YAM Notes: September/October 2019

By Scott G. Sullivan

Not much non-necrological news this issue, and most of what there is was generated by your humble servant.

Except for a charming note from Pete Spelman (aka Hoyt and remember: only one “l” in “Spelman”), filed under the heading “58ers still in harness.” Pete writes: “Here’s my story. After Yale, I spent 25 years with the New Yorker, starting as an editorial fact checker and ending up as publications director. I would have spent my working life there, but the magazine was bought by Si Newhouse and Condé Nast and everyone on the publishing side was fired. I spent the next ten years on my own as a magazine consultant and contract publisher—someone who assembles magazines for companies and institutions. It was a struggle. By chance, I fell into the real estate business as a broker at Halstead, the largest privately owned company in the Tri-State New York area. As such, I have ‘done deals’ with the likes of Victor Kovner and Jack Fritzinger. Recently, I have taken on a ‘junior’ partner—he’s 61—but I usually go into a very nice office most days of the week, usually by bicycle.”

Your correspondent’s news was all gathered on a June-July trip I made with my friend Suzanne Sloan to New England. After a wonderful week at my nephew’s summer house on Mount Desert, it was on to Boston, where we lunched at the Harvard Faculty Club with an extremely dapper David Greenway. Dave is pretty much retired from the Boston Globeand world-girdling political commentatorship, enjoying the good life with wife J. B. at their gorgeous home overlooking the Charles River in Needham. Daughter Alice, a talented novelist, has returned to Boston after many years in Scotland. Suzanne and I then spent two nights with Bill Becklean and his companion, Joanie Campbell, at their charming manse in Concord, visiting the historic surroundings and dining magnificently at the Blue Dragon restaurant in the Fort Point section of Boston—highly recommended! From Boston, we made our way to Stonington, Connecticut, for a fish dinner and stayover with class secretary Tim Hogen. Like many of us, Tim is slowed down a bit by health issues, but still chipper and jaunty, out sailing that afternoon in Long Island Sound.Our next stop was Greenwich, chez Phil and Susan Ness, who treated us to a posh Fourth of July picnic at one of their several country clubs. Then two fine days with Mairi Bryan, widow of classmate Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan III, at her home in Guilford. Mairi was in great form as was her wonderful Mum, now in her 96th year, and assorted guests.An al fresco dinner topped off with Roman candles, to celebrate the Fourth on the fifth. Then home to New Orleans, just in time for Tropical Storm Barry.

One more brief note before the obits: Dana Goodyear, daughter of our classmate Rummy Goodyear, has become a prominent contributor to the New Yorker. The magazine dated July 22 carries an 11-page piece by Dana on California senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris.

Now for the sad stuff; we have lost three more of our precious crew.

Joseph Barba, an engineer and investment advisor, died at his home in Cheshire, Connecticut, on April 28. A New Haven native, Joe joined the Army after graduation and served for six years.Over the years he built up the engineering company Joseph Barba Co, and the brokerage Barba Capital Management, both in Cheshire. He was extremely active in civic and church affairs, serving on the local board of selectmen and town council, sitting on the boards of several Catholic schools, and acting as trustee of his parish church, Saint Thomas Beckett. The Cheshire Jaycees gave him a Distinguished Service Award for his community work.

Charles Sachatello, a renowned surgeon, died in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 4. Charlie was a Phi Bete and finished college in three years, before taking his doctorate at Yale Medical School. He did his internship and residency at Vanderbilt and started his career as a cancer researcher, an episode he later described as a “great disappointment.” He moved to the University of Kentucky in 1971; then in 1985 he formed the private Bluegrass Surgical Group and ran it till his retirement in 2001. In 2006, he developed “terminal” liver cancer, but his life was saved by a liver transplant. Charles received multiple honors for his practice and research, but the outstanding event of his life was his relationship—first as a doctor, then as a close friend—with Albert (Happy) Chandler, the Kentucky governor and senator and longtime commissioner of baseball, who treated him like a son and took him to the pitcher’s mound on the opening day of every season for ten years.

George Zimmerman, a physicist with a world-wide reputation and surely one of the brightest stars of the Class of 1958, died in Boston on May 6. George was born in Poland in 1934 and was a child prisoner at Auschwitz and liberated by the Russian army in May 1945. He came to New Haven in 1950, knowing little English, and entered Yale four years later. He earned his PhD from Yale in solid-state physics. He spent a long and brilliant career at Boston University. He made major contributions to physics theory in the areas of condensed matter and solid-state physics, in phase transition at ultra-low temperatures, magnetically intercalated graphite compounds, Jahn-Teller materials, applied superconductivity, and modeling. The list of his accomplishments and honors is endless, and he was known to all as a kind, gentle, and humane being. Too much for your correspondent to cover here; if you want to know more, consult the long and brilliant articles George wrote for our50th and 60th reunion books.

Our next mini-reunion starts October 4 in Minneapolis. Come one, come all.