Our 50th class reunion “officially kicked off” with an informal gathering in Dean Robert Alpern's office on Friday afternoon, where we saw many from our class for the first time in decades. This was followed by a formal ceremony in the Beaumont Room with Dean Robert J. Alpern handing out the Samuel Kushlan medal to each of the returnees. We have now been inducted into this august society, a badge of honor of being true blue “veterans” of Yale School of Medicine. (Many of us remember Dr. Kushlan.)
The highlight of the Saturday morning program for our group was the dean's update of the School of Medicine and the medical center. This dove-tailed well with our class mini-symposium on Saturday afternoon. Bill Pratt gave his perspective on the breathtaking transformation that has taken place and continues to take place in basic sciences at medical schools during the half century between our time at YSM and 2014. Lewis Landsberg then gave his perspective on clinical medicine during the past 50 years. The group felt somewhat sobered by all these earthshaking changes. We all wanted more time for discussion and wished that there was some way we could continue a dialogue.
The culmination of our milestone reunion weekend was a gala dinner at the New Haven Country Club. We had cocktails outside on the patio and the verdant lawn, accompanied by hors d'ouevres, such as mini lobster rolls and crab cakes, a reminder that we were back on the New England home turf of YSM. A trio from the School of Music provided background music to the sybaritic setting. At the outset of the dinner, Remo Fabbri led us in observing a few minutes of silence in remembrance of those who are gone and also those who were unable to join us. The climax of the whole weekend was the after-dinner program. First was a comedic skit organized by Steve Schacher (who was the impresario of our “monumental” class show with John Barchillon, who was sorely missed at this reunion) with Norman Fost and Diane Shrier as performers, and a sidekick robot gamely joining in. Following this, Remo took the podium as the emcee for the evening. He called on each of us to come to the podium to recount a story from our YSM days that we had not shared previously. Out came the most amazing anecdotes, many of which had us doubled over in laughter. Bob Lyons brought the house down in his inimitable, laconic way with a story about the grueling quizzing of the late Gene Higashi by Dr. A. Liebow‒it may be the only time that Dr. Liebow did not have the last word! Several anecdotes involved classmates who are no longer with us and were remembered warmly, adding poignancy to the merriment. The kinship and camaraderie felt among the group rendered a warm glow that was almost palpable. There was also a bit of sadness as we bid each other good bye. Sue Kimm offered to host a mini-reunion in Santa Fe, N.M., in two years.
A surprise that capped the evening was the most solemn awarding of a special diploma to each one of us by Remo. He had commissioned a Vermont surrealism artist to design this “august” diploma (which was also visually pleasing). It read, “Certificate of Attendance and Survival, Yale Medical School Class of 1964, May 31, 2014.” Some of the courses listed on the diploma were “acronymology,” “medical numerology,” etc. One gets the idea.
All in all, we were delighted to be back in New Haven‒333 Cedar Street, Harkness‒but above all, to visit with all those with whom we shared the four most formative years of our life. It was what a reunion should be‒reconnection and rekindling of the bond we had forged!
Classmates and guests in attendance during the weekend included: Robert Briggs, Chris Briggs, Tom Cardella, Claire Cardella, Mary DiGangi, Remo Fabbri, Christiane Nockels Fabbri, Anthony Ferrante, Anita Ferrante, Michael Flynn, Kate Flynn, Norman Fost, Peter Gross, Reggie Gross, John Haney, Richard Hockman, Martha Hockman, William Houghton, Mary Alice Houghton, Sue Kimm, Seymour Grufferman, William Knight, Lewis Landsberg, Jill Landsberg, Thomas Lentz, David Leof, Colleen Leof, Robert Lyons, Wendy Lyons, Robert Mitchell, Rebecca Mitchell, Alan Morris, Donald O'Kieffe, Jane O'Kieffe, William Pratt, Diana Pratt, Stanley Rosenberg, Maxine Rosenberg, Stephen Schacher, Roberta Schacher, Robert Shelton, Julie Meagher, Diane Shrier, Adam Shrier, Lydia Shrier, Lyall Stilp, Stephen Waltman, and Gillian Waltman
Those who had expressed interest in attending but could not be at the reunion were: Sidney Baker, Alfonso Esguerra, Barry Gault, Chris Hauge, David Johnson, Bill Matchett, Sigi Tishler and Oscar Wand. Chuck Vogel is still working full time and had a schedule conflict with an oncology meeting.
In closing, we want to give special thanks to the team from the alumni office led by Debby Jagielow, whose father was a member of our class; Lee Van Lenten, Joan Peck, and Diane Hart. They met every request we made, however large or small, ranging from our request for the layout of the dining room at the New Haven Country Club to our requested design for the reunion celebration cake.
‒Sue Y. S. Kimm