YAM Notes: November/December 2021

By Scott Sullivan

A miserable spring. COVID’s Delta nephew on the rampage as 80 million troglodytes refuse free vaccine. Stockmarket in the doldrums. Afghanistan down the toilet. Hurricane Iva, inebriated on climate change, dumps 18 inches of foul water in your correspondent’s basement and douses the lights for a week. Worst of all, our Class loses ten beloveds — a record for a two-month period — including some of our best, brightest and most colorful.

Apologies in advance for the short shrift the departed will receive; there’s just not enough space to do minimal justice. Happily though, full-scale notices are available on our web page, along with ever more nostalgic music from Bob Morgan. Best reads include the piece on Mike Thomas in the New York Times and that on Pierre Sprey in the Washington Post.

Herewith the sorry list.

Michael Davis, whose passing in Stonington CT on July 9 we briefly covered in the last issue, now has a fuller obit at legacy.com and on the 1958 website. It includes his work at Gulf International Bank and at Cooper & Lybrands.

Bill Andrews died June 28 in Sarasota FL. After taking a master’s degree at Northwestern, Bill launched a long career as a high school teacher and soccer coach, first at the Taylor School and the St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis, then at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Foret IL and finally at the Isidore Newman School In New Orleans. He published a book, “Mikey and Me,” in 2015 and short fiction in various magazines.

Thomas Aikenhead died July 9 in Norwalk CT. He earned a master’s degree at Rutgers and spent 29 years in the financial offices of Xerox Corporation in various cities in the US and Canada. He was a train buff, a tireless walker, a golfer, a conservationist and a sometimes Democratic politician, running for Norwalk’s Common Council.

Jim Martin, executive vice president of the country’s largest college teachers’ retirement fund, died July 12 in Stamford CT. After earning a Columbia MFA, he worked for a few years at Chase Bank before joining TIAACREF (the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of American Retirement Equities Fund) for 29 years. After retirement, he traveled the globe with his wife Ann, did crossword puzzles and read every book ever written on his hero Winston Churchill.

Jack Larkin, widely recognized as the country’s leading academic expert on the Philippines, died August 2 in Cheektowaga NY, near Buffalo, where he lived and taucght for half a century. Jack revolutionized Filipino studies with his 1972 book “The Pampangans: Colonial Society in a Philippine Province,” based on long periods living among the Pampanga tribe. He argued that previous history and analysis had wrongly concentrated on national politice and ignored the daily life of the country’s mostly agricultural tribes. The Pampangans made him an honorary resident in 2017. Larkin earned his master’s in Asian studies from Yale and his doctorate from NYU. He taught at the University of Buffalo from 1967 till 2005. He wrote several books and many articles on the Philippines and Vietnam, and he was a vocal critic of the Vietnam war.

Darley Randall (better known as Jolly) died August 3 in Marblehead MA, his retirment home. After Yale, Jolly served in Germany in Army intelligence. He then joined Fiduciary Trust, where he served for 35 years, most of them as director of research. He was an avid historian and gardener and a Yankees. fan.

Mike Thomas, dandy, wit and curmudgeon, curator, financier and novelist and one of the most remarkable of our classmates, died August 7 in Brooklyn. Born to wealth and privilege, he reveled in them. At Yale, he wore bespoke suits and drank fine wine. In senior year, he married Brooke Hayward, the gorgeous actor and writer and incidentally the roommate of Jane Fonda; she would be the first of four wives. After college, he held exciting jobs as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum and a partner at his father’s Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers (“The most degrading form of work” in Mike’s view) He quit that and set up as a writer and social critic, the scourge of the rich, the greedy and the uncouth. His eight novels, all thrillers involving Wall Street, many reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” sold well and were well reviewed. My favorite is the first, “Green Monday.” He also wrote countless articles and thousands of Facebook posts scorching the pretentious, the striving and the egotistical But for all his acerbic manner, he was a truly nice fellow, a wonderful father and grandfather. He sought always to appear hardnosed. insensitive and realistic, when he was in fact kind, vulnerable and sentimental as a puppy.

Malcolm Holderness died August 13 in New York city. After college, he served in the Navy, then took a law degree at Harvard. He joined the New York firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCoy (now known as Milbank) and practiced there till 1996. He was a tennis player and a cyclist, a hiker and a lover of symphonis music.

Pierre Speer, one of Robert McNamara’s “whiz kids” and a major Pentagon planner for three decades, died at his home in Glendale MD on August 20. Besides his extraordinary military record, he was the proprietor of Mapleshade, a recording studio that produces some of the highest quality jazz discs on earth, with artists like pianist Shirley Horn and saxophonist Clifford Jordan. Pierre was born in Nice; his German Jewish parents had fled to France, then headed for America. Pierre entered Yale with the Class of 1957, did a five-year course in electrical engineering and took a master’s at Cornell before being tapped by McNamara. At the Pentagon, he championed the A-10 fighter plane, a cheap, low-flying and durable aircraft that many Air Force generals despised. He also advocated close air support for our ground troops and argued that trucks were more important to a war effort than any airplane. He was in constant Dutch with the uniformed military, whom he treated with contempt; one colonel, he said, “oozed mendacity.” Many of his unpopular views prevailed, and he influenced American defense policyfor thirty years.

Mark Feinknopf, an achitect and city planner who some saw as the moral conscience of the Class, died August 29 in Atlanta. Mark took his architecture degree from Harvard, then practiced for almost 40 years in Columbus OH, designing schools shopping malls and factories. In 1997, he moved to Atlanta, where he headed a project commissioned my the local transit authority to build a large new community. He did brillieant work in his chosen field, but his principal concern was Non Violent Communication (Mark’s capitals) among people. He preached that doctrine and practiced it tirelessly, working with war veterans and slum kids and countless others. His constant earnestness and optimism annoyed some listeners, but there was no doubting his sincerity or his good works. His hobby was a 13,000 acre game preserve in Ohio, for which he was strategic planner. He was the life, soul and emcee of our Class’s pre-Reunion meetings at Jack Embersits’s house in Madison CT.