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Presidents' Report on the Outstanding 40th Reunion!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Dear Classmates, I am happy to report that we had a truly memorable 40th Reunion.  For those of you who made it back to Princeton, thank you for coming and I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did.  With over 270 Classmates in attendance, it was the largest gathering of '69ers since our 25th.  To Classmates unable to attend, I will try to give you a sense of what took place and hope to see you at another Princeton event soon.  We owe a tremendous debt of thanks to our talented Reunion Co-Chairs, Anne and Bill Charrier, plus countless other Classmates, who volunteered their time and creativity to work as a part of the Reunions team. 

 I'd like to start in the "middle," with the Class Meeting held after our Saturday evening dinner.  I am pleased to report that the slate of new officers proposed by the Class Board was unanimously approved at the Class Meeting:  Bill Charrier, President; Paul Sittenfeld, Secretary; and David Pensak, Treasurer.  You have elected an outstanding team and I know they will serve the Class well for the next five years.  The new administration will formally take office at the beginning of the University's fiscal year, July 1st. The Class also unanimously approved the revised Class Constitution.  One change you will note going forward is that our historical governing "Board" has now been replaced by a larger "Steering Committee," encompassing a broader group of Classmates who direct important Class initiatives.  Bill Charrier and Rick Kitto also announced that Chuck Freyer will take over the Chairman's position at the Class of 1969 Community Service Fund.  The Class owes Rick our collective thanks for an extraordinary job over the past six years. 

 I also had the opportunity to present the President's Awards on Saturday evening.  This award was originated at our 35th Reunion to recognize exceptional service to the Class, the University and the Community.  The awards themselves consist of two beautiful pieces of framed Princetoniana, found in an antique shop and donated by Honorary Classmate Lynn Shostack Gardner.  This year's awardees are Bruce Freeman and Marc Miller.  I can't imagine two men more worthy to join our first winners at the 35th, Jim Gregoire and Paul Sittenfeld. Now, with the able assistance of Reunions Co-Chair Bill Charrier, comes our detailed report on the weekend:

THURSDAY:  Events kicked off with our first-ever Class of 1969 golf tournament.  Thanks to organizer X Shannon and a number of Classmates who are Springdale members, we had 28 Classmates and spouses participate. The golfers were then joined by other early arrivers for dinner at the new Springdale Clubhouse.  We had 130 pre-signups and 150+ at dinner!  One highlight of the evening was the final performance by Prospect Crossing , a home-grown bluegrass group lead by Richard Smith, a staff member in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, grad student Sean Long and graduating seniors Theo Beers and Brittany Haas (internationally renowned fiddler with Crooked Still).  We then adjourned to our beautiful, large Reunion site in Dod Courtyard to hear the music of Honorary Classmate Paul Muldoon's group Rackett, interspersed with Muldoon poetry readings, and the surprise world premier of Class of 69, written by Paul for our 40th. 

  FRIDAY:  Classmates started rolling in earnest on Friday and we had a big crowd for our barbeque lunch.  They had a chance to see two wonderful new Classmate sponsored initiatives.  Don Dixon put together an eclectic DVD of the 1960s which played almost continuously on two 42" TVs in one of our tents.  With material ranging from the famous Princeton humiliation on College Bowl vs. Agnes Scott to Walter Cronkite to original videos from such notables as the Hot Nuts and the Monkees, it was extraordinary.  Don can make this available to any Classmate who would like a copy; reply to this e-mail if you are interested and based on the number of requests, we'll determine how to copy and distribute this gem.  

The registration area saw the start of our Class oral history project under David Pensak's direction where Classmates videoed their recollections and reflections.  We plan to continue to offer the opportunity to memorialize your thoughts at upcoming Class events.  The site was swarming with youngsters in the afternoon, as our Head of All Things Magic, Lynn Shostack Gardner, had arranged for several magicians to be present both Thursday and Friday.  There were so many little ones that the magicians abandoned their small group format and staged a full show on the spot.  The kids loved it and classmates who saw these guys up-close and personal are still shaking their heads! 

 One of the highlight's of the weekend was our wine tasting, accompanied by a student string quartet.  With donations from Joe Field, Curt Kehr, Jim Kuzmick, Rick Kitto, Jeff Marston, Wayne Wilson and the two of us, we had about 100 bottles ranging from sparkling white wines to pinot noir.  The string quartet was led by former Class of 1969 Community Service Fund PICs intern and Princeton Senior, Ken Schwartz.  Fittingly, all current and former PICs interns were invited to this event and we had about 25 in attendance, plus CSF administrators Seva Kramer and Laura Spence-Ash. There are some great photos of the evening on the CSF website at www.69csf.org if you are interested. 

We particularly enjoyed President Shirley Tilghman's visit.  We introduced her using three classic Class of 1969 photos: Chris Thomforde and Gary Walters on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1967, Marion Sleet's profile at the vigil in Palmer Square after Martin Luther King's assassination in April, 1968 and Peter Kaminsky, our senior year UGA head, speaking on the steps of Nassau Hall that same spring in the midst of the protests over the Vietnam War and the University's relationship with the Institute for Defense Analysis.  Copies of these three magnificent photos will be posted on the Class website by the end of next week at princeton1969.org if you want to see them.  

We carefully reminded Shirley that she was also a child of the 60s (Class of 1968 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario) and she quickly retorted that not only was she there in the 1960s but she went to high school in Winnipeg with Rich Bracken (in attendance for a Presidential hug)!  We all enjoyed her remarks on the state of the University and her vision for the future.  If you have any special photos you took over the weekend, please feel free to forward them to Chuck Freyer at cfreyer@scppartners.com and he will post them on the Class website. The evening ended with an outstanding performance by the Motown group Total Soul.  Five minutes into their first set, we were truly transported back to our favorite decade. 

SATURDAY:  The first official event was the Class photo; the photographer took about 6 shots.  As he was about to take his last one, we saw Bob Durkee streaking across the campus in his '69 regalia to join the Class.  Someone shouted out that he was late because he couldn't find Clio Hall!  If you haven't already ordered your photo you can do so directly at www.panfoto.com (click on Reunions).  You can also order earlier photos back to our 25th.  

After that came an incredibly moving Memorial Service featuring participation by a number of Classmates and relatives as readers and singers, anchored around a powerful Homily by Wade Epps.  Wade's comments will also be on the Class website next week. 

 The P-rade -- what can we say?  We sought to revolutionize it and we did!  The Class of '69 serenaded the 25th Reunion and older classes with Beatles songs as we waited our turn to march; we then continued the singing along the P-rade route lead by the Magical Mystery Tour Bus/sound wagon.  All of this was punctuated by the tossing of the orange and black beads that we inaugurated at our 35th but this time we were ready with 20,000 strings donated by Bruce and Jane Hillman!  

For the rest of the weekend, it seemed every Princetonian on campus had our beads around his or her neck. In addition to the Class Meeting outlined above, we had a great dinner at the Boathouse, followed by the best seats in the house for Princeton's fireworks display which seems incredibly to get better each year.  Then we wandered up campus for The Fab Four and once again they didn't disappoint.  As it was five years ago, it seemed that we had most of the campus on our site by midnight; thankfully, we had a bigger site this year.

SUNDAY:  This was recovery time and the last event was a brunch at Mathey Common Room (Lower Cloister of the old Commons dining rooms).  For music, we had celebrated Classmate Barry Miles (Silverlight), playing piano alongside his brother Terry Silverlight '79 on drums, as part of a trio.  All in all, we were blessed with an exceptional turnout, near perfect weather and great camaraderie.  The Class of 1969 does it again! 

 As a final note, June 30th represents the end of the University's fiscal year.  We ask you to help us this month on two fronts.  First, please do everything you can in terms of your Annual Giving contribution for our 40th Reunion; the economic conditions are clearly challenging and that is exactly why Princeton needs our help more than ever.  Please give what you can, but most importantly, we hope everyone can participate.  Second, if you haven't yet sent in your Class dues, they are also important-financing your subscription to the PAW and many other things that the Class provides. Both of these can be conveniently handled on line at princeton1969.org or call Bruce Freeman at 609 258-2713 Have a wonderful summer! 

Dick Bott       Bill Charrier 
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