YAM Notes: July/August 2017

By Bill Sargent

Augustus Blagden Kinsolving died on March 27. He was a lawyer and had been a Rhodes Scholar. James Harrison Simrall died on April 9. He was an Air Force veteran and retired in 1990 as a cardiothoracic surgeon. Jeffrey Grandy died on April 12. A Whiffenpoof and Phi Beta Kappa scholar, Jeff spent his career at Citibank, retiring as a senior vice president and playing very competitive golf. William Hincks died on April 16. He was often involved in land management and in sailing. John Petrasch died on April 24. He was in the Navy and retired from banking in 1992 to pursue his lifelong love of woodworking.

Terry Shockey reports, “At Candlemas (aka Groundhog Day) I was elected president of the Rowfant Club, a 125-year-old men’s (yes, Virginia, there are still a few all-male institutions around) bibliophilic society. Rowfanters convene three times each week at our clubhouse: Wednesday dinner with a non-member speaker, Friday lunch with a member speaker, and Saturday lunch with no formal presentation. The clubhouse is a time capsule of books (8,000 volumes), furniture, and art, most of which were donated by members over the decades.” Terry adds that he would be glad to introduce classmates to the club if in Cleveland.

Last issue Bruce Chabner reported on his recent trip to India, but now adds, “Still working at Mass General, mainly doing research projects, teaching, and consulting about cancer drug development. It is hard to give up a passion for the work. But I must acknowledge that as a group, we cancer researchers are very disturbed by anti-science attitudes surfacing in Washington, and are hoping for a groundswell of public support for research.”

Frost Walker writes that until now he has had but a “fragile connection to our dear alma mater.” However, since getting word that his granddaughter, Angelica, had been admitted to the class of ’21, his attitude has changed. “Now,” he says, “the Harkness bells are ringing in my head and I’m awash with memories of the brilliant people and that distant and astonishing place.”

Ron St. John, who long ago thought he had retired, reports, “An unexpected spring. First the World Health Organization’s office in Manila invited me to join a team of experts to evaluate the Laotian compliance with the International Health Regulations. My responsibility was to evaluate their emergency-response capacity to epidemics. Then, in short order, WHO in Geneva asked me to do an evaluation of the management issues associated with the use of the Incident Management System for responding to the Zika epidemic in the Americas. So, in six weeks’ time, I spent a week in Vientiane, then home, then to Washington, DC, El Salvador, Geneva, and home. I am now heading to Manila to complete the managerial assessment in the Manila office. A bit of a hectic time, but still having fun, and the old brain seems to be clicking along.” Ron adds, “And in all that, second son and wife brought us another granddaughter! Life is good.”

Steve Gifford reminisced, “I started performing what was then called folk music at those wonderful gatherings on Saturday evenings in the basement of Street Hall. My instruments were the autoharp and the guitar, both played Carter Family style. This music has been like a nourishing river through my life. That’s why on one of my first motorcycle trips across the US, I stopped in Maces Spring, Virginia, home of the so-called original Carter Family going back almost a hundred years. The local cemetery lies at the foot of the Clinch Mountains on a hillside robed in lush green, a picture-perfect setting for the white frame church that AP Carter helped build. At the cemetery, I found the headstones of AP and Sara Carter. Embedded into each stone was a gold record labeled ‘Keep on the Sunnyside,’ their biggest hit, a song still played and loved more than eight decades after they wrote and performed it. It seemed strange to have come all the way to this tiny churchyard, to stand beside their graves and not mark the occasion somehow. I went back to my motorcycle and took out a harmonica. Standing by their graves, I played ‘Keep on the Sunnyside.’ I felt better. A few months ago, I returned to Maces Spring. As I stood once again by the graves, a woman came out from the church and struck up a conversation. She was interested that I was from Sonoma County, California, and after a bit, told me that her name was Flo and that she was AP’s granddaughter. That afternoon she was kind enough to take me around the small town and give an informal history of growing up a Carter in Maces Spring. She invited me to the church supper that evening where I met her children and grandchildren. She told me of her hopes that amongst the younger Carters there may be a new performer to join ‘the first family of American music.’”

Dick Lacey writes that he and his longtime close friend, Sherry Lane, have been writing and publishing a series of books based on “our longtime fascination with the art and science of face reading.” Their latest book is Face-to-Face, Eye-to-Eye: How to Grow Rich by Reading Faces.

Peter Adams sent a lovely note about getting together last year to remember a classmate and good friend. “On September 7, 2016, about 35 friends of Tom Clark gathered in Cleveland to remember a remarkable University School and Yale ’61 classmate who passed away a month earlier from Alzheimer’s. John Walsh, Dale Lindsay, George Seeley, Tom Bissell, and John deNeufville came from across the country to join with Jim Stewart, Terry Shockey, and me to trade memories of Tom.”