YAM Notes: March/April 2015

By Marty Snapp

Bob Leahy is to cognitive therapy what Peter Scardino is to prostate surgery: simply the best of his generation.

Bob is past president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy, and the Academy of Cognitive Therapy; as well as director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, clinical professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill-Cornell University Medical School, former editor of the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, and the current associate editor of the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy.

He has written and/or edited 23 books, many scholarly in nature but others for the general reader, including The Worry Book and Keeping Your Head after Losing Your Job: How to Cope with Unemployment. His books have been translated into 18 languages and are used throughout the world in training cognitive behavioral therapists.

But the crowning moment of his career came on November 24 at the annual Academy of Cognitive Therapy conference in Philadelphia, when he received the Aaron T. Beck Award For Lasting Contributions to Cognitive Behavior Therapy. And the jewel in the crown was that he received the award from Aaron T. Beck himself! Beck, now 93, is the pioneer who invented cognitive behavior therapy in the 1960s. “I hate to think what medicine would be like if Beck had never existed,” Bob says. “He created a revolution in psychology. It’s hard for younger people to understand what it was like before Beck. It was a wasteland.”

Beck has been Bob’s mentor since Bob did a year of postgraduate study with him at Penn in 1982–83, a time he calls “an important turning point in my life.” (Second only to meeting the amazing Helen Butleroff, of course.)

I’ve posted a picture on our class website of Beck handing Bob the award, and it’s hard to tell who looks happier. “It was nice getting the award, but what made me really feel good was seeing him happy, especially now that he’s so frail,” says Bob. “It was a very special moment in Philadelphia, where it all started. A very symbolic, special moment, and a very emotional one for me.”

In other news, it sounds like the TD guys still know how to party, judging from this report from Bill Brewster about a recent get-together in New Orleans: “Marty, a big ‘hellooooooo’ to you! I thought you and perhaps some of our other friends in the Class of 1967 would like to know that during the middle of last November several of us from Timothy Dwight met in NOLA over a two-to-three-day period just to keep in touch and have a little camaraderie between actual reunions. Jay Causey with wife Cheri, Steve Stack and wife Kathy, Grafton Reeves and Deenie, Howard Dale with wife Nancy, Richard Witt, Jack Finnell, and I with girlfriend Susan all flew in from Seattle, Philadelphia, Maryland, Jacksonville, DC, San Diego, and San Francisco to stay near or in the French Quarter to reconnect, sing a few Yale songs, and eat some good Southern cooking!”

Speaking of get-togethers, I’m organizing one in San Francisco around April 5—Eli Yale’s birthday—to celebrate our 70th birthdays. So if you plan to be in the Bay Area then, please let me know. And if you want to hold one in your hometown, it’s easy. Just contact Barry Bardo at bardo@roadrunner.com, and he’ll send you a list of classmates in your area. Then all you have to do is send them an e-mail asking which date works best for them, and pick the one that’s most convenient. Presto!

Meanwhile, Jake Blum is finally making a long overdue appearance in this column—not on his own behalf, but on his son’s: “Marty, I don’t think I’ve ever sent any info to the class notes, but I am jumping in now. I wanted to share with you a philanthropic project that my son Jackson—currently in his senior year at Yale—is running. He and his friend Alex, another Yale senior, are undertaking a mountaineering expedition to summit Pico de Orizaba (the tallest mountain in Mexico and third tallest peak in North America) to raise money for breast cancer research. My wife Susan (Jackson’s mother) is a breast cancer survivor, so this venture means a lot to our family on a personal level.” To find out more about Jackson and Alex’s mission, here’s the link to their campaign page: www.gofundme.com/climbingforcancer.

Finally, it’s my sad duty to report that John Olin Campbell died March 22, 2014, of causes related to Alzheimer’s. Most of us knew him as John, but in recent years he preferred to be called by his middle name. His life’s work revolved around education. He was a pioneer in the field of computer and distance learning, working and teaching for 30 years with Courseware, WICAT, Vanderbilt, and BYU. He loved serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was a bishop three times. He was a wonderful husband and father, and a friend to all who met him. His trademarks were his genuine interest in people, his passion for photography, and his perpetual smile.

“On my first day at Yale, John asked me whether my religion was relevant,” says Tom Gottshall, his roommate in freshman and sophomore year, along with Chris Dunleavy and Bob Kessler. “The pursuit of an answer to this question, I believe, was a guiding principle throughout his life. He was active at Battell Chapel and with William Sloan Coffin. Our paths did not cross after graduation until 2005, when, as diplomas were handed out to the students at Trumbull College, among whom was my daughter Elizabeth, I discovered through John’s speaking to my wife Susan that he and his wife Janet were there, and that their son James was graduating, too. Life had come full circle. We had a very nice visit.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the John Olin Campbell III scholarship fund at Brigham Young University.