YAM Notes: January/February 2019

By Scott G. Sullivan

The cupboard for this issue is dishearteningly empty. Two obits and one pre-mortuary necrology. Come on, guys! There’s gotta be stuff you know or have done that the rest of us would love to hear about. Drop me a line.

As for your corresponding secretary, I am about to leave (November 9) for a three-week jaunt to Europe—eight days in Gay Paree, then on to grandson Alexandre’s fabulous new restaurant in Haute-Savoie, a stop with daughter Rebecca in the High Alps, Thanksgiving with friends in Provence, two days with son Stéphane in Nice, then a final week in Venice. Home on December 3.

Tim Hogen sends this report: “A good number of us rallied together for the Princeton game. Although the outcome was an obvious disappointment, we made the most of the occasion by getting together post-game at the Rose Alumni House (known to us as the Deke house). Among those on hand were Carl and Annemarie LindskogPhil and Susan NessTim and Sally BrownEd HolahanJoel Schiavone and Emly McDiarmid, Richie and Harriet CaseAlan and Susan DavidsonSteve and Margery Riker, and Bill Becklean. At a hastily convened meeting we agreed unanimously (and enthusiastically) to go ahead with planning for our next mini-reunion to be held in Minneapolis in September of this year. Joel and Emly will be our hosts. We will provide more details in our next edition of the class notes.”

Tom Williams recently sent me a detailed account of his post-Yale life to be used for his eventual obituary. But there’s no time like the present. Tom reports that he went straight from graduation to Houston and married his fiancée Peggy two days later. Then medical school in Dallas (he was at Parkland Hospital when JFK died there), internship in pediatrics in Houston, and military service in Vietnam. A residency in hematology and oncology at UVA, then 25 years of teaching and practice at a newly opened health center in San Antonio. His favorite procedure was a complex bone-marrow treatment for children with leukemia. In San Antonio, Tom and others founded the local Yale Club. After his teaching career, he became a medical missionary, serving in Nigeria and around the Caribbean basin. Last year, he became executive director of the Episcopal Medical Missions Foundation. In his spare time, he fills in at clinics and hospitals around Texas. He and Peggy have been married for 60 years, and have three children and five grandchildren. They thoroughly enjoy their active “retirement.” And may it be many years before this material appears again in these pages.

Unfortunately, two wonderful classmates must truly be commemorated. Harald de Ropp, the descendant of many famous men and a longtime banker, died in New York City on December 7 [2017]. Among the forebears of whom he was very proud were a passenger on the Mayflower, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Bishop Albert of Riga, founder of the eponymous capital of Latvia; his grandfather, a German nobleman, was the head of one of the largest gold mines in South Africa. After Yale, Harald worked for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, becoming the bank’s vice president for international institutional investment. He was an enthusiastic member of the Society of Colonial Wars and was a former director of Plimouth Plantation, also serving on the beach and yacht clubs at his summer home in Massachusetts. He was married to his wife Constance for 51 years; they had two children and five grandchildren.

Larry Spence, a professor at Penn State and an educational innovator, died in Hershey, Pennsylvania, last May 17. After Yale, Larry moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he had earlier met Maya, a teenage Swiss girl who was to become his wife and lifelong colleague. He worked for a couple of years as an Associated Press reporter, and then the couple set out for California and an exciting period of anti-war protesting, study at Berkeley, and drinking in the thrills of the ’60s. Larry earned his doctorate in political science and in 1970 moved to Penn State, where he would teach for four decades while his wife taught and acted in university theater. He was a tough professor and hard on class laggards, but was beloved by his star pupils. He became deeply involved in the university’s Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning, of which he was the first director. He was an advocate of “problem-based” learning and strove to develop course structures where the students, rather than the teachers, would ask the questions.

That’s all, folks. It is mid-term election night and our president has just declared a “huge Republican victory.”

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.