Yale Class of 1975

YAM Notes: November/December 2021

By Thomas J Bourgeois

Congratulations to Erroll McDonald on his new post, announced in July, as VP and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf! I could fill the rest of my space allotment by naming the significant writers and cultural figures Erroll has worked with, so instead I’ll just thank him again for his thoughtful and frank contributions to our class’s “Publish or Perish” Zoom panel discussion last November and wish him the success in his new role that his track record seems to predict.

There’s no other news to report. You all know the drill, dear readers: I rely on you tell us something about yourselves. The odds are overwhelming that if you do, it’ll find its way into print.

As promised in my last installment, here follow some remembrances of Arthur Greenwald, culled from posts on the listserv and the Class of ’75 Facebook page.

From Galen Brandt: “I always thought of Arthur as the mayor of the small town that is our class. You know the kind of mayor—you may not agree with all his policies, but it’s clear he loves the town, and every citizen, with all his heart. For Arthur understood, perhaps sooner and better than many of us, that people need connection with other people. He helped bring and hold us together because he understood that it was good for us to know and keep connection with one another. He knew we would enjoy, celebrate, challenge, learn from, and sustain each other through the years.”

From John Levine: “I didn’t know Arthur when we were at Yale but got to know him fairly well later on. . . . He had excellent cat herding skills, and we cats enjoyed the experience.”

From Ben Yagoda: “Arthur was the personification of what Malcolm Gladwell called a connector, a person who instinctively yet creatively brought all sorts of people together. We were lucky to have him.”

From May Berenbaum: “Arthur was clever, creative, and unstintingly generous . . . a real mensch.”

In a burst of wit Art would have appreciated, Nita Krevans wrote, “I didn’t really know him at Yale, but he was indeed an ‘anchor’ for the class over the past few decades. I felt ruthlessly included, and I loved it.”

Laurie Weisberg recalled, “From hilarious times in Morse College to serious conversations at reunions, Arthur had a memorable impact on me and so many of us. I will always be grateful for his tireless work on behalf of our class, and the magic he spun bringing us closer together. A true gem of a man.”

From Seth Walworth: “Arthur was the glue who held our class together. I did not know him at Yale but feel very fortunate to have been part of his L.A. lunch circle and admire the hard work he did on behalf of all of us. Talented, a fighter, a good guy, and a life well lived.”

From Rob Watson: “Arthur was so smart, so good at charming and battling at the same time by deploying that lively dry wit. Very tough-minded while remaining good-humored, a strong and playful spirit of life, and a generous heart. He was a fine listener, a true unpretentious epicure, worked generously with my spouse Dana [Cairns] on Gertrude Stein, gave me expert advice on speaking to the media, and did so much to rebuild us as an alumni community. His beloved Fred Rogers would have been proud of him. Ave atque vale.”

From Bill Oppenheimer: “We are indebted to Arthur in many, many ways. As friends, classmates, and beneficiaries at large of his wisdom, generosity, and razor wit, we have much to be thankful for. He set an example of service; he was always there for his friends. We are mourning.”

From Mike Greenwald: “There is no doubt that there are many unique personalities among us. Arthur was primus inter pares. Just a little more observant. With a sense of humor that was just a little more subtle. And he could take your idea and tweak it just enough. Then you’d stand back and say, ‘yeah, that’s what I meant.’ Maybe it was the producer in him, but he always got you to do more than you thought you could or wanted to do. And do it better. Even the simplest project had to earn its airtime. Many of my best Yale memories are from our post-graduate years. Arthur has been part of every one of them. And now, everything I try to do I’ll think, ‘how would Arthur do it?’”

Ever grateful to Arthur for introducing me to so many of you whom I only came to know in “after years,” I’ll close by wishing you all the best as the holidays and the New Year approach. I encourage you to keep your classmates in mind. It’s time to make those calls or write those notes you’ve been meaning to get to. Tempus fugit.