YAM Notes: November/December 2019

By Scott G. Sullivan

A rich edition this time, with the loss of too many very distinguished ’58ers.

Dr. Woody Bracey lost his home of 25 years to the ravages of Hurricane Dorian.  Fortunately, Woody and Betsy escaped to the relative safety of Florida, but their condo at Treasure Cay in the Bahamas was utterly destroyed by 185-to-219-mile-per-hour winds that lasted for three days. “I can’t tell you,” Woody writes, “how devastating it is to see our home and happy way of life in Treasure Cay completely destroyed. Hopefully our condo will be eventually restored but this will take at least two years. This is the harsh reality of Treasure Cay returning to what it was. Total loss of my library and the beloved birds of Abaco Islands is part of the depression I’m feeling right now, but most of it is the plight of our many friends who are in the same situation. It’s time for a fresh start, but where?”

An enthusiastic note from my freshman roommate, the Rev. Bob Sellars: “Yesterday, I returned from a ‘Yale for Life’ course in New Haven, China: Present to Past.  It was one of the best weeks of my life. My three years at Oxford were my happiest years, but this was better than Oxford. Andy Lipka, who originated and produces this course, is amazing.  He is a surgeon who not only gets every detail right but makes every detail more delightful than expected.”  Yale for Life is offered every summer for groups limited to 20, offering a refreshment in the university’s life and history as well as a specific subject.

Roland Paul writes to claim membership in the Still in Harness club. He goes to work five days a week, “more or less regularly,” at the Greenwich law firm Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara, where he has labored for 16 years.  Roland reports belatedly on his son Arthur’s cum laude graduation from Harvard; Arthur’s older sister is also a Harvard grad.

Now for the tough stuff.  Since the last issue, we have lost seven beloved friends, including several of our stars.

Nick Kindred (John MacGregor by birth) died on February 26 in West Palm Beach.  After a stint in the Navy that took him to Japan (“an awesome experience), he spent his entire career as a banker, at Citibank, First National, and Smith Barney, ending up as president of the Citicorp Trust Company in Palm Beach.  He loved to roam the rest of the country in an RV. He was treasurer of the Palm Beach Hospice Foundation, the English Speaking Union of Palm Beach, and of Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (where he occasionally ushered parishioner Donald Trump).

Peter Milliken, a banker turned swimming coach, died in Bloomfield, Connecticut, on July 26.  After a four-year hitch in the Navy, Peter earned an MBA at Columbia.  For the next 25 years, he worked for banks in Hartford, Connecticut, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, but in 1989 his passion for swimming led him to switch careers and open the Fast Lane Swim Shop in Newington. After his retirement, he spent his active time coaching the swimming teams at the Westminster and Simsbury high schools, an occupation he loved.

Henry Pillsbury, who may have been the most brilliant and most artistically talented man in our class, died in Paris on August 17. Henry had everything; hewas hugely wealthy from his family’s gigantic flour business, a gifted ice hockey player, a speaker of flawless French, and was endowed with a quick wit, craggy good looks, and a debater’s articulacy. Every fraternity and senior society wanted him, but he despised authority and institutions and refused them all. He had a single obsession: France—its language, its art, its theater. He spent his junior year in Paris.  Apart from senior year and a brief spell in San Francisco, he spent the entire remainder of his life, half a century, in the French capital. His dream was to be an actor in French theater;  he never made much of a splash in that area, but he won world fame in the day job he took in 1969 and held, with one break, till 1994: as director of the American Students and Artists Center on the Boulevard Raspail. When Henry took it over, the center was a fairly somnolent institution in a lovely setting; by the mid 1980s, he transformed it into Europe’s top venue for avant-garde music, theater, and dance, especially dance.  All the great performing artists yearned to perform there; audiences grew; money poured in. Our classmate became an iconic figure in French cultural life. And then everything went wrong. Henry and his board decided to sell the Left Bank property and move to a very expensive new Frank Gehry location in the East of Paris. The plan flopped. Big. The public stayed away. The center went into debt, then bankruptcy. And Henry was ousted from the job he had so magnificently performed. He took it philosophically, however, and continued to act and direct and enjoy Paris life with his charming young wife (to whom your correspondent introduced him, by the by) in his lovely duplex apartment. His last creation was a slender volume of poems called Grace Damns.

Red Loughlin, one of the jolliest and best-liked of our members, died August 8 in Middletown, Connecticut. Known and nicknamed for his carrot-colored mane, he enlivened all our undergraduate years with his wit and good humor.  After Yale, he earned a law degree at the University of Connecticut and practiced for three decades in Wallingford, Connecticut. In 1976, he ran unsuccessfully as Democratic candidate for the state senate; despite his loss, he enjoyed the experience, as he enjoyed life and always brightened the lives of those around him.

We have three more losses to report—Jon WarnerLawrence Thompson, and Mike Cavallon—which will have to wait for our next issue.