Forty-four days to glory: Astonishing to think the reality of reunion lies
days from now. The final program is being produced by Roseanne Schiff Ball, the
meal planning is done, rough drafts for Friday and Saturday’s evening programs
have been tweaked, the decorations committee continues to fine tune its plans for
transformation and memorabilia displays, and all look to Mitch Melamed for word
that more classmates have crossed his palm with registration monies. Ira Berger is
putting together teams for his Saturday morning Golf Classic, but there are still
openings. Check the web site for details.
Roseanne, Pat Paul Lieder, Pam Engstrom Harper, and I had a delightful
conference call to discuss the initial Ice Breaker session “Living the Social
Revolution.” It is scheduled for 2 p.m. If the call is any indication we are all in for
a fascinating session. I am still recruiting for the second session, “16 years: What
will we do with them?” which will begin at 3:30 p.m. To date Bud Morten, Marsha
Silverman Serlin, Joel Oppenheim, Karen Stryker Boyesen, Dick Rehwaldt and Bob
Levin have agreed to tell us their thoughts and plans for the rest of their lives in
seven minutes or less. I have other invitations out, and will announce on the website
the complete team and location of the two sessions. Should be fun and interesting.
How did this all begin? This is the class’ fifth reunion. As best we could
figure, we did reunions in 1971, 1981, 1986, and 1991. Our stalwart reunion
planners then burned out and we have not gathered as a class for 20 years. This
reunion began with one man, Keith Anderson. When Classmates.com got started
some four years ago, he became interested in who he could find. He unearthed
approximately 20 classmates, but he found the process incredibly cumbersome. So
Keith decided to start his own website. He had an important helper in his son, Bret,
who works for Microsoft. Together they created the Nilehi61 website, a 25-page
moveable feast of information on the class that Keith edits each day. Along the way
he received unexpected help from classmates like Noreen Baumgartner Larres, who
is an amateur genealogist. He estimates he made upwards of 500 calls contacting
the graduates who Noreen would find. He was also aided by a strong memory and
gregarious personality that led to many good conversations over the last three
years. He is going to make a hard copy of the site that will be a gift to all reunion
attendees. Will September 12 leave him with post-partum blues? He’s just become a
July/August 2011 Edition
Chicago Greeter, which makes him an unofficial tour guide for visitors to the city, and
after a long hiatus from golf, he has returned to the links with a vengeance, playing
three times a week and thoroughly enjoying himself. And when he and Dolores hit
the road he has 300 friends he can visit.
Why come to the reunion? It is certainly not to glory in the campus and
walk the halls of our beloved alma mater. There is no campus; there are no halls.
Niles Township High School is a grand memory. We were the last of the Mohegans.
(The Trojan mascot limped along until the successor school, Niles East, was also
closed.) Of the original 925 graduates, 818 survive, and of that number 65 are
lost to even the intrepid searching talents of Keith Anderson. That leaves 753
classmates who could potentially make the trek to the Standard Club to celebrate
the anniversary of our graduation in 1961. The reunion planners expect 300. But
why come? Chances are you haven’t seen most of these people for 50 years, and it
is likely you won’t see them again. These are not, however, just any people. Rather
they are people with whom you came of age. They are folks with whom you shared
dreams, disappointments, hopes and triumphs. It was a time of first loves, first
jobs, and first cars. It may have been a time when we were our most idealistic
selves-- some would say our most naïve selves--but that is all part of the warp and
woof of life. Niles launched us, and we return 50 years later to celebrate the glory
of our survival with the people who witnessed our first steps on the adult stage.
Life has had its way with us, we return a bit worn and dog-eared, but triumphant
nonetheless. We have made many fateful choices along the way, some good, some
not so good. When I was disappointed my mother often would try to comfort me
saying, “Things work out for the best.” And, I would eventually reply, “No, Mom,
things work out, and we make the best of them.” We have made the best of them,
and that’s something to be celebrated with people who knew us at the beginning.
You might think that a woman who lives in Water Tower Place, has a boat
both on Lake Michigan and on the Atlantic Ocean out of Miami may have been
born with a silver spoon in her mouth and possess a healthy trust fund. Or she
might have married well. But neither assumption applies to Marsha Silverman
Serlin, who does live in Water Tower Place and owns two good-sized boats. She
is in fact a self-made woman, and she owes it all to a husband who turned out (in
street parlance) to not be much of a provider. In fact, she may be one of the few in
our class, who when things were going downhill, had her car repossessed and was
forced to strike an agreement with the federal government that she could keep
her home in Highland Park if she agreed to pay in installments $250,000 in back
taxes that her husband owed. Necessity was very much the mother of invention in
Marsha’s case. She discovered an entrepreneurial streak even before things hit rock
bottom. She started an indoor landscaping business, learning all she could about the
horticulture of indoor plants. She worked up and down the North Shore, and was
particularly fascinated by one client who ordered $10,000 in indoor plants and was
always there during her visits. She sought the secret to his financial success. He told
her “scrap metal.” What he didn’t tell her, however, was that he was home all the
time because he had become burned out in the business and had taken six months
off. When things began to collapse at home for Marsha, she coaxed this client into
giving her a tutorial on the industry. And, the very next week she had a rental truck
gathering scrap from alleys with her two kids, Mark and Cindy in tow. Thus began
many 16-hour days in a slow climb to solvency and success. Twenty-five years later
United Scrap Metal has several hundred employees, 40-acres in Cicero, is one of the
largest scrap metal firms in the country and is the largest headed by a lady! Her son,
Brad, is now company president. This has enabled her to get some use out of her
boats, and to spend time with her three grandchildren. She has also been featured
on the Oprah Winfrey Show in the “Millionaire Moms” segment. And, she is very
involved in charitable work in Chicago. Fortunately, her good works have extended
to this reunion. She underwrote one-third of the cost of the invitation among other
contributions as a member of the Reunion Committee.
Dave Recher first made his mark as a center and largest lineman on
the Niles football team. Walking on at the University of Iowa, he received a
scholarship his sophomore year and became the starting center. Additionally, he
was the long snapper for punts and extra points as well as playing nose guard on
defense making honorable-mention all-conference Big Ten in his senior year.
Because of a knee issue, he was not drafted by the pros, signing instead as a free
agent with the Philadelphia Eagles where the legendary Jim Ringo took Dave under
his wing. By the end of camp, he was the second string center as well as forming the
wedge on the special team for kick-off. As such he was integral to the NFL record
set by Tim Brown when he returned two kick-offs for touchdowns in the same
game. Dave played three more years, becoming the starter in his last year when
Ringo retired. Then, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Dave was clipped,
with the result being a torn Achilles tendon. He tried to come back after surgery and
as a Minnesota Viking, but could not overcome the injury. The Vikings went on to
Super Bowl IV that year. Returning to Chicago, he began a new career by joining
Eastman Radio as a national sales representative selling commercial advertising to
radio stations countrywide. For the next 18 years, he occupied a variety of sales and
management roles with Eastman both in Chicago and New York. When the company
was sold, he became Vice President and General Manager of WHDH/WBOS radio, in
Boston which carried both the Boston Celtics and Bruins games. He then held the
same job in New York City for WABC Radio. In 1994, he moved to Buffalo as VP/GM
of Empire Sports Network, and then in 1998 to Phoenix where he rejoined ABC
Radio and started the Radio Disney station. In 2003 he decided to return to
personal sales , this time with Clear Channel Broadcasting as an account manager
for eight radio stations. That is where he remains today. Dave first married in 1967.
Before divorcing in 1989, he and his wife had three children-- Tim, Brian and
Adrienne. In 1990, he married Camille, adding two more sons—Chris and Brad—to
his family. He now also has three grandsons. Dave has grown to love the
Southwest. “November to March I don’t have to shovel the heat!” He has had several
additional knee surgeries, but says he can’t allow that to slow him too much as he
has an 18- and a 15-year old with whom to compete.
Karen Vedder, of Carlsbad, California confesses to being “very happily
not married. I didn’t make good choices when it came to marriage, though I have
some amazing sons from my first two husbands.”(She was married three times, and
gave birth to four sons and a daughter.) Karen was engaged in her senior year, and
married in March following graduation. She also admitted that she had not been a
good student in high school, and had no strong ambitions other than to get married
and have a family. Her life in her 20’s and 30’s had many rough spots and special
challenges. Perhaps the most difficult occurred when she was divorced with her first
son, got involved in a relationship, became pregnant and the relationship ended.
When she gave birth to her daughter, Gina, she realized there was no way she could
support another child so she gave Gina up for adoption. At 40, Karen decided to
go back to school. It took her 10 years, and a host of different jobs, but by the time
she was 50 she had a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She then became a therapist,
specializing in adoption issues. She has been an active volunteer with Concerned
United Birthparents. She has served as president, editor of the organization’s
national newsletter, and facilitator of a local support group. In addition, she has
written many articles about adoption, spoken on panels at conferences, been
interviewed on television and radio and testified in Sacramento and Washington,
D.C. concerning an adoptee’s right to have his or her original birth certificate. She’s
even given a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Most important,
she has been reunited with Gina, and her grandson.
In spite of her accomplishments, Karen is not at all reluctant to be known
as Eddie Vedder’s mother. (Once into his career, her oldest son took his mother’s
maiden name.) He is the lead singer of the rock group, Pearl Jam, and this has
enabled her to get to know many noted musicians such as Neil Young, Pete
Townshend and Roger Daltrey among others. But, Karen is also quick to talk of
her other sons: Jason is a filmmaker, Chris teaches art and music in a small African
village school in Gambia, and her youngest son, Mike, has returned to school with
the goal of teaching and coaching. She revels in their accomplishments, and enjoys
life near the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, California where she walks the beaches and
surfs. She also enjoys being involved in the lives of two of her grandchildren and
looks forward to helping to care for two more in the fall. She’s also working on a
children’s book, and researching a bigamist grandfather as a second book project.
Nilehilite Redux for Sept., 2010 by Bronson Davis
Twelve months and counting until the Niles Township Class of 1961
reconvenes in all its glory. My name is Bronson Davis and I am a member of this
distinguished class. I am not self-appointed; this is not an underground newsletter.
The Reunion Committee chose me from a room full of applicants. So consider this
the semi-accurate, official voice of your reunion. Its purpose is to build momentum,
enthusiasm and wild-eyed anticipation so that you arrive, running through the doors
of the Standard Club one year from now to embrace your classmates. We also seek
transparency; you will see this reunion being built from the inside. No Chicago
cabals here. And you can even have input. So I hope you will rejoice monthly when
you see Nilehilite Redux in your in-box This newsletter is designed to
augment information on the website.
The Big Gamble: The Reunion Committee rejected at the outset the white
bread, suburban reunion we have done a number of times before, and which the
Class of 1960 is doing October 1. The Committee, made up of 36 classmates spread
across the nation, sees our class as mellowing, urban sophisticates. What’s more,
downtown Chicago is a happening place. My wife and I stayed there for a week this
summer, and had a splendid time: Navy Pier, Millennium Park, architectural tour on
the river, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute, Second City, a Cubs
ballgame, and Garrett’s caramel corn. What could be better! The problem with this
exciting prospect is that it is a bit more costly than the suburban variety. And, the
Committee is hoping to make this into a two-day affair with a number of different
events. (Think destination wedding.)
The structure of the weekend: You sign-in Friday afternoon, and walk into
an ice breaker, designed by Iris Daglas and myself, that will perhaps showcase
classmates and get conversation going at a level higher than cocktail chatter. Friday
night’s buffet dinner might be structured by the grammar school you attended.
Saturday is largely left open to you to enjoy downtown Chicago though those who
play golf will have an opportunity to tee it up at Harborside International Golf
Center, a links course developed along the lake several years ago. This will be the Ira
Berger Invitational, named for its founder and organizer. Then Saturday night is the
big finale dinner.
Costs and Gifting: The costs were originally projected to be as high as $200 a
person for the whole shebang (not including the golf or alcohol at the dinners). Also
there is to be a reduced price should you wish to come only for the Saturday night
dinner, but that price is in flux as well. The Committee has been whittling down
these numbers, largely by analyzing the costs and then having class members agree
to underwrite certain parts of the reunion. You can see how this is working on the
home page of the website where the gift opportunities are listed as well as the gifts
made to date. We have received $3,155 in cash gifts, plus in kind pledges to cover
the costs of our website, our audio-visual and sound projection needs, and the
eulogies DVD. If you would like to make a gift to the reunion you can make your
check to The Niles Township High School Reunion, and send it to Mitch Melamed,
269 Sylvan Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Be sure to review the splendid website for the
most up to date information.
What ever happened to…..This will be an on-going section of each
newsletter in which I provide some information on particular classmates as a way of
giving you even more reasons to want to be part of this grand reunion weekend.
I have to cheat this issue because Keith is leaving town and needs the copy to send to
you all. So I am simply profiling classmates I have seen in the last 18 months and
generally kept up with through the years. Bill Fisher A graduate of Ball State University, was best man in my wedding, and pursued
a corporate career first with American Airlines where his favorite position was head of their
assessment center. He moved to Bank of America, again concentrating on the human
resources area. Bill worked for the bank seven years, three of which were spent in
Japan. He then worked with several small computer firms before retiring early. He
and his first wife have two sons, and he now has five grandchildren. Bill may have
the record in our class for the number of times married, four! I have known and liked
all his wives. In fact, I have attended Fisher family fests twice in the last year
together with both his first and his fourth wives, and his third wife lives two blocks
from me in Fort Worth. He and Judy, his fourth wife, built a marvelous home in San
Miquel de Allende, Mexico where Bill loves to play golf and work on his
Tod Wise Graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and
came back to Chicagoland for a teaching career at Chute Middle School in Evanston.
He taught physical education for 34 years while also coaching gymnastics, girls
volleyball and girls softball at Evanston High School. He purchased Niles Township
Coach Mike Skuban’s campgrounds in Minong, Wisconsin, some 50 miles Southwest
of Duluth, Minnesota, Each summer for a decade he and his wife, Mary Jo, ran camps
there. They have three children and five grandchildren, all boys. They moved
permanently to Minong in 2003, and built a home on the site of the camp. In his
retirement, he is coaching the Northwood High School girls volleyball team, and last
year the team won its first regional in school history. Jim and Bonny Stevens Boosales live in Palm Harbor, Florida. Bonny is in the Niles Class of ’60, and she
graduated from Beloit College. Jim graduated from Columbia University and got his
MBA from the University of Chicago. His rise up the corporate ladder was meteoric,
serving as vice president of the game and toy company, Parker Brothers, at the age
of 26. (The boss asked him to grow a moustache so he would look older.) He went on
to be the president of a variety of companies including Fun Dimensions, a company
that owned Lionel Trains among other properties, Fisher-Price International in
Maidenhead, England, and Foot Joy Shoes. In retirement, Jim and fellow classmate,
Dick Isel worked together on a healthcare company, Sterile Recovery Incorporated.
Dick eventually left the firm, but Jim actually became the company’s chief finance
officer for a period, and he is still actively involved on their board. Jim and Bonny
have two children. Iris Daglas like many women in our class, has had a varied and
interesting career. She graduated with a degree in English and education from
Southern Illinois University. After marrying, she moved to St. Louis where she
taught English and social studies in the Bayless Consolidated School District for four
years. She and her husband then moved to San Diego, where she worked as co-
director of a school for autistic children and earned a master’s degree in education
from San Diego State University. In 1975, she and her husband started their family,
eventually having two sons. In 1986 Iris and her husband divorced, and she began a
new career in human resources first with the City of Los Angeles for five years, and
then with the Boeing Company for eleven years. Her last work involvement was with
a start-up pharmaceutical in San Diego.
She retired in 2006, and has been traveling around the globe ever since. The
day I spoke with her she was taking off for two weeks in Amsterdam and points
beyond. Fred and Jackie Kofoed Denkman are another Niles Township couple, who made it to the altar, marrying in 1965. Fred went to the Merchant MarineAcademy, and then served three years in the Coast Guard in New Orleans. He began law school in the evenings at Loyola University Law School, and continued when he worked for Avondale Ship Yards for two years. In 1970 he graduated and began
a law practice in maritime and admiralty law. He stayed in that field for 20 years,
spending 19 in New Orleans, and one in Philadelphia. He and Jackie and their three
boys then moved to Roswell, Georgia, and he changed his practice to wills and trust
work. Jackie graduated from DePauw University, taught school for 20 years, and
then ran Fred’s law office for a decade in Roswell. She retired, but Fred carries on
with 40 years now in practice. Fred and Jackie have six grandchildren…..And, that’s
our first issue. If you have any questions or suggestions, I am at Bronko43@att.net.
October, 2010 edition
Eleven months to glory. I hope your fall has begun well and that you’re
mentally making your plans for the Standard Club and downtown Chicago in
September of 2011. President Barack Obama complicated the Reunion Committee’s
September meeting, when he had one the same evening in downtown Chicago, and a
number of committee members could not physically make the reunion confab.
Nevertheless, progress was made. Ken Norgan, Marsha Silverman Serlin, and Lou
Hilfman agreed to cover the costs of printing, graphics and postage. (Many thanks
for that!) Bob Selby attended the Class of ’60 reunion, and picked up ideas and
suggestions for improving our experience. (Others of you out there might have also
attended the reunion because you had a spouse in the class. Your suggestions and
observations are welcome.)
Plans continue to call for a DJ on Saturday night, but the emphasis will be on a
low-key impresario so classmates can better socialize. There is continuing
enthusiasm for having a grammar school organizational setting for Friday, and there
could be an a’ cappella, doo-wop group performing. The plan is to mail out the
invitation and questionnaire on December 31. The Committee has gotten the price
down to $190, but gifts could lower that number. So if you’re contemplating a gift to
help offset the costs, do it soon. Keith Anderson is seeking nearby hotel possibilities
as the Standard Club is filling up.
I, and by extension, the committee, was taken to task for not being more
sensitive to the costs and thereby accessibility to the reunion for all classmates. My
argument continues to be that we want to make this a very attractive event as our
classmates are spread across the nation and to come 1,000 miles or more for a three-
hour dinner doesn’t compute well. With Downtown Chicago as a setting and three or
four events spread over two days, this should be fun even if you didn’t like anyone in
the class. What’s more, the cost issue has been flagged and classmates have known
for more than a year that this reunion will require some dollars.
Breaking the ice, elevating the experience: Iris Daglas and I are trying to
come up with an opening Friday afternoon event that would get us talking to one
another about “real stuff” and not just cocktail chatter with the circles of friends we
hung out with 50 years ago. There is a Chinese curse that goes something like “May
you live in interesting times,” though on checking Wikipedia, I discovered it’s
probably not Chinese; the only thing like it is ”It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful
time than be a man in a chaotic time.” Chaos and change certainly marked our 50
years. Three groups participated in what can best be characterized as a social
revolution: African Americans, gays and women. As far as I know, we had no African
Americans in our class, and I am sure we had gays but they are not identified as such
in the yearbook, but we have lots of interesting women. The pill, changes in the
workplace, Title 9, Affirmative Action, abortion, child rearing practices and many
other such programs, social developments and political issues changed the playing
field for women. Some in our class were able to be stay-at-home moms and civic
volunteers like their mothers, but many others had careers out of choice or out of
necessity. As one friend told me, “the difference between me being solidly in the
middle class or not, is my wife’s job.” Yet, in a research paper on happiness among
men and women, it was discovered that women have become less happy over the
last few decades in spite of significant economic, educational and social progress. Do
the combined job and family expectations for women today, leave many less than
fully satisfied? We thought it would be interesting to find three of our female
classmates who have lived this reality, and have them talk for 10 minutes each about
the special challenges and dynamics of their lives. This could be followed by a
general discussion, including implications for our granddaughters.
Since Iris and I both left the country in September, we have not had a chance
to talk. We are looking for other topics that might lend themselves to such
discussion. I once did one on Vietnam with a college reunion group; it was
fascinating but politics has become incredibly volatile so we don’t think we will go in
that direction. Obviously, not everyone is going to jump into these “icebreaker”
discussions, but our belief is that enough will so that it will possibly change the
character or tenor of the reunion. If you have ideas, send them our way.
Fame and celebrity: I remember driving out West toward Wauconda in a
car caravan shortly before graduation. We arrived at what was supposed to be some
fun event, but memory fails me as to what it was. I just remember a dazzling June
evening and Del Shannon singing Runaway. I also recall looking at my assembled
classmates and concluding what a great group of people made up the Class
of ’61. “This must be the greatest class to ever walk across a graduation stage,” I
thought to myself. In spite of my wild optimism, we have not yet had anyone write
the great American novel, win a Nobel Prize or be elected governor or senator
(though given the fate of Illinois governors that might be a good thing.) I know Dave
Recher played center for more than four years with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the
only time you know the center’s name is if he screws up, and Dave never did. Then I
recall cheering Bob Zender on as he competed in a PGA tournament, but in those
days golfers didn’t make anywhere near the living they do now, and he decided he
could do better in stocks and bonds. We had a near miss with Jim Hart, who played
football for 12 years with the St. Louis Cardinal football team, but he is in the Class
of ’62 and graduated from Niles West. Those of us at Lincoln Hall remember the ice
skating Wayne sisters, Carol and Nina, but then they went off to a different high
school. Carol, did achieve much more than her 15 minutes of celebrity as a regular
on the Johnny Carson Show, made several movies and appeared in Playboy before
her tragic death in 1985. Perhaps there are others who did make People Magazine
and/or the national media scene. Am I missing someone? It appears we seem to
have done the right thing in living lives on which a healthy society depends, and in
producing like-minded offspring who will carry the load when we get old and tired.
Good question to be answered at reunions: The quote I have probably
used more than any other is that of the French philosopher and novelist, Albert
Camus: “People only change in novels.” What do you think?
What ever happened to…..Howard Moldofsky, who has been president of
the Printers Guild, a North side Chicago organization of companies in the printing
industry, and is also the publisher of the TONIC newsletter for eight years, had some
great ideas for improving this newsletter, none of which I followed. This is primarily
because retirement has produced its own chaos, particularly when I lost my
secretary, a role my wife unexplainably refuses to play. The first two issues of this
newsletter have been produced on the fly, but if I ever do get control of my life and
implement some well thought out changes to this newsletter than credit them to
Howard. Howard went to Roosevelt University, majoring in marketing with a minor
in psychology. He started an MBA at Roosevelt, but left before completing it to teach
the fourth grade in the Chicago Public School system for two years for the princely
sum of $5,200. He then followed his interest in marketing, working for several
manufacturing firms before deciding he was an entrepreneur at heart. He started a
remodeling company in 1975, and then bought a small printing company a year
later. The name of the company is Howlan Inc, and he has been operating it for 35
years. Over the years he acquired another company, and built a manufacturing plant
in Wheeling where the company tripled in size. He has been married 45 years to
Myra, and they have two children and five grandchildren. Howard is helping with
the reunion….Another reunion committee member is Alice Thorsen Kassen,
who provided me the Reader’s Digest version of her life since Niles. She graduated from
Northern Illinois University with a Public Speaking major combining a lot of work in
Theater and English. She taught at three different levels, high school, junior high and
preschool in the Chicago area, but was delighted to be a stay at home mom for many
years, while also volunteering at school and church. She has been married to Frank
Kassen for 45 years, and they have two daughters and two grandsons. Alice claims
her favorite activities to be tennis, swimming, and walking, but her passion is
traveling and she has seen much including, the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of
Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, wild animals on a safari in Africa, the Amazon on a
cruise exploring the rain forest, the temples of Thailand and Ankor Wat in
Three months to glory: Only summer lies between you and reunion with the grand Class of ’61 on a splendid September weekend full of promise in downtown Chicago. How can you resist? My old bones are tingling in anticipation, on reflection, perhaps we should banish the word “old” from our deliberations. This is our second, third, or fourth childhood, depending on how successfully we have progressed through the years, and how many comebacks we have had to engineer. But all that is behind us, we will have triumphed! We are on the right side of the grass, sitting up and taking nourishment! That’s enough to celebrate right there.
Show me the Money! That is a fund-raiser’s maxim, but it also is critical to Reunion Committees. It is not until committee members have your deposit in hand that they can feel confident of your showing up. So relieve their anxiety and anchor your place with the appropriate charge of $190 a person for the weekend. If you have paid by July 1 you become eligible for a $50 prize. The drawing will take place on Friday of the reunion.
Do-Wop is out. Karaoke is in. Cheerleaders will attempt a comeback. Fourteen members of the Reunion Committee met at Mitch Melamed’s house in May, and welcomed new member, Linda Karlov Rashkow. Much time was spent reviewing the schedule and the menus. Friday night begins with registration and pre-dinner drinks at 6 p.m. A buffet dinner follows from 7-9. It was decided to cut the Do-Wop group on Friday night since there seemed to be more than enough entertainment. Ron Hauser will hold court on the Karaoke Stage from 9-10:30. Memorabilia tables will be set up around the dining room.
On Saturday the formal activities begin again at 6 p.m. when registration will take place then for those only attending Saturday. I reported some of this in the last issue. The Selby Twins will be moderating the evening for us. The Fourth Estate D.J. will provide the music. Again, there will be lots of fun stuff happening, but certainly one of the highlights will be when Karen Stryker Boyesen, Nancy Dell’aringa Samuelson, Pat Paul Lieder, and possibly Sue Hansen Chapman will do round-offs and back handsprings as they lead us in the Nilehi Fight song. The question to ponder in anticipation: can they still slip into those cheerleading outfits? For that matter, can any of us fit into anything we wore when we were 18?
JUNE, 2011 EDITION
May’s Redux gave credit to Rosanne Schiff Ball and Howard Moldofsky for their creative input in developing the reunion invitation. Credit must also go to Ken Norgan, Lou Hilfman, and Marsha Silverman Serlin for underwriting the costs of producing and mailing the invitation. Lou is providing all the audio-video requirements for the two evenings of entertainment.
Icebreakers take shape: We are starting the reunion festivities at 2:00 Friday afternoon. (This is a change designed to give those flying in more time to make it to the Standard Club.) Our hope is that these icebreakers will provide an easy slide into the weekend with conversations pitched above cocktail chatter. Two sessions are planned. The first involves Living the Social Revolution: Women in our class perhaps experienced the most dramatic changes as their lives unfolded during the last 50 years. In 1961 they had little reason to believe their lives would be very different from their mothers. In fact, their roles, expectations, and opportunities changed in profound ways. Three of our classmates, Pat Paul Lieder, Pamela Engstrom Harper and Roseanne Schiff Ball reflect on their own experiences as they moved through the changing reality for women in the last 50 years. Following the presentations, we expect lively discussion.
The second icebreaker involves a reality we all face: our mortality. Insurance tables tell us that if we make it to 68, 16 more years are projected for each of us.
There are no guarantees, but there is a decent possibility we will make 84, and some of us will go well beyond 2027. After all, the fastest growing age cohort is “centurion.” Within the next month, my intention is to recruit in the next month, 12 of our classmates to tell us in five minutes each, what they plan to do with their 16 years. Do they have a bucket list? Do they have nostrums to guide them as they attempt to push the envelope, and squeeze every meaningful moment out of their remaining days? Do they hit the gym five days a week, and chart their body fat? Do they still harbor ambitions: To take that company to the Big Board, to write the Great American Novel, to touch down in all the states of the union, to watch a ballgame in every major league park, to shoot their age in golf, and/or to assemble their family’s history and write a memoir.
Class Profiles: Jim Miresse admits to a slow start on both his career and his adult years. “I was immature in college, majoring mostly in fraternity.” Winning a wrestling scholarship at the University of Iowa, he decided once there not to keep it. He spent four years in Iowa City, and left without his degree. He secured a slot in the Illinois Air National Guard, which introduced him to flying: a passion that he turned into a business later in his career. His big break came with an opportunity to become a John Nuveen investment broker where he was the first Catholic hired by the Baptist firm. He found he had a natural talent for selling tax-free municipal and government bonds, primarily to banks and insurance companies. He did extremely well, working for a number of firms, and even opened his own firm for a short time. He also became interested in restaurants and eventually acquired five. He actually left the bond business for several years to pursue his restaurants interests, but eventually returned to investments. In 1977, Merrill Lynch acquired the firm he was with just as he was approached by Interstate Securities to open an Atlanta branch
office. He accepted the challenge, growing the office to 50 brokers by the time Wachovia bought Interstate in 1987.
Jim married an Eastern Flight Attendant, and they had two daughters before the marriage broke up. (Both children are now teachers, and he has three grandchildren.) He then married a woman he first hired as a bond saleswoman, who went on to have a successful career in the securities business. Cheryl and Jim have now been married for 30 years.
When Interstate was acquired he sold his interests in the business. He continued his relationship to flying by buying and selling planes, and transformed this into a regular enterprise by acquiring a flying school, and establishing a Cessna Service Center and a business refurbishing planes in Macon, Georgia in 1987. Cheryl ran the school and Jim concentrated on the plane business. They built a campus with living quarters for the students in the 18-month course. They ran the three different corporations for more than a decade before selling and retiring to Hilton Head. In the last three years they moved back to Atlanta to care for Cheryl’s parents. Even in retirement Jim can’t remain idle. He has started a small e-commerce business out of his house, focused on GPS systems.
He still marvels at the transformation of Nilehi athletics by the time we became seniors. His older brother also participated in sports at Niles, and so Jim was familiar with Niles’ struggles on the athletic fields in its first years in the highly competitive Suburban League. He takes great pleasure in reflecting on the successes we enjoyed in baseball, wrestling, and football among other sports. He wishes there was some way we could celebrate that achievement at the reunion.
Rosalie Barbera Spajda and her friends were not as enthusiastic about Nilehi athletics, referring to the jocks and cheerleaders in high school as Harveys and Harrietts. She had little time for extracurricular activities at Niles as she worked part-time jobs at Old Orchard. “I got paid back for the fun we had joking about the jocks and cheerleaders, as I had three boys and all of them were good athletes at Maine West.” She spent many an afternoon and evening at their games. She even has a granddaughter, who won a basketball scholarship to the University of Rhode Island. Rosalie was married in December after her Nilehi graduation to Ronald Hackbarth, who had been called into the Army during the Cuban missile crisis. Consequently, her first son, Michael, was born in Tacoma, Washington, where they were stationed. Sons, Scott and Jeff, were born in Des Plaines, where she lives today. Her marriage to Hackbarth lasted 14 years, was married to John Spadja for 16 years, and had a third relationship lasting eight years. The latter was noteworthy for a shared interest in dancing. They belonged to the Windy City Jitterbug Club, and danced three nights a week. She still remains good friends with John Spadja, with whom she recently made a driving trip to Alaska. Rosalie’s 32-year career was with Jewel Foods, starting as a receptionist in the corporate offices, and rising to executive assistant to a senior vice president. She worked there for 32 years. She retired in 2007, and now is a busy volunteer. She reads to young children at her local library, and works with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, a commitment she began while at Jewel. She loves to travel and avidly follows the adventures of her eight grandchildren.
May, 2011 Editiont.
Four months to glory. Spring is here in all its majesty, and in Texas, with all
its attendant dangers in the form of grass fires and tornadoes. But, no flooding since
rain has been rare as rocking horse droppings in these parts. Up in Chicago,
however, there was lots of activity in anticipation of the grand reunion. Our
esteemed leader returned from California and the Committee fired up. They
discussed adding an optional brunch at the Standard Club on Sunday morning. They
settled on the dress code: Friday night will be casual, and Saturday night business
casual. The Decorations Committee has begun to accumulate lots of memorabilia,
but more is welcome. Ten people have signed up for the Ira Berger Invitational on
The events begin Friday with a sign-in, and the two ice-breaker sessions
from 1:30 to 4:30. There will be passed appetizers and a buffet dinner and dessert
Friday evening, followed by a sing along with Ron Hauser, recreating those glorious
sounds of the 50’s and 60’s. Saturday is open for the golf tournament and whatever
else folks want to do. No organized tours, its free lance for everyone. The dinner
Saturday evening will be a sit-down affair, hosted by the inimitable Bob and Dick
Selby, our own version of the Smothers Brothers. There will be a DJ for dancing.
Emil Lazar is developing a eulogy DVD for those of our classmates who have died.
It will run on a continuous loop at the side of the room.
Hats off to Rosanne Schiff Ball for developing the invitation and flyer, and to
Howard Moldofsky for working with the design, printing, stuffing and mailing the
invitations. (If you haven’t gotten one, it’s not intentional. The computer did it, or
didn’t do it. But, let Keith know, and we will send you one forthwith.) If you haven’t
sent in your money yet; it would be wise to hurry since who knows how long our
currency will be good.
Life in the Niles Township Diaspora: Where is your sense of place? One
of the fascinating aspects of this reunion and all the demographic data that Keith
Anderson has assembled is how many classmates have migrated to the other 49
states. The Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman observed in 1979 that
Americans may not have changed at all over the last 300 years, that our pioneers left
relationships, home, and family for opportunity and that we are still doing that,
continually abandoning what we know for a chance, though that chance may now be
emotional or psychic. “We are what we have always been,” she wrote, “a nation of
leavers.” Of course, there is also the fact that once we learned that climate is not
necessarily something that must be endured--that it actually can be enjoyed all year
round-- may also have been an incentive for departure. Yet, do those of us in the
hinterlands feel a “sense of place” for our adopted homelands? Fifteen years ago on
one of my visits back, I drove down Oakton in Downtown Skokie, and in a quick scan
I could not identify one business that I recognized from the time I lived just off that
street in 1957-58. The high school building is gone; three of the four houses I called
home in Skokie and Lincolnwood are still there, but I don’t know any of the people
living in them. I have now lived in Fort Worth 20 years, and I have to believe I will
end my days here. It is a great town, and I have wonderful friends, nearly all of
whom are from other states, a splendid church and I have been involved in many
organizations and contributed to making this a better place. We have an expression
in Texas: “I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could.” That would be the last
thing I would ever say because the values of this state are largely not mine. I am a
Midwesterner perched on the edge of the Great Plains. I believe it was a significant
advantage to grow up where I did, when I did, and I am always proud to say I am a
native of Chicago.
Class of ’61 Profiles: Miriam (Mimi) Rothman Pockross has done lots of different
things in her 50 years, and one of them is write. She now lives in Denver and Vail,
and I will let her tell her own story: “I have led a very nomadic life mostly with my
husband of forty-six years. Pretty much I've adjusted to his meanderings and along
the way I've had some wonderful experiences. Initially I attended Indiana
University with the intent of becoming an actress. After I realized I was limited in
talent and that I didn't adapt well to sorority life, I transferred to the University of
Illinois in search of myself and, as most women did in my day, of a suitable
husband. My husband and I met the week after I transferred and married in August
of 1965. From that point on, it was a series of adventures that took us from
Washington D.C. back to Champaign-Urbana to Park Forest, to Evanston, to
Highland Park and ultimately to Denver and onto to Vail.
Along the way, I taught speech and English for six and a half years, went back
to Northwestern for a master's in radio, TV and film, then worked at CBS as a coffee
girl and then as an assistant producer for the Lee Philip Show until I retired to have
two great boys. It wasn't long before I realized that after eight and a half years of
marriage without kids it would be impossible not to work. Thus began my own
meanderings as a public relations/marketing type person, first in Highland Park
where I was living and then in Denver. In 1984 I opened a southwestern art gallery
in Cherry Creek, which is Denver's version of Michigan Avenue (not very close, but
hey!) I owned the gallery for 11 years and one day one of my customers came in
and offered to buy it. I sold it in 1995 and have since gone through a series of
reinventions, not the least of which was the self-publication of a book on my retail
experience entitled Shopping for a Living: A Memoir of Merging Marriage,
Motherhood and Merchandising." It's available on Amazon.com and on Barnes and
Noble.com. I know Keith Anderson described it as how I navigated ‘the big bad
corporate world,’ but really I wrote it to help anyone figure out how to navigate the
circumstances dealt them and also a little bit about to run a small business.
Today I am very content to wind down, and spend time with my husband, my
kids and their spouses, my grandchildren, and my elderly parents (90 and 95!) who
will be moving to Denver this week. I can't give up writing, though. I will always
continue to work at it. Right now I'm contemplating a book about eldercare and I'm
writing a novel about my mom who came to America from Germany in 1938.”
Gari-Sue Greene of Tucson, AZ sent me the following note entitled: You Look
Just the Same—I Would Have Recognized You Anywhere! I heard this at our 30th
Nilehi class reunion. Then I went into the powder room, took a look and thought
people were just nuts. Was it so easy for them to recognize me? I saw the lines, the
body and wondered which ophthalmologist I should send them to.
Our 50th is approaching and I’m so excited to be going, mostly because I’m
alive and looking forward to the nostalgia. But, am I the same? Have I made it? If so,
what exactly does it mean for me. For me, it means I am unencumbered by what
most people have, need or want.
I’ve become more simplistic as I age. Things that were important years ago
are just signs of the passages I’ve made. I am blessed.
Three husbands and 34 years later I am still madly in love with the man I
married. I still get that tickly feeling when he walks in the room. He still writes me love
letters and buys me flowers and he has been faithful.
We have two sons both live in Tucson about 10 minutes from us. They are
happy and healthy. No grandchildren yet, but they’re on their own timetable not
mine. I just say it would be nice to have them before Alzheimer’s sets in so I know
who they belong to.
We sold our home just in time, live modestly in a three-bedroom apartment
and have great neighbors. The only thing we own are our timeshares and two cars.
I’m lucky; I bought a 2003 Honda Civic EX from the little old lady from
Pasadena, a cherry for sure with 38K miles on it. It has all the bells and whistles and
gets 35 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway; great for getting away to our place in
On a more personal note, I survived, no recovered from anal cancer. I say
proudly, recovered, not in remission. I chose to do chemo and radiation at the same
time. Worst months of my life, but I am alive, with family and living each day with a
new and revived sense of life.
I owe nothing to anyone. Debt free and living within my means, adored by a
wonderful man, healthy and feeling great. I haven’t had any surgery on any body
parts. I’m still all me. Yes, wrinkles, you bet, but I’ve earned every one of them.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and say, “Gari-Sue, you couldn’t be cuter if you tried.”
I hope you look in the mirror and feel exactly the same. I’ll see you in
September and guess what? You might not recognize me, but I wear glasses so wear
your nametags proudly.
Marshall Claassen went off to the University of Missouri for his
undergraduate education where he earned a degree, majoring in journalism and
psychology. Naval ROTC took him into the military. He trained in Washington, D.C.
among other stops before doing a tour of duty in Vietnam. He came out of the Navy
and went into corporate life for 23 years, specializing in human resources. He was
HR director for the music company, Lyon-Healey, which was part of the musical
instrument division of CBS, Inc. He also was HR director for a division of Beatrice
Foods, and was in charge of professional staffing at CF Industries, a Fortune 300
Company. He then fulfilled a long-time dream of having his own company so in 1988
he started a temporary and permanent employment service called Express
Personnel Services. It was focused on Lake and Cook Counties and had offices in
Vernon Hills, Palatine and Arlington Heights. He sold the company in 2006, and
retired. He met his wife of 37 years, Nan, while on assignment with Honeywell in
Boston. They have a son, Walt and a daughter, Kate. In retirement, Marshall and Nan
love to travel, and when home pursue hobbies such as fly-fishing, scuba diving and
golf. He also likes to ride a motorcycle, and he and his son are planning a
circumvention of Lake Michigan in May.
Rochelle Laskov Freeman-Zuniga was an early enthusiast for this 50th
reunion, initiating some of the first queries on Classmates.com, and she has tried to
help as best she can from her adopted home of more than 30 years, San Diego.
Rochelle has had a full career in the healthcare field, first as a medical technologist.
She is a graduate of the Cook County Graduate School of Medicine in that field. She
did 10 years of clinical work at American (now Thorek Memorial), Bethesda
Belmont and Forkosh Hospitals all in Chicago. She then worked in a lab doing
research and development for the Salk Institute prior to the release of the mumps
vaccine. Rochelle’s next move was to become a sales and service coordinator/
educator for the Damon Corporation—Laboratory Division, and subsequently
branched out as the sales and service representative for the Foster-Western
Laboratory, running the nursing home and doctor office division. Her emigration
from Chicago was prompted by a vacation she took to her sister’s place in San Diego
in 1978. (Her sister had moved there the previous year.) Rochelle got a job in a
private clinical lab there, and then moved to Sharp Memorial Hospital Laboratory as
an educator and technologist. She worked at Sharp for 15 years, and while there she
went back to school and became an electrologist (which is someone who removes
hair by electric current). She opened her own business, New Image Electrolysis, in
1985, and did both jobs for a period. She then had a bout with cancer, and decided
to limit herself to working only in her business, which she continues to do though
she has further limited her workload in recent years. Rochelle was married the first
time from 1964 to 1969, and she remarried Jorge Zuniga in 1992. Jorge brought a
family with him, two children and seven grandchildren, and now there are seven
great grandchildren as well. He’s a fifth degree Black Belt, and teaches both
Nilehilite Redux Feb. March Edition
Seven months to glory. I got slammed this month, and I am barely getting this out in February. I hope your ground hog brought good news, and you’re moving into March boldly like a lion and not a lamb. Check your mailbox carefully this week as the invitation to the reunion along with a questionnaire should appear. Also, continue to check your attic and scrapbooks for Nilehi memorabilia. My initial quest yielded a Niles Trojan pennant, the Senior Issue of the Nilehilite, and a Homecoming program from our senior year.
The Ira Berger Invitational Golf Tournament will take place Saturday morning of the reunion at 10 a.m. The South Side links course was not available to us so the tournament will be played at Chevy Chase Golf Club in Wheeling. The cost is $65 with cart! Don’t worry about registering yet. If you’re a player—man or woman--bring your sticks!
What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you gave or received? That query received some interesting responses. Three involved the Vietnam War. Jim Fung, of Slatington, PA, received his favorite Valentine gift from Uncle Sam. Jim was released from his three-year commitment to the Marine Corps, the final year in Vietnam, one day early on February 11, 1969….For Dick Masek, of Louisville, CO his most memorable Valentine’s Day took place in Tokyo, Japan when he had a special reunion with his wife, Sandy, after six months in the jungles of Vietnam….For me, it was Valentine’s Day in 1967. The wooing of my wife, Cathie, was primarily through correspondence as I was in the Army’s language school in Washington, D.C. and she was teaching school in Glen Ellyn. I proposed marriage in a Valentine’s letter, and called her on the day to get her answer…..Barb Neimar Bergwerf of the Isle of Palms, South Carolina hit it big on Valentine’s Day 1979 when she received a vintage, cream-colored Mercedes SL convertible….For Paul Kamensky of Denver, his best Valentine’s gift comes every year in having his wife at his side….And, my favorite entry comes from Rosanne Schiff Ball of Hilton Head. In her own words, “I hired a limo, got a hotel room, wine, etc. I had the driver go to my husband’s office, called his secretary to tell him to come outside, and I was waiting in the limo with a coat on and that’s about all. Needless to say, he was happy to leave work early that day!”
Of Mascots, school colors and elementary schools! I know you have been biting your finger nails and wracking your brains trying to answer last month’s quiz concerning the school colors and the mascots of the various elementary schools that fed into Niles Township. The intrepid duo of Marilyn Lees Reinish and Heloise Corman Nathan, co-chairs of Decorating and Food, have tracked down the answers for all the schools except Sharp Corner, which has been closed down as an elementary school for perhaps 20 years. Here are the rest: Lincoln Hall--Jaguars, red and gray, Lincolnwood; Cleveland School--Hornets, purple and white, Skokie; Lincoln School--Spartans, royal blue and gold, Skokie; East Prairie--Panthers, blue and white, Skokie; Fairview--Falcons, green and white, Skokie; Golf School: Cardinals, red and white, Morton Grove; and Niles Elementary: Spike and Cody Bull Dogs, red and white, Niles. (What is a Spike and Cody Bull Dog?) Marilyn and Heloise even found the parochial schools: Queen of All Saints—Bulldogs, blue and gold, Chicago, (but is the parish for Lincolnwood); Niles Lutheran School—Eagles, purple and white; St. Lambert—Lions, red and white, Skokie; St. Martha’s—Wildcats, red and white, Morton Grove; St. Peter’s—Spartans, royal blue and white, Skokie; and Parkview—Warriors, blue and yellow, Morton Grove. That leaves Sharp Corner still unresolved, but this is new information for me. I now know my complete pedigree, and can rest easy. I have been a Jaguar, a Spartan, a Trojan, a Tiger, and a Commodore.
Rosanne Schiff Ball went off to Bradley University to major in primary education, and when she student taught she discovered she didn’t enjoy spending all day with little children. So her first job was working for the Peoria Journal Star, writing and filing obituaries. She had married her first husband in her junior year, and their first child came in 1965, when she became a stay-at-home mom though very active on the volunteer circuit. Her second child was born in 1968, and she and her husband were transferred to Albany and then Buffalo, NY. When the children were both in school, the marriage dissolved and Rosanne went to work as the publicity director for Hospice Buffalo. This led her into special event and meeting planning for which she learned she had special talents. She eventually opened her own firm and stayed in the field for more than 20 years. She managed events of all sizes, from 50 people all the way to 80,000. In 1976, she married John Ball, who was a test pilot, and they have been happily together for 35 years. They decided to retire early, and moved to Hilton Head where Rosanne by happenstance started a new career that began with her helping people with their computer problems. It evolved into website development, one-on-one software training, and repairing and installing computers and networks. She also became very involved in playing tennis and golf, and ended up winning the South Carolina USTA senior state championship as part of a doubles team in 2007. Then the same year she also made a hole-in-one! She is president of the Country Club of Hilton Head Tennis Association and does other volunteer work on the Island. She and her husband also enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren in Ohio….
Ira Berger also went to Bradley University and earned a degree in the Liberal Arts. He started a title insurance company—Investors Title Guarantee--in 1967, selling it in 2000. He tried retirement for two years, and nearly went crazy. So he jumped back into the business as president of Sterling Title Services, which is owned by a large local realtor in Chicago, Prudential Rubloff. Ira’s been married twice, and has twin daughters, two stepchildren, and seven grandchildren. Ira and his wife, Barbara, live in the Gold Coast area of downtown Chicago, and take full advantage of their location to attend theatre, opera and the symphony performances. Ira’s passion is travel, and he has journeyed throughout the world. He is a dedicated White Sox fan, and loves to play golf….Jim Fung distinguished himself at Niles as the extra point kicker on the football team and as a wrestler on the team that took second in state. He went to Wright Junior College, and worked in the postal service before going into the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1969. His first job after military service was as a cable company technician while attending night school learning about computers. He then became a field service engineer for Honeywell, working on mainframes, and later took a position as a field service engineer for Elscint, Inc., servicing CAT scanning machines. He continues to service CAT scanning machines for Philips Healthcare, and lives in Slatington, near Allentown, PA. He has been married to Barbara, for 46 years, and they have one son and two grandsons. Golf is his second job, one he loves very much, but complains that it doesn’t love him….Paul Kamensky earned his B.S. in chemistry and biology from the University of Illinois, and then acquired a master’s degree in biochemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He moved to Denver at the end of 1966, and then matriculated at Marquette University’s College of Dentistry from which he graduated in 1971. He was then commissioned as an officer in the United State Public Health Service. Two years later he returned to Denver where he started a private and group dental practice, which he ran until retiring in 2000. He married in 1967, divorced in 1983, and married his wife, Jill, in 1985. They just celebrated their 25th anniversary. Paul has four children and seven grandchildren. Paul and Jill are avid flyfishers and fly tyers and travel throughout the Southwest and Northwest, seeking the perfect fishing spot. Prior to his rusty knees giving out, he and Jill spent every winter weekend skiing in Vail. Since they stopped skiing, they acquired a second home in Florida and travel back and forth with much of their time spent with their grandchildren….Richard Masek pursued a career in the air from the very beginning of his college education at Parks Aeronautical College of St. Louis University where he received his B.S. in Aeronautics. Following college, he went into the United States Air Force, serving on active duty for five years that took him to Laredo, TX, Nashville, TN, McGuire Air Base in New Jersey, Abilene, TX, and then Taiwan and Saigon. (He then spent 22 years in the Air Force Reserve at O’Hare, teaching C-130 techniques to Air Force reserve pilots. Dick retired from the Reserve as Commander of the 64th Tactical Airlift Squadron.) He flew commercially for Eastern Airlines from 1972 to 1989, when Eastern went out of business. He then flew for American Airlines from 1989 until his mandatory retirement at age 60 in 2003. Subsequently, he has taught grade school and high school as a substitute teacher and established a vacation home business for multiple ownership in condominiums around the country. Dick married his high school sweetheart, Sandy, and they have two children and two
grandchildren. He and Sandy moved to Louisville, Colorado (north of Denver) two years ago, and this has enabled them to do lots of biking, trail running and some skiing. Mostly, he loves going on adventures with his grandson such as ice fishing with cheese-its. Dick considers Colorado a wonderful hobby all unto itself…. Barbara Neimar Bergwerf headed off to George Washington University in DC for her college education, and stayed on to work for the government for a period before returning to Chicago and Skokie to work as a newspaper photographer for 12 years. She then opened a stained glass studio in Northfield, Stained Glass and More. Barb created windows for private homes, churches, synagogues and restaurants on the North Shore until 2000, when she retired and moved to South Carolina with her husband of 35 years, Ben Bergwerf. Originally from the Netherlands, Ben worked as an engineer before retiring. They moved to the Isle of Palms (a barrier island outside of Charleston). In retirement, Barb returned to photography, volunteering for the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Program at the South Carolina Aquarium. In addition to working at the aquarium, she is a member of the Island Turtle Team and the Department of Natural Resources Stranded Network. Her work has given her an opportunity to be involved in the production of two award winning children’s books: Carolina’s Story (Sea Turtles Get Sick Too!) and Turtle Summer. And, for the past five years she has created and published a sea turtle calendar, available at aquariums (including Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium). If you’re interested in her passion for the endangered sea turtle, you can check her website bergwerfgraphics.com. Meanwhile, Ben who holds a black belt in Judo, Jujitsu and Tae Kwon Do, teaches martial arts at the Citadel in Charleston. Two years ago, friends talked Barb into getting involved in community politics, so she ran and won a position on the Isle of Palms City Council.
Eight months to glory. Happy New Year. I trust the year has begun well for
you. It began in outstanding fashion for me since I was out at the Rose Bowl,
cheering hard for my beloved and undefeated Horned Frogs. Sympathies to my Bear
fan friends, but all things considered, you had a better than average fall.
The Reunion Committee swung back into action this week. Heloise
Corman Nathan and Marilyn Lees Reinish’s sub-committee on Decorating and Food,
concentrated on the Friday night event. They met with the caterer and Heloise
provided an order of battle. The event will be informal, fun-filled, think sock hop
with shoes. (The Standard Club does have standards so no jeans.) The times are still
under debate, but we know there will be cocktails available and the doors will
officially open at 7 p.m. The food sounds like great fun, but Heloise has forbidden me
to write about it. Take my word, you’ll enjoy. The music will be from the 50’s and
60’s. Heloise and her committee have needs, however, and so the word goes out.
They need memorabilia. If you have any vintage clothing: gym
clothes, letter sweater, letter jacket, other stuff from choir,
glee club, orchestra, theater, sports let her know. Dance favors,
prom memorabilia, anything from the period. Email her at
Heloisen@sbcglobal.net You can then bring your stuff with you. She
also wants photographs and if you would copy them and send them to
her that would be sensational.
Here’s a quiz, which I completely failed. The committee gave up the
idea of having us sit by elementary/junior high schools, but they
want to feature pennants that they plan to create of the schools. So
here’s the test; What was your grammar school colors and mascot?
Heloise knew Cleveland School’s colors were purple and white and
the school’s mascot was “Hornets.” Marilyn thought Lincoln Hall
was the Jaguars and she thought the colors were gray and red. What
about the mascots and colors of Golf, Sharp Corners, Lincoln School,
Fairview, Morton Grove, and others that I cannot remember. Send
your answers to Heloise, and I will publish them next month with
credit to the respondents with the correct answers.
Jan.-Feb. 2011 Nilehilite Redux
The Prequel: Conversations from on High or whatever we decide
to call the icebreaker we are planning for Friday afternoon will begin
at 1:30 in the Grill Room, which is adjacent to where we will have
the party Friday night on the Second floor. You may recall that the
first 90-minute session will deal with Social Change and the Changing
Roles of Women in the Class of ’61 or Why My Life Didn’t Turn Out
like My Mother’s. I have to work on a better title. The second 90-
minute session will concern: 16 Years to Go, What Are You Going to do
with Them? Strategies for dealing with the challenges facing us as we
live out the rest of our lives. We hope to have three speakers in each
session and lots of good discussion. More to come.
I have to confess my effort to entice our classmates to share their resolutions with
me came up a cropper. I can only surmise that the vast majority of you believe the
resolution idea is a lark. Here’s what I received: Donna Miller Hitchens of Louden,
Tennessee on the edge of the Great Smokey Mountains had the most interesting
resolution. She runs two dulcimer clubs: the Mountain Echoes with 25-38 members
and the Simply Strings with five members, and she resolves to jettison the Mountain
Echoes in 2011, and concentrate on the Simply Strings…..Denny Crosby of
Whitefish, Montana sent me a prayer: “Dear God, my prayer for 2011 is for a fat bank
account and a thin body. Please don’t mix these up like you did last year. Amen!!!!...
Pat Paul Leider of Green Valley, Arizona, and I have become pen pals. Her
Congresswomen is Gabby Giffords, and we have had some good exchanges about
that whole situation. Her resolution is to “become more involved in the community,
volunteer at Casa de Esperanza and the community food bank in Green Valley and
learn more Spanish.”…Robert Selby of Champaign, Illinois, retired professor of
architecture, wrote, “Actually, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions; I make decisions
about improving myself throughout the year as necessary. For example, whatever
time of year it is, if I’m up a few pounds above target, I go on “half rations” until I
make weight, which is usually only a few days.” But then later, he confessed one of
the delights of his retirement is travel, and he is departing next month for the Great
Barrier Reef to snorkel with stops in Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti….Noreen
Baumgartner Larres of Fresno, California also stated she did not make resolutions,
but is determined to exercise and eat more sensibly this year so she will feel better
mentally, and have more energy. I have 14 resolutions, which I won’t bore you with,
but there is a method to my madness. The most poignant statement my Dad ever
made to me was when he was 90. He said sadly, “I have no plans. I have no projects. I
have no future.” Consequently I have lots of plans, and with luck a future. Here are
three resolutions: A friend looked at all the books I own, and told me I wouldn’t read
half of them before I died. So this year my goal is to read 52 books. Secondly, I hope
to write a history of my family, and as a warm-up, I am going to do a CD that contains
the songs that when I hear them carry an event or interesting memory and write
liner notes to go with the CD. And, a third resolution that I make every year is to
again weigh what I weighed at 22. I call it the “Search for my Abs.” This year I am just
10 pounds away, and enrolled for my third round in weightwatchers.
The key question for February: What was your favorite Valentine’s gift? Let
me know and I will make you famous. Also, look for news on the Ira Berger
Invitational in February, and further details on our reunion weekend.
My conversations with Heloise Corman Nathan encouraged me to find out
something about the woman behind the committee chairmanship. Heloise went from
Niles to the University of Illinois. She married her first husband, Larry Silverstein,
whom she met at Niles in 1962, and they had their first child the next year. They
started a women’s boutique business that was in New Town; it eventually evolved
into a uniforms business. Her second child came in 1967, and when he entered the
second grade, she began to work for the First National Bank of Lincolnwood, where
she spent 25 years doing everything from assistant cashier to secretary to the
president, chairman and board of directors. She has continued to work for the Vi at
the Glen, the former family classic residences at the Hyatt, on a part-time basis. Her
first marriage ended in divorce, and then she married her children’s pediatrician, Dr.
Lester Nathan, and theirs was a very happy marriage. It ended sadly seven years ago
when he succumbed to cancer. In addition to working part-time, Heloise volunteers
at the Holocaust Museum, travels when she can, and delightfully babysits for two of
her four grandchildren who reside in Chicago.
Bob Zender and I have been threatening to get together since he does a lot of
business in Dallas. I saw his questionnaire on the website, and called to ask him
some further questions about his golf career. Bob had gone to Purdue on a golf
scholarship, and was an All American his senior year. Bob didn’t think he was good
enough to play on the pro circuit, however, though he had finished fourth in the
NCAA Championships his senior year. He was also committed to R.O.T.C., but then
back problems forced him out of the Army and a chance to command a mortar unit
with the First Infantry. (He was to lose seven fraternity brothers, who were pilots in
the Vietnam War.) He went to work in the securities business. Since he wasn’t
married he played golf after the market closed each day. He began playing in
amateur tournaments, and doing very well, winning a tournament in Pittsburgh and
finishing near the top in the U.S. Amateur. In 1969 he went on the tour, and played
for 10 years. The best he finished among money winners was 76th, and the worst
98th. He said he made $164,000 in earnings over the decade, and decided he wasn’t
getting any better. So he quit in 1979 in time to work six months in Washington, D.C.
for Ronald Reagan’s successful presidential campaign. After the election, he returned
to Chicago to resume his investment career, first with a small firm and then with
Morgan Stanley, when they had but 1100 employees. He worked there until 2003,
and then went with Merrill Lynch. He did not marry until he was 40, and he and
Cindy have two children.
I encouraged Diane Layden of Albuquerque, New Mexico to share her story
with me, and it is another interesting one. She went to the University of Illinois for
her undergraduate degree in elementary education, and then she went to Arizona
State University for her master’s degree in English Education. She was to eventually
get a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. She married
while at Arizona State, and they moved to Berkeley during the height of the Hippie
movement in 1966-67. She was teaching junior high in San Francisco, and did not
find teaching in an inner city public school very rewarding. She then had a
opportunity with the University of Guam, and that began her college teaching career.
Over a long career she taught at the University of Houston Clear Lake, the University
of Redlands in Southern California where she earned tenure, the University of New
Mexico, Santa Fe Community College, and Central New Mexico Community College
from which she hopes to retire in 2013. Her specialty is labor studies and she has
published significantly in the field. Most recently, her research has focused on
history and public art. In addition to teaching, she has also become a writer, and has
won a number of awards in New Mexico for her essays and poetry. Diane was
divorced from her husband in 1973, and they had no children.
That’s January, enjoy the winter.
December, 2010 NileHilite Redux
Nine months to glory. Greetings of the season. The Reunion Committee is on holiday this month. They swing back into action the first week in January when the official invitation goes out, and they will have a meeting and another site visit to the Standard Club.
I hope you are enjoying the holidays. This is the high point of the year for me. I have one of those Hallmark type holidays. My youngest daughter and British son-in-law fly into DFW tomorrow evening from snowbound London; their one flight was cancelled, but they got two of the last seats available. Then we will motor down to Austin on Thursday to be with my son, his wife and our three granddaughters, one, three and five. And, my oldest daughter will fly into Austin from Nashville Thursday evening, and we will celebrate family for four days. There is no more fun for me than grown-up children and their children. So I hope you can be together with those you love. But, at the same time, I know the holidays can be very difficult for some. And there are no easy answers for loneliness, loss and disappointment. My sister has an uneasy time with Thanksgiving, and she and her husband served turkey dinners to the homeless and found that a satisfying way to spend the holiday. Getting outside of yourself and refocused by volunteering, performing random acts of kindness, or calling someone you have not spoken to in years can sometimes help. That’s even good advice for those who enjoy the holidays. I have done a lot of reaching out these last few days to those I haven’t spoken to in 50 years, and I can tell you it is enormously fun and rewarding. See below!
Before I get to the profiles, I want to invite anyone with a story about New Year’s resolutions or making a particularly unusual resolution this year to send it to me. I know this art form is often lampooned and not taken seriously, but there is something about the beginning of the year that makes me feel it is still possible to remake myself or just get better in some small way. When I was really intense, I had my assistant pull out my resolutions at the beginning of each month so I wouldn’t forget my intentions. Then I started mixing plans such as “take two-week vacation in Florida” with my resolutions so I would improve my success ratio. Bizarro. Anyway, send me yours and I will publish some in the January Redux.