YAM Notes: January/February 2017

By Martin M. Snapp, Jr.

Congratulations to Rick Moody on his retirement from his position as vice president for academic affairs at the AARP—which brings up the obvious question: How do you retire from the AARP?

“It’s a question I’ve been asked more than once,” he says. “But after nine years in Washington, DC, I decided it was enough, although it was a great job, and I’m proud to have worked on the Affordable Care Act. I’m now involved in things like voice lessons, contemplative photography, and mime workshops (!)—activities an academic like me never did before. I’ve also embarked on an ‘encore career’ helping small nonprofits with fund-raising and marketing. I tell them my advice is free and it’s worth every penny. I also edit an e-newsletter, Human Values in Aging (happy to share it with anyone in our class). I’m looking forward to the 50th reunion and can’t wait to see, yet again, those who have been fellow voyagers with me on the journey of life.”

Speaking of books, two of our classmates have new ones coming out: Joe Cohen and Narelle Kirkland. “It took long enough, but Routledge will be publishing my first book next April: Investing in Movies: Strategies for Producers and Investors,” says Joe, who bankrolled the Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave. “I wanted to use a sexier title—So You Want to Walk the Red Carpet?—but my editor said the current title was more Googleable. I do not expect to get rich off the royalties, but maybe it will bring in some business. If anyone is interested, I am happy to bring some copies to the reunion. Just before I make it to New Haven, I will be off to my 30th Cannes, and before that I will be attending my daughter Catriela’s graduation from Columbia Law School. (Quite a journey from her initial training as an opera singer!) Following graduation, she will be joining Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Knowing their billing rates, I doubt whether I can afford to approach my daughter for legal advice.”

As for Narelle, she just finished her third book, an alternative history novel that asks a question most of us have probably wondered about at some time over the last 50-plus years: What would the world be like if Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullet had missed JFK? “After publishing Europe in Low, about World War I, and a novel this month about a fanciful hull design, Ride the Sea, I have sent my manuscript for Something Small that Saved Us All to my publisher today,” she says. “I missed the e-mail three years ago about sharing comments about the 22nd of November 1963, so I wrote a historical (hysterical?) novel about it.”

Meanwhile, Barry Bardo was e-mailing some of our classmates to encourage them to write their autobiographical essays for our reunion class book, when he got this reply from Jim Ruebel’s wife, Connie: “Hi, Barry. Connie Ruebel here. Jim is currently in the hospital fighting for his life with the dreaded cancer disease. Before all this happened we planned on attending the reunion.”

Barry immediately relayed the news to Jim’s closest Yale friends, including Fred Addison, Paul Lamar, Kevin Learned, Dale Rowett, John Herman, Bob Lehrer, and Rick Moody. I know it’s small consolation, but they all managed to send e-mails to her in time to read them to Jim on his deathbed before he passed away.

For many years, Jim was professor of classics at Iowa State, where he became the departmental executive officer, classical studies program chair, and chair of the university athletic board before moving to Ball State in 2000 to become dean of the Honors College. During his 17 years at Ball State he also served as professor of classical studies, director of the Whitinger Scholars Program, and faculty athletic representative to the MAC and NCAA. As dean, he oversaw the renovation of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball residence into the new home of the Ball State Honors College and was a longstanding member of the National Collegiate Honors Council Board, serving as president in 2014.

In 1994 Jim received an American Philological Association Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics. He published many articles on Roman history and is the author of Apuleius: The Metamorphoses, Book 1 and Caesar and the Crisis of the Roman Aristocracy. Most of all, he was a lifelong teacher, learner, coach, and mentor to countless students. He died on October 9, only six days after Barry got Connie’s e-mail, but his legacy of honor and academic rigor will live on through their accomplishments. May he rest in peace.

But I refuse to end on such a sad note, so here’s some good news: Steve Goodman and Chris Kule got married! (But not to each other.)

Steve tied the knot with his longtime love, Carol Frana, on March 5 at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas, in a joyous ceremony that was attended by family members from across the country. “This was the third marriage for both of us, so we had blended families down to the level of grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” says Steve. “We sent out invitations to 69 people and thought 20 or maybe 30 people would attend. We were stunned when 65 out of the 69 showed up! Both families made it a chance for a family reunion.”

And Chris married his better half, Jean McMahon, on August 2 in an al fresco ceremony
on a footbridge over Bowman’s Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Jean’s daughter Cait was the maid of honor. “Don’t ask me why she has any interest in a fat old man,” says Chris. Replies Jean: “I’m a fortunate woman. Chris is a dear man.”

That he is. Both Chris and Jean are convinced that they’ve married the most wonderful person in the world, and both of them are right. I’m so happy for them, and their dog, Brindle, too.