By Thomas J. Bourgeois
I hope you’ve already made your plans to attend our 45th reunion. The dates: May 28–31; the place: Pierson College, my erstwhile home. Under the leadership of cochairs JC Chaudhri and Gunnar Knapp, exciting plans are in place for panels, musical performances, and book signings by notable authors among our ranks. Of course, there will also be lots of unstructured social (and meal) time for catching up with classmates, which is, after all, the biggest draw.
At our annual open house in December, Ann Toler and I enjoyed a mini-reunion—and a reunion preview—with Wendy Goodman Thum, Arthur Greenwald and Wendy Garen, Tim Gustafson, Rob Watson and Dana Cairns, and Seth Walworth. I saved Seth for last because three days later his name turned up in my hometown paper of record, but rest assured it wasn’t for anything untoward that might have happened at our party. Full disclosure: I have Richard Lincer to thank for sending me a link to a Los Angeles Times column, datelined December 18 and filed by sportswriter Bill Plaschke, which I had overlooked that morning. Its subject was basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson’s Christmas party for—and his donation of 300 bicycles to children served by—the All Peoples Community Center of Los Angeles. For the last two years, All People’s board chair has been our own Mr. Walworth, whom Mr. Plaschke briefly cites, but whose modesty prevents him from talking about his generous expenditures of time, energy, and treasure to support the center and to help administer its good works in an underserved corner of his adopted city.
Speaking of community service, Arthur and I had a chance to catch up over lunch in Hollywood recently with BK Munguia and Jon Mark, this year’s joint recipients of the Scarsdale Bowl, to be presented at the Scarsdale (New York) Foundation Bowl Dinner on April 22. The bowl is awarded annually to “one who has given unselfishly of time, energy, and effort to the civic welfare of the community.” BK earns special recognition for her decades of volunteer service to programs benefiting children and teens. She has served on the school board’s legislative, nominating, and administrative committees, and has worked with the Girl Scouts in several capacities. She has also chaired the Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Campaign Committee, and is a trustee of the Scarsdale Foundation. Jon, a Scarsdale native, claims to be known chiefly as “BK’s husband,” but in fairness I should point out he’s a former village trustee and mayor. Congratulations to the busy, admirably civic-minded couple!
Elsewhere in upstate New York, we continue in the vein of community service, specifically elective office: Almost two years ago, I reported Christopher Kennan’s election to the town board of North East, New York. That was merely the launch of Chris’s political trajectory, as his recent email makes clear: “While others of us would appear to be enjoying retirement years and stepping back from career activities, I feel as if mine is starting, yet again. On January 2, I was sworn in as supervisor of the town of North East. The town is better known by its center, Millerton, and is a community of 3,000 souls right on the border of northwest Connecticut. The role is equivalent to that of a mayor, and it provides me with opportunities to levy ever-increasing taxes, to tilt against the regulatory and bureaucratic windmills of New York State, and to receive generous amounts of flack regardless. I look forward to joining everyone for our reunion in May, and hopefully to link up with others who have found service in local government to be meaningful.” Are you listening, former Trumansburg mayor John Levine?
Theatrical producer extraordinaire Catherine Schreiber, also pledging her presence in May, checks in with this news: “Last year ended on a high note with the transfer of the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol to Broadway. It was a great run of a wonderfully moving and new interpretation by Jack Thorne, directed by Matthew Warchus, with housebreaking records at the Lyceum Theater. We look forward to returning to Broadway next holiday season. Another holiday show opened in London: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I’m thrilled to be doing with Elliott & Harper Productions. This year I’m also thrilled to be a lead producer on the Olivier-winning Company, starring Katrina Lenk and Patti Lupone, and opening on Broadway March 22, Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday. This is a reimagined production with a female Bobbie and a gay friend couple. I’m also a producer on Lehman Trilogy and Inheritance, and producing a documentary in London, Kent Rising, about the importance of theater schools and, in general, about the transformative power of the arts. Also excited to be a lead producer on The King’s Speech, the play that gave rise to the film. It will be at the National Theater in DC in February and then touring before coming to Broadway. For those in L.A., there’s a delightful new musical coming to the Ahmanson in March, Romantics Anonymous, based on the movie. I look forward to seeing everyone at the reunion.”
Finally, and sadly, I report the passing of two classmates:
Linda Jewell died of cancer in Washington, DC, on November 18. As a retired State Department official with over 30 years in the Foreign Service, Linda joined the International Student Exchange Program as vice president, retiring from that post in 2013. In the years since, she was board chair of Pyxera Global, a nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing citizen diplomats to address global challenges, and became both a senior fellow of Yale’s Jackson Center for Global Affairs and a member of the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. She also provided voluntary assistance to ICE detainees. Linda’s career began in 1976 at the US Information Agency. Her USIA posts included cultural and informational roles at embassies in Jakarta, Mexico City, New Delhi, and Warsaw. In Washington she was desk officer for Mexico and Central America, as well as deputy director and director for western hemisphere affairs. Along the way, she earned a master’s degree in international public policy in 1988 at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. After USIA was folded into the State Department in 1999, she served as deputy chief of mission in San Jose, Costa Rica. Back in Washington, she became chief of policy planning in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, then deputy assistant secretary of state for Canada and Mexico. From 2005 to 2008, she was ambassador to Ecuador. Widely respected for her work to combat human trafficking, Linda received the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, and the Ecuadorian government awarded her the Honorato Vasquez Order. On behalf of the class, I send condolences to John Walsh, her husband of 43 years, their children Susanna and Patrick Jewell Walsh, her large extended family, and her many friends around the world. The family encourages contributions in Linda’s name to the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.
Michael Schwarz died at his Menlo Park, California, home on December 1. After 20 years as a researcher, broadcast journalist, producer, and senior executive at England’s Granada Television and at San Francisco PBS affiliate KQED, in 1996 Michael started his own documentary production company, Kikim Media, with his wife Kiki Kapany, who managed its legal and business affairs. Michael and I became frequent correspondents during my time as secretary, and his gentle manner and passion for his work always impressed me in equal measure. I feel privileged to have had a small hand in promoting his most recent projects, including The Botany of Desire, In Defense of Food, and The Ornament of the World, which premiered at Yale last February. The honors Michael earned for his estimable body of work included three national Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, the Alfred I. DuPont–Columbia University Journalism Award for Investigative Journalism, four awards for Excellence in Local Broadcasting from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Grand Prize in the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for Coverage of the Disadvantaged. Our hearts go out to his widow Kiki, his daughters Ari and Misha, his mother Bobbie, his sister Debbie Funderburk, and his wide circle of friends.
As always, I welcome your news, and I hope to see you in May.