Three cheers for Old Nassau once again, as we now observe the commencement of the 57th year since we first arrived at Princeton. While 2020 and 2021 with the omnipresence 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 52nd Reunion now in the collective memories of at least a number of us and a 53rd 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, and that COVID will allow in-person events.
Our first opportunity to get together in our 53rd Reunion year normally is the homecoming football weekend in the Fall, which is scheduled to be the weekend of October 23/24 this year, when the Harvard Cantabs (no doubt accompanied by “Ten Thousand Men of Harvahd”) will be making their way to Princeton for the annual gridiron battle.
We are planning to convene that weekend in a somewhat curtailed fashion, as the University is still considering what its policy is going to be in regard to inviting alumni/ae to campus this Fall, and has suspended its rental of spaces to alumni/ae groups until the policy is in place. As we would prefer not to be hostage to that decision, we have made tentative arrangements for the Class to gather for cocktails and dinner at the Springdale Golf Club in the evening after the game. The game itself is currently scheduled to be televised on ESPN this year at 1:00 on Saturday, but there have been some indications that the game may shift to 3:00. In order to firm up plans that won’t be greatly affected whichever way it goes, we are planning to convene for cocktails at 6:00 PM and to commence dinner around 7:00 PM. In order to avoid the necessity of tracking down a second location for a Class meeting we will conduct that meeting (which we expect will be brief) during the dinner. We are hoping that cocktails can be outdoors if weather permits; and dinner will be indoors. We are planning to require that those who wish to attend have been vaccinated, and those attending should bring a mask to wear, as NJ recently re-imposed a mandate regarding the wearing of masks at indoor events. In any event, please mark your calendars now – further details will follow via later email, at which point we will modify any of these arrangements depending upon the Covid situation in New Jersey as the date approaches.
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 19, 2022 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.
In addition, the aforementioned 53rd Reunion is scheduled for May 19 – 22, 2022. Also assuming that this is an “in person” event, we will convene as part of the combined reunion surrounding the Class of 1967’s 55th Reunion (along with the Classes of 1965, 1966 and 1968) in what hopefully will prove to be an opportunity to revive the many Reunions traditions that fell by the wayside once again this past May
We also are in the early planning stages for a mini-reunion or two, which we hope to offer sometime in 2022 if arrangements progress quickly enough. As many of you know, the “Canyonlands of the Southwest” Mini-Reunion scheduled for October 2020 was cancelled, and we were unable to reschedule the event for the Fall of 2021 due to the size of our group and restrictions on group size at the hotels where we hoped to stay. 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 2022 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 in October of 2023, 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. 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 2023, 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 our priorities, but hope to circulate more specific information to you by late in 2022. 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
Unfortunately, the last year was one for the most part comprised of virtual gatherings and attending to administrative matters relating to the Class.
The academic year began with the August announcement that the entire Fall semester would be conducted remotely. As a result, the only undergraduates on campus were ones facing logistical housing or travel issues that made that made it necessary for them to be housed there. This decision also resulted in the curtailment of most activities that historically have drawn alumni/ae to campus, such as homecoming weekend football games. Out of respect for that decision, the Class did not schedule any events on campus in the Fall.
Instead we held a Class Meeting virtually on November 9th, which was attended by about 25 to 30 classmates. After attempting to overcome the various technical hurdles that some of us encountered with the Zoom format, we reviewed the state of Class affairs. For the most part the information conveyed related to topics covered below, but I did want to focus on the fact that this meeting included what turned out to be our final Secretary’s Report from PAUL SITTENFELD, in which he reported on the fact that 8 classmates had died since the beginning of 2020 (see the list below). Paul accompanied his report with the observation that too often it was the case that the Class learned only “a little after the cow was out of the barn, as it were” what an extraordinary lives our Classmates had lived and what remarkable things our Classmates had done. Hopefully folks will keep this in mind as they decide whether to update all of us on things that are occurring in their lives.
The next event was Alumni Day, which was curtailed for 2020, with the result that the primary focus was a virtual Service of Remembrance coordinated by the University. Our Class posted the following on the message board for the Service:
On behalf of all ‘69ers and their spouses and significant others, we want to pass along thoughts of and prayers for our Classmates who passed away during 2020 and their loved ones:
John/Cabeen Beatty July 2, 2020
Dave Bruner August 15, 2020
Jamie/Jim Gaffney May 26, 2020
Jim Green October 12, 2020
Tom Greig August 7, 2020
Art Hamm August 5, 2020
Jay Melosh September 11, 2020
Bob Wolfe March 31, 2020
Those who attended the Service of Remembrance came away moved by the moment, the memories and the music. For a virtual event, it was remarkably powerful. Since that date, we have also learned of the deaths of Paul Sittenfeld on March 17, 2021, Steve Houck on April 12, 2021, TOM WEIDNER on May 31, 2021 and John Sacret Young on June 3, 2021 – may they too rest in peace….
Our 52nd Reunion followed in late May, and again was a curtailed virtual event due to the presence of the pandemic, featuring a Class Meeting via Zoom, followed for the second year in a row 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 50 Classmates and spouses. These events can be seen at the following link: https://bcove.video/3fG188S. 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). Finally, some of us revisited the recording of DAVE FISHER‘s 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).
This past year has seen a number of changes in Class Officers, some or all of which presumably are known to all of you.
Most notably, we have lost our “Secretary for Life” Paul Sittenfeld, who served us so ably in a variety of roles since our arrival on campus in the Fall of 1965. As many of us have experienced firsthand, Paul had a huge heart, a wonderful sense for the right thing to do and the right thing to say, a piercing sense of humor, unending modesty and a dedication to the Class that is unparalleled in our history. He will be missed in so many different ways, and we are so grateful to have had him with us all these years. In honor of his passing, we have worked formally with the University to change the name of the “Class of 1969 Scholarship and Fund” to be the “Class of 1969 Paul George Sittenfeld Scholarship and Fund”. In addition, we have decided to honor Paul’s advocacy for the broadening access to education by repurposing the Scholarship and Fund to add the purpose of supporting first generation and low income students at the University. In doing these things we are hopeful that we can stimulate some additional giving by Classmates to the Scholarship and Fund, so that Paul’s goals can be achieved over time.
In searching for someone to replace Paul, we concluded that it was unlikely that anyone would be willing to take on all the Secretarial duties alone. Once that decision was made, we were successful in recruiting Bob Axelrod and Mike Gehret to act jointly as co-Secretaries for the Class; while they have not agreed to take on these duties for life, they have agreed to serve for a couple of years, and have left the question open for the moment in terms of their interest in serving beyond our 55th Reunion. For the moment, Bob is responsible for the Class Notes in the PAW, and Mike is responsible for researching and writing Class Memorials in the PAW. Their present plan is to rotate such duties from time to time.
As some of you are aware, we also have been attempting to replace the irreplaceable Dan Harman, who co-chaired our Reunions from the 42nd through the 45th year, and then chaired them alone through our 50th Reunion. While Dan remains ready, able and willing to assist in a somewhat less demanding capacity in future years, he understandably wants to remove the pressures associated with being the Chair. Again recognizing that we collectively are at a point where we need to divide assignments into more manageable sizes to attract talent going forward, we have been successful in attracting a “dream team” to chair our reunions for the next few years. The team is comprised of Clay McEldowney, who will be “Reunions Chair”, assisted by Andy Brown and Jeff Marston as able Reunions Vice-Chairs. As all three are veterans of many past reunions, and as Clay served as the ’69 Reunions Chair from our 6th through our 25th reunion, this is an excellent result, and hopefully we can look forward to seeing them in action next Spring at our 53rd Reunion! There is even some evidence that they want to start in early, and Jeff invited Clay, Andy and a few other Classmates to join him at his home in Annisquam in August to get the ball rolling. While Andy was not able to make it, RANDY SHEPARD, LARRY MORRIS, JEFF VAN ARX and yours truly did make it there for the fun! The picture below of Andy with his amant, BONNIE POST, during our South Africa Mini-Reunion will have to do!