YAM Notes: September/October 2020

By Scott G. Sullivan

These notes were composed in mid-crisis, early July, with COVID-19 cases mounting across the South and West, a continuing wave of Black Lives Matter protests, and an alarming rash of random murders across the country. Nonetheless, the Class of 1958 produced more news and obits than this magazine could publish. To scrunch into our allotted space, I have abbreviated a number of items, with full coverage to come in the next issue.

Most, but not quite all, of our news is of course COVID-19–related. We have lost one more classmate to the disease, for a total of three. At least three of us have undergone long, painful bouts of it and pulled through. And the class, under the impetus of Bob Morgan, has held a second, very successful Zoom get-together. Twenty-four of us attended the July Zoom session. The mood was cheerful and relaxed, with most participants reporting on how they were withstanding the agonizing boredom of sheltering in place. There was talk of Yale’s championship lacrosse team (Phil Ness), of plowing through Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (Tim Hogen and your humble servant), of constructing a glorious Renaissance garden in Concord, Massachusetts (Bill Becklean), and much more. Further such conversations will be held.

A correction concerning the West Coast Zoom sessions: the proper email for organizer Gordon Gerson is gordgerson@aol.com.

Now for the headlines of stories that will appear this autumn.

Wally Inglis and his wife have won a prestigious prize for their work with the homeless in Honolulu.

Paul Semonin (aka Violet Ray) has produced an abrasive new collage celebrating George Floyd and savaging Donald Trump.

Mike Foster has published a new book, his sixth, titled A Roving Naturalist.

Joel Schiavone has suffered a bad fall, a dreadful hospital stay, and a broken arm. He’s now recovering and you will read his hilarious account of the experience two months from now. Promise.

In other, more positive, health news, both David Greenway and Peter Duchin, who had serious cases of coronavirus, are on the road to recovery. Myles Weintraub has fully recovered from a less perilous case; he has written a detailed account of his ordeal, obtainable at weintraubmyles@gmail.com.

Our obituary list contains nine names, including five from many months back, which only reached the Alumni Office’s attention recently, as well as our third COVID-19 fatality and three other recent losses.

Jon Warner, distinguished professor of molecular biology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, died last September 5 in Pelham, New York.

Richard Walter Williams, a civil engineer, died last December 26 in Blairsville, Georgia, where he headed the engineering firm R. W. Williams & Associates.

Tom Gross, who ran the Pepsi-Cola bottling company in Columbus, Ohio, died January 11, 2019, in that city. Unfortunately, Tom, who was at one time a generous contributor to Yale, broke all ties with the university when one of his children was denied admission.

Bob Holland, also of Columbus, died there on February 10. He took his law degree at Ohio State, practiced with the Chester & Rose law firm in Columbus all his working life, and served for a decade as city attorney for Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Don McComb of New York City died April 7 of complications from coronavirus, the third class member to succumb to it. Don was a man around the city, where he lived with the “love of his life,” Frank James Joe, with whom he lived for 44 years. After Yale McComb earned an MBA at NYU; he taught at Chung Chi College in Hong Kong before returning to New York. His most vivid interest was singing, mostly with a group called MasterVoices; he also volunteered frequently to serve meals to seriously ill persons. His last words were: “We can only move forward.”

Charles Gorry died April 13 at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. Charles served in the army in Korea; later, he worked as an executive with the United Illuminating Company, then with EBSCO Information Services and the Stone & Webster engineering firm.

Don Sherer died at his home in Occidental, California, on May 23. Don’s undergraduate degree was in engineering and he worked as a nuclear engineer for 13 years, but he changed course and took a law degree at Stanford. He joined the firm of Hopkins & Carley in San Jose, California, and practiced there for four decades, specializing in estate planning. He served as a board member and president of the Sempervirens Fund, the oldest land trust in California. From 2012 until his death, he presided over the Bodega Land Trust as well.

The Rev. Peter Moore, widely known as “the apostle to the preppies,” died May 30 at his home in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. After Yale, Peter took orders in the Episcopal church. Over a long and active career, he held parishes in Pennsylvania and Canada, traveled and spoke widely, and authored six books, including an autobiography titled Dry Bones. But the main focus of his considerable energy was the evangelization of students at private boarding schools. He founded the Council for Religion in Independent Schools and worked tirelessly all his life. He was a gifted fundraiser and built stunning facilities for worship and recreation for the kids he served, notably a very large site on Martha’s Vineyard. The late years of Peter’s life were troubled, however. He gradually became more and more uncomfortable with the liberal social policies and theology of the Episcopal church (especially homosexual rights) and he resigned the church he had served for so long and joined the breakaway Anglican Church in North America. That hyper-conservative body is closely connected with like-minded churches in East Africa.

Tim Brown, more formally Thatcher Magoun Brown III, died June 25, after an agonizing six months of hospitalization following a fall and broken neck last October. Tim was my neighbor in Filthy Farnum, one of my closest friends in freshman year and a participant in an epic round-the-United-States car trip with yours truly, David AdnopozPeter Hunt, and Bob Wrubel in August 1959. Tim was just about the kindest, most genial person I have ever met, with a million-dollar smile that radiated goofy benevolence and joy. He was the scion of an immensely wealthy and influential family that ran Brown Brothers and Harriman. He was slated by the family to join its firm and become a Wall Street tiger, a position for which he was temperamentally unsuited. He did work for Brown Brothers for a few years and married his second cousin, Sally Brown, a distinguished art historian. In the early 1950s, the couple bought a country inn in Dorset, Vermont, and ran it very successfully for seven years, returning to New York to do art history and financial consulting out of their apartment on Central Park West (Tim’s “country place”). His clients included the Yale School of Management, and he was our class’s longtime representative to the Alumni Association. And his joyful, low-pressure life revolved largely around three beloved children and six grandkids.