Yale Class of 1975

YAM Notes: September/October 2020

By Thomas J. Bourgeois

I’m very pleased to announce that my friend and predecessor Arthur Greenwald has accepted my invitation to join me as co-secretary. In large measure, I owe my happy time in class service to his friendly but persistent invitations between our 30th and 35th reunions, and his advice and support over the years have been invaluable. We look forward to working with Treasurer Nancy Young toward, among other things, the goal of ensuring a splendid 50th reunion—God willing, and the creeks rise no higher!

Remember bookstores? You’ll want to check out two new entries from classmates on the historical fiction shelf:

Glorious Boy (Red Hen Press) is Aimee Liu’s fourth novel. Set in the remote Andaman Islands off the coast of India against the backdrop of WWII, its title character is Ty, a mute boy born to an aspiring American anthropologist and her husband, a British surgeon who is collecting orchid samples in search of new medicinal applications. When the impending Japanese invasion in 1942 forces the family to evacuate, the four-year-old boy and his minder—a nine-year-old local girl who has a seemingly telepathic bond with Ty, but whom they must leave behind—go missing. The parents take desperate measures to find both the girl and their “glorious boy.” Caroline Leavitt describes the book as “[s]o blisteringly alive, you feel the swampy heat and the bugs; so emotionally true, it grips at every page. Just magnificent and not to be missed.” Pico Iyer writes, “The most memorable and original novel I’ve read in ages. . . . [It] evokes every side in a multicultural conversation with sympathy and rare understanding.”

Eric Goodman’s sixth novel, Cuppy and Stew: The Bombing of Flight 629, A Love Story (IF SF Publishing), is both fiction and a form of memoir. The story, however, “belongs” not to Eric, but rather to his wife Susan, the younger of two daughters orphaned when their parents, named in the title, lose their lives along with everyone else on United Flight 629. (The ill-fated flight, bound from Denver to Portland and Seattle on November 1, 1955, blew up when a dynamite bomb, planted in the luggage of the bomber’s mother, exploded only 12 minutes after takeoff from Stapleton Airfield; it was the first instance of air piracy in the US.) Susan and her sister Sherry, unaware that Stew fathered another family before marrying Cuppy, are suddenly thrust into the temporary care of their maternal grandmother in Canada, then sent to other relatives and eventually to foster families and boarding school. Their adolescence is beset by various kinds of abuse, and they respond to their unhappy circumstances in markedly different ways. Narrator Susan manages to escape the confinements of their dysfunctional upbringing. Ron Hansen calls Cuppy and Stew “completely natural, poignant, and riveting from the first page to the last. An easy read in the best sense of that phrase, and a major work of fiction.”

Thanks to Aimee, who moderated an online class authors’ discussion in late June that included Eric, Alex Beam (Broken Glass), Lori Andrews (the recently reissued novel Immunity), and Steve Cohn (the political thriller The Blue Sky Rebellion). The panel was part of a Zoom event, the third such program since April, that began with a fascinating conversation about the pre-election political landscape, between Chris Whipple and Jack Watson, who served as President Carter’s last chief of staff.

Hats off to Peter BubriskiBrock Holmes, and Joan Spear for hosting—as well as 45th reunion chair JC Chaudhri and cochair Gunnar Knapp for helping to plan—our “Resonance” Zoom meetings, which have featured song, instrumental music, poetry and fiction readings, and breakout rooms affording more intimate exchanges among small groups. These stalwart classmates have found creative ways to use Zoom to replicate some of the best features of a traditional reunion online. Stay tuned for news about more of these virtual gatherings.

Sadly, I report the loss of two classmates:

Stony Creek resident Brian Ameche died on January 30. Many of you likely remember Brian as an All-Ivy defensive end on the powerhouse football teams of our era, but his New Haven Register obituary notes that his football exploits were something “he would really only, mostly tell you about if you asked.” His humility and perspective on this score were notable but also easy to understand, as Brian was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1953, the year before his father Alan would win the Heisman Trophy as a University of Wisconsin fullback. After Yale, he earned an architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, and he had a varied and accomplished career, working for TPA Design Group, his own New Haven–based firm, and Marx Okubo. His designs spanned the range of functional categories, from residential to industrial. According to the Register, “He was perhaps most proud of the work he did to make public housing projects brighter, better, and more worthy of their residents.” He was also a zealous advocate and protector of women’s reproductive rights, working in his retirement as a volunteer escort for Planned Parenthood. He is survived by his wife Amy Bloom; her children Alexander Moon, Caitlin Sorenson and husband Corey Sorenson, Sarah Moon and wife Jasmine Flott; his granddaughters Isadora Haidu Moon, Eden Moon Sorenson, Ivy Moon Sorenson, and Zora Pearl Moon; his mother Yvonne Ameche Davis; and siblings Alan and Michael Ameche, Catherine Cappelletti, and Beth D’Arcy. His family asks for donations to Planned Parenthood.

Catherine Crimson Lorraine died of a rare cancer at her Richmond, Virginia, home on March 23. A native of Richmond, Catherine transferred to Yale as a junior from Mary Washington College. After graduation, she studied law at the University of Virginia. She spent her professional career in government service. In 1986, she moved from a brief stint at the US Department of Education to the Food and Drug Administration, where she worked until two weeks before her death. She led the policy development staff in the Office of the Commissioner, making major contributions toward establishing the FDA’s jurisdiction over tobacco products and creating the center that oversees tobacco regulation. She was also a devoted wife and mother; an art, theater and classical music
lover; and a gourmet cook. Her survivors include her husband Hank Wilner MD, sons Jonathan and Daniel, sisters Martha Wallace and Elizabeth Brady, brother Michael, three nieces, a great-niece, and three great-nephews. Her family welcomes donations either to Montgomery Hospice or Doctors Without Borders.

As always, I invite you to drop me a line about your comings and goings, milestones, accomplishments, publications, or even the new hobbies you’ve taken up to pass the time in lockdown. I wish you all health and safety during these strange days.