YAM Notes: March/April 2018

By Scott G. Sullivan

These notes are the second-to-last before our 60th and possibly final reunion in New Haven. In connection with which, I have just learned that, thanks to an enormously generous gift from George St. Laurent, the reunion will be COST-FREE—that’s right, FREE for ourselves, our spouses, and class widows! So, everybody come!

Also, you should all know that Sherman Bull, Chuck Palmer, and David Waterbury have formed a class gift committee that will seek to raise $11.5 million to celebrate our six decades. That’s a lot of canoodle—about 16 large for every living classmate. The fund-raising trio asks us to “consider planned-giving options to meet your personal financial goals while maintaining your support for the university.” You will be, as they put it, “hearing from us” in the weeks and months to come.

Before we turn to the obits, which are plentiful this issue, two noteworthy events.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, is showing a major retrospective of paintings by Frolic Weymouth through June 3. Frolic, who died last year, was best known as a philanthropist and ecologist; he set aside 40,000 acres of DuPont land in Delaware and Pennsylvania as wildlife preserves. And he was, of course, a wonderful, highly eccentric companion. But he also painted seriously and with much talent throughout his life. The current show will present 65 of his canvases, mainly landscapes and portraits done in watercolor and egg tempera, techniques he developed under the influence of his friend and tutor, Andrew Wyeth. The museum is lovely and an easy drive from Baltimore, Washington, or Philadelphia. Let’s all try to catch the show.

Steve Williams, whose day job was as a judge on the First Circuit US Court of Appeals, has recently published his second book on the Russian Revolution. The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution tells the story of Vasily Malakov, a centrist politician who struggled to channel the Bolshevik uprising onto a democratic, constitutional path. He failed, of course, and has been forgotten by history, but his struggle was a passionate and fascinating one, deftly told by Steve. The book has attracted attention in Russia: Gary Kasparov, the chess champion and anti-Putin activist, has written a glowing blurb. You can buy it on Amazon for a paltry $15.

The recipient of our class scholarship this year is remarkable in at least two ways. His name is Eric Hirsch; he was born in Germany and is the grandson of our classmate, Hans Wriedt. A graduate of Weston High School in Weston, Connecticut, Eric is a National Merit Scholar and an accomplished flautist; he played high school soccer and was a cross-country runner. He plans to continue with his music at Yale and looks forward to earning an MBA. He is a resident of Saybrook and will graduate in 2021.

The rest of the news is about those we have lost.

Paul Fossett, who taught math at the Hopkins School in New Haven for 30 years, died on October 28, 2016. After Yale, Paul earned a master’s degree at Bowdoin and served in the Navy, which took him to 32 countries on five continents. He taught briefly at Tabor Academy, then moved to the Hopkins School, where he remained till retirement. The University of Connecticut granted him an Excellence in Teaching award in 1987. He was proud of his descent from the very earliest settlers of Maine, in 1635.

Peter Hoyt Brown, an architect who was a former member of the Houston City Council and a candidate for mayor of Houston, died there on December 12. A lifelong Houstonian, Peter came to Yale from St. John’s School. Though a member of our class, he got his BA from the University of Houston, followed by an MA in French from Berkeley and a master’s in architecture and urban planning from Penn. Back in Houston, he worked for the firm of Lloyd Jones Brewer, then founded his own firm, which became Civic Design Associates. He worked in 22 cities, but his largest contributions were to Houston, including redesign of the Old South Ward. In 2005, he ran for the city council as “Pedestrian Pete,” a champion of urban walkability. He lost a bid for mayor in 2009 but remained deeply involved with the city’s politics and many cultural organizations.

Roswell Rudd, a jazz trombonist of international repute, died December 21 in Kerbonskon, New York, in the Catskills. He dropped out of Yale a few weeks before graduation to enter the jazz scene, returning to New Haven the next year to graduate with the class of 1959. At Yale, he was the backbone of Eli’s Chosen Six; and for the rest of his life, he made music, playing around the world with some of the best-known names in jazz (Charlie Haden, Carla Bley), and many of the most obscure. During the 1970s and 1980s, he taught musical anthropology at Bard College, then at the University of Maine. From the 1990s till his death, he performed constantly and made dozens of recordings. He was at the forefront of an avant-garde which sought to wed American Jazz with “world music,” everything from raga to reggae. He was identified by Downbeat magazine as the best trombonist in the country.

Brian Moran died in Greenwich on January 11, just as these notes were going to press. He will get a proper obit in the next issue.