YAM Notes: November/December 2020

By Scott G. Sullivan

Pandemic notwithstanding, we have lots of news again, much of it necrological.

But first, as promised, Joel Schiavone’s deathless account of his accident: “On June 8 at 7:30 a.m. I was looking for my shoes and fell. Nothing was broken except for my arm, and it was broken in such a fashion that it couldn’t be fixed with a cast or with pins or TLC. Rushed to Yale New Haven Hospital, they told me that my banjo playing days are over. After some research I learned that some of my friends had bribed my doctors to come to this conclusion. After five sleepless days and nights with a screaming psychotic, I was transferred to a rehab center. Of course it took two weeks to clear quarantine and then another week to determine that I was finally sick enough and distraught enough to be sent home. So today, here I am back in our apartment still looking for my shoes, crawling from room to room, and thanking the wonderful first responders for taking someone in the prime of life and bringing them as close as possible to despair. Now I’m working my way back to health, finally out of the clutches of rehab experts and the coronavirus Nazis. With good luck I’ll be playing the banjo again sometime in 2026. Those of you interested in helping, please send a contribution to the No Banjos Here Society. Joel.”

Joel is doing better now. After two months’ recuperation on one of the Thimble Islands with wonderful partner Emly McDiarmid, he was mobile, rational (for him), and getting a haircut.

Other items short-shrifted last issue:

Mike Foster’s sixth book, his fourth on birding, is called A Roving Naturalist and can be downloaded free from BirdingWithMike.com. Richly illustrated, it explains the natural wonders to be found at 56 sites near Denver. After a varied career as history professor (Stanford, Illinois, Colorado) and director of the Denver Foundation, Mike is now a full-time birder and nature explorer. He leads frequent birding trips for the Audubon Society and would be delighted to take classmates out in nature.

On January 20, which is Martin Luther King Day, Wally Inglis and his wife Kay were awarded the annual Peacemaker Award of Honolulu’s Church of the Crossroads. The couple continues, despite the heavy restraints of lockdown and social distancing, to provide food, shelter, laundry, and spiritual comfort to the homeless and destitute of the island. Their project, known as Wallyhouse, has operated at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church for over 20 years.

Now for some class events:

It looks like we may have another mini-reunion after all. Pudge Henkel has agreed (after a bit of arm-twisting) to host the event in Cleveland next September. Save the date!

Bob Morgan continues to host monthly Zoom sessions for 1958. About 20 of us participate in a lively and interesting event. All are welcome.

Harvey Sloane—our varsity squash captain, former mayor of Louisville, medecin extraordinaire, and precious pal—has accepted Secretary Tim Hogen’s appointment as class representative to the YAA, replacing Tim Brown. This is a vital class function and lots of hard work, and Harvey is an ideal choice; wish him luck.

Our class website has never worked very well, but that’s going to change: Bob Morgan has volunteered to shape it up—new graphics and new content, notably including full-length obituaries of our departed, which will fill out the brief sketches to which I am limited in these pages.

Speaking of which, we have lost three more classmates, all of them well known and accomplished. One was a victim of COVID-19.

Our class is much the poorer for the loss of one of its sparkplugs, Phil Ness, who died July 25 at his lovely home in Greenwich. With Schiavone, he was for years the very life and soul of 1958—gregarious and funny, generous and enthusiastic. Phil was a man of multitudinous parts: tennis player and Episcopal Church pillar, a highly knowledgeable art lover, member of countless country clubs and rabid fan of Yale sports, Planned Parenthood activist, and man about Greenwich, about which he was most ardent and unabashedly snobby. He spent his working life in the mysterious, but highly lucrative, business of reinsurance. His work as senior vice president of General Reinsurance Corp. took him to Sweden, Australia, England, and Switzerland. After leaving General Re, he worked in several other financial institutions, notably with George Soros, the Hungarian American zillionaire and philanthropist (and, incidentally, Phil’s tennis pal). Ness was imperfect, like us all; he had a fierce temper, which he too often loosed on those nearest him. But he was an icon of our class. My word for him was “vivid”; Sloane found an apter one: “vibrant.”

We suffered another irreparable loss August 21, when Harold Janeway, our Mister New England, died at his longtime home in Webster, New Hampshire. Harold was the scion of a wealthy Wall Street clan; after a stint in the Navy, he worked for 18 years as a security analyst at the family firm, White Weld. But his heart was elsewhere; in 1978, he and his charming wife Betsy bought their 200-year-old farmhouse on the Blackwater River. He continued providing financial advice to neighbors, but his true passions were farming and making maple syrup, clearing roads, and skiing. In 2006 he ran for the state senate, won, and spent a rich four-year term fighting for nature conservancy and the rights of LGBTQ people. A lanky scarecrow of a fellow, slow to speak but funny when he did, Janeway was an exemplary citizen, farmer, husband, and fighter for just causes. A very gentleman indeed.

Judge Steve Williams of the First Circuit US Court of Appeals died in Washington of COVID-19 on August 7. A leftish liberal who supported George McGovern in 1972, Steve did an about-turn and worked for Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1984, and Reagan appointed him to the most important appeals court of all, based in Washington. The son of a distinguished legal family, Steve did his law at Harvard and worked for the silk-stocking New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, served a hitch as assistant US attorney for Manhattan, and taught at University of Colorado. (Along the way, he served as a valued member of my Yale Daily News board and a Phi Beta Kappa.) Over the years, he churned out hundreds of opinions of all sorts. He was known for fantastic erudition and playfulness; in one opinion, he astonished the legal world with an argument based on Schrodinger’s cat—if you don’t get the picture, Google it and make Steve’s day in Paradise.