Sunday, November 13, 2005

November 2005 Letter

To the Great Class of 1969:

Around a year ago, several months after our 35th reunion for those of you who still are counting, I undertook in earnest responsibility for communicating with the Great Class of 1969, as I like to refer to this group which has grown only more remarkable as I have renewed acquaintances. In the past year there has been great progress by a number of measures:

1. We increased the number of classmates for whom we have valid e-mail addresses from approximately 60 to over 100, thereby facilitating more timely communication;

2. We created a unique meeting place at Albany Road Redux and, in so doing, became the first class to have its own blog; and

3. We increased the number of contributors in our Class by 30% and, on an absolute scale, ranked fifth among the classes of the 60’s for the past gift year.

We have begun the new academic year with the wind at our backs and the exciting announcement that Margarita O’Byrne Curtis, the current Dean of Studies at Andover, will become the 55th Head of School upon the retirement of Eric Widmer in July. (Whether she is the first female Head of School at Deerfield remains unsettled unless someone can confirm the gender of Orpha Julina Hall who held the position in the 1870's.) As many of you know from my prior postings, the Board of Trustees ran a very transparent selection process, the product of which is a choice whose impeccable academic and managerial credentials withstood a rigorous vetting. (It is probably worth noting that while Choate has been our traditional sports rival since 1922, Andover is the only boarding school today with as low an acceptance rate as Deerfield’s.) Although I have not met the new Head of School, I think we can all rest assured that the Academy will be in safe hands with Dr. Curtis who is respectful of Deerfield’s traditions and will work diligently to uphold the Academy’s culture and values.

Class Trivia

In response to my question asking how many Heads of School Deerfield has had, the numbers were all over the lot, and many expressed disbelief upon learning the actual number. Casey Reed proved to be the best School historian (or at least the most attentive reader of the Headmaster’s September letter). There were more classmates who recognized Brogan Thomsen as the Mystery Classmate, including Patrick Murphy who remembered the name, the species, the gender and the final resting place of Brogan’s monkey and who also pointed out that the coffee cup strapped to his forehead had the initials “BT” on the bottom, a clue I had failed to notice. Other classmates who submitted correct answers included former junior year dorm mates Hank Wetzel, Steve Esthimer and Joe Moriarty from Dean Hall as well as Ben Walbridge and Michael Buerger.

In view of the School’s recent announcement and the fact that Deerfield has always been known for turning out educators, I decided it would be appropriate for this month’s trivia question to be the following: How many classmates can you name who are teachers or school administrators?

Class Blog

You may be interested to know that Albany Road has become the “best in class” blog to beat. I was visiting the School recently and ran into a member of the class of ’84 who told me he was beta testing with several of his fellow class agents a blog which duplicated our template, once again validating that “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Since the blog was launched on September 4, I have added eight postings covering a range of subjects, including the selection of a new Head of School, a classmate’s obituary, two recent alumni gatherings in New York and other news. I also have added photos of Christopher Beach, Steve Bisbee, Tom Ehrgood, John Kjorlien, Hank Minor, David Suitor and Tim Truby. Please e-mail your photo to me at so that I can add it to the Online Yearbook which now includes 37 classmates. From my perspective, the interesting thing is that one photo has been viewed twice as often as the next most popular one. For that reason, I have selected the following classmate for this month’s photo trivia contest:

Please tell me if you can identify this illustrious classmate for whom public speaking seems to run in the family.

Choate Day

In a nutshell: Wait till next year. The football season ended on a down note with a 14-0 loss, the second time the Varsity got shut out this season, finishing 3-5. The four other Varsity games were all won by Choate. Better times may lie ahead for the football team at least, as the undefeated Junior Varsity recorded its fifth shutout of the season by defeating Choate 28-0.

Other News

The Academy held an alumni swim meet and memorial service for Mr. Boyle the last weekend in October. At the time of his retirement, Mr. Boyle was the longest serving master (other than the Boydens, of course), although his 45 year tenure now has been eclipsed by Mr. Morsman (who looks like he could challenge the Boydens’ record). You can see the School's revamped website and read about the weekend by going to Welcome to Deerfield Academy News.

Eight members of the Class recently got together for dinner in New York, including visitors Robert Clough and Tom Ehrgood. You can read about the group and see a photo by going to Albany Road Redux: New York Chapter Reconvenes. In other Class sightings, I also met Nat Brayton recently for dinner while visiting Cambridge. Nat runs his own eponymous money management business in Boston and looks none the worse for wear, despite another trying year for stocks. I also visited with Tee Johnson who set up shop in October at the annual Audio Engineering Society convention in New York where he displayed some of the high tech, professional microphones produced by his company T.H.E. Audio. Finally, John Mills broke his 36 year silence recently and gave me an overview of his wide ranging interests which include being a gentleman farmer as well as a senior patent attorney for the Navy and a noted author. In March 2003, the United States Navy awarded John two Edison Awards for drafting and prosecuting patents having the greatest commercial benefit to the nation. He is also the editor of the definitive, comprehensive three volume set of Patent Law Fundamentals (retail price $1,258) that was published in March 2003 and is in over 700 law libraries.

I recently agreed to join the Steering Committee for Annual Support and to be the liaison between the Class Captains for the Classes of the ‘60’s and the Academy. I can only conclude that I was selected as a result of the favorable response of a record-setting number of classmates to Annual Support over the past year. I thank all of you who have demonstrated a willingness to support the School financially in the past and hope that you will join me in supporting the School at a time when the budget is being pinched by dramatically higher energy bills and a reduced draw from the endowment. I have a goal of exceeding last year’s participation and hope that you will respond positively should you get a call from one or more classmates who have agreed to help with the fundraising.

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all.