YAM Notes: July/August 2024

By Marty Snapp

Please forgive me, friends, for letting this fall through the cracks: Paul Gacek died in January 2021. He was the founder, first president, and Principal Violinist of the Yale Symphony Orchestra. After graduation he served as musical director for at the Yale Dramatic Association, Southbury Playhouse, and many theatrical productions in the New Haven area.

He worked in the Yale admissions office from 1970 to 1988 and as a technical programming specialist for the Yale New Haven Health System from 1989 to 2007. He was an accomplished scuba diver, treasurer of the Fairfield County Diving Association, and was an avid wreck diver and videographer. Paul served as Music Director for the Hamden Symphony Orchestra from 1969 to 2007 and continued as Conductor Laureate.

“Paul, John Baron and I were involved at the very beginning of what became the Yale Symphony Orchestra,” says Bill Krinsky. “We started as a small string chamber group, the Calhoun Chamber Orchestra, meeting about once a week in Calhoun College. Paul instituted the endeavor and was its most enthusiastic member. He organized the gathering, providing the music and conducting. Back then, I only knew him as a fellow musician. But I only learned a few years ago that he was an active scuba diver and enthusiastic videographer, who took many videos of underwater life.”

“He was a bumptious guy, a delight to have as a friend,” adds John. “He helped me build a stereo amplifier from a kit, quizzed me on my French vocab, and gave me an opportunity to play in the performances he organized. He was also a presence in Calhoun more generally. He conducted Stravinsky’s ‘L’Histoire du Soldat’ and Petruska, and he played RWB Lewis – white socks and all – in our senior skit. He had a largely unsung important impact on Yale itself since he was the moving force of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, which evolved out of less formal Calhoun music groups to become a premier undergraduate symphony.”

“Paul and I were roommates sophomore through senior years, and his devotion to music and performance really bloomed in our senior double suite,” says Tom Maciolek. “Our rooms were filled with musicians and music, mostly classical. He was a violist who loved to conduct orchestras, and he developed a lifelong relationship with the organization that became the Hamden Symphony Orchestra.

“One of his cats was named Igor and another was Ludwig. He became the prime mover behind our collaboration on a production of Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat.” He organized and conducted the musicians, produced our Yale performances, and even arranged the production’s performance at a Connecticut College arts festival. John (bass) and Peter Ecklund (trumpet) played in the ensemble. That collaboration was the high point of my senior year.

“Paul stayed in New Haven, buying a house and working in IT in the Yale medical complex. When we reconnected after many years, he astonished me with stories of his scuba diving experiences. He once dove on the wreck of the Andrea Doria, a very deep and apparently technically difficult dive. I should not have been so surprised by this aspect of his love of adventure and achievement. I have many more memories this lovable and complex man.”

Marlin Howard passed away on January 15, 2023, surrounded by his family, just two months after retiring as a CPA and financial planner. He had a great sense of humor that got him in and out of trouble over the years, and he loved playing competitive pool and racquetball and connecting with his clients. But his favorite thing by far was spending time with his wife, Karen, his daughters Amy and Stephanie, and his grandchildren.

“Marlin came to Yale from Williston academy and became roommates with Gerald Padmore, Dave Tarr and me in Vanderbilt,” says Craig Avery. “The four of us all from different geographical areas, and having different schooling and religious upbringings; we remained together as roommates for all four years and lifelong friends.
“He was an accomplished financial planner who managed millions of dollars for his clients. They saw him as both a money manager and a friend; a quality that was Marlin. He didn’t have any fancy titles or win any notable awards, but he was the best because of his unwavering love for those who he came in contact with, and the love and respect he received in return. He was a true credit to the Yale that used to be.”

Roy Thompson passed away on June 2,2023 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His education began in a one-room schoolhouse and led eventually to Yale, where he played offensive guard.

During the Vietnam war he served as an engineering officer on the Destroyer USS Charles H. Rohn. In 1972 he married Pamela Sibley and moved to Houlton, Maine, where he became a partner in the law firm Forrest Barnes.

Throughout over 40 years of trial work in state and federal courts, he served as mentor, trusted colleague and wise counselor to many attorneys over the years. At a time when women lawyers were second-class citizens in the legal profession, Roy took time to make everyone feel included and valued.

After retirement he relocated to the Portland area, where he met and married Susan Adams. It was a mixed marriage: She rooted for Michigan; he rooted for Yale. But their home always had a Michigan flag flying in front.

He was a passionate reader and loved a lively discussion about politics. He will be remembered for his sharp intellect, his strong moral compass, and his sense of humor.

“Sad news indeed,” says David Boillot. “Roy was an incredibly upbeat person, with that famous smile at all times. An easy-going roommate, fraternity brother, and partner in crime on a few infamous road trips (the details of which might not be appropriate for publication). I hadn’t heard of his illness, but it is a terrible one.”

“Roy was my teammate, self-effacing and quick to laugh,” adds Jim Saxon. “Like most of us, he had to adapt to a much higher standard of competition than expected, but he gave his all at practice and made the starters better by always hitting hard. He was a good guy.”

 


 

Archived Class Notes

2024

May/June
March/April
January/February

2023

November/December
September/October
July/August
March/April
January/February

2022

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2021

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2020

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2019

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2018

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2017

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2016

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2015

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2014

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February

2013

November/December
September/October
July/August
May/June
March/April
January/February