YAM Notes: January/February 2016

By Martin M Snapp, Jr.

Our 50th reunion is still a year away, but the Whiffenpoofs are already practicing for their performance. They gathered at the Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut, September 10–12 to begin rehearsals. Laura and Peter Esso Beeson, Walt Canni Buhl, Alyce and Bob Pitts Burke, Belinda and Norm Pitchpipe Hile, Gail and Tom Erogenous Jones, Jim Bedside Manor, Karen and Geoff Horsma Neigher, Ann and Tim Tyrannosau Rice, Sherry and Bill Laxa Tift, and Eleanor and Charlie Frankie Ala von Stade attended the event, which was hosted by Wendy and Mike Dill Pic Kail.

“The highlight of the weekend was the induction of our brand new member,” says Tom. “Erik Garbage Gann was sung into the group, bringing our renowned bass section once again to full strength. In all modesty, we must report that our rehearsals went extremely well, and we can’t wait to perform for you all at Sprague Hall following our class dinner. In addition to those old tunes you’ve enjoyed before, we’re adding a couple of new songs to our repertoire, and we may even have one or two you can sing along with us. Don’t miss the 50th!”

Alas, once more, the rest of the news is bad. On June 28 I e-mailed Doug Crawford to wish him a happy birthday, and he replied, “Thank you for the well wishes. Feels great to have made it this far. Sadly, this week marks the end of the very good fight of Mike Beierle against cancer. A very good man and good friend.”

Mike passed away in his home, surrounded by his family, on June 23 after living nearly three years with pancreatic cancer. He received both his BA and MD from Yale. After serving in the navy he embarked on his medical residency at the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Colleen. He mainly worked at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center. Mike loved spending time with his family, traveling abroad, and enjoying any culinary event. He was truly at his best grilling on the patio on summer nights or relaxing on the beach with a book in Mexico. My sympathy to Colleen; their children Elisabeth, John, and Michelle; and their grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the JEH Foundation (www.jehpancreaticfoundation.org).

“Mike and I exchanged many words, some warm and some edgy, some smart and some dumb,” says Frank Best. “But my fondest memories are of sitting side-by-side at the Zeta bar nursing beers, silently enjoying each other’s company. We stayed in touch in after years, and I will miss his friendship.”

“Mike and I served as cochairs of the Calhoun social committee during our senior year,” says Paul Longo. “I remember how excited we were to have landed Little Anthony and the Imperials for a fall mixer and how amused we were that the local back-up band said learning his songs ‘make our heads hurt.’ Mike was always serene, agreeable, and classy. RIP.”

“Jill and I are terribly saddened by Mike’s passing,” adds Marty Rader. “When we were at Yale, Mike enjoyed getting away from the Yale scene by spending an occasional weekend with me at my parents’ home in Danbury, Connecticut. It didn’t hurt that our home was located a few miles from the New York border, where we could drink legally. I also remember well the fun we had at Calhoun’s social events (Bo Diddley and those crazy beer baseball games at Double Beach come to mind), which were arranged by our stellar social committee with Mike as cochairman. My fondest memory, however, is of being with Mike and Colleen and others (Doug Crawford, Frank Best, Dennis Jaffe, Maury Yeston, Dick Pechter, Bill Effinger, and Terry Harrison) at our 45th reunion class dinner. Mike had called me and given me a little push to attend. It was indeed a memorable night.”

It’s also my sad duty to announce that Ray Godfrey passed away on July 5. Ray began his career as a writer for Time Inc. and worked in the administration of New York City mayor John Lindsay ’44. Part of the Merrill Lynch strategic team that developed the financial industry’s first cash management product, Ray introduced marketing/ business development concepts to investment banking at the First Boston Corporation, then went on to cofound Needham & Company, Inc. from which he retired in 2010. Ray was passionate about sports, music, and history. He captained the Yale squash team and later competed nationally, including a famous win over the five-time US champion. He never missed a New York Giants game in 60 years, relished the intricacies of baseball, and was gratified by spurts of natural talent on the golf links. He also had an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll. In the 1990s he coproduced the last album of blues icon Paul Butterfield and was thrilled when the Butterfield band was inducted earlier this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A history and political affairs buff, Ray loved to analyze issues and engage in debate. More than anything, he loved a good laugh. He is survived by his wife, Susan Schoch; his children Katherine, Jessica, Raymond III, and Eliza Jayne; and five grandchildren.

“Ray was a class act,” says Charlie Carter. “I didn’t know him well, but remember him from both Exeter and Yale. We got to know each other better at one reunion just after I’d taken up squash, which was Ray’s sport. I believe we walked together so that he could show me the new courts at Payne Whitney. It is a blessing when all one’s memories of someone are fond ones.” “I have only fond memories of Ray,” agrees Chris Kule. “The nicest of nice guys.”

“I knew Ray from Wall Street,” says Dick Pechter. “He was always the optimist, always smiling, and always energetic when we worked on something common to his firm and mine. “We didn’t always solve the problem, but we always had fun.”