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1YALE CLUB OF THE SUNCOASTNewsletterJune, 2021MESSAGE FROM INCOMING CLUB PRESIDENT ELIZABETH SPAHN, ‘72May 5, 2021Having thrived during the tumultuous year of pandemic under the steady hand of outgoing President Rick Lannamann,’69, the Yale Club of the Suncoast begins our new 2021 2022 season by thanking retiring Board members and bluELInes editors Jay Rixse, ’63, and Sherry Dominick, ’78, ’81 JD, for their stellar contributions producing our newsletter with wit and elan. They will both be missed. Please join in welcoming our new Board members; Craig Wright, Yale’s Henry L & Lucy G Moses ProfessorEmeritus of Music, and Hedi Katz, ’93 MPPM. Craig will co-edit the bluELInes with Trudy Mulvey, ’91 MSN. Hedi will take over the Director of Communications position and as YCS delegate to the Young Ivy Network. You will be receiving email notifications about YCS events from Hedi’s account at katzhed@gmail.com, so please adjust your contacts list if needed. We are delighted they have joined our Board and we expect great things, possibly set to music. Dr. Bruce Ballard, ’60, our long serving Secretary, has acceptedthe position of Vice President and Luncheon Coordinator in addition to his other duties for which we are most grateful. Past President Ken Schneier, ’74, will supplement his day job as Mayor of Longboat Key to serve as our Yale Alumni Association representative. Other officer positions remain unchanged with a crew of dedicated and mostly witty veterans. The Club is in excellent hands. Re-entering the world of physical gatherings with due caution, our first in person event was heldoutside on Tuesday, May 11th at noon, on the patio of Marina Jack restaurant. Summer drop in lunches are scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month at Marina Jack at noon. If you are in town, please join us for lively conversation in a beautiful waterfront setting with your fellow Yalies. Our Welcome Back Partydate is Sunday evening, October 17th, 5 7 pm, outdoors on the lower deck of the Sarasota Yacht Club with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and our favorite classical guitarist. Thank you
2to Past President Elaine Gustafson, ’86 MSN,for organizing our most popular event. We hope our snowbirds will be able to return in time for the Welcome Back Party which kicks off a great season. The Program Committee, again under the steady hand of Rick Lannamann, ’69, has great plans for us. We will resume in-person luncheons on the second Tuesday of each month (assuming there are no further disasters) at the Sarasota Yacht Club. Our website, ably administered by Past President Elaine Gustafson, ’86 MSN, http://yaleclubofthesuncoast.org/events/will keep you up to date on all our events. Our Facebook page is also a great place to keep up with activities, https://www.facebook.com/YALEClubSuncoast. Please join the Facebook page. Thank you to Clarissa Moore, ‘ 82, our Facebook administrator and Membership Director. November 9thbrings us representatives from the Sarasota Opera for our luncheon at noon. Thank you to Rick Lannamann, ’69, for arranging this event. The Game is November 20th. The December 14thluncheon features Rick Piccolo, President & CEO of the Sarasota BradentonInternational Airport. Thank you to Nick Gladding, ’67, for booking this speaker. January 11thwill feature one of Yale’s star professors (TBA). February 11this the Yale/Harvard/Princeton annual luncheon at Michael’s On East we’ll see what Princeton can offer up this year. They do have an excellent track record, so save that date. February also brings one of our most popular events on the 22nd, the annual docent tour at Ringling Art Museum followed by an outdoor luncheon on the patio at the new Grill Room at the Museum. Thank you to Past President Frank Samponaro,’62, for organizingthis. For the young at heart, don’t miss the annual Feb Club Emeritusgathering, organized by Nurit Sonnenshein, ’87, and Hedi Katz, ’93MPPM, at a date and location TBA. If you have not yet experienced Feb Club Emeritusevents, you owe yourself a new treat and a cocktail.March 9thbrings us our second star Yale Professor (TBA). The evening of Sunday, April 10this another of our most popular events, the Marina Jack Dinner Cruise, organized by Past President and Captain Extraordinaire Brian Kelly, ’61.Stay tuned for announcements regarding our April 12thand May 10thluncheon speakers. I am honored to serve as our President for the next two years. Our major priority will be reaching out to members of our Yale community to ensure that everyone finds a warm welcome here. We will begin in the fall by organizing smaller welcoming events forYale folks who have recently moved to the area. Please let me know if you are interested in volunteering to host a smaller gathering of 3 4 newcomers for a cup of coffee at a local coffeeshop to welcome them to our Club. Elizabeth.spahn@gmail.com. We will also need some volunteers in the fall to telephone our current members and contacts to re-connect and inform them of our upcoming calendar of events. We have an exciting year ahead of us. I look forward to greeting each of you, finally in person! I promised you music so here’s a little ditty. Boola Boola! https://youtu.be/NVCdv-G-mco
3Yale Day of Service All Faiths Food Bank April 14, 2021A merry band of intrepid Yalies gathered at the All Faiths Food Bank on Wednesday afternoon April 14thto pack bags of remarkably nutritious snacks for children in need to take home, ensuring they have food over the weekends. Nancy and Jim Curtis, ’64 E, Barry Preston, Peter French, ’61 MA/Ph.D, Jocelyn and Nick Baskey, ’64, Suzanne and Oliver Janney, ‘ 67, and Elizabeth Spahn, ’72, participated.Wearing masks in the large, well ventilated room, the small group had plenty of elbow room. Although we are unlikely to challenge the efficiency of a robot assembly line, we did finish our allotment an hour ahead of schedule. There was no heavy lifting for us and no bending, so we all still needed to work out afterwards. Conversation was lively, tall tales were traded, and my only personal disappointment was that Nick Baskey (Whiffenpoof) declined repeated invitations to serenade us. We can hope for better results next time. Elizabeth SpahnGUEST SPEAKER REPORTSDavid Blight, March 9, 2021Understanding Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
4There are some Yale Club events that should not be missed, even those presented on Zoom. And for any alumnus having peripheral doubts about the strength of the humanities in the Yale curriculum, the lecture presented by Sterling Professor David Blight from his desk in the Bienecke Library should diminish any doubt. The presentation by Professor Blight had several themes beyond an analysis of his Pulitzer Prize winning Frederick Douglas: Prophet of Freedom.The Yale club was treated to a clinical graduate seminar in historiography, the art of writing history. Professor Blight also revealed the more personal insights into why a historian chooses to write on a topic and the challenges of writing on a topic he knows intimately. And, of course, there is theprocess of research and the ancillary avenues of thought discovered in the journey such as how does one define that nature of a “prophet.” All of these themes were woven together in the course of Professor Blight’s shared thoughts.Blight began by affirming why Frederick Douglass is important now as a voice people need when living in an era of public massacres and political insurrection. The history of today comes from our past to a troubled nation seeking to find its footing in uncertain times. The resonance of Douglass is founded on words, writing and oratory. He is a prose poet of American democracy. His is a legacy built notably from a single volume discovered by Douglass in his youth, The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Selected Pieces Together with Rules, Which are Calculated to Improve Youth and Others, in the the Ornamental and Useful Arts of Eloquence. Written by Caleb Bingham in 1797 as a reader for school children, it is a manual of oratory Douglass bartered to acquire while still a slave and from which he absorbed the principle that a great orator must, “reach the heart and mind of the audience.”Blight acknowledged that the inspiration to write “Prophet of Freedom” originated over a decade ago when he met Walter Evans, an African-American living in Savannah who insisted on showing Blight his Frederick Douglass collection of nine voluminous scrapbooks created by Douglass’ children and descendants. Much more than a compilation of clippings about Douglass, there was a record of family documents and papers which gave shape to a narrative of growing up in the Douglass household. Most significantly it was a record of the last third of Douglass’ life, a man born a slave (1818-1838), famous in great events (1839-1865) and extraordinarilyinfluential as a voice of conscience to America (1865-1895).The anxiety of shaping such a trove of information into yet another volume on Douglass who has been seminal to Blight’s career was something unanticipated just when he thought Douglass was “outof his life.” Nonetheless, he embarked on the task which included persistently seeking to encourage Walter Evans to sell the archive to Yale, a goal achieved in 2019 for the collection which is now being digitized in the Bienecke Library. One of the principal lessons of this research was, “never put a coffee cup on the same table as document” while valuing the opportunity to work uninterruptedly with such precious materials.In describing why Douglass remains so resonant to our times, the focus incorporates how extraordinary this man was! Born a slave before there was education for Black Americans,but taught informally at an early age, he used that learning to teach other slaves how to preach even before escaping to freedom 1838. He then made his wayto New Bedford where he developed more precise skill in the use of homiletics, preaching from the text, and sharing those abilities by training others to also speak as prophets.
5As to who deserves such recognition as a prophet, the definition in this context is “the rare person who makes us uncomfortable by using words the rest of us cannot!” With “unsurpassed elegance,” Frederick Douglass explains slavery. The writing of his first autobiography is really a coming-of-age story of the slave holdersmind, a taxonomy of slave owners, as he forced himself and everyone he taught to see the difference between documents and reality. And in defining the role of morality he seized upon the language of the Bible as a means of finding both his own voice and the means for communicating with people he sought to persuade.Throughout his life Douglass was a prototype for other leaders who followed him. He supported women’s rightsand female suffrage, a man who loved his country and was a patriot for so many years who could still be angry at the world around him. He was a fierce proponent of self-reliance for Black people but a ferocious advocate for interventionist government. And at the end of his days he was a constant voice against the “The Lost Cause” belief that was dominating the Jim Crow South. Douglass’ last great speech was about the American dilemma and lynching, an analysis as to why it was happening while still being infused with hope in the natural rights tradition. In responding to a question of whatDouglass might tell us today, Professor Blight was of the belief that “the Prophet” would encourage us to take the long view of history, make the most out of polarization as all great legislation comes in difficult times and Americans must keep going backto their creed. As to which leaders in the last sixty years have most closely emulated Douglass, it was suggested that Obama channels “the Prophet” but kept it less visible than Martin Luther King. But to both men Douglass conveyed the importance of a special kind of leadership, a “leadership of language!”The Yale Club of the Suncoast offers profound thanks for Professor Blight’s presentation on the writing of history and the sharing of personal insights on the development of this exceptional volume ofscholarship.Reported by Peter French, MA ’61, PhD ‘69Andy SandbergApril 13, 2021 Andy Sandberg (’05 BA, English, JE) addressed the remotely assembled YCS membership from his post as CEO and Artistic Director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key. While at Yale, Andy was the Popo (Business Manager) for both the Alley Cats andthe Whiffenpoofs, as well as an active participant in the Dramat, where he multi-tasked as producer, director and/or actor in more than
640 productions as an undergraduate. His love of theatre led him to Broadway after graduation where he continued to actand produced many shows, including the award-winning revivals of Hair and The Best Man.But Andy’s true calling was in the future of art, not its past, and his interests extended beyond theatre to interdisciplinary creative endeavors. Prodded and emboldened by Covid’s devastation of performance arts in New York City, he took the leap to Manasota Key where he has brought new energy and vision to a hidden artistic gem within our community of artistic excellence.The Hermitage Artist Retreat, founded 18 years ago, is a unique, multi-disciplinary community in which artists can step back from their daily routines, think through new ideas and exchange views with new visionaries in other fields. Set on nine, beachfront acres on Manasota Key, the Retreat assembles five or six hand-selected artists at a time for two-week intervals with the challenge that they create novel works in theatre, music, visual arts and literature. They then are encouraged to exhibit or perform their compositions both on campus and throughout the community in collaboration with many of Sarasota’s best known artistic venues.Each year the Retreat’s 14-member curatorial council, leaders from across the country in their respective fields, select 70-80 artists to attend the program over a total of six seeks of their choice during the ensuing two years. These Hermitage Fellows have described their experiences as “life-changing” and “transformative”, often noting that they accomplish more at the Hermitage in two weeks than they otherwise might in two years. Hermitage Fellows have included twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, multiple Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Emmy nominees and winners, Poets Laureate, and MacArthur “Genius” and Guggenheim Fellows among hundreds of extraordinary artists from around the world.The chief mission of the Hermitage is to create an environment and opportunity for new artists to create new and groundbreaking works. To foster this goal, lead sponsor the Greenfield Foundation (the Hermitage is entirely donor funded) awards an annual Greenfield Prize of $30,000 to commission production by one special artist of a jury-curated original composition in their medium of choice. Then, as mentioned, Greenfield Prize winners and other Hermitage Fellows create “give back” programs during their stay where they bring their talents and performances to venues throughout the Suncoast. All this work is accomplished by just five staff members, led by Mr. Sandberg. While he blends humility with his energy, one still senses that Andy sees himself in the coastal equivalent of 1920’s Paris, where young geniuses from everywhere assembled to create the twentieth century. Maybe the twenty-first century is being born in our backyard as we speak.By popular request, the YCS is planning a field trip to the Hermitage as soon as it can be safely arranged. To learn more about Hermitage events, to register for its community programs or to support the Hermitage, please visit: HermitageArtistRetreat.org. Reported by Ken Schneier ‘74MEMBERS PERSPECTIVE“Volunteering”By Trudy Mulvey, MSN ‘91Prior to my work at Moffitt Cancer Center, located in Tampa at the campus of USF, I volunteered on an asneeded basis within my nursing profession. I began my current volunteerwork
7after retirement and chose Moffitt because my husband was a patientat Moffitt. He was helped by his experience with the volunteers afterhis Bone Marrow Transplant 11 years ago. I have been a weekly volunteerfor over 8 years.Our program is called the Patient and Family Advisory Program andthere areapproximately 25 members in our group out of more than 600 Moffittvolunteers. To be a volunteer in this program you must be a cancer patientor a caregiver. Part of the orientation includes interviews, classes, andmany hours of direct and indirect supervision for at least a year. The programis very invested in adequately preparing new volunteers, supportingmore experienced volunteers, and maintaining support, resources, andeducationfor this group. The course leaders have presented their work toother hospitals on a national level.My favorite activity is to assist delivering fleece lined blankets to allthe inpatients onChristmas Eve along with my husband and other volunteers.Many of the inpatients are too ill to go home and some families are unable to come to the hospital, so this helps to reduce the loneliness andisolation these patients experience. We have a short visit with thosehealthy enough to visit. Our group purchases these blankets which thepatients love because they are warm and long enough to cover their feet.To my great surprise, many of these patients return to have medicalcheckups, and I don’t recognize them because they look so muchbetter. We love it when wehear “I remember you”. Modern medicine istruly wonderful.I miss volunteering because of Covid 19 which has virtually closeddown opportunities to visit these patients, and I look forward to being ableto return. All of us who work with this population feel the same about returning.I encourage you to consider volunteering in whatever area youhave an interest. A willingness to help others is the most important thingwe bring to this work. This is an area where one person can make a differenceto patients and their families. I feel honored to be a part of thisprocess.For a history of the Moffitt Cancer Center, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Lee_Moffitt_Cancer_Center_%26_Research_InstituteMAY LUNCHEON“The Summer Season BeginsHello All YCS Members:This year has meant a winding down of so much of our usual activities, as we have had not only to work by Zoom, but also to become more sophisticated at using our cell phones and computers, and most importantly, to keep ourselves and others safe as we deal with the COVID pandemic. Although we are not out of the woods yet, we are fortunate that via vaccines, we have an optimistic chance of having our 2021-22 season return to normal, with the usual in person contact that we relish in interaction with our membership. We have a tradition of summer drop-in lunches at Marina Jack, where members can sign on via a luncheon coordinator and have the pleasure of seeing YCS folks during the summer. We have members who travel in the summer or go away to cooler retreats during the summer months. At the same time those who are here can enjoy seeing each other at our drop-in lunches.
8We started early and had our first drop-in on May 11, 2021 on the patio of Marina Jack. What a delight as some 28 of us who have so enjoyed seeing each other at our lectures and lunches at the Sarasota Yacht Club, as well as other YCS activities, could sit down, eat, and converse with each other. We were all careful, had gone through the various paces to get vaccinated, and now felt that we could at least unmask for an outdoor lunch, catch up with one another, find out what is happening with children and grandchildren, etc. There was not the newsof exciting recent travel and we all felt we were emerging from isolation. BUT it all bodes well for our getting back together.Special Guest of Honor of the May Yale luncheon was incomingfirst-year student KassandraHaakman.The schedule of our summer lunches, with coordinators is:June 8, 2021 Elizabeth SpahnJuly 13, 2021 -Nick BaskeyAugust 10, 2021 Oliver JanneySeptember 14, 2021 Ken SchneierHave great summers!Reported by Bruce Ballard, YCS Vice President and Secretary[The Newsletterof the Yale Club of the Suncoast is produced and edited by Trudy Mulvey and Craig Wright. Our thanks to all contributors.]FINIS: LUX ET VERITAS