We had a wonderful gathering of 62 classmates and 48 guests at our 60th reunion in June. Good weather, nice pacing, and terrific people combined to make this a memorable time for all who attended. This column will be a combination of reunion memories and older memories sparked by reunion thoughts. I’m taking the correspondent’s prerogative to go first! Here’s a memory of a walk to Duffield Hall for the Friday night class dinner that I took with my husband Dave Major ’61. We were walking down the street toward Duffield when we ran into three young male students who were very talkative. They asked us what class we were from and where we were headed. When we told them 1962 and Duffield Hall, they asked, “Is Duffield one of those dudes from the 1800s?” When I told them he was my classmate, they couldn’t believe it – they started laughing hysterically. They then insisted on being an honor guard for us and escorted us to Duffield Hall.
Class president Neil Schilke writes: “On Saturday night, I noted that our class has had eight presidents since we graduated, and all were present at our dinner: John Abel, Jon Hinebauch, Margie McKee Blanchard, Neil Schilke, Frank Quirk, Fred Hart, Alex Vollmer, and Ruth Zimmerman Bleyler. Pretty special! One other memory I have is the excellent presentation at the Johnson Museum by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the photography curator. She did a great job. I’m always impressed with experts and curators fit that category. It seemed like Kate had a list of adjectives way beyond that used by the common person. Like I said, her presentation, which lasted about 45 minutes, was excellent. Then came the Q and A. One tends to forget just how bright Cornellians are, but the Q and A was a real reminder of that. The questions went on for about 30 minutes and they were really insightful. Kate kept saying “that’s a really good question.” Finally, she said something like “you guys are really asking the right questions and I love it!”
Nancy Williams Clark took a break from her busy schedule overseeing our class reunion activities to attend the Passing of the Top Hat ceremony at 9 a.m. at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). The Passing of the Top Hat tradition began with Liberty Hyde Bailey, first Dean of CALS and the hat’s original owner. According to CALS legend, when Liberty Hyde Bailey retired as Dean in 1913, he didn’t have a use for the top hat back on the farm, so passed it on to the next Dean who in turn passed it on and so forth and so on. “At our 2022 reunion,” Nancy explained, “Dean Katherine Boor, who received the hat from Dean David Call more than a decade ago, passed it on to the current Dean Benjamin Houlton.” According to Nancy, the CALS connection runs deep in the Clark family. “Tom was in Cals, I did my masters in Cals, all three of our kids were in Cals, and now 5 of our grandchildren are or have been in Cals. We have been very friendly with Dave Call, who was Dean for 17 years and then with Katherine Boor who served for 10 years and is now Dean of the Graduate School.”
Judy Prenske Rich writes: “After Bill Nye’s amusing and very informative talk in Schoelkopf Field, my husband Bruce ’60 and I wandered up Tower Road towards the agriculture college greenhouses fully intending to explore what was currently growing inside as we have on previous visits to Cornell. Much to our dismay the greenhouses were locked up tight. Apparently there had been a guided tour that had run concurrent with the Nye talk, but the tour was long over and entry to the greenhouses was now barred. A distinguished-looking gentleman standing on the path described to us and a few other stragglers what we had missed and tried to assuage our disappointment. Not happening. He introduced himself as Karl Niklas, retired botany professor and the conductor of the tour. As we chatted a bit, obviously sensing how dismayed we were, he dangled a set of keys in front of us and invited us into a greenhouse for a private tour. It was magical. By the time it was over, all I could think about was where could I find plant science courses in the middle of Manhattan where we live? My delight with what I learned that day in Ithaca remains, and I have located several interesting classes at the NY Botanical Gardens which I intend to pursue in the fall. Hail Cornell.
Thanks to Ronald Demer ‘59 for forwarding an article about a recent Meinig family award, some of which is excerpted here. “The Meinig family, which President Martha E. Pollack described as ‘one of Cornell’s most engaged, successful, and generous multigenerational families,’ was honored May 27 with the 2022 Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award during a ceremony in Duffield Hall. Three of the four generations of Meinigs who have attended Cornell thus far, were on hand to accept the award, which recognizes engineering alumni whose leadership and vision have transformed the world and brought distinction to the College of Engineering and Cornell. Carl Meinig ’31 was the first member of the family to attend Cornell, arriving in 1927, and was joined by his younger brother, Hans, two years later. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, Carl earned a professional degree in electrical engineering, forming a lasting connection between the Meinigs and Cornell Engineering. Peter Meinig ’61 chose to attend his father Carl’s alma mater, a decision that proved to be transformative for both his family and the institution. At Cornell, he met his wife, Nancy Schlegel Meinig ’62. Over the course of more than five decades together, they built ‘a rich history of partnership and impact … characterized by service and dedication, and of selfless giving back and doing good.’ A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Peter was active on various committees and initiatives across the university and joined the Cornell University Board of Trustees on which he served two terms as its chairman before he died in 2017.” Nancy attended the award ceremony with several of her family members, including her daughters Sally Snipes and Anne Meinig Smalling ’87, a Cornell trustee and a co-chair of both the university-wide and the engineering “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign committees.
Steve Ploscowe writes: “As the Campaign Chair I just wanted to thank all our donors for making the Class of 1962 the most successful and largest ever 60th reunion donors to Cornell. Our $40,000,000 gift to Cornell is truly wonderful and amazing. Many thanks to everyone.” Steve also notes that he has been “reading more and more books” because of both retirement and being cooped up because of COVID. He’s still handling some cases as a labor relations arbitrator, gets great satisfaction from watching his grandchildren grow, go to college, and start work as graduates. “My granddaughter Sydney Rosen ’24 is a third generation Cornellian—following me, my wife, Wendie (Malkin) ’65, and daughter Lauren Ploscowe Rosen ’92. My grandson Oscar made the U.S. under-18 hockey team for the 2022 Maccabiah World Games.”
Richard Alther writes: “Things keep happening at our ripe old age! Good news — last year I submitted Bedside Matters in the fiction category for the Book Excellence Awards (sponsored by the eponymous book marketing company) and it has been named a finalist.”
Anne Kaczmarczyk Evans has been busy this summer, enjoying the golf season and volunteering with Medicare, a historical society, and church. She notes that she never imagined she’d be giving COVID vaccines. She’s also, sadly, been attending the funerals of some friends—but adds that she’s been taking a ballroom dance class with a new partner. Anne says that she gets great satisfaction from helping others who have unmet needs, and she enjoys her new hobbies of making perogies for church benefits and baking Ukrainian tarts.
Jacqueline Browne Bugnion writes: “My husband and I have founded a foundation to support education in poor countries. Called Fondation de Mire-Mont, it’s active in three countries. The major project is in Burkina Faso, supporting an agricultural school that is involved in the Great Green Wall, a trans-African project of reforestation. We are providing seed money for this, as well as budgeting and guidance. We are also reaching out to international organizations and foundations to obtain the substantial funds required to plant 10% of Burkina Faso’s share of the Great Green Wall.” On the family front, Jacqueline shares, “Watching our three great-grandchildren grow up is a pleasure.” She goes to a fitness center four times per week and finds “the challenge to remain active and fit in old age to be satisfying.” To stay mentally fit, Jacqueline writes, “I joined a ladies’ reading group and have discovered new fields. I also play the New York Times Wordle game every day.”
DeeDee McCoy Stovel shares: “During COVID, staying connected became more important than ever. Four classmates—Larrie Dockerill Rockwell, Sondra Rudgers Dunne, Katie Simmons Kaufman, and I—started Zooming monthly across time zones.”
Gail Strand Wiley writes: “I own an 85-pound Bernese mix dog named Daisy, the first dog I’ve ever owned. She’s taught me a lot!” Gail loves “the relaxed schedule of retirement. I take classes at the local college for seniors, part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes—no tests, no papers, no reading unless you want to. I also love gardening, occasional cooking, exercise class, and reading. I try to keep up with two sons and two stepdaughters and their families. Four of our six grandchildren are college grads already! My husband and I took a trip to Alaska in May that included kayaking, hiking, and seeing whales, seals, and eagles. A great trip. Living in Asheville, NC, we get to enjoy the beauty of the mountains in all the seasons. I especially appreciate hiking in the woods to see the wildflowers in the spring!” Gail adds, “I’ve gone back to knitting after about a 40-year hiatus. I’m also enjoying monthly Zoom get-togethers with five women from my White Plains, NY, high school class of 1958!”
Please keep those stories, memories and updates coming!!!