Three cheers for Old Nassau once again, as we now observe the commencement of the 56th year since we first arrived at Princeton. While 2020 with the advent of COVID-19 has certainly presented unusual circumstances that have battered our best efforts at planning ongoing activities for the Class, we have continued to work around the pandemic in our planning for the present and the future.
Plans for the Next Year or So
With a somewhat limited 51st Reunion now in the collective memories of at least a number of us and a 52nd Reunion on the not-too distant horizon, we are now turning to setting the Class agenda for the coming year, in the hope that we will provide options in terms of learning and experiences that align with your desires.
Our first opportunity to get together in our 52nd Reunion year normally would have been during the homecoming football weekend in the Fall, but since the Ivy League recently made the decision to cancel all Fall sports, we are planning instead for a Class Meeting via Zoom on Saturday, November 7th at 5:00 PM (EST) so please mark your calendars. Details will follow via e-mail.
The other event you might want to note on your calendars is Alumni Day. While the University has not yet formally announced the date for this event due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID, it likely will be held on Saturday, February 20, 2021 if the University follows its past calendaring tendencies. The University always arranges an interesting program of lectures for returning alums in the morning, including lectures by the winners of the James Madison Medal and the Woodrow Wilson Award. The Awards luncheon in Jadwin Gym focuses on announcing Alumni Trustee Candidates, reporting on Annual Giving and related achievements, introducing the winners of the Jacobus fellowships and the Pyne prize, and the winners of the James Madison Medal and the Woodrow Wilson Award. The achievements of the many winners are always impressive, and give one a terrific sense for the strengths of the University and its graduates. The formal Alumni Day activities end with the always moving Service of Remembrance, followed by closing receptions. Assuming that this event is an “in person” event, that evening we’ll have a Class reception and/or dinner for classmates.
The aforementioned 52nd Reunion is scheduled for May 20 – 23, 2021. Also assuming that this is an “in person” event, we will convene as part of the combined reunion surrounding the Class of 1971’s 50th Reunion (along with the Classes of 1970, 1972 and 1973) in what hopefully will prove to be an opportunity to revive the many Reunions traditions that fell by the wayside this past May.
We also are in the early planning stages for a mini-reunion or two, which we hope to offer sometime in 2021 if arrangements progress quickly enough. As many of you know, the “Canyonlands of the Southwest” Mini-Reunion scheduled for October 2020 has now been cancelled. However, we have asked the National Parks Conservation Association and the Off the Beaten Path travel agency that were involved in the previous effort to secure dates in October of 2021 for a rescheduled trip. The plan thus far is to follow an itinerary that will include the same major stops as before (the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park). We also asked the NPCA and OBP to set about scheduling a second Canyonlands of the Southwest Mini-Reunion, to accommodate the significant interest that developed when we announced the 2020 version. Given that we were able to register 44 people for the event in less than 10 minutes, and a few hours later we had amassed a wait list with almost 30 people on it, we feel we have sufficient reason to believe that we may have sufficient interest in this trip to run two 45-person cohorts. The NPCA and OBP are presently looking at the Spring of 2022 or the Fall of 2022 for the second trip. I would like to thank LLOYD BROWN, THACHER BROWN, JEFF KAPLAN, KEN MERTZ and BRUCE ROSENBERG for their seemingly endless assistance in moving all of this forward.
As I mentioned at the 50th Reunion, we have another Mini-Reunion under active consideration. This would be a mini-reunion in California, focusing on both the California wine country (Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties) and on the Monterey Peninsula/Big Sur area. Given the slippage in the Canyonlands of the Southwest Mini-Reunion, the California Wine Country Mini-Reunion probably will be scheduled for the Spring or Summer of 2022, at a time when the threat of fires associated with the Santa Ana winds is reduced. We are still getting preliminary tour information and setting priorities, but hope to circulate more specific information to you early in 2021. The Steering Committee (in formation) for this trip includes TOM COOPER, JOHN HAWKINS, DAVE MILLER and WAYNE WILSON, and I want to thank them as well for their assistance thus far.
Review of Last Year
Last year provided some special experiences for many of us. The academic year began with the homecoming football weekend on October 26th. We began with a Class Meeting in Jadwin Hall, at which we reviewed plans for the future. We all then joined CHIP JERRY, who once again had organized a tailgate lunch behind Ivy Club before the football game against Harvard, a contest which the Tigers won by a thrilling 30-24 margin. After the game, the Class Reception and Dinner which DICK BOTT was kind enough to host at the Nassau Club, where Professor Alison Isenberg presented her research regarding the Trenton Riots of April 1968 that were triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King. Professor Isenberg, who was suggested as a speaker by BOB DURKEE, gave a lively presentation of some of her findings, as well as the methods she and others have been using to recreate the events of that chaotic time. During her presentation, she mentioned that she was giving some thought to writing a book about the events, and, as many of our Classmates were in Trenton on the evening of April 4, 1968, the Class was able to offer her some factual grist to utilize in her efforts to document the events of that evening and the week of disturbances that followed.
Just 2 weeks later, our next opportunity to get together was a special event to recognize the 150th season of Princeton football – namely a game against Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium on November 9th. Festivities before the game included some beer tasting at The Dugout on River Avenue, adjacent to the Stadium; the crowd inside was quite congested, which made it difficult for the ‘69ers to see each other, although many did succeed in finding a corner together (see picture below). In attendance at the game were DICK and EMILY BOENNING, ANDY BROWN and BONNIE POST, JOHN and TINA FOX, STEVE HOUCK and TONI LICHSTEIN, CHRIS and CATHY MILTON, JIM and SHEILA PYLE, RANDY SHEPARD (pictured below, whose string of more than 50 consecutive Princeton/Yale Football games was extended the following weekend) and ANDY and ANNE STEELE. Others sighted during the festivities included DON DIXON (who wins the long distance award for this event), MURPH MCCARTHY and JOHN HANKS. Unfortunately, the Tigers started out slowly and were never really in the game, so all went home a bit disappointed in the 27-10 loss.
As we moved into 2020 the first events were the festivities surrounding Alumni Day on February 22nd. On Friday night a number of us gathered at Prospect House for an Annual Giving Awards dinner at which the Class formally received the The Class of 1931 Ricardo A. Mestres Memorial Award for the highest percentage of participation among classes 11 to 50 years out. We won the award by achieving a participation rate of 69.6 percent in the Annual Giving campaign that concluded just following our 50th Reunion, which was the highest rate of all but one other active Princeton Class. Congratulations were certainly in order for BRUCE FREEMAN, who was there to receive the award (see pictures below). Others who attended to support Bruce included BRENT HENRY, BILL and ANNE CHARRIER, RICK and CHRIS KITTO and CHRIS and CATHY MILTON.
On Alumni Day, itself, after a number of us attended a variety of lectures and the Alumni Awards luncheon, CHIP JERRY represented ‘69ers at the Service of Remembrance. The day concluded with our gathering once again for a cocktail reception at the Nassau Club (see photos below), where BILL BENJAMIN, REBA BURGESS, BILL and ANNE CHARRIER, CHUCK FREYER, JIM GREGOIRE, CHIP JERRY, ERIC and LINDSAY JOHNSON, RICK and CHRIS KITTO, KEN MERTZ, CHRIS and CATHY MILTON, BROOKE STODDARD enjoyed the camaraderie. Afterwards a number of classmates retired to Kristine’s, one of Princeton’s newest and best restaurants, for a delicious dinner, while others headed off to Jadwin Gym to watch the Women’s Basketball Team extend its winning streak by demolishing Dartmouth, 87-55
Our 51st Reunion followed in late May, and it was a somewhat curtailed event due to the presence of the pandemic. The University made the decision in late March that in person Reunions were cancelled (weren’t we fortunate to convene for our 50th before the pandemic!), and in late April decided to convene virtually for Princeton’s first online Reunion.
Class events included a Class Meeting via Zoom, followed by an interesting seminar on health, mental health, legal and economic issues associated with the pandemic during which Sam “Renaissance Man” Fager shared the fruits of his MD, JD and MBA degrees with about 95 Classmates and spouses (all courtesy of Martha Ferguson and young Roderick, whose tech savvy was the “magic sauce” that allowed the event to go forward). These events can be seen at the following link: https://princeton.zoom.us/rec/share/yc56K5X6sU5OeLOR10H6C7I-LqT9aaa8hHNNrPVYmUpps62NRQrdEEsR0udPZr3q. While the format was a bit cumbersome in terms of allowing much socializing, we were able to close with a virtual version of “Old Nassau” successfully rendered by the Glee Club (https://vimeo.com/423243514). In addition, we had a special treat in the form of a truly reflective photo/music montage that was created by GEOFF PETERSON with able assistance from BILL CHARRIER (this montage can be enjoyed at: https://vimeo.com/424100189). That was followed by a virtual Class of ’69 concert of “Oldies but Goodies” with Gary Adamson (who had played for the Class a number of times, most recently during the wine tasting at the 50th), which DICK BOTT was kind enough to arrange. Finally, DAVE FISHER also fashioned a short video from the Battle of the Bands that took place at our 50th – it features the splendid musical efforts of “69 Spare Parts”, a band comprised of ‘69er Dave, ‘69er Bob Jones and their spare parts (Keith Lesnick and Scot Hornick). This video, which runs about 30 minutes, is up and running now, and one can tune in at any time to listen to their musical offerings: https://youtu.be/DaGyMPM9whU.
The University also put together a wide variety of Alumni-Faculty Forums (which can be viewed at: https://reunions.princeton.edu/aff-videos/), created a website where a sampling of all of the Class of ‘69 Reunions costumes (even the long-lost dashiki) can be viewed (https://reunions.princeton.edu/reunions-costumes/gallery/1969/#reunions-costumes), and somewhat surprisingly concocted a remarkably satisfying virtual P-Rade (which can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEam-oFkj4Q). While Reunions 2020 was quite a successful event overall, I think we would all agree that we would have preferred to get together in person, so rather than attempting a to link to a screen shot or two from the virtual festivities, I prefer to remember when we were still able to get together in the old-fashioned way:
ANDY STEELE, who graciously agreed to serve as our Class Agent going forward after our 50th, was able to put together an able group of about 11 Classmates to assist him with his first Annual Giving Campaign. That team was comprised of ANDY BROWN; BOB BROWN; BRUCE DEBOLT, BILL EARLE (THE TEXAN); BRUCE FREEMAN; MIKE GEHRET, JIM GREGOIRE, SCOTT KRUSE, BOB LOVEMAN; CHRIS MILTON, BOB RAYMAR, GARY SYKES and JEFF VON ARX.
The initial goals for our 51st Annual Giving Campaign were $260,000 and 60% participation. As the pandemic descended upon the Campaign, the University asked the solicitors to stop focusing on the monetary total, and to simply focus on keeping up the participation, without putting any untoward pressure on potential donors. Although Andy had been raring to go (and indeed had arranged a competition with the Class of ’68 to see who could originate the most new gifts in the month of March – we won by the way, 9 to 8), Andy did in fact rein in his efforts and those of his campaign team. The final Class of ‘69 totals were 352 donors out of 700 Classmates, for a participate rate of 50.3%, and a monetary total of $211,377. Given the adversities confronting the University, our Classmates and the competing demands that the pandemic created, this was quite an accomplishment. Particularly given that the overall University participation rate was 47.8%, Andy justifiably feels proud of what the Class managed to accomplish. Hopefully the pandemic and its effects will begin to recede in a few months, and Andy will be free to use his substantial fund-raising acumen to keep our Class performing well as we go forward in the Fall with our 52nd Annual Giving Campaign.
Mentoring the Class of 2019
The Class also recently announced an initiative involving mentoring opportunities involving members of the Class of ’19, our “grandchild” class. RICK KITTO has been in discussions with CHRIS UMANZOR ’19, H‘69, the current President and CARLY BONNET ’19, H‘69, the former Secretary of the Class of ’19, as to whether members of the Class of ’69 might be supportive of members of the Class of ’19 who are being affected by the COVID-19 epidemic in some way as they chart their way forward through the pandemic. The intention is that this can be done on a limited voluntary scale and will, for the time being, be entirely virtual. The expectation is that many ‘19ers will continue to be affected by COVID-19 and might benefit from some mentoring advice from us as to employment issues and networking opportunities. This effort hopefully would help us progress on our broader initiative of continuing to form a bond between the two Classes that has been a Class priority for the last few years, while also providing the ‘69ers involved an opportunity to serve these younger Princetonians. As Rick has pointed out, the support available from the University to younger graduates is limited, compared to the support that Princeton provides to its undergraduates, and this is a way that we might help to fill that gap. Carly has indicated that she is prepared to organize such an effort on behalf of ’19. Our original announcement resulted in almost 20 Classmates stepping forward to mentor, and the hope is that we will draw in more Classmates as the initiative moves forward. If you are interested in serving as a mentor and have not already communicated that interest to us, please let Rick Kitto know of your interest by emailing him at email@example.com.
We continue to hope that many of you will be interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to contribute your mentoring services to these Princetonians who are confronting difficulties at such a young age.
The 52nd Reunion
While the question of whether our 52nd Reunion will be “virtual” or “in person” is going to determine how we go forward, it appears unlikely that a decision will be made in regard to that issue until sometime early in 2021. Our 52nd Reunion weekend is scheduled for Thursday, May 20th through Sunday, May 23rd, 2020. Once again, we will expect to be part of the 50th combine, this time for the Class of 1971, which will include members of the five classes graduating in 1969 through 1973. The Class of 1971 seems quite organized, and we are confident that they will be fine hosts. As RICK KITTO pointed out a couple of years ago, here are the five reasons most often given, in order, by alumni who return to Reunions:
- To see old friends and their families, make new ones, and introduce or reacquaint your family with Classmates
- To march in the One and Only P-Rade
- To attend evening parties and dance to the music of great bands
- To see the campus and what’s new
- To see the fireworks
In addition to the above, there are the Alumni-Faculty Forums and other panel discussions and speakers, tours of the campus, receptions hosted by eating clubs, athletic teams, musical groups and affinity groups and other activities that will keep you fully engaged.
Our Reunion Committee remains in formation as we speak, but will soon be hard at work to make our 52nd Reunion as enjoyable as possible for all Classmates and members of their families including spouses and partners, children and grandchildren. We will continue to send you updates as more information becomes available. We will also provide information on our Website, including travel tips, schedule information, housing information and other information about the Reunion as soon as it becomes available in useful form. So please read your emails that come from firstname.lastname@example.org and check the Website frequently to stay current with our plans. We look forward to seeing you and your family, whether we are proceeding virtually or in person!
After celebrating PICS’s successful 25 year run at our 50th Reunions dinner, the PICS Board proceeded with the transition of the program to University administration by the Pace Center. Caroline Savage is the new Program Director taking over from our incomparable Honorary Classmate and former Executive Director JERI SCHAEFER. The PICS Board has morphed into Princeton’s newest non-athletic Friends Group, the PICS Alumni Advisory Council (“AAC”), so named to make clear to all that ‘alumni’ are still at the core of the program.
We can all be extremely proud that unlike many summer internships programs that shut down this year, PICS did not. It had placed 200 Princeton undergraduates in paid community service PICS internships for Summer 2020 before COVID hit. Pivoting swiftly, it was able to work with the host organizations and interns to convert half of them to remote internships, so that 100 students still ended up with a PICS experience despite COVID.
Please help CHUCK FREYER and the ACC Executive Committee make sure that the program—‘69’s Legacy to Princeton—continues to grow bigger and stronger. While the University will assume PICS’ staffing costs, it will only provide a fraction of PICS’ $1 million stipend budget, which assures that every Princeton undergrad who ultimately participates in PICS can afford that PICS experience, regardless of financial aid status and/or family situation. Please consider a gift to PICS when you get your dues card (which you will receive when you receive the “hard” copy of this letter). Such a gift, or one made on the Class website (https://princeton1969.org/dues.asp), will be a charitable deduction acknowledged by the Class.
If, however, you would like to have your gift to PICS acknowledged by Princeton instead of the Class for some reason, that gift (but not the Class dues or Class scholarship contribution) needs to go directly to the University (i) if by check at the following address, noting your desire that the gift support PICS:
Princeton University Advancement
100 Overlook Center, Suite 300
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
or (ii) if by credit card, online at giving.princeton.edu, again with an indication that the gift should be restricted to PICS. A gift made in either such manner will be acknowledged by the University.
The PICS transition also will allow JERI SCHAEFER (below left) to make her long-sought move to Florida with her family, and will allow CHUCK FREYER (below right) to reclaim the endless hours that he has spent as Chair shepherding the PICS Board for the last decade or so. As they do so, they should bask in the knowledge that they have our collective thanks for all that they have done over the years. Our appreciation extends as well to the broader PICS Board for its stewardship over the last 25 years. Finally, congratulations to all for working out a long-term solution to these issues. May we all continue to do our part in the actions needed to ensure that PICS prospers in the future!
Thanks to all of you who paid your Class dues, and to those who also made a gift to the Class Scholarship Fund and/or PICS in addition. Special thanks to the many of you who paid your dues at the Leadership level of $125 or more. We couldn’t maintain the Class’ active program without you; PAW alone costs over $11,000 now. Dues receipts and participation were down quite a bit last year—not surprising in light of ‘69’s stupendous AG effort at our 50th. However, I hope you have all recovered a bit by now and will return to the ranks of dues payers this year. The Class treasury remains comfortably in the black financially as we head into this academic year like no other in history, but we need more dues payers for that to continue.
Your Class Dues Payment Card will be enclosed with the “hard” copy of this letter, along with an envelope. Dues have not increased in many years, and remain at the low rate of $50 for regular payers, and $125 or more for Leadership payers. The Dues Payment Card allows you to pay your dues, and at the same time to make additional contributions to the Class Scholarship Fund, as well as to the PICS program (as discussed in more detail above in the Section on PICS). If you are able, a donation to either or both of those causes would be much appreciated by all.
As an alternative to using the Class Dues Payment Card, one can also contribute through the Class website (https://princeton1969.org/dues.asp) by logging in and then clicking the Class Dues & Donations icon along the left sidebar of each page. One advantage of giving through the Class website is that it keeps track of your payments to help prevent you from paying twice—an advantage that seems more significant in impact as the years go on. All charitable contributions made in this manner will be acknowledged by the Class.
We hope that all of you will consider showing up at the 52nd or at one of the other gatherings that will be occurring over the next year or so!
And in the meantime, remember the wise words someone passed along to me recently: “There are only three possible outcomes to the pandemic – one either will become a hunk, a chunk or a drunk.” I suspect it may be possible to combine a couple of those….
All the best,
P.S. a little excerpt from “The Orange Moon” (1915)
The orange moon now softly shines
O’er sable lace of stately trees,
And Nassau Hall is bright with vines
Of ivy whisp’ring in the breeze.
The ivy whispers to the moon
Of olden days when Age was Youth,
And life ran smoothly as a tune
That sang of Friendship’s lasting truth