YAM Notes: September/October 2016

By Martin M. Snapp, Jr.

Looking for something really fun to do next year after our 50th reunion? How about a study tour through Peru, including Cusco, which the Incas believed was the source of all life; the church of San Pedro de Andahuaylillas, known as “the Sistine Chapel of America”; and watching Andean condors in flight in breathtakingly beautiful Colca Canyon?

But the highlight has to be a visit to the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu, the fabulous “Lost City of the Incas.” And you couldn’t ask for a better guide—one of the world’s leading experts in Peruvian culture, our own Bert Rodriguez, professor of architecture and director of the Henry H. Wiss Center for the Theory and History of Art and Architecture at Virginia Tech. This is definitely one for your bucket list. The tour will run July 10–23. If you’re interested, e-mail Bert at hcami@vt.edu.

In other news, John Jacobsen reports that after more than 40 years of planning new museums internationally, he is scaling back his firm, White Oak Associates, to serve as museum counsel and focus more on writing. His first book, just published by Rowman and Littlefield, is Measuring Museum Impact and Performance: Theory and Practice, which provides both the theoretical underpinnings and the operational pragmatics of measuring any museum’s impact and performance.

“A new museum might secure funding by commissioning one of our strategic master plans,” says John, “but the process soon expands to lots of other talents, like architects, fund-raisers, exhibit designers, and media producers. It is always a special delight to find classmates in these international teams: Tim Curnen wrote scripts for our museum projects in Pittsburgh and Wichita; Steve Judson edited The Living Sea, an Oscar-nominated IMAX film which we executive produced; and Chad Floyd ’66 was the architect on several collaborations. It was an honor to work with Rick Levin when he chaired the program committee during our planning phase for the new Connecticut Science Center in Hartford in 2009.” John lives in historic seacoast Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and business partner, singer/songwriter Jeanie Stahl.

Meanwhile, Ted Swenson and Dave Stevens attended a memorial service on June 4 for Richard Munoz, who died in a motorcycle accident on May 29 of last year. “In honor of our classmate Richard (known as Moon to many of us), an intimate event was hosted with grace and style by his four children—Sarah, Priscilla, Madeline, and Alex—at the bar on the back of the New Hope Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, overlooking the Delaware River, where he liked to hang out with his dog, Houston,” says Ted. “It was a perfect day and a perfect tribute to Moon from friends and family, who meant the most to him.”

Dave adds, “It was a very heartfelt and exuberant event highlighted by the flood of remembrances and stories people shared about how Richard’s friendship, intelligence, and curiosity played very meaningful roles in their lives. We were honored to be counted among Moon’s closest friends and proud to speak as members of the Class of ’67 about his extraordinary love of life. Mark Gerity, who could not attend, joined us by sending a note that was read aloud by Madeline, and Tom O’Brien and Mark Hinkley sent notes that were read aloud by Alex. It was a Moon kind of day—sunshine, lots of food, lots of booze, music, great friends, and, especially, his four children, who deeply loved him and whom he deeply loved in return. It was a fabulous event, with Moon’s favorite songs playing in the background. Alex provided each of us with a CD of those songs, which he created for his dad. It was a special day, and we felt Moon’s presence.”

Finally, it’s my sad duty to announce that Andy Walker died of stage 4 lung cancer May 27 at his home in Ashland, Missouri, just a few weeks after seven of his Morse classmates flew in to visit him one last time, as reported in the last issue. Andy earned his PhD in sociology from Harvard and worked at Yale with Professor Leroy Gould and classmates Chuck Lidz and Lanse Crane in the early 1970s on a project that produced the books Connections: Notes from the Heroin World and Heroin, Deviance and Morality. He taught at Stephens College in Columbia from 1974 until retiring in 2008 as professor emeritus. Kate O’Shinsky, a psychiatric and medical social worker (and professional dancer) who’d worked on the New Haven research, followed him to Missouri, where they married in 1979. Kate worked as a manager and trainer for the University of Missouri and is now a yoga instructor and world champion power lifter. She arranged a celebration of Andy’s life in Columbia on August 6.

I was curious to find out what Andy’s students thought of him, so I looked him up on ratemyprofessors.com. Not surprisingly, they gave him high marks. “Walker is an entertaining guy,” said one. “If you’re serious, he will get serious too. If you’re interested in fun, then he can bring it as well.” Another wrote, “He was my favorite professor at Stephens. I also had a huge crush on him.”

But we’ll leave the last word to Kate, who knew him best. “Andy was an amazing person,” she says. “He believed in truth, speaking truth, but he was not a real talkative person, except in class. He loved to teach. He had the best education and knew enough to not be superior to others. He had self-confidence, the kind that lets others feel like they were important. He knew how to listen. He was fun, good musician, enjoyed life to the fullest. Fearless. A great son, brother, brother-in-law, husband, son-in-law, nephew, teacher, and friend. He loved animals so much. He was not judgmental and loved John Cage’s quote that ‘if you have no expectations, the world becomes magic.’ He truly lived that way. He made the world a better place.”