SURVEY RESULTS

What Lies Ahead?

Classmates approached this question from different angles. Some even questioned the idea of a “third act.” Others are allowing themselves to enjoy the freedom of retirement and move to a new rhythm, or appreciating the relationships they have in a new way. Some have turned to volunteering, mentoring others, and “repairing the world”… and have found ways to turn profound loss into giving.

Most everyone seemed to be acknowledging, in their own ways, that there is richness in the moment and in the years ahead.
—Ron Claiborne and Carolyn Grillo

Question 12: The “Third Act” of our lives may be a time for reflection, renewed action, change in direction, or all of these. How are you thinking about what lies ahead?

When I talk to young people, I sometimes tell them, “One day you’ll wake up and you’ll be 40.” It’s meant to be both a joke and a warning. Time passes quickly, much faster than you think. Now the joke is on me. I turned 70 last year. The time passed faster than I ever would have imagined.

As we celebrate our 50th class reunion, this is an opportunity to look back, remember and reflect. Did we live the lives we expected? What did we accomplish? Did we find meaning in our lives? Were we even looking for it? There can be value in asking ourselves these questions and answering them truthfully. There is value too in deciding how we will live the rest of our lives. I often quote the British colonel in Bridge On The River Kwai who pondered “what difference your being there at anytime made to anything.”

I retired in 2018 after spending nearly 40 years as a journalist. In my post-career life, I have discovered that I enjoy working with young people, as a teacher and tutor. That is what gives me a sense of accomplishment, in fact, more so than anything I did in my career. Others will choose differently. Some of you may want to just spend time with family. Travel the world. Lay on a beach. Play pickleball. The options are many. For some of us, this is the first time since we left Yale in 1974 that the future is ours to shape as we choose. That is the beauty and thrill — and challenge — of this stage in our lives.
Ron Claiborne [JE]

“But you went to Yale!” In the years after college, this was a chant that seemed to follow — and sometimes precede- me everywhere. Sometimes because I wasn’t thinking clearly it closed off options: I really wanted to be a kindergarten teacher … (“But you went to Yale!”) Sometimes it opened doors: I didn’t know how to look for a job but the men at the Yale Club pitched in to help (“After all, you went to Yale!”) Sometimes it defined me more than I wanted, and preceded me into a room (“You were among the First Women at YALE!!”).

The t-shirt slogan says, “I survived the 70’s in my 20’s and now I’m surviving the 20’s in my 70’s.” But it’s more than surviving. It’s taken me a long time to learn to let go of others’ and my own, expectations of myself and just be. I never accomplished anything world shaking; I’ve never made headlines or a lot of money. But I think I have finally grown into myself — learned to be happy with who I am, to be kind (I hope) and loving to the people I know, to share whatever wisdom I have with younger people; to make art in my basement, to speak Italian with horrible flaws and not care; and to give in the ways that I can. Glorying in my impossibly white hair and my shrinking physical stature. Participating as a “friendmother” in the lives of my friends’ grandchildren.

And that is how I see the way forward: at peace with being who I am and enjoying every year I am given.
Carolyn Grillo [JE]

I’ve been fortunate to have a fulfilling career as a psychiatrist with research training in neuroscience to explore the neural underpinning of the change process in psychotherapy. In the concluding portion of my career, I hope to come full circle, returning to my original interest in psychotherapy, to write articles and perhaps a book on repositioning the conceptual basis of psychodynamic psychotherapy on a stronger empirical footing based on advances in neuroscience that Freud wished for but did not have a century ago. As a student and practitioner of personal growth, I’ve worked hard for years to retain the many good things and transform those aspects of my upbringing that have not served me well, or aligned with my own personal preferences. In the years ahead I will continue to aspire to be the kind of person I’d like to be, particularly in my interpersonal relationships. I’m fortunate to have two young grandchildren and very much look forward to watching them grow, and helping them develop in any way I can. While my health holds out, I hope to continue to travel internationally to learn as much as I can about the many varieties of human culture and creativity, and deepen my understanding of the range of human experiences. Finally, as a weekend golfer who has experienced both the agony and ecstasy of this seemingly impossible sport, I hope to someday shoot my age, ideally before our 60th reunion!
Richard Lane [TD]

50 years ago, Yale was front and center of my life — when I applied to graduate school or wrote my resume. Now it comes up only occasionally and then not to be a definer of who I am but rather to help me make a new connection. Recently, when hiking I started talking to a woman only to discover she was Yale Class of 1979 — serendipitous! Or the Yale gathering I attended where I learned about a woman’s not-for-profit that I later joined.

50 years ago, I worried about so much which now seems inconsequential. 50 years ago it was hard to imagine what 2024 would look like. 50 years ago I had the time for community involvement and giving back and now 50 years later, I ‘ve come full circle.

50 years ago seems like just yesterday. As I look forward to what’s next, I am well aware that I have the perfect opportunity to do whatever is calling to me, not what is demanded by my family, my course work, or my professional work. It is the chance to craft my own project without feeling beholden to some prescribed blueprint. I have become aware that I must slow down because I am older, there is no need to meet deadlines or quotas or squeeze in vacation time. I am working to accept the reality of aging, living with an older Ukrainian-born spouse and looking forward to what is ahead. I have learned to adjust to having my children and grandchildren in the UK and cherishing the time to grandparent across time zones.

How fun it is to wake up not feeling clutched – but to let the day unfold with quiet time for reading or knitting, doing Wordle and some form of movement. Sure, there are “to dos” but generally not the “must dos.” Through mentoring a student, volunteering as an Interpreter at a Shaker Museum and joining a women focused not-for-profit, I have found both personal meaning as well as structure. Connection with a wider community continues to be critical.

With good health and energy, I am able to divide my time between rural Columbia County, NY, warm Florida, and historic England . Now, here I am — grateful for so much — my Yale education and experience, my making it to “this season” and able to attend the 50th reunion, the chance to curate my Third Act and to move forward with the simple gifts of grace, kindness and connection (borrowing from the Shaker Hymn “Simple Gifts”).
Gail Heidecorn [ES]

How am I thinking about what lies ahead? Let me back into the question. My trumpet teacher tells me — yes, at 71 years old, I am still taking trumpet lessons — my trumpet teacher says: “The hardest part of practicing is taking the instrument out of the case.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement, at least for me. In the living room, the armchair beckons. In the kitchen, there are dishes to be done. Maybe I should just finish that crossword puzzle. Do I feel a nap coming on? There’s a strange kind of inertia that can hold me back from mundane rigors like a trumpet practice session, even though I know that once I get started, the exercise will energize me and bring me pleasure — while also, of course, keeping me musically fit. More often than not, thanks in part to the good example of my wife and partner in amateur musicianship (Jane plays the oboe), I do in fact open the case and spend time with the horn. And it’s always worth the effort. The practice is rewarding, and the college-based groups I play in, with their regular rehearsals and concerts, feed my motivation and provide a satisfying structure to my weeks and years.

What lies ahead for me? Music, I hope. And then there is walking. My wife and I count on walking the dog, together, every day. But here I’m thinking more about the long-distance walking in Europe, village to village, that we’ve done every summer for many years, along with an American friend and a French couple we all know. We’ve walked the famous pilgrimage way to Santiago, in both Spain and France. As I write we are planning a trek on the Chemin de Stevenson. The pilgrimage, for us, had little to do with religion. We’re all decidedly secular. What keeps us coming back year after year is the temporary immersion in a kind of alternative world composed of simple rhythms, a world centered on companionship, conversation, silence, beauty, shared meals, new acquaintances, and the soft exertion of moving along on foot, slowly, through changing landscapes. Both music and walking consistently give me a more-than-physical sense of well-being. Time flows differently when I play, when I walk: it slows down; it expands. I feel as if I’m living in a human frame that is absent in most of my waking hours. The flow is social as well. In the college ensembles, I see new generations of young musicians arriving, growing, struggling, coming into their own, then moving on with graduation. In our annual walks, everyone in our little group shares the joys and worries arising from our adult children’s lives, and we see, year after year, the reality of declining health and advancing age in our own lives. I know that old age inevitably brings diminishment. I see it, alarmingly, in friends only a little older than I am. One day they’re more or less thriving seniors; the next day, I note signs of feebleness. Sneak preview: assuming I’m not carried off more suddenly, I too will decline. My hope is that I can stave off the inertia of leaving the trumpet case unopened and continue to make music; and, summer after summer, lace the boots, heft the pack, and set out, on foot.
Dan Laskin [ES]

I’ve lived my “third act” for nearly eight years now. I didn’t have a plan … it’s been a journey of learning and discovery and it’s becoming more and more fun. I’m open to new ideas, to being “just” me, to listening more & talking less, and to experiencing vs. judging or analyzing. Put simply, I’m more like the 18-year-old me who arrived at Yale in 1970 … who realized that you, my classmates, all were class presidents, valedictorian, top scholars & the like. Rather than be intimidated, I tried to relax & meet as many of you as I could. Now in my eighth decade of life, I’m trying to embody that curiosity, openness, acceptance, laughter, and energy that I saw at Yale.
Callie Kenady [BR]

My experience thus far is that every decade gets better. This is not to say that there are no sorrows, losses, or disappointments. However, resilience built over time and the immense gratitude felt for a rich and engaged life keep me moving forward as an optimist who believes in every person’s innate goodness and in our collective ability to effect positive change. I will continue to share – and to live – this philosophy for as long as I am able. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard to make this 50th reunion happen. Those of us who are coming to enjoy it deeply appreciate all of your incredible efforts!!!
Singie Shepley–Gamble [BK]

Challenge, Protect & Share. This is my mantra going Forward. As Yale welcomed a quixotic freshman class in the Fall of 1970, we already suspected that we would be challenged with navigating new political, social and sexual landscapes. Our 223 women were still ‘an experiment in coeducation’. Who knew that 18 would be the magic number for drinking and voting, that our President would resign in shame, that Roe vs. Wade would up-end all concepts of sexual propriety or that Title IX would propel women into competitive sports.

On top of reinventing the world- we had classes and all of the foibles of coming of age. The script for removing bothersome men from coed bathrooms was simple: underwear and tampons. The challenge of making them friends and colleagues was much more complicated. There was no magic pill or alcoholic concoction to bring instant peace or unadulterated joy, but gold cups at Mory’s, the “Whiffenpoof Song” or streaking during the now defunct Bladderball game were right up there.

Watching girls arrive by bus from other schools for weekend dances was eye opening; crawling to the top of bell towers, dangerous; all-nighters to produce that final paper, exhausting. And yet, all of these unrelated, unexpected , unrehearsed events combined to create the spirit of curiosity, the constant questioning, the openness to change that propelled us into a frightening world.

For this ‘chapter’ I want to fiercely maintain that spirited stance. I want to face challenges with the idealism of 1970 and the wisdom of many miles, wrinkles and aches. I want to protect my ability to join Star Trek’s crew and venture where no man (or woman) has gone before, to protect my connections to old friends and my ability to make new ones, to change direction with strength and grace. Whoever thought that sports would become a recipe for wellness and longevity rather than an Ivy Championship? I want to protect private and public memories. I want to thank professors who shared their passions and infected me. So, now, I want to share, to package, to invite everyone to continue this quest with enthusiasm and joy. Invent. Experiment. Fall down. Skin your knees. Dance under a full moon. Let’s remember to make snow angels and chase fireflies.
Sally Schmidt [PC]

Yale has been a uniquely enduring experience in my life for two reasons. First is the people, particularly our Class of 74, and second is the architecture and and Colleges that brought us together as a family within the larger community. Personally, I have never lived for what’s ahead or what’s next, but rather for “the whys.” My “why’s” have always been family, freedom, equity, and well-being. It springs from my Latino/a/x heritage and upbringing in Spanish Harlem in NYC. This approach has taken me down  myriad paths, connected me with beautiful people, cultures and places throughout the world, allowed me to give and share, and made me autonomous, learned, humble, and yes, happy. Best to all my Yale classmates.
Martín Sepulveda [TC]

I subscribe to the view that it’s best to retire slowly or incrementally and have an absorbing hobby. I like the line in Joan Didion’s Democracy where Jack Lovett refers to a colleague working on the hydrogen bomb as “a pretty fair Sunday painter,” who tried but was unable to capture the light after the Pacific Island tests. Okay, macabre (her specialty). But one could do worse under the circumstances.
Steven Kimball [MC]

Definitely not ready to slow down even though I don’t literally move as quickly. Alas!

We have all been waiting for that mythical time of life when everything gets a little easier. The wait started when we were struggling to get established in our chosen professions. The wait continued as kids went through terrible twos and teen years. The wait continued during tuition payment years. One of my employers filed for bankruptcy and I was a shareholder. Somehow that gradual smooth ride to a brighter future turned out to be a pretty bumpy road. And now, just at the point when retirement gives the promise of more leisure time, it evaporates due to time dealing with health care issues. Notwithstanding an active and healthy lifestyle, in the last 6 months I have had COVID, heart attack and most recently the flu. There seem to be constant additions to my meds tray. I love my grandchildren, but they are walking Petri dishes. My goal is to fight like hell against the ravages of time and disease to continue my current routine as long as I can. Coaching HS kids in rowing allows me to pass on my love of rowing. Working trail crew involves three- dimensional jigsaw puzzles in large stones which is both mentally and physically demanding. My garden is a lot of work most of the year. Trying to be fit enough to do with my grandkids what I did with my own children. Rowing, hiking, biking, skiing, dinner and jazz in NYC, and Financial Times crosswords are primary recreational outlets. Definitely not ready to slow down even though I don’t literally move as quickly. Alas!
Dan Rouse [CC]

This question makes me squirm. Reminds me of college days when I always waited until the last minute and had to pull an all-nighter before an exam. I kind of feel like that when it comes to what my Third Act might look like: I have repeatedly put off making any real plans for that stage in my life. I have excuses! I’m still working full time and I spend a lot of time with the three generations of my and my wife’s family, conveniently allowing me to put off thinking about my Third Act! I feel guilty that I don’t have a plan laid out yet for how I can give back – to the earth, to society, to democracy, to my neighborhood – in small repayment for what has been a very blessed life indeed. And as a humanist who doesn’t believe in an afterlife, I know I have only a limited time left to give. So, I plan to listen very carefully and appreciatively to what my classmates are planning for their Third Acts to get some inspiration for me to get going on a plan for my Third Act.
Brent Costello [DC]

My future boils down to the basics: health, exercise, eating well, friends/family, hobbies/projects, new adventures. Health: I’ve had scares. Cancer, blood disorder, arthritis. I fell off a roof (don’t ask), breaking lots of bones. After recovering from all of these, I am in good health and realize this is soooo important. Laughing a lot, and finding the humor in things are good for my mental health. Exercise: I’ve always been a jock, so exercise is part of who I am. I played tennis all my life, but switched over to pickleball, and am obsessed! I also hike, cycle, swim, row, do weights. Food: Eating locally is key. I go to farmers markets weekly and store up on fresh, organic meats and vegetables. I eat only fruit for breakfast. One vice is wine, but I am cutting back. (Was either wine or drugs during the pandemic…) Friends: Russell is my family, and we try to spend much time with friends. We notice that some friends are constant, but many are fading away. I work at staying in touch and not losing them. With not only the Covid pandemic but the pandemic of loneliness, this can be tough. Hobbies/Projects: A new hobby I have started is writing short essays. Most essays are funny stories about my life. I made it a goal to write for every reunion question. New Adventures: Every day should be a new adventure. Try something or meet someone new. I’m an organizer so I’m constantly looking for something to create. I’m in a new marriage which is an adventure. We moved to a new town and are in a new house, taking a big chance. I organize events that bring people together. And even though I’ve been directing FOOT for 40 years, every year is a new adventure. I’ve seen it all, but then something new and crazy happens. Finally, I try to live by the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Cilla Leavitt [TC]

It does seem the watchwords are engagement and purpose. I’ve spent decades overly focused on my business, which took me away from family, friends, and other interests more than I care to remember. Going forward I plan to go all-in on relationships — devoting much more time to family, nurturing existing and new friendships, and rekindling (or repairing) some that have lapsed. Several good friends have passed away, highlighting for me just how precious these connections are. In the public realm, I’m beginning to work with a couple of local groups in an effort to steer my city’s politics in a more pragmatic, moderate direction. I’m also puzzling over how I might harness the experience of people I know to sponsor a series of high school or college level presentations that would introduce young people, especially in less resource-rich communities, to the wide array of careers available to them, and how they might start to approach them. Perhaps I was unusually naive, but in high school and even in college I was totally clueless about what the “real world” had to offer and how to access those possibilities.
—Anonymous

Like many of us, I have always been ambitious and competitive. Those qualities helped me get where I wanted to go in my career as a professor. I don’t regret them. Ambition and competitiveness are a lot less useful in retirement, though. I’ve needed to learn to judge the worth of what I do without depending on comparisons with academic colleagues or evaluations by students, academic colleagues, department chairs, journal editors, and the like. This has been a slow process, and I’ve made some mistakes in the six years since I retired. (The Covid pandemic didn’t help with the transition, either.) But a lot of things that seemed critically important in my academic life seem much less important now. Slowly I’m learning to slow down and live more in the moment. I’m learning to appreciate processes more and evaluate products less. I couldn’t possibly predict what I’ll be interested in next year, much less for the rest of my life, but right now I’m taking drawing lessons and using a visual journal of things I see outdoors as a way to appreciate the beautiful part of the country where I live.
Barbara Johnstone [BK]

As I look ahead, I want to choose my life, every day.

For almost 50 years I, like most of us, have lived under the weight of obligations and expectations. Being the best husband and father I could be. Satisfying the multiple constituencies at work. Giving back to the community. Managing the last years of declining parents. As I look ahead, I want to choose my life, every day. In the dream, my life will belong to me. I can read as much as I want. Listen to and play as much music as I want. Work in the garden. Travel with my wife and/or family. In short, I want my life, perhaps for the first time ever, to really belong to me. I am (finally) at peace with the past.
Fred Peters [BK]

I’ve already had more than three acts. But looks like I need to have another act. We benefited from the advances in the world by ending World War II, the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s movement, the End of the (Viet Nam) War and much more. The Soviet Union collapsed. We got the internet and so much technology. The world became flat — thank you, Tom Friedman. But seems like the US and the world are in shambles. Inequality, racial strife, environmental devastation and highly- charged political opposition have only increased. For our children and grandchildren and for everyone else in the world, the next act has to be to focus on repairing the world — however you want to do that. “For God, for country, for Yale” for me is now “For country and for the rest of the world.” We have so much privilege. We need to repair the world for others.
Sharon Hessney [ES]

When I started in journalism soon after graduation, the field was in its post-Watergate heyday. Now, it faces financial crises, demonization, and masses of misinformation. The old saying that “news is information people need to know in order to be free and self-governing” shows how much danger the assault on news reporting holds for our society. As I consider when to retire from my second career teaching international affairs at New York University, I hope to find ways to support high quality journalism, protection of journalists, press freedom and media literacy.
Barbara Borst Crary [SY]

I am going to be very “un-philosophical” here, just listing what I am doing in my third act: 1. “Medicine light”: I retired from nearly full- time work as a pediatrician on June 30. Now, I work once a week, seeing patients and supervising pediatric residents and fellows in the Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Children’s National Hospital where I trained, many years ago. I take the commuter train from Baltimore to D.C. bright and early every Wednesday morning. I am enjoying it immensely. 2. Like Ron, I am tutoring a first grader in reading twice a week. Geez, every pediatrician should do this. 3. I am learning jazz piano. (Slowly, veeery slowly).
Ozzie Taube [BR]

Retirement for me is liberation. Now that “remaining time” is mine to control, I feel that it is a wonderful opportunity to be of service to others, only constrained by physical and mental limitations, to do so in a manner of my own choosing, and requiring no compensation or recognition. I hope to be volunteering (through NGO/charitable organizations, as I only haphazardly did while employed). But I will guard my creativity (in solitude, for myself, judged only by me…art for the sake of art, not to be shared). That will be my respite from the volunteering, my refuge from insurmountable problems wrestled with during NGO work.
Mark Cramolini [DC]

Thanks to technology, I became a Chinese interpreter from home in the Catskills!

The Third Act. The first day of the fall semester was a crisp September day, only I was no longer returning to school having retired in June after 25 years of teaching ESL to Chinese immigrants. Instead, I was walking around the East Village, wondering what I would do that afternoon or for that matter the rest of my life. I wandered into a senior center on St. Marks Place and registered thinking I would go there for lunch sometime. I did not have a retirement plan in place. My approach was to simply let things take their course. Act III Scene One. Two weeks later in Washington Square Park, I noticed a small booth where people were signing up to do volunteer gardening and so I became part of the Wednesday Weeders, a small group of Villagers who garden each week to keep Washington Square looking beautiful. Act III Scene Two. Working in Chinatown all those years, I spoke Mandarin every day. During the pandemic moving Upstate, I soon realized that I missed hearing Chinese, so I signed up for an advanced Chinese class on Zoom. One of my classmates suggested that I contact P.S. 124, an elementary school in Chinatown, which was looking for volunteer Mandarin/English interpreters for parent-teacher conferences. Though willing to help, the three-hour trip to Chinatown seemed daunting. To my surprise, I found out that most public schools in NYC now conduct parent-teacher conferences online. Thanks to technology, I became a Chinese interpreter from home in the Catskills! Act III Scene Three. For the past six years, I have worked for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide as a volunteer tax preparer and instructor preparing tax returns for the elderly, low-income and middle-income taxpayers. I especially enjoy the mental challenge of learning the new tax regulations each year and preparing for the IRS certification exam. But more importantly, AARP Tax-Aide provides a much-needed free service to an under-served population. I feel blessed that I am healthy and have a role in the third act.
Gale Lichter [BR]

Since retirement, I have enjoyed activities that have me interacting at a person-to-person level, whether with family or aiding people with mental health or aging challenges. I am fortunate to see my two grandsons regularly and my son, who continues to overcome mental and physical challenges, in part, by having me take him on hikes throughout the Allegheny plateau states around D.C. As a Helpline volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I field inquiries and provide resource links on all manner of needs, from housing and hospitalization to diagnosis and treatment resources. I can’t help but offer occasional advice and counsel, while explaining I am not a professional counselor. I came across a local franchise called Seniors Helping Seniors that, just as the name implies, involves helping fellow seniors (typically about 10 years my senior) with activities of daily living and staving off dementia with light exercise and mental activities. It also gives me insights on how I may want to approach my own later years.
Jim Pavle [BK]

In October 2007 my life changed dramatically when my three teenage children and my wife were all killed in a private plane crash on the way to visit relatives in Houston for fall break. The deaths shocked the community in Tulsa where I lived. I soon learned about a few other people who had suffered similar losses not doing well afterward and resolved early not to suffer the same fate. Fred Mullen, one of our classmates who recently died, who was an estate planning lawyer in Hartford, asked me to come up to watch the Harvard-Yale game about a month after the crash. With Fred’s help, I decided to set up a family foundation. I wanted something that would cause my children to be remembered and that would have them still make a difference for their community, the same thing any parent would want for their children. The principal object of the foundation was to fund a college scholarship program for students from their Catholic school, and from the large public magnet school in Tulsa. If I could make enough money to fund it, a third scholarship would be available to students in the entire Tulsa Public School system. A second objective was to set up a talent show to be held every January at my kids’ school performing arts center. The scholarships would be picked by a group of my children’s school friends and by their two older cousins. I started working more carefully on my stock portfolio and now have a system worked out where I meet quarterly with some money managers to cull the losers and pick new promising companies to invest in. The fund is now just short of setting up permanent scholarship endowments for two students each year over the next 25 years or so, in theory the time that my children would have been alive and working in their community. I plan to keep investing for at least another eight years, until I’m  80 and to the 25th anniversary of the crash. By then, I hope I can fund that third scholarship if the markets remain kind. I miss my children, of course, and wish they were still with us, but the foundation keeps me going to find some good in what happened.
Bill Lunn [JE]

This is the most difficult of these questions for me to answer. When I made it back to the academic career I had always wanted, to grad school in 2009 and then teaching since 2014, a massive head of steam powered it. It still does. After 4 books (including 2 monographs) and one I’ve just started, plus dozens of papers, I still have a massive amount I want to read, think about, and say. I have the energy and the desire to do so, and I will do so. For reasons too intricate to detail here, there is almost no way for me to advance beyond my contingent adjunct position; and I work at a university whose finances are precarious and constantly threatening the jobs of adjuncts. Fellowship or grant support is virtually impossible, again for too many reasons to explain here. So how I shall do what I am definitely going to do, I do not know. But doing it gives me the keenest pleasure and satisfaction, so I shall continue it as my “third act.”
Bennett Gilbert [SY]

I like the concept of “second wind” except that for me it’s been second, third, fourth and more winds. The first wind behind my back was to become an Asian scholar and a journalist, the second a brief career with multinationals, the third as a consultant to a Hong Kong tycoon and others in Hong Kong, and then it all broke down with the pandemic and I am trying to re-create myself as a journalist. This is my fourth wind, but whether it will keep me aloft is unclear. I never wanted to retire. As a writer you write till you drop, but you also have to keep earning a living and that becomes more difficult. I am still mainly working for others and not for myself, and that is the fifth wind that I imagine, where I write books and their income is enough to sustain myself. Dream on …
Edie Terry [PC]

Both my parents stayed active in their fields well into their 80’s, so I had always expected that retirement would be a gradual transition (I would get bored if not). I retired from my position as chair of Family Medicine at an urban safety net hospital system, but have stayed on doing some direct patient care, teaching and mentoring younger faculty, and some board work. I have not missed the administrative work, and find I can still enjoy medicine, and help meet the need for primary care, and hopefully encourage others to step up to meet that need. I enjoy the greater control I have on my schedule and freedom to explore other long dormant areas of interest. (Plus, more time skiing, cycling and gardening and seeing my grandson!)
—Anonymous

When I retired from the University of San Francisco at the end of 2022, my plans included consulting, doing something with two patents I have, having back surgery, reading, playing guitar, cycling, traveling with my wife, and writing about our travels. Oh yeah, and political activity to keep the U.S. from becoming a dictatorship.

Instead, the publishers of three of my technical books requested new editions. Working with a co-author to update the first one consumed much of 2023. I and another co-author are starting to update the second book now and it should be out by mid-2025. I will update the third book after that — in 2025–2026. So it seems that much of my time over the next few years is “booked,” so to speak. However, I do hope to squeeze in some of the aforementioned activities as time and my physical ability permit. After that, who knows? It may depend on how successful we all are in preserving democracy in the U.S.
Jeff Johnson [GH]

As to career, I will continue my law practice semi-retired, taking on less but remaining up to date on changes in the law and relevant IT, staying engaged with my firm and clients and active on bar association committees. The last are more fun when you aren’t a young lawyer doing them to build a career. I have always been active in civil, political and charitable matters. I will continue but shift more emphasis to grooming younger successors. Self-care will continue, running races and regular gym work, the latter of which I began at Payne Whitney Gym. Finally, I have time to finish researching, thinking through and writing some scholarly work. I am stunned that there has been no significant work on my Yale thesis topic since the 1980s and would like to add some significant small addition to that subfield. Having time to complete my family history gives me outlines of many local history articles and a few for genealogical journals. Professor Willcox’s training in sources and their analysis has been crucial along with law school evidence courses, subsequent cases and re-reading Aristotle on epistemology. As many classmates have noted for our 50th, we learned attitudes and approaches to what we know and how we know it at Yale. I loved Professor Wayne Meeks’s last publication, a collection of his 50 years of published essays. In his preface, he says there is not one of those essays he now fully agrees with. Thank you, Yale.
Bill Eakins [DC]

As part of my “third act,” I will continue to cherish my wife, children and grandchildren.

First of all, a deep thank you to all my classmates who have led this 12-week effort to secure reflections from all of us. The questions were great and really enabled us to think back to our Yale years in a meaningful way. I have been blessed in the last eight years with a second career, teaching marketing full-time at Pepperdine to undergraduates. It is an amazing experience, which I love, in particular sharing relevant events from my corporate career at Hershey and other companies with students. Also, I have published six articles. I am about to go to Florence to teach for two months at the Pepperdine program in the city, which is why I am unfortunately missing our reunion. As long as my health keeps up, I would like to continue teaching. As part of my “third act,” I will continue to cherish my wife, children and grandchildren. Although we are all separated geographically, with us in Los Angeles, and they in New York and Austin, we are still incredibly and thankfully close. Part of my “third act” will also be reading, going to museums and traveling. During the pandemic, for example, I read “Ulysses” by James Joyce for the first time. Doing so helped me get through the crazy Covid period. Thank you again, and hope to see everyone sometime soon.
Steve Bauer [SY]

I built a manufacturing start-up, which grew into product leadership in multiple markets. I was attracted to the economic and ethical opportunity provided by solar power. I merged with an international technology leader in 2016. In 2018, I projected that the solar price curve would eventually drop below natural gas; once it did the utility grade solar effort was off to the races. After retirement, I continued to head up the US Solar products effort; designing and qualifying our products and developing a marketing program that has developed nearly $250 Million in opportunity and counting. I have worked with engineers from all over the globe as well as those in the de-carbonizing industries in the US. I have mentored startups in de-carbonizing which optimize power output and maximize up time. The mission-related and business building challenges have been so satisfying. I have had a deep connection to Latin-speaking peoples since I built an operation in Venezuela, manufacturing oil drilling tools in the 80s. My start-up was built with the skills of three generations of Latin immigrants. As the third generation takes over technical and managerial responsibilities, I take such satisfaction and gratitude. Recently, as Vice Chair of the Illinois Manufacturing Association’s (IMA) Workforce Development efforts, I have supported the assimilation of some 40,000 immigrants that have arrived in Illinois. The IMA worked with the State of Illinois to develop a “Skills Supply/Demand Matching Software.” We are linking social service organizations who sponsor immigrants and manufacturers who seek to end their chronic skills shortages. Recently, the IMA prevailed on President Biden to reduce the work permit waiting period from 7 months to 2 months. My work life has been so enriched by my relationships with these excellent employees; it is a pleasure to work to develop pathways to citizenship with these worthy people. As a Yale Philosophy and “Ad Science” major, I may be writing a piece on the “Profound Meaning of Physical Processes.”
Steven Kase [MC]

Act I was as an attorney in private practice in NJ (1977–1987). Act II was in finance in NY running distressed debt firm BDS Securities and then the international distressed trading group at Bank of America (1987–2009). Act III has been in Town government in Longboat Key, FL (2009–2024), most recently as a Town Commissioner and as Mayor for the past 5 years. I will term out as a Commissioner in 2026 at age 73+ and then will be on to Act IV, whatever that may bring.
Ken Schneier [JE]

My passion has been encouraging Episcopal Church and other faith-based endowments to align what they do with their money with what they say in the pulpit. My “Third Act” began a decade ago when I began working with the Church Investment Group, a nonprofit, that helps faith-based endowments implement proactive Environmental, Social and Governance investment approaches, negative screening of industries like tobacco and thematic impact investing. Recently, I have shifted to doing more educational webinars and that is what I want to continue to develop in the coming years. My most recent webinar was moderating a presentation by InfluenceMap, a nonprofit data analytics firm, which highlighted the contradiction between corporations’ public climate transition support and behind the scenes lobbying by groups like the Chamber of Commerce to undermine addressing climate change.
JoAnn Hanson [SY]

This is a thought-provoking question that will no doubt benefit all of us to address. Currently blessed with good health and financial flexibility, I look forward to continuing to volunteer for not-for-profit organizations; spend time with my son and his wife and children; and venture to places old and new. I seek to understand God’s will and nurture others in their walk of faith. Having seen the ends of life for family members, I am familiar with challenges this period can bring. Our minds and bodies are not owned, but rented, and as our lease expiration begins to draw near, lack of capacity can set new limits upon us. To address this, my husband and I have engaged in practical senior planning, such as securing adjoining caregiver housing, and arranging living quarters that require no use of stairs and are close to many local services. The nursing home where my mother spent her last few years is a short distance away, should one of us need such care while the other does not. Having spent much of my time in legal practice developing and navigating safety nets, senior planning is a natural continuation. As a Christian, I believe that human existence does not end with physical death, but that an eternity with God awaits those who have been faithful to him. If I outlive capacity to be productive in a traditional sense, I aspire to maintain faith and bless others who cross my path.
Sharon Vaino [SM]

This is easy. My plan is to wake up, thank God for another day, and spend it seeking to know and do His Will and repeat. This has been my habit since I found God around 4:00 am in my basement by His Grace and with the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on 11-1-1995. If the past has predictive value, my wife of 45 years, Angie, our 2 daughters, their spouses and our 5 grandchildren will play starring roles. May God grant you all good health, long life, and peace and joy in this life and in the world to come. Boola, Boola!
Haskell Peddicord [CC]

I actually don’t buy the concept of a “third act” although I understand that it generally means the “last act” or denouement of a life. I’m simply not ready for my last act and I don’t like the general assumption that I have to have one. Tell me the day I’m going to die and whatever I’m doing on that day will be my last act. I imagine I’ll be at work participating in the continuous flow of life that I found myself in, entirely by accident, on September 10, 1952. That flow has taken me through many acts and many changes of points of view, career paths and emphasis of different skill sets all with one goal in mind: to give myself and the members of my family the freedom to follow each of their own dreams and to do so in the best possible fashion. That’s been the real play and one to which there is no last act. Being, with my wife, Jessica (who dramatically outperformed me in law school) a co-founder of a family may end physically but never philosophically. My personal interests are and have always been secondary to that and will remain so until my last breath.
Alec Haverstick [SY]

Plan to continue my career as a professional ‘beat the reaper’ player.
—Anonymous

People and places change over the course of 50 some years. Some for the better, some for the worse. Sadly, in the case of Yale, it has changed not only for the worse, but for the much, much, much, worse. Institutionally, Yale has lost its way. It no longer produces leaders, but sheep. It is no longer a place where diverse ideas compete over endless cups of coffee in the dining halls (and elsewhere) but where orthodoxy of thought reigns. It no longer tolerates all races, creeds and faiths but actively practices anti-Semitism. It has abased itself by catering to the lowest, and very common, denominator. Will it recover? It’s not looking good. Does the current Yale merit alumni/alumnae support? One really wonders. Should Yale continue to exist? Who needs yet another me-too school?
—Anonymous

What’s next for me? For you? I do not know. I had “my plans” (cutting back on work, travel, maybe some grandchildren) all of a sudden overshadowed by a society apparently coming apart at the seams. At first I thought I was re-living the 1960s—just crazy on the Right instead of crazy on the Left. But I was a history major at Yale. We are re-living the 1930s and 1940s. This time it’s pro-Putin instead of pro-Hitler. The hate is the same. The ghost of the Confederacy is no longer a ghost. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, I was making a sales call over in Maryland. The guy I was trying to sell to was highly- educated, a degreed engineer. But he had a pick-up with a rebel flag. He asked me what I thought about the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I had what I thought was a safe answer: “I think both parties have nominated the wrong person.” Nothing doing. I got the full MAGA, pro-Trump lecture. The final line of his soliloquy was truly memorable: “What we have to do is send all those Mexicans back to Mexico; and while we’re at it, we can send the Blacks back to Africa.” Once Germany invaded Poland in 1939 (which, according to Vladimir Putin, was all Poland’s fault!), the American First Committee was formed, which morphed into the America First Party, which then changed its name to The Christian Nationalist Party. Here’s a quote from The America First Party platform, August, 1944: “NEGROES—THE AMERICA FIRST PARTY advocates the Abraham Lincoln Plan of solving the Negro problem—a homeland in Africa. Noting that 20,000 part-Negroes become recognized as whites annually. And noting also that it will be harder to solve the problem of 40,000,000 Negroes in our midst in the future than of 13,000,000 today, and believing that it is unfair to both races to have to live together, we advocate a return to the solution long ago proposed by Thomas Jefferson…namely, implementing the Negroes’ right to return to the homeland and environment in which nature first nurtured them.”

At least they were right about Thomas Jefferson. His plan for ending slavery was to combine emancipation with mandatory deportation. “You’re free now. Get the hell out!” One week after surrendering at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee gave a newspaper interview in which he called for emancipation to be combined with mandatory deportation. Trump, staying true to his roots, plans the largest deportation in American history. But of course this is just one half of the MAGA movement. The other is the anti-government “libertarians,” who are the direct descendants of the early 20th century anarchists. They plan to dismantle the federal government by executive order. They plan to start (and this is just a start!) by firing most federal workers. Blow things up.

My paternal grandmother was only 7 years old when her mother took her to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in September 1901. She was in the receiving line, maybe 15 feet from William McKinley, when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist—a searing experience. Leon’s last words before he was executed in the electric chair were “I am not sorry for my crime.”

I have no illusions about this half of the MAGA movement, either. So … what are my plans for the future? How do you plan for a world where people are planning to blow things up—literally? I guess it’s “all hands on deck.” Not sure what I can do. But whatever I can, I will do. And so should you. Then let us see about planning for the future.
Philip Jaffa [CC]

I am looking forward to robots.

Well, the “Third Act” is usually wherein the various plots and subplots of the play are resolved (for dramatic effect). But “drama” has never been my thing. So, I expect my focus will center on becoming increasingly more inconsequential. Significance is pretty overrated — and frankly, there is much to embrace in perfecting innocuousness. Now, before you simply dismiss my “Third Act” as a “cop-out,” I must point out that the path that I seek is fraught with many ontological obstacles. Abiding is not for the faint of conviction. Consider what likely lies ahead for me: In the next few months, America will slog through The Most Consequential U.S. elections in our lifetime. Personally, I am not looking forward to endless election advertisement warfare that will dominate all media. It will be most difficult to successfully abide in the face of endless anxiety inducing messaging.

I see some years of major decluttering, recycling, donating, and discarding of things — to be followed by downsizing. Having reached a significant level of accumulations, I have finally understood the true meaning of comedian/philosopher George Carlin’s “A Place for My Stuff” standup routine.

I see some deliberations ahead as to how best to do the IRS’s “Required Minimum Distributions” (a.k.a. RMDs) from our 401(k)s. I wonder if economists have simulated what happens when The Baby Boomers start liquidating all their retirement funds in the same decade.

I see my knees self-destructing. Arthritis is already my invisible friend — and insists upon gaining more of my personal attention each year. I feel that the warranty on my body has lapsed — and what remains is hopefully covered by Medicare (and secondary insurance).

I will see my doctors, who have diagnosed and medicated me these years, retiring because they too are getting old. There will be more wakes and funerals of family and friends ahead. Only Disney, James Bond, and Marvel Comics franchises live on forever.

I will deal with more and more Spam telephone calls and Spam e-mails. Given advancements in AI and Machine Learning, it will become increasingly difficult to discern what is real vs. fake , or truthful vs. disinformation. Soon we will all exchange a “secret password” amongst family and friends — in an effort to authenticate that “the whom” we are communicating with is indeed that real person.

I hope to see the UFO/UAP “mystery” finally revealed to us. As an avid fan of “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel, one hopes The Truth is Out There. I doubt existence of the Oak Island treasure — The Templars apparently left no “travel-expense account” records (how were they reimbursed?).

I am looking forward to robots. I’ve liked “robots” since I read many of the Tom Swift, Jr. books as a kid. The Metaverse stuff holds some promise, too.

I will continue to spend too much time perusing the Internet and posting stuff I find interesting on Facebook.

And, I see Yale continuing to exhort me to gift monies from my estate, as any good alumnus should. Abiding these things is not going to be easy. But you know as it says in Ecclesiastes 1:4–8: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever …”

I will not take up pickleball. Probably do some reading.
Thomas Corbi [TC]

Thomas Mikelson and Patricia Sheppard, 1978

All plans came to a halt in April 2020, early in the Pandemic, when my husband died of Covid. We had a great love. After four years, I am beginning to come back from that loss. Life feels more open ended now. It seems almost ironic to have plans.
Patricia Sheppard [DC]

One of the small pleasures in my life is the Yale Alumni Magazine (YAM). Through the many years since our graduation, I have found it to be consistently high quality, filled with well-written articles and interesting photographs. Regardless of its content, when my copy arrives, I immediately turn to the Class Notes. I look for people whose names I recognize and information about the lives they are leading.

After receiving my law degree, I started work as an associate at a law firm and became friendly with one of the partners. A Yale graduate from the late 1930s, he was in his late 60s and nearing retirement. In one conversation, he said to me, kindly but bluntly, that my entire future was laid out in the YAM’s Class Notes. I could not disagree with him (he was a partner!), but his statement struck me as preposterous and even slightly offensive. How could updates and anecdotes submitted by Yale graduates predict my future? Despite my skepticism, his suggestion stuck with me. In addition to reading about the Class of 1974 I started scrolling through the notes for other classes. I came to understand the basis for the partner’s comment. Patterns can be seen in the notes: post-graduate degrees; first jobs; marriages; children; promotions; retirements; grandchildren. While the arc of my life did not always fall within these general trends, there were broad overlaps for myself and our classmates. When the YAM first began arriving in my postbox, the notes for the Class of 1974, like those for other recent graduating years, were at the end of the section. As years passed, our notes moved steadily forward. Today they are found well before the half-way point in the section. Eventually, our notes will come first. But what about later, when no one is around to forward news to the YAM?

An author who perhaps captured a sense of what comes next is Ian Frazier in the closing paragraphs of his book “Family.” As he sat in a hospital room while his mother went through her final illness, he considered what is left after we move, in his words, from the nearer regions of the remembered into the farther regions of the forgotten: “And all that would remain would be the love bravely expressed, and the moment when you danced and your heart danced with you.” There are still quite a few classes ahead of us in the notes section. Part of my plan for the future is reading the YAM and perhaps, in a break from past practice, sending in some news.
Steven Davis [ES]