YAM Notes: May/June 2022

By Marty Snapp

This is being written on March 10, two weeks after the war began:

Those of us who know Bob Leahy will be pleased – but not surprised – to hear that as soon as Russia launched its assault on Ukraine, Bob, one of the world’s most prominent practitioners of cognitive behavior therapy, was working feverishly with colleagues in Poland to organize the leading world experts on trauma to provide ongoing virtual training to therapists in Poland and Ukraine in how to help people who have been severely traumatized by the horrors they’ve seen and suffered.

“A few days ago, the head of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Association of Ukraine invited me to give a lecture on coping with emotions during this time,” he told me. “I spoke to 98 psychotherapists in Ukraine, and the host wrote to me afterwards that it meant a lot to them. Some of them were watching from bomb shelters; for many, this was the only contact from the outside world. I then suggested other speakers for them and one, Patty Resick, a leading authority on trauma, has volunteered. We will get others, too.”

If you’ll pardon a personal note, I have always been proud to call Bob my friend. But I have never been as proud as I am today.

In much happier news, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, has just published his seventh book. But this one is a bit different from the previous ones, all learned judicial tomes. It’s a romance novel titled Love at Deep Dusk: A Pennsylvania Story.

“My Aunt Teel would sing the praises of Pennsylvania to me when I visited her in Westchester as a young boy,” says Jay. “We told each other stories, and she made me promise that I would one day write a ‘love story with a Pennsylvania setting.’ The promise has lain dormant for many decades, but now, at last, it has been fulfilled.

“Some of my friends insisted it would be undignified for a federal judge to write a love story, but I decided to go ahead. I have been influenced by so many romantic novels throughout the years, My Antonia being my favorite, that I wanted to try one myself. Fiction has drawn me very far out of my comfort zone because my previous writing has been anchored in law and fact.

“As much as I dearly love the law, fiction is proving an invigorating change of pace. I think it helps me as a judge to write about the struggles of my characters. My hope is also that creative writing may help to rescue me from jargon. All professionals, lawyers, doctors, etc. tend to lapse into impenetrable terminology, and writing for laypersons rather than just other specialists may help to counter that trend.

“My publisher tells me the novel has several themes: When should we forgive those who have hurt us the most? How do we live with a past that never lets go? How can we keep those great classics we read in high school and college part of our adult lives? How do we convey a secondary character who speaks very little but means a whole lot?

“All I ever wanted to do, however, was write a truly beautiful love story. Maybe ‘poignant’ is a better word, lying as it does halfway between happiness and sadness. In this torn and fractured world, I still think the essence of our humanity is our ability to love. It is not always easy by any means to do so, but it is always worthwhile to try.”

But the rest of the news is sad. On January 20 our football team’s quarterback, Pete Doherty, passed away in Virginia Beach, VA with his devoted wife Sheila and step-daughter Brook by his side.

“One of Pete’s most remarkable accomplishments was that he set the Ivy League record for the number of passing touchdowns in one game, five against Columbia in 1966,” says his fullback, Chris Kule. “Other people have tied that mark since then, but the big distinction is that Pete completed all five TDs in the first half! He threw such a hard ball, with such a tight spiral, it was qualitatively different from all the other quarterbacks we ever had. I asked him if somebody had coached him, and he said he started out in peewee league as a long snapper because he was the only one who could snapp the ball consistently back to the punter. The coaches eventually realized they were wasting his talents, and they switched him to quarterback.”

Bob Kenney, his wide receiver, says, “He was a perfect passer – 6-foot-4, real strong, quick release, could move really well, and the pass was always very accurate. You’d run a route, and all of a sudden the pass was there, hitting you in the chest every time. He was a man before his time; if he were playing today, he’d be passing 40 times a game and be outstanding.”

“While most of our classmates probably knew Pete as a quarterback, he also got a varsity Y sailboat racing for Yale,” says Rich Eittreim. “He was a terrific sailor – East Coast collegiate sailing champion and, as a member of the U.S. Sailing Team, competing internationally in the Finn class sailboat. He was also a veteran, having served in the Coast Guard (Lieutenant JG). While at the Coast Guard Academy, he taught a variety of courses and coached football and sailing. He then became a lawyer. As Assistant Attorney General for Rhode Island, he argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning jurisdiction of the waters surrounding Block Island. He also served as counsel for Virginia Polytechnic Institute.”

In later years, Pete farmed in upstate New York – raising sheep, milking dairy cows, and breeding Border Collies. He wrote legal documents and served as an affiant for numerous conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and the North Carolina Audubon Society. “A very varied life indeed!” says Rich.

“Pete always impressed me as someone to look up to, and that is confirmed in the story of his life,” says Charlie Carter. “I found it especially heartening that he lived the last part of his life working in the area of wildlife biology. I share with his family and especially Yale classmates who were his friends my sorrow at their loss.”