YAM Notes: July/August 2020

By Scott G. Sullivan

These notes were composed in the second week of May, with the pandemic still in full swing, everyone worried about reopening and a second wave, Wall Street doing paradoxically well, and not a clue about how the world will look when you read this.

All the news is COVID-19–related. We have lost four friends since the last issue—two to coronavirus, two to other causes—sad, of course, but not a bad record, considering our advanced age and multiplicity of previous conditions. At least two of our classmates contracted the disease, came close to death, and are now completely recovered. The crisis has moved some of us to write commentaries on the parlous state of the earth; and in California, a bunch of ’58 graduates got together via Zoom.

My dear friend David Greenway started showing symptoms on March 12, after attending a lunch party at Mory’s (detailed in the last issue). His condition rapidly worsened, and his wife, J. B., got him to Massachusetts General Hospital. He was very sick, family and friends feared the outcome, but eventually he recovered and is now in fighting shape. David’s daughter Alice, a talented novelist, has written a clear and touching account of her father’s ordeal; you can read it by clicking on the link here or by Googling “Boston Globe, Alice Greenway.”

Peter Duchin, the renowned society pianist and band leader, had an even closer brush with death: he was hospitalized for more than six weeks, on a ventilator much of that time, and underwent a tracheotomy. At the time of this writing, however, he appeared to have pulled through—still in hospital but on the road to recovery.

Out in Chicago, Professor Marv Zonis composed a predictably brilliant essay titled “The Pandemic Will Permanently Change the World: And Not For the Better.” Marv examines the effect of the crisis on petroleum (disaster for producing countries, especially in Africa), population (which will decrease, slowing growth and aggravating inter-state hostilities), and protectionism (which will lead to a sharp slowdown in global economic growth). You can read the full text at marvinzonis.com.

In California, Peter Taft authored a forceful op-ed piece, arguing that our response to the virus has been all wrong. Peter believes that far too many Americans were forced to shelter at home; the right thing to do was to constrain only the ill and those over 65 years of age. What we have done, he writes, has wreaked economic havoc, which could well have been avoided. You can see the piece by requesting it from the author at taftpr@gmail.com.

Also in California, Gordon Gerson set up a Zoom meeting for classmates in that part of the world. Tuning in were Lee AultLarry BenskyBill FitzgeraldGerson, Class Secretary Tim HogenMike Schoettle, Judge Ron Sohigian, and Taft. Sohigian was uncharacteristically silent. Two other invitees failed to hook up to Zoom: Tom Crossman and technological Master of the Universe Linden Blue, who were apparently stumped by the . . . technology. Gordon plans further Zoom meetings; if you want to join, contact him at gordongerson@aol.com (though one can only pray that by the time you read this such events will be a thing of the past).

And now our losses:

Charles Kopman died April 1 in St. Louis of complications from COVID-19. His wife, Sally, died April 24, of the same disease. Charles took his law degree at the University of Chicago in 1961 and practiced law in St. Louis for 60 years. Inspired by the Sand County Almanac, he became an active environmentalist; he served on the board of the Missouri Botanical Garden, headed the state branch of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy of Missouri. He chaired the Yale Club of St. Louis and volunteered to tutor first- to third-grade children. He loved hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the St. Louis Symphony, Dutch and Inuit art, and Schlafly beer.

Dr. Lawrence Chiaramonte died April 5 in Greenwich, Connecticut, of COVID-19. In 2001, he had worked with emergency responders to treat victims of 9/11; this time, he self-quarantined at his assisted-living facility and teleconferenced with his family; he had never seen “anything like it,” according to his son. Larry was an author, educator, and public speaker. He took his medical degree at Yale, practiced in New York and Greenwich, and taught for three decades at Long Island College Hospital. His patients included New York governor Andrew Cuomo and firefighters who contracted respiratory ailments after the attack on the World Trade Center. He was an avid sailor and learned to paint in recent years.

Bruce Grossman died April 19 in New York City. Bruce was a psychoanalyst, author of several books, and a longtime teacher at Hofstra University on Long Island. He took his doctorate in psychology at Duke in 1967 and did his clinical training at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. He taught briefly at Tufts, then moved to Hofstra, where he was to remain for 40 years, founding an innovative new department of child psychology while conducting a thriving private practice as well. His books included Your Children, Your Choice and Helping Children Grow. He went on from Hofstra to direct the Freeport Child Guidance Center at Freeport on Long Island. In 2006, he acquired an apartment in New York City and then split his time between the city and his home in Greenport, Long Island.

Douglas Murray died also on April 29, also in New York City. Doug spent his entire life in US-Asian enterprises. He earned his MA at Yale in Asian studies and his PhD at Stanford in international development education. Meantime, he spent two years at New Asia College in Hong Kong, under the aegis of Yale-in-China and the Rev. Sid Lovett. He went on to head the Singapore office of the Asia Foundation. He later served as vice president of the East-West Center in Honolulu and president of the National Committee on US-China Relations in New York and the China Institute in Washington. He did teaching gigs in Singapore and at Stanford, and after retirement directed the Lingnan Foundation, which supports universities in Gouangzhou and Hong Kong. In later years, he shared his time between New York and Vermont.

Stay safe!