YAM Notes: January/February 2022

By Scott Sullivan, Corresponding Secretary
2000 Palmer Avenue, New Orleans LA, 70118

We have our Cleveland mini coming up in October, our 65th the following spring, and our entrancing bicoastal Zooms every month. Your correspondent made a long New England visit in September, staying with Bill Becklean and Joanie at Concord, Massachusetts; dining with David Greenway and J.B.; attending Linus Travers’s splendid and tuneful memorial party in Milton, Massachusetts; overnighting with Tim Hogen in historic Stonington, Connecticut; then on to Guilford to see Mairi Bryan, relict of Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan; and then New Haven for a great week in the “Scott Sullivan Memorial Bedroom” (with brass plaque) chez Joel Schiavone and his Emly; a dinner with Jack Embersits’s lovely widow Lucinda; chats with Alec Purves, who is still teaching architecture at Yale; and Steve Feinstein, down from Maine for a dinner at Mory’s. Finally, a posh seaside brunch in Greenwich, hosted by webmaster Bob Morgan and his bubbly bride Ceci, along with Susan Ness, widow of the ineffable Phil Ness.

The rest, alas, is funereal.

We have lost eight more of our diminishing number, with just under half remaining of our original 1,004, and this edition’s list includes several of our most celebrated members.

It’s a close question as to who is the most famous graduate of 1958. Some might pick talk-show host Dick Cavett, still happily vertical. But many would opt for Bobby Zarem, the best known, most ubiquitous public-relations virtuoso on earth. “Superflack,” the New York Times dubbed him after his death September 26 in his native Savannah, Georgia, and that is just what he was—the promoter of Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sophia Loren, Jack Nicholson, and Cher, to name just a few. He invented the world-famous “I Love New York” slogan. He palled around with Jackie Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein. He introduced Woody Allen to Mia Farrow. Bobby’s table at Elaine’s attracted glitterati from Broadway, Hollywood, and all the arts. He threw unforgettable parties. An unremarkable student at Andover and Yale, he exploded with boundless energy the minute he hit Manhattan (running). A dozen years ago, in declining health, he moved back to Savannah, where he promoted and financed myriad arts projects. His obituary in the Times is as gripping as a novel. Please read it.

Allen Rosenberg, a gifted organist, composer, and choirmaster, died February 26, 2021, at his home in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. After Yale, Allen attended Juilliard, then took a series of degrees in musicology, finishing with a PhD at the University of Miami. Over a long career, he played the organ at many churches, including Saint Thomas Episcopal on Fifth Avenue in New York and a number in Florida. He played the great historic organs in Dusseldorf and Passau, Germany. He founded and directed the Saint Lucie Chorale in the eponymous Florida town. The largest of his many compositions, The Waldron Requiem, was presented in Fort Pierce, Florida. The piece, for organ, a 46-instrument orchestra, and 140 voices, was widely performed in the US and Germany and at London’s Albert Hall.

Bud Preston died August 27 in Northville, Michigan. Bud pursued a long and successful career in merchandising, starting at Evans Supermarkets in his hometown of Gallipolis, Ohio, and moving on to manage companies in Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, and finally Michigan, with frequent buying trips to Europe and Asia. At Yale, he studied on a full scholarship, became president of Beta Theta Pi and a member of Skull and Bones. He married his childhood sweetheart during junior year and fathered two sons while still an undergraduate. In later life, he became an avid bicyclist, riding 6,000 miles a year. He attributed all his successes to Mother Yale.

Peter Watson, an engineer turned real estate broker, died October 1 in Branford, Connecticut, near his home in Guilford. His first jobs, as an industrial engineer, were with Procter & Gamble and the F & M Schaeffer Corporation. Since the early 1970s, he managed William M. Thomson Realtors in Guilford and served as president of the Shoreline Board of Realtors in the 1980s. He was an opera buff, and a lover of fine food and Florida vacations.

Dick Starratt, captain of our hockey team and a retired California banker, died October 10 at his home in Laguna Niguel, California. After Yale, Dick served four years in the Navy. In 1962, he went to work for Morgan Guaranty (now J. P. Morgan Chase) in California, where he continued to play hockey with the “Ranger Rejects.” In 1981, he moved to the First National Bank of Palm Beach. Back to California in 1990 to work for Wells Fargo, and play hockey with the Berkeley Bears (and frequent golf with Sidney Unobskey). In 2002, he retired to a seaside home in Orange County, a lot of golf, and trips to Europe and China.

John Arena, a distinguished Boston economist, died October 14 at a nursing home in Danvers, Massachusetts. He received his master’s and doctorate at Yale and worked for many years as vice chairman of Baybank Inc. He served as an economic counselor to the US Treasury secretary and as a monetary economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He was a past president of the Boston Economics Club and the Boston Association of Business Economists.

Damon Wells, CBE, a Texan investor, author, and philanthropist, died in Houston on October 16. After graduating from Yale as a Phi Bete, Damon took an MA at Pembroke College, Oxford—the formative experience of his life—then a PhD at Rice. He was the scion of a wealthy oil and land developing family in Houston, which he directed after his father’s death, earning a vast fortune. In 1993, he created the Damon Wells Foundation, which supported medical, religious, educational, and Texas-history endeavors. He showered money on British recipients, especially Pembroke, where he built a chapel, and various Churchill societies; he was a fanatic admirer of Sir Winston (and of Alfred Tennyson, as well). In honor of his largesse, Queen Elizabeth named him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (a CBE, which is a giant step ahead of the more common OBE). He belonged to men’s clubs in every world capital and sat on countless boards and commissions. He was an ardent Episcopalian and godfather to dozens in both Texas and England.

Chris Porterfield, a top reporter, writer, and editor at Time, died October 22 in New York. Along with his brilliant newsmag career, Chris was coauthor of Eye on Cavett, the 1983 memoir of his college roommate, Dick Cavett; during a six-year furlough from the Luce organization, 1972 to 1978, Porterfield produced the Cavett show, which won two Emmys during his stewardship. Back at Yale, he had intended to become a jazz musician; the 13-piece Chris Porterfield Big Band played Carnegie Hall in November 1957. On graduation, however, he went to work for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, then moved to Time in 1963. He worked in the Washington and Chicago bureaus, covering the Beatles’ first US tour and the JFK assassination before taking an MA at Columbia and becoming the magazine’s music critic. In 1969, he moved to London (the same year your correspondent went to Paris for the Baltimore Sun) and worked as European cultural correspondent. He wrote more than 100 cover stories and eventually rose to executive editor, the second highest editorial position at Time. He was beloved both for his great talent and for his kindness and grace to his staff, qualities of some rarity in our business.

One last tragic note: Carl Lindskog writes that he and Annemarie lost their son Eric in October to cardiac arrest.

Qu’ils se reposent tous dans la paix du Seigneur.