board and I am currently serving as board chair at COA.

“Our personal plans for remaining healthy and viable into the next decade aresimple: keep working, learn something new and relevant every day, love those around you and tell them so, keep your faith, keep the Yale Class of ’62 going and plan to attend our 60th Reunion in 2022!

“Thanks for the ride to date.”


Phil Proctor chimes in, with the following:

“I attained the ripe old age of 80 on July 28th, as I was born in Goshen, Indiana in 1940 to Audre Jane Yoder and Thomas Grattan Proctor of Elkhart.

“Due to the limitations imposed by the global pandemic, the fireworks display scheduled by my Amish relatives in Bern, Switzerland, had to be cancelled, so we settled for a quiet dinner of wild Alaskan salmon and grilled asparagus on our upper patio in Benedict Canyon with two dear friends whom we haven’t seen for months.

“We will then be taking (Covid willing) an overnight train trip from LA to Takoma in early August to spend a week with Oona Austin, the widow of my late Firesign Theatre partner, Phil Austin, at her compound on Fox Island. She’s a great professional cook and is planning other safe dinners with mutual friends while we are there. And we may even get to see Dr. Bill Alexander, driving up with his wife, Lucie, from Tiberon, who survived the infamous San Francisco Golden Dragon massacre with me and Peter Bergman in 1977!

“My love goes out to all my classmates who have or will soon join me in this unexpected landmark — and on to 81!!!”
~ Philip


[Ed. note: For a quick, happy lift, click on Phil’s bright yellow birthday card above. You won’t regret it!]


Jon Saari sent the following:

Blowing out the candles

“I had normal expectations for my 80th birthday on March 28: a party, a speech, food and hugs and congratulations. A contemporary thinker on aging, the writer/doctor Zeke Emanuel, had helped shape my idea of “normal.” He had observed in The Atlantic several years ago that life could be lengthened or shortened by our interventions, and that 75 years was the ideal age to pass on, before chronic conditions took over and severely reduced our quality of life. I could relate to that: I have been wrestling with Parkinson’s disease, atrial fibrillation, and the danger of a second stroke, but their impacts have been held in check by medication, an ablation, and strenuous exercise. My life seemed fairly normal to me at 79. I was grateful to be active and still around, unlike hundreds of my Yale classmates.

“Then the coronavirus dropped into our lives like a misty shroud. Fear, uncertainty, and horrible sickness. The elderly, like me, were thought most at risk. Suddenly calculating longevity receded like an old board game. Forget the compensating acts of our seventies, with the artificial limb replacements, the medical devices, powerful new drugs. We were now face to face with death without any treatments or vaccines, and only ventilators to extend the last breath. We had been delivered up to the ingenuity of an ancient virus. The new board game is social distancing, washing hands for 20 seconds, not touching the face, wearing masks in public, avoiding too many people — dances of evasion with an unseen force.

“So now my wife and I are holed up in our house, mostly. I zoom with the Zen center, with other groups, with our family on Sunday evenings. My wife and I hike along our lakes, rivers, and shorelines. The Y is closed, so I exercise on a stationary bike gifted from friends and set up in the garage. We have given up on our three-month annual stay in Austria at the farm where my wife grew up. If the trip works out in the fall, it works out. The virus and our risk-taking appetite will decide.

“Big social events? A thing of the past. My 80th birthday celebration got smaller and smaller, as earlier planned versions got cancelled. It went from a large gathering in my wife’s studio with friends and family, to a family gathering with my son’s clan from Detroit, to my wife and me sharing a special New York cheesecake decorated with a ring of perfect raspberries. Only this last party plan was realized. At least I did not have to reflect in public on what turning 80 had meant to me. It was clear enough: a small circle of caring persons is our final connection to life. For some isolated coronavirus sufferers that may be only familiar voices on a phone saying goodbye amidst the chaos.”


Jim and Linda in Las Vegas

Jim Stein: “My 80th isn’t until August ’21, so I’m hopeful of having a relatively normal celebration then.

“Fortunately, California recognized the dangers from Covid-19 early, and the still-ongoing lockdown probably prevented many lives from being lost. After retiring in ’13 from Cal State Long Beach, I started teaching one course a semester at El Camino Community College, where my wife Linda also teaches. We transitioned to online teaching in mid-March — three times the work, one-third the satisfaction.

“Linda and her mother went to Taiwan for the first three weeks in January, and the day after she came back I developed — get this — a fever and a dry cough. Left to my own devices, I probably would have gone the chicken-soup-and-Tylenol option which has successfully treated all my illnesses for half a century, but Linda made me see a doctor. Possibly this saved my life, as I had pneumonia. Six weeks and a course of antibiotics later I was back to normal, but Linda still thinks I might have been Patient Zero for Covid-19.

“My next book, The Fate of Schrodinger’s Cat, will be published by World Scientific Publishing in August, and I have kept busy doing podcasts with authors of books on math and science for the New Books Network.

“I exercise in the backyard and with a home gym, and dream of the day I can get out and play tennis again — and life gets back to normal.

“I’ve attached a picture from our vacation to Las Vegas for Christmas, 2019. We’re looking forward to a similar celebration for Christmas, 2020.

“Stay safe, everybody.”


John as Tom Rakewell

John Stewart: “Most of us turn 80 this year, and, amid the various stresses, are glad of it. My birthday at the end of March was celebrated à deux instead of with the company of three classmates and their wives. My wife and I stood in Carl Kaestle’s yard and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ – I assure you, the ‘Crap’ Family Singers resurrected.”

Bill Stork: How I spent my 80th Birthday on Monday, May 25

L: the cake. R: Scarlett and Nelson Miu

“Where? Still in Hong Kong, and as a member of the ‘most COVID-susceptible’ population, I am still in self-sequestration.

“I was invited to lunch at the Hong Kong Jockey Club by Nelson Miu ’76 that Monday. Nelson has been an active member of the Yale Club of Hong Kong since the early days – even before I became club president in 1995. (He holds the distinction of being the first person admitted to Yale from a Hong Kong school, majored in Microbiology & Bio-Physics and is now a prominent Hong Kong barrister.)

“I demurred, pleading self-quarantine.

“It now appears that was a ruse. Nelson and Bob Bonds had been conniving for months to throw me a surprise party. Bob was YCHK club coordinator for decades and is now on the staff of the Yale Alumni Association. [My abject humility precludes my mentioning that he and I plotted/planned for a year as co-chairs of what evolved in Hong Kong as the Yale tercentennial event for Yale’s Asia alumni; at the 475-person gala finale Rick Levin and Linda Lorimer danced the night away, with respective spouses. I won’t mention other unique and dramatic things we have colluded on!]

“So, with me at home, Nelson (who already had ordered the cake!) and Bob decided to make my BD Party a virtual one, with twenty friends and members if the YCHK participating in the Zoom Room!

“What an incredible surprise!”


Bill, in 2019

A timely poem from Bill Stott:

 

Four-Score Birthday

I feel I’ve crossed the finish line
With much I hoped to do undone
But all bills paid, the children grown
The world in hell but I unscathed
Dancing, dancing to my grave.

After eighty,
It’s all gravy.

Wyllys during his paragliding adventure

Wyllys Terry: “My 80th birthday, which was last October, was a year-long affair. It started with a friend’s 40th birthday party in April in Guatemala, where we winter, as they allowed me to ride a mechanical bull. I stayed on, but they treated me nicely. Next was a family-only (including cousin Bunny Terry) gathering in Castine, Maine. Then, in October, my son in Seattle treated me to a 20-minute paragliding experience. Fantastic!

“Finally in November, back in Guatemala, about 150 friends and my partner Marianne threw me a party at our local brewery where somehow, late in the evening, I ended up dancing on the bar. I have spent the months since recuperating! Fair Winds, Wyllys”


Dolores and Bill

Bill Weeden: “Here’s a picture of Dolores and me celebrating our combination 25th wedding anniversary in April and my upcoming (in August) 80th birthday. And right above my signature you’ll see my signature photo of me in all my denim dementia. I’ve been called the blue-jeans king of the Upper West Side. Happy birthday to all!”

 


Roman Weil

ROMAN WEIL CELEBRATES 80

Early in winter 2020, as Jim Wechsler and I began planning the Seattle Gathering for the class in March, one of my grandsons asked what I had in mind for my 80th b’day in May. I told him, “Nothing,” as I had figured that the parties I and family had held at 30, 40, 50, and 70 sufficed for a lifetime. He would have none of that and if I wouldn’t do anything, he wanted to come to me and celebrate. One thing led to another, which took the form of a dinner party for about 15 people on my actual b’day on May 22. Covid-19 postponed that plan until August.

Two of my friends proposed a Zoom toast for the evening of May 22, which one dubbed a Zoast, which another, a former English professor, expert in neologisms, hoped out loud combined Zoom and toast, with no hint of roast. So, we held a Zoast, screenshots above.

I prepared remarks, which I sent along with attachments to all who attended. I’ve edited those to remove references to people that would mean nothing for Yale classmates and would likely slow down the narrative. You should stick to reading here long enough to get to my urging that you read this. The hyperlink sends you to an essay by a clever fellow, whose life parallels mine who turned 80 recently. More explanation follows.

My mother surprised me with a party on my 18th birthday; my wife surprised me on my 30th; we had a festive weekend on my 40th where many came to Evanston, the Booth School of Business, and the August Moon, family favorite Indonesian/Fukianese restaurant in Chinatown Chicago; the 50th saw the black tie affair at the Chicago Museum of History; the 60th slunk by; my kids did a large gathering in Boulder for 70, which featured grandchildren and Roll Tide Bama shirts. My kids reminded me the day before my b’day (I had forgotten) that I got married (2nd and 3rd) for both my 50th and 60th, but that they had forbidden me to get married for my 70th, which advice turned out unneeded, for my friend at the time said she did not want to be anyone’s fourth wife.

In the process of writing these notes I had the thought to call some of my friends to see that my draft didn’t embarrass them. Somewhat to my surprise, friends gave me kudos for finally, after 80 years, learning a bit about how to do that.

I have memories and thoughts now, many voiced by others, as I explain now. You likely know that for the first time in 45 years I’m not writing nor revising a book, so I have time to read. I’ve dis­covered the essays of Joseph Epstein, retired professor from Northwestern, whose views on life I find entertaining and con­­genial. He’s three years older than I, spent his adult life mostly in Evanston, and got his im­por­­tant educa­tion at the University of Chicago, so we have lived life much in parallel. He has written es­says on the oc­ca­sion of his decade birthdays, at ages 50, 60, 70, and 80. I have linked here his essay on reach­­ing age 80. Much of his narrative describes my life, too. His essays’ contents displease some, as do their length.[1]

He points out how lucky has been our generation: too young to have served in the Korean War, too old for Vietnam, we, from the depression-induced population dip that suffered none of the grueling competition for places in school and jobs; we have lived in an interesting country during decades of economic pros­perity. We both had generous, intelligent parents who gave us the freedom to find our own lives and live­li­hoods. [I tried out the lawyer-ness of my father and one grandfather, to learn I hadn’t that skill set. Some of us recall that the Law School allowed us to take a course there as seniors. I didn’t understand how those guys think, developing the laws of liability relating to slipping on ice in Massa­chusetts.] The older I got, however, the more I noticed the effects of my mother’s genes and nudges. I’ve said before, but maybe here for the first time in writing, the pride she would have for her grand­daughters and great-granddaughters.

Contrast our lives with those born in, say, 1980-1990, who carry memories of Sept 2001 and who gradu­ated from college into the teeth of the 2008/09 recession from which they dig out just now, at age 30-40, when one should form families and start households, as we did in 1970.

1970—a good year for us: the first of our kids arrived and the University awarded tenure to this applied mathematician who soon thereafter got guided into a new field with apparently unlimited opportunities and willing mentors. Good days, those.

I had intended to stop here and let Professor Epstein say the rest for me. But just last week, a letter arrived from a student of 35 years ago. I don’t often see such as this, so I show it to you. A for­mer dean and good friend once told me that if academics seek appreciation, they should look in the dictionary; they will find it nowhere else. The email linked here, finally, proves him wrong.

Some of my family and friends and classmates, with varying degrees of disapproval, characterize my attitude in these times as nonchalance. I could stop there, but Professor Epstein brought to my attention Willa Cather’s arch­bishop’s remark: I shall die of having lived.

[1] I have disagreed so far with only one of Professor Epstein’s major points, his distinction between Envy and Jeal­ousy, about which he wrote a book. I, in turn, wrote, citing various authorities, a short essay explaining why I think he errs, which pokes fun at a young professor at Yale, now its president, for blowing an opportunity to make things clear. I posted that on Yale62.org some weeks ago. In my little essay, I poke fun at Professor Epstein’s invariable use of three ponderous words where more common words would, so far as I know, do as well: “quondam” for “former” [he often describes himself as a quondam teacher from Northwestern]; “costive” for “constipated” [I didn’t know that word until I learned it from him]; “quotidian” for “daily”. The plagiarism police might cite me for the first two sentences of the next paragraph, which do not steal from him verbatim, but might as well have.

3 comments to Happy 80th Birthday, COVID style

  • Roman

    The “next paragraph” means the next paragraph in the text, following the footnote call-out. The Epstein essay is available via the hyperlink in the body of my opus.

    thanks for the kind remarks.

    I WANT TO SNEAK IN A COMMENT HERE, WHICH SO FAR I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO BRING TO THE ATTENTION OF THE CLASS. PERHAPS A FEW WILL SEE THIS HERE.

    A few years ago, I decided that we could make Bob Oliver’s task of writing obits easier if we’d write our own obit drafts and send them to him. So I wrote one for myself and sent it to him. [A guy at the Univ of Chicago writes obits for deceased professors, so I included things that would make his job easier and sent him a copy, too. The resulting document is longer than either of them needs, but it’s easier for obit writers to toss material than to find it.]

    Then, I suggested to Bob that I should tell all classmates to send him draft obits. He thought that a bad idea. Tasteless and offensive. I suggested to the guy at University of Chicago that I should let other Emeritus faculty know they should draft their own. He, too, thought it a bad idea. Tasteless and offensive.

    So, my 80th b’day gift to the class is the tasteless and offensive gift of suggesting that you draft your own obit notes and send them to Bob Oliver, to make his job easier.

    Happy 80’th b’day. Roman

  • Cory Christopher T.

    Roman,

    I jealously envy your note about topics including Epstein’s superb note on aging, which I also wish I could emulate. Thanks, pal. I think I’ll recommend to our current corresponding secretaries that they seek permission to reprint Epstein, with your quite Epsteinian intro, for the class.

    Best,

    Chris

  • Cory Christopher T.

    Was there a “next paragraph”?

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