Yale Class of 1975

YAM Notes: July/August 2021

By Thomas J. Bourgeois

Foreword Reviews, which annually recognizes the best books published by small, independent, and university presses, has named Eric Goodman’s latest novel, Cuppy and Stew: The Bombing of Flight 629, a Love Story (IF SF Publishing), a 2020 Indie Book Award Finalist in General Fiction. Congratulations, Eric!

News from here and there:

At-large YAA representative Cheryl (LewisGreen writes from Bethesda, Maryland, “Despite its challenges, the pandemic has had many silver linings—one being inspiring old classmates to reconnect on Zoom after many years and forge new, deeper relationships. A group of Black alumnae started gathering virtually to catch up, and most recently we read and discussed Yale Needs Women. It was a wonderful window into the history we lived as the second and third classes of entering freshmen women. To our surprise, we all thought Kingman Brewster was a champion for diversity on campus, only to learn that he was not initially in favor of Yale going co-ed! Subsequent calls have provided opportunities to share our struggles and triumphs, trying to define ourselves at that tender age. Gathering monthly with me are Teresa McAlpine (Franklin, Michigan), Mychelle Farmer (Baltimore, Maryland), Teresa Johnson (Rochester, New York), Lorna McFarland (Long Beach, California), Lisa (Cooper) Hudgins (New York City), Edna Kane Williams ’75/’74 (Bowie, Maryland), and Sharon (White) Senghor ’74 (Washington, DC).”

I thank treasurer Nancy Young for passing this news along from Chris Donnelly as April came to a close: “Since I retired I have ended up teaching a course at UConn on the Fundamentals of Urban Forestry. [Author’s note: Chris worked for the state as its chief urban arborist.] It is a brand new course, so I got to make it up in the manner I think that sort of a course should follow—which was both fun and time-consuming. Also, because it’s all been done virtually, I never have really gotten to know the students. Which is too bad—it’s a very interesting mix, ranging all the way from two-year associate degree candidates to three graduate students, two pursuing their master’s and one in a PhD program. The whole time, I’m teaching like it’s a liberal arts survey course at Yale (hey, that is my college experience) and hope it is working for people. So far, so good. I’ll see how the chips fall when I submit final grades at the end of the month and also after I see the results of the student evaluations. It seems to have gone well.” I hope Chris’s students realize their good fortune in having such a knowledgeable and—even via Zoom, I imagine—approachable instructor.

In memoriam:

I did not learn until quite recently that James Herbert Robinson Jr. died in Anchorage, Alaska, on June 2, 2020, of medical complications arising from a short battle with cancer. Born in Philadelphia, James majored in engineering and applied science at Yale and earned a master’s in civil engineering at MIT. His career as an oil industry executive spanned more than 40 years. At the time of his death, he was senior VP of health, safety, environment, and security at Oil Search Alaska Limited. Prior to his Oil Search post, he was VP of environment, safety, and health at the Hess Corporation, overseeing offshore exploratory operations in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Previously, he had spent most of his career at Shell, managing global health and safety operations in, among other places, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, the UK, Brazil, and Venezuela. According to his Alaska Dispatch News obituary, James “was a global citizen who loved to travel.” His places of residence included New Orleans, Houston, The Hague, and Sydney. Such was his love of mystery novels that “at times his sparse luggage was more crowded with books than clothes.” He also had a lifelong interest in architecture and in the workings of bridges and trains. He remained a fan of his hometown sports teams, especially the Philadelphia Eagles. He was known for promoting good fellowship and enjoying humor and laughter wherever he lived and worked. The obituary notes, “His sudden and unexpected death is deeply mourned by his family, his friends, and the larger communities that he touched.” I offer condolences to his survivors: his mother Soiesette F. Robinson, brothers Charles F. and Malcolm K. Robinson, sons Kenneth M. and Kevin M. Robinson, former wife and best friend Henrietta Looney, nephew Andrew, and niece Riley.

As I submit this column in the first week of May, I sadly report, as many classmates already know, that my predecessor and recently named cosecretary Arthur Craig Greenwald died on April 30, of complications of end-stage renal failure. So much can be said, but let this suffice for now: Arthur was a mainstay of our far-flung class community, a loyal alumnus who was known across generations of Yalies, and a friend both to Rose House and Woodbridge Hall. A worthy memorial must await my next installment.

Please write with your news, and I’ll see that it finds its way to print. As Arthur once wrote, “If you don’t tell me what you’re up to, I might have to make stuff up.”