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Yale 62

My Life, in Brief

By Tom Triplett

Bill Weber asked that I consider penning a brief memo on my post-Yale career. I do so with a degree of reluctance, as Yale has faded from my priorities.

To set the stage, I can share that I was raised in Portland, Oregon and attended public school, where I did well, both academically and in sports. I know that I got into Yale on diversity (i.e., having been raised in Oregon with arrows chasing the buckboard). I arrived at Yale by train with a steamer trunk, where the only folks I knew were alums of American Field Service. I was a bit lonely, and scared about surviving a pool of preppy sharks. However, I did indeed survive: I made the dean’s list, and earned a letter in sports.

I then matriculated at Stanford Law. Because I was a bit smug with my Yale degree, the first seminar was not my finest moment. I learned, matured, and graduated in the top half of the class.

I considered opportunities in San Francisco, New York, and Houston, but decided to go home, where I joined a small insurance defense firm which, since then, has grown to more than 200 lawyers. After being hired and sequestered in the library, a senior, with a smirk, said that if he ever learned to read, I was out of a job. I guess he never learned to read, since I remained there for 56 years before retirement. I argued 4 cases to the Supreme Court, and innumerable ones in Court of Appeals, District Courts, and in various state appellate courts. My specialty was labor and antitrust, a niche practice of suing unions for violation of antitrust laws. One of my more memorable cases was when I represented a national construction association seeking to halt discrimination against non-union contractors. I ended up practicing in Portland full-time for 36 years.

There was a shift in gears in 1993, when I bought a small ranch in Tumalo, Oregon, with a friend who had medaled in the Olympics as an equestrian. We rebuilt a century-old barn into a home, and with the help of our neighbors, piped irrigation water about a mile, and set up an irrigation system to grow orchard grass. I bought my partner out in 2000.

One of my daughters graduated from Whitman, the OSU–WSU veterinary schools (1st in her class) and took a second doctorate from CSU. She and her husband moved to Bend, Oregon, and bought a small farm. Since then, she’s been hosted by the Chinese government to lecture on the confluence of eastern and western medicine.

In 1994, our firm established a small office in Bend, Oregon. I practiced both there and in Portland until 2006, when I made Bend my fixed location until retirement. During the same time, I became a trustee of the High Desert Museum, fund raising being my primary task. I still serve as a trustee, currently seeking to raise $40,000,000 to enhance what we do for the community.

I also continued farming until 2019, but of course, I had help during harvest. One helper was a former Chase vice president who ran the Asian Market for them. Another was a retired Air Force officer, who had later served as chief development officer for Boeing. My job was essentially manual: to move hand lines, reset wheel lines, perform weed removal and fertilizing, etc. Hell, there were two years in which we made a profit. The IRS could not believe it. Had to be a hobby farmer, right? They lost their bet.

I sold the operation in 2019 and moved into Bend. Early mornings changing irrigation were supplanted by fishing, golf, hiking, biking, and a bit of travel.

And here’s the punch line: I seldom listen in on our class coffee hours. Why? Because I am more conservative than most of you, and certainly more than Yale has become. It’s difficult, particularly for a retired attorney, to remain silent when statements are made, be they social or political, with which I disagree. So, I choose to write, read, etc., in the winter, and engage the outdoors in Spring and Summer. Not particularly intellectual but satisfying.

 
We welcome your comments below.

6 comments to My Life, in Brief

  • Breaux Castleman '62

    Tom

    Great story, great life. I have been reading the class notes of the classes from the late 40s and early 50s and contrasting them with our stories, class notes and obituaries. The old timers would have been proud of the life you lived.

    I share your concerns about Yale’s administration and our class’ over emphasis on progressive ideology and general hostility toward more conservative thinkers. So thank you for sharing your times with us.

    Breaux Castleman ’62

  • Bill Weber

    Tom,

    Thanks for overcoming your reluctance to engage with the Yale62. Your life’s varied work is the stuff many of us wish for and rarely achieve. Perhaps, as Yale62 pursues other classmates with multiple careers, you may help us again. And do not worry about being too conservative; you may be surprised to see how many of us Yale62’s are like you!

  • Charles Merlis

    Tom:

    If you disagree there is no need to remain silent. I, for one, enjoy and learn from honest disagreement between opposing viewpoints. When it comes to issues like Ukraine, to me it is not conservative or liberal, but a question of autocracy against constitutional (meaning limits on) democracy and war making. One can argue comparing the history of Hitler’s Anschluss, Sudetenland, etc., to Putin’s Chechnya, Crimea, etc., but the main argument to our involvement seems to be affordability, can we afford the cost of backing the Ukraine or can we afford not to (aside from the danger of nuclear escalation blackmail).

    As to Trump and January 6, etc., that is not a lib-con issue, but does Trump”s policies justify overlooking egregious lies, crimes, subverting our constitution, etc. As a lawyer, Tom, do you have an opinion on how Trump has used the courts and the law.

    As to real Liberal and Conservative Issues, we can use good debates. I remember the 1950s when graduated income taxes went up to 90% and as a kid, I could afford to go to professional sports. I read Sinclair’s THE JUNGLE and believed in the necessity for government regulations (the trick is not to over regulate). Republican T. Roosevelt was a noted Trust Buster. What would he do with Google, Facebook, TikTok, etc.

    Pet peeve: I hate it when “conservative” pundits re immigration, rail against Lib open border policy. I am mostly regarded as a Lib, though I think I am not, but some of Trump’s policies were barbaric (separating children from parents). There are places along the border where a wall can be useful but we need to try to find overall policies such as recruiting valuable skills to facilitate immigration, increasing immigration judges and facilities to handle various problems such as asylum seekers. I’ve written that I agree with keeping the Trump era Title 42 termination delayed because we still have pandemic issues. Hopefully the delay, will bring about a Congressional improvement of the system but that is a pipe dream.

    Anyway, discussion, argument, keep the brain active and if we old farts did not have that, we would be reduced to going out and running half marathons.

  • Charles Merlis

    Tom:

    If you disagree there is no need to remain silent. I, for one, enjoy and learn from honest disagreement between opposing viewpoints. When it comes to issues like Ukraine, to me it is not conservative or liberal, but a question of autocracy against constitutional (meaning limits on) democracy and war making. One can argue comparing the history of Hitler’s Anschluss, Sudetenland, etc., to Putin’s Chechnya, Crimea, etc., but the main argument to our involvement seems to be affordability, can we afford the cost of backing the Ukraine or can we afford not to (aside from the danger of nuclear escalation blackmail).

    As to Trump and January 6, etc., that is not a lib-con issue, but do Trump’s policies justify overlooking egregious lies, crimes, subverting our constitution, etc. As a lawyer, Tom, do you have an opinion on how Trump has used the courts and the law.

    As to real Liberal and Conservative Issues, we can use good debates. I remember the 1950s when graduated income taxes went up to 90% and as a kid, I could afford to go to professional sports. I read Sinclair’s THE JUNGLE and believed in the necessity for government regulations (the trick is not to over regulate). Republican T. Roosevelt was a noted Trust Buster. What would he do with Google, Facebook, TikTok, etc.

    Pet peeve: I hate it when “conservative” pundits re immigration, rail against Lib open border policy. I am mostly regarded as a Lib, though I think I am not, but some of Trump’s policies were barbaric (separating children from parents). There are places along the border where a wall can be useful but we need to try to find overall policies such as recruiting valuable skills to facilitate immigration, increasing immigration judges and facilities to handle various problems such as asylum seekers. I’ve written that I agree with keeping the Trump era Title 42 termination delayed because we still have pandemic issues. Hopefully the delay, will bring about a Congressional improvement of the system but that is a pipe dream.

    Anyway, discussion, argument, keep the brain active and if we old farts did not have that, we would be reduced to going out and running half marathons.

  • Tom Sherman Lincoln '58, Yale '62

    Tom,

    I’m glad to learn more about your life since Yale and happy for you that it has been rewarding in many ways.

    Wondering if you know cheesemaker Pierre Kolisch (who grew up near me) who makes Tumalo Tomme.

    It’s disappointing that you don’t feel comfortable talking with your classmates on the left(like me). I don’t have to agree with you to respect your opinion. On the other hand, at our age, I don’t feel much like spending time in political debate.

    Be well,

  • Hi Tom,
    So glad you wrote about your very interesting and productive life. I’d like to believe that whatever our political stances, we can agree on the importance of honesty, character, morality, kindness and loving your neighbor. If these qualities are possessed, any differences of opinion can be surmounted as we find a way forward together. Thank you!

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