Yale Class of 1975

YAM Notes: November/December 2019

By Thomas J. Bourgeois

By the time you read these notes, Yale’s season-ending gridiron contests against our two main rivals will be at hand. To those within reasonable proximity of New Haven who haven’t already made plans to attend The Game, I hope I’m not too late to entice you to join treasurer Nancy Young and me on Saturday, November 23, at our 1975 class table in Alumni Village. Festivities will begin at 10 a.m., and we look forward to hosting a good crowd as we head into the homestretch before our 45th reunion, which will take place next May 28–31 or, in starker terms, before you know it! As I write, reunion chair Javade Chaudhri is at work on several planning fronts. He recently joined Joan Berliner SpearBrock Holmes, and me for a chat about musical entertainment, and he has recruited Gunnar Knapp, who will be ably assisted by Julie Sullivan Winn and Wendy Goodman Thum, to edit the digital 45th reunion class book.

Now, the rest of the news:

Long-time lurker, first-time correspondent, and my fellow Piersonian Rick Sidd writes, “After 35 years in solo private practice I recently sold my ophthalmology practice to Eye Associates of New Mexico. I am seeing patients two days a week in their Roswell office, which gives me ample time for extracurricular activities. Carolyn, my wife of 40 years, and I have a small vineyard. We pool our Cabernet grapes with several other local growers, and our wine, appropriately named Compadres, can be bought online. We also have our single vineyard Malbec, which is only available at the Pecos Flowers Winery. With children in Redondo Beach, California; St. Pete, Florida; and Santa Fe (and a grandson there), we have plenty of reasons and time to travel. Classmates are always welcome to come by for a wine tasting and to visit our aliens!” Rick signs off, “Hope to be at the next reunion.” I’ll hold you to your hope, Rick.

We move now from the Southwest to California’s Sonoma County—specifically, that portion of the Russian River Valley known as Green Valley—and from Bordeaux to Burgundy varietals. Our return car trip from Philo, California, where we attended the August wedding of my great niece Grace Edmunds to recent Yale Nursing graduate Josh Korb, took Ann and me to several wineries in the Anderson Valley, Sonoma, and Paso Robles regions. None was more memorable than our visit with CEO Joy Sterling at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol. In addition to the customary joy of seeing Joy (forgive me; I couldn’t resist), who received us with her usual gracious hospitality, we lucked into arriving on the first day of harvest (August 20 to be exact), when the field crew began picking Pinot Noir grapes for bubbly production. Before settling down to a picnic lunch—served, of course, with flights of the winery’s recent releases—with Joy and two executives from her distributor’s branding and marketing arms, we were treated to tastes of the fresh grapes and the “first press” juice, both showing promise on the way to their sparkling destination. It was fascinating to hear Joy and her business guests talk shop. She said of receiving them at the winery, “This is my favorite business meeting every year.” We were also happy to hear, in keeping with a cherished tradition sustained by Joy’s generosity, we can look forward to pouring Iron Horse bubbly at our 45th reunion!

In June,Rob Watson, along with Dana Cairns and their daughter Emma, hosted us at an Armand Hammer Museum preview screening of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story the night before its official release on Netflix. We extended a most enjoyable evening, continuing the conversation in an email exchange over the next few days, revisiting the film—does it even qualify as a documentary?—from the title onward. I think we agreed it’s worth seeing mainly for its remarkable concert scenes, which convey the character of musical performance as, in the words of one Revue member, “a high-wire act.”

I caught up with Jay Shanker over breakfast (his treat; thanks, Jay!) in July, amid one of his periodic missions from Oklahoma City to meet with L.A. clients. As always, it was fun and illuminating to compare notes on the television business whose landscape has changed so radically since I started working in it and he began representing writers, producers, and other talents plying their crafts in the medium. As Jay observed, we could hardly have predicted when we met in Pierson in 1972 that our careers would travel along such closely connected lines. I think chances are good our paths will cross again in New Haven next May.

Finally, I am sad to report the loss of two classmates:

Jonathan David Ezekiel died on September 4, 2017, of a heart attack in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The Dayton Daily News obituary noted, “He applied his brilliant and rigorous mind to everything he did. He worked as a researcher and an editor in the publishing industry for many years, including work on the criminalization of the mentally ill. He was an avid walker and a prolific poet.” Jonathan’s survivors include his mother Bernice Ezekiel Brant, son Edward, sister Judith, niece Clara and nephew Eizo Lang-Ezekiel. We send condolences to all who held him dear.

Roger Ressmeyer, who passed away in Seattle on August 22, 2018, had valiantly fought prostate cancer for four years but suffered a stroke shortly before his death. Roger was a prolific and justly renowned photographer of subjects both human and celestial. The former famously included members of the Jefferson Airplane and Starship musical aggregations, along with countless other notables; the latter, exquisitely captured and beautifully sequenced images of solar eclipses. A psychology major at Yale, Roger wanted to become an astronaut, but NASA told him his diabetes was disqualifying. He turned enthusiastically to photography, and his pictures appeared in the New York TimesSmithsonian, and National Geographic, among other prestigious publications. According to an obituary that appeared in Photo District News, Roger estimated that he had dodged death at least 15 times while photographing volcanoes and earthquakes. In 1992, he founded the Starlight Photo Agency to represent his scientific photographs. He sold his archive in 1995 to Bill Gates, who was establishing the Corbis stock agency. He occupied executive jobs at Corbis and later at Getty Images, as well as the presidency of the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) trade association. Along the way, he mentored aspiring photographers and advocated vigorously for working photographers’ proprietary interests. His impact on the photographic world was profound, and he is deeply missed.

As always, I welcome your news. Oh, and have I mentioned our upcoming reunion? You’ll be hearing a lot about it in the months to come.