60th Reunion

Class Notes 1961 – 60th Reunion (6-8-2021)

We have tried to piece together the sense of our Virtual 60th, from the many notes sent to us. We had 240 participants, including several wives and a few widows – – from many States, including Hawaii, as well as Brazil and France, and possibly other countries that were not identified.

For those of you who missed our virtual 60th, Hank Kuehn captured it well: Since our 60th was going to be “virtual”, no one knew exactly what to expect.  It turned out that any concerns we had were more than made up for by the efforts of our reunion chair, Wilford Welch, and his able crew, especially Jamie McLane, Andy Block, and our invaluable Jennifer Julier, from the YAA, whose many contributions kept showing up throughout the event. Paul Downey reported on our extraordinary $15.6 million 60th Class Gift, which included our ’61 alumni fund contributions solicited for so many years by Tom Mazza; and Ed Cantor hailed the $2 million that was raised for the Yale Cancer Center Fund.

The concerns identified for healthcare in the next decade, led by Ron St. John and his medical panel, were balanced by the Trivial Pursuit questions about our classmates assembled by Frosty Smith, Ed Cantor and Jamie. For example: Who taught high school math to Bill Gates and Paul Allen?  (Fred Wright).  Who had his pilot’s license before his driver’s license?  (Bob Jones).  Which classmate drives a hydrogen cell fuel car? (Jim Loofbourrow). We all came away from this game in awe of the incredible backgrounds and experiences of our classmates.

Preceded by mixing up a libation of our choice under the direction of a professional bartender, Mike Errico and his Broadway musical star and Yale 1992 daughter, Melissa, once again outdid themselves with renditions of Broadway show tunes from the years we were at Yale.  The best of all was a rendition of “My Favorite Things” with words written by Andy Block, such as: “Green cups at Mory’s while Yale had no women, Calhoun was Calhoun and swimming kept winnin, Dress code at meals after Harkness bells ring, These were a few of our favorite things.”

Saturday featured a discussion of the Yale ’61 Climate Initiative led by Wilford Welch and Jim Tripp and their panel, moderated by Colin Bradford, providing many ideas of what we can do in our remaining years to make a difference – – our legacy to our children, grandchildren and society.   Peter Diamond (our classmate with a Nobel Prize in Economics) and Bill Bardel then talked about what might lay ahead for the US economy. Alan Blanchard again led us through a thoughtful remembrance of classmates who have died in the past 5 years.

The final evening was a fitting culmination of our 60th.  After our professional bartender helped us to create a close proxy to a Mory’s Green Cup, the finale was truly over the top – the ’61 Whiffenpoofs presented many favorites with their voices of ’61 – a magical technological fete organized by Sandy McMillan and a young technology wizard at Disney. We wrapped up waving our white handkerchiefs to the final notes of “Bright College Years”. While some of the discussions might have made us feel fortunate that we won’t be around to face some of the complex issues facing the world over the next several decades, the message came through loud and clear that there is much we, as extremely fortunate sons of Yale, can still do to make the world a better place – best summed up in our Legacy booklet, put together so creatively by Paul Capra, in which Bob Killebrew noted: It is better to wear out than to rust out.

Walt Fleischer wrote: “Awesome”! The programs on significant issues were informative; we had tons of fun; there was terrific music; and there were emotionally moving moments. I only hope that coming ’61 events will be in person.

Joe Manko added: Overall, it made me once again proud to be a member of the undefeated class of ’61.

From Andy Block:  I will confess that I have been skeptical about ’61 being called the Undefeated Class, but this reunion gave me pause, because what our classmates experienced bordered on being undefeated! It is hard to imagine a better two days of educational, inspirational, captivating, emotional and entertaining programming that gave us all something special. They were all highlights and filled a need, but the Memorial Service, so imaginatively put together by Alan Blanchard, was the piece that brought us all together. It was a time to remember, to reflect and to be thankful. Speaking the names of classmates as we normally do gives us a few seconds to remember, but seeing the names slowly scroll on the screen was so powerful. When Dick Dilworth, a roommate, and George Doubleday, my best Yale friend, appeared back-to-back, I winced and teared. Virtual does not replace in person, but virtual gave us all a front row seat; we all could hear perfectly, we did not have to travel anywhere, and we did not have to watch classmates struggle to get around – plus we all might have paid much better attention. We all now have that wonderful sense of peace, gratitude and joy. Since Yale stops formal in person reunions after the 65th, have we learned something that we could use later, or is there a way to incorporate this experience sooner?  Covid has given us an opportunity to continue to explore alternatives.

Paul Tierney wrote: While we cannot deny that in-person reunions are preferred, this virtual reunion, fantastically supported by Jennifer Julier and the YAA, brought old friends back together, enabled new acquaintances, and taught us some things that we did not know. It also was loads of fun.

William Veale wrote from Sao Paolo, Brazil: It was fun; it was highly informative; and it was inspiring. Although three decades too late, we are all finally waking up to the climate challenge.

John Bingham shared: Our on-line sessions were moist heartfelt, stimulating, even fun, and most relevant to our troubling times. May our dear sons of Yale ’61 now be with us in our resolve to make a difference, doing more good things, and carrying these friends in our hearts as inspiration, with gratitude.

Ed Cantor added: I think much of what makes our class unusual is the ambiance that marks each of our mini reunions and major reunions. We have lost all pretense and no longer need to prove anything. We are just a bunch of caring people who have crafted priceless relationships and care about each other.

At the close, Wilford Welch, our Reunion Chair, shared: We took on an intriguing challenge – turning the in-person reunion we had fully planned for in New Haven, into a virtual reunion. It was 6 months and then the final 2 days I will never forget. The result for me was a sense of deep appreciation for my Yale’61 classmates, not just individually, but as an extraordinary group that I am honored to be a part of.

For those who missed the reunion or want to hear parts again, the entire two days can be viewed at www.yale1961.org.by about June 20th.

Lou and Jamie