YAM Notes: May/June 2019

By Scott G. Sullivan

We should call this Class Necrology. With two brief exceptions, the news of the Class of 1958 is a drumroll of obituaries. Since the last issue, we have lost six more of our beloved classmates, including several of our best-known and most flamboyant friends.

One important development: Mike Schoettle has capped his long and successful career as a headhunter with a book called Find Fulfilling Work: A Career Transition Guide, to be published by Amazon in May, before these notes reach you. Mike urges the reader to “find work that you love, with people whose values, culture, and mission you respect.” While the book is not aimed at our age group, it promises to be a stimulating read, another jewel in 1958’s literary crown.

On the lighter side, John Fiske writes to inform us that, as a result of a long conversation with Spike Bragg at our 60th reunion, the two friends have been exchanging periodic “musical e-mails” (whatever that may be) ever since. It would not have happened, John notes, “without Linus Travers and the work of the Class of 1958.”

So much for the living. From here out, it’s all remembrance.

William C. Davidson died last December 12 at a retirement home in Cumberland, Rhode Island. A native of Port Chester, New York, he lived and practiced law there and in nearby Rye his whole life. After Yale, he studied the law at Columbia and NYU, then opened his law firm in his home town. He was a deeply concerned citizen of his home village; when he believed it was declining economically, he ran successfully for the post of village trustee and pushed through a referendum that reformed local government. He was also proud of the fact that, as a bachelor, he adopted and raised a nephew whom his sister and her husband were incapable of caring for.

Dick Leining died December 17 in Salt Lake City. A chemical engineer, Dick worked lifelong for Hercules Incorporated (later known as Hercules Aerospace, then Alliant TechSystems); the company moved him to Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and finally Utah, where he settled. He specialized in explosives and system safety; late in life, he helped demilitarize chemical munitions in Alabama and Utah. He was a Unitarian, a banjo player (with the Utah Old-Time Fiddlers), a voracious reader in five languages, and an expert on cryptography.

Randy Kwei, the identical twin of classmate Tom Kwei, died January 24 in New York city. The brothers were well known as undergraduates, partly because there were so few Asians at Yale, and partly because, since they were truly identical twins, we really could not tell them apart. Born in Shanghai, the brothers and their parents escaped Communist China in 1948; in 1952, they moved to San Francisco. After Yale, Randy earned an MBA at Columbia and set off on a globe-girdling career as banker and financier. He worked for Citibank, American Express, and IBM before founding his own private-equity firm, Shaw Kwei & Partners in Hong Kong. Along the way, work took him to Latin America, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Athens, Toronto, and New York. But Randy was much more than a highly successful businessman; he was a philosopher, a practitioner of yoga and meditation who wrote movingly about life and history and what he saw as the shift of the world economy from West to East. He explored that theme in the 2009 book East to West to East and examined his own fascinating life in the forthcoming My Life After Seventy. He will be terribly missed.

Bob Morey, who stroked the Olympic champion Yale crew in 1956, died January 24 in San Francisco. Bob was a successful banker and insurance executive, but the greatest day in his life came when he was just 20, in Melbourne, Australia; as strokes do, he set the pace for the crew that gathered the gold. He was “the sparkplug,” according to classmate and coxswain Bill Becklean: “He just didn’t want to lose.” Throughout life, the members of that historic crew remained his closest friends: Essie Esselstyn and Tom Charlton, both of the Class of ’56, and Becklean. I met Bob the first day of freshman year, as we were neighbors in Filthy Farnam, and later brothers in Chi Psi; he was a gentle giant of a man, the image of the Bonesman he would become. After college and a hitch in the Navy, he went to work for Brown Brothers & Harriman in New York. Then, in 1984, he founded his own health-care reinsurance firm, R. W. Morey Inc. An Episcopalian turned Catholic, he was a Knight of Malta. He served on countless educational and cultural boards and was a lifelong Rotarian. But first of all, a stroke!

Perry Welch, a banker and yachtsman with a strong interest in Australia, died January 27 at Oxford on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Like Bob Morey, Perry served in the Navy (mainly in Taiwan), then went to work at Brown Brothers, where he remained for his entire working life. At the bank he was head of the personal financial services department and was area executive for Australia. In that connection, he became president of the American Australian Association, a nonprofit that works to nurture ties between the two countries, mainly through bringing Aussie graduate students to study here. Perry and his family lived in Muttontown on Long Island for 25 years; there, he served as deputy mayor and police commissioner. In 2003, the family moved to Oxford, from where he sailed on his 40-foot Hatteras yacht, Lady Catherine.

Buz Dimond died February 12 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A wit and raconteur of the first order, Buz earned an MBA from Columbia and worked in New York as an ad executive, then for First National City Bank and Marine Midland Bank. He was married and the father of two children, but after a divorce he spent many years with the delightful Charlotte O’Neill Oliver at her home in Wyoming. He spent his later years golfing, skiing, and exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks.

Requiescant in pace.