Class Notes 2010
   Home Up Then & Now Contacts Discussion Joke of the Week Reunions




Here's what we did in 2010 -  Please send any news to Mike Wellner so that all can share.

Spring '10  

Our 45th reunion, held for the first time in October (when the campus is active with students and faculty), was a huge success – by any measure.  We had 53 people for a wonderful Friday night buffet dinner at the Century House in Latham, highlighted by remarks from both Dave Haviland ( , who spent his entire career at RPI (in several capacities including Dean of the School of Architecture, and Vice President of Institute Advancement) and Earl Sedlik (, our distinguished former PU. 

At the Parade of Classes we were, by far, the most recognized class, winning three awards in total: 

  • The Chairman’s Award for the most money raised in the five years since our last reunion – almost $9.5 million dollars;
  • The Class Gift Award for the largest gift to the Annual Fund (over half a million dollars); and
  • The Annual Fund Award for the largest increase in Annual Fund donations.

Frank Gumper, who just stepped down as volunteer leader of the Rensselaer Annual Fund, has been awarded the Albert Fox Demers medal, in recognition of his service to the Institute.  Drop him a note of congratulations at   (And, while we are noting Frank’s accomplishments, I would be remiss if I did not mention that he has agreed to join me in helping to fund the establishment of the Class of ’64 Scholarship in honor of our upcoming 50th Reunion!  We only need eight more alums to make this happen.  Either one of us can provide more details.) 

And, of course, no mention of our reunion would be complete without noting the very untimely passing of Myles Brand, who died of pancreatic cancer shortly before our get together in Troy.  As we all know Myles was a true star in so many ways. 

Got a nice newsy note from Gary Neville (School of Architecture) who reports that he is busy with his "second life" latest project – a Micro-Design Center concept in Venice, CA.  This project has been developed to provide low-budget alternatives to manufacturers' sales reps in the Los Angeles area in these unfortunate, low-budget times.  It fills the gap when websites simply aren't enough!  A few years back Gary designed and built the building (SolarGreen) and installed an 18KW roof-top solar installation (Kyocera modules) with his own hands to see if he "still had it in him".  He did, and, n fact, the LADWP claimed the project to be so exemplary they said they wanted to use the installation as a demonstration site for their new solar-inspector trainees.  And all this work netted Gary a cool $64,000 tax credit!  

These days Gary is living on his Columbia 50-foot sailboat (“Yellowbird”) in Marina del Rey.   He is in touch with Ron Posner every now and then, and Steve Ehrlich and Howard Arnold, too.  Interestingly enough, Gary reports that while hanging out at James' Beach, his favorite haunt, he sometimes runs into a physicist (not an RPI alum) who keeps raving about his Resnick and Halliday textbooks.  Find out more from Gary by dropping him a note at 

Don Swygert reports that he and a bunch of other Baltimore-Washington area alums enjoyed a ride on an historic steam-locomotive powered train in his area – see the picture elsewhere in this issue of the magazine.  Hear more details from Don by writing to him at    

Down at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Jim McGuire advises that he has been rebuilding the Engineering Department, following the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina, when the school was forced to dissolve six of its eight engineering departments.   The new engineering degree at Tulane is Engineering Physics, and Jim reports that they are graduating their first three students next May, followed by thirty-two more in the pipeline.  Jim’s hope is to integrate science and engineering, teaching each other how to become stronger.  " If engineers want to make better devices, scientists should tell them how to work.  If scientists want to be paid for what they do, engineers should tell them what to do."   As Chair, Jim is trying to bring all this together.  His hope is to find ways to reduce the time gap between the discovery and application of new ideas.  He is also building a new Ph.D. program in Materials Engineering, and looking for a first- class engineer for a well-endowed chair.   Want to apply?  Talk to Jim at          

Alex Hills reports that the word "retirement" isn't in his vocabulary, and he continues to work full time.  Among other projects, he spends lots of time helping students and universities in developing nations.  That means supervising his own students on projects in a variety of countries and also teaching at foreign universities that ask for his help.   Several years ago, after doing visiting professor gigs in Chile, Singapore and New Zealand, Alex decided to focus his energy on poorer nations, where he thought that he could have more impact.  It turned out that there was lots of interest from universities in developing nations-- they were especially interested in his teaching about wireless connectivity.  (In the early 1990s Alex built the world's first Wi-Fi network, and that was the main reason for their interest.)  As a result of this work, he and his wife Meg have made many new friends around the world, and the work itself has been very satisfying -- to say the least.  He has now worked in over twenty countries -- Bolivia, Russia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Russia, Palau, and the Philippines, among many others.  He and Meg have also made side trips to about thirty other countries, where, each summer, he and his students work on projects in one or more developing nations.  Get more info from Alex at Carnegie Mellon University at 

Ray Whipple, Aero. NASA retiree, was one of 11 skydivers who recently set a Virginia State Record for S.O.S. (Skydivers Over Sixty) and POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty Society).   Find out more from him at:  

Frank Thiel reports that he was recently elected Chairman of the Board of Alfred Technology Resources Inc. (ATRI).  ATRI owns and operates two technology incubators called the Ceramics Corridor Innovation Centers.  One is in Alfred,

N. Y., adjacent to both Alfred State College (a SUNY College of Technology) and Alfred University (home of the SUNY College of Ceramics).  The other is in Painted Post, N. Y., adjacent to Corning Inc.'s central R & D facilities.  ATRI is an independent not-for-profit corporation, with 30+ graduated firms and $800+ million in economic impact (direct and indirect jobs, capital investment) since 1992.  And Frank has recently initiated the NanoMaterials Innovation Center with significant New York State support.  Find out more from him by e-mailing


Summer '10

Peter Benjamin, a veteran engineer, was recently appointed as head of the Washington, DC Metro Agency's Board of Directors.  Benjamin, who was first vice chairman before being unanimously elected chairman, pledged to make safety his top priority.   Eight passengers and a train operator were killed recently in a crash.  Over the course of his 20 years involvement with the Agency, Peter served as the agency's chief financial officer, its director of planning and its senior financial adviser.  Before that, he worked on technology development and program analysis for a decade at the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, now the Federal Transit Administration. In the early 1970s, he headed the DOT's Urban Analysis Group, and served as mayor of Garrett Park twice, from 1996-2000 and 2002-04.   He spent part of his early career working as an aerospace engineer on the Apollo lunar program.  Find out more from Peter at

Hear from Alex Hills, who reports that he is a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, working on a project entitled “Technology Consulting in the Global Community.”  Students who participate in the project are assigned to work for ten-week periods on projects in developing countries.    Sounds like this would be a perfect fit for RPI – I wonder if Alex has any thoughts of moving back to Troy!  Ask Alex by e-mailing him at 

Earl Sedlik reports that he has just accepted the position as President of the Board of Directors at Seattle’s Regional Hospital, a non-profit long-term acute care center.  Congrats!  Reunion was a big hit for our ukulele-playing classmate – who reminds us that he once again managed to skip playing at the reunion!  Wait till our 50th!   Contact Earl at  

And Jack Hughes advises that he has retired in 2006 as a professor from Penn State, after 40 years in acoustic research.   He has four daughters, all married, and twelve grandkids.   Sadly, his wife, Marci, passed away in 2004,  and Jack is now  remarried to a wonderful woman, Kathy.  His new address is 124 Founders Court, Boalsburg, PA 16827, 814-808.   Contact him at   

From the skies over sunny California, our fearless flyer Tom Luciano reports that he recently returned from a hunting trip near Cordoba, Argentina where he shot 2,271 dove (using 3050 shells).  The first two days he and his buddy were the only ones at La Loma Lodge. where they felt like one of the Rockefellers with two chefs, a bartender and the head guide waiting on us.  He found the country beautiful and the people very friendly.   Tom will be meeting up with Doug DeVivo (RPI 1965) who has also purchased a Beechcraft Baron - a model 58 similar to the one that Tom has, to give him a debrief on our trip.   You can get more info directly from Tom by e-mailing him at  

Jeff Dawson wrote in to say the he was sorry to have missed our last reunion, but he was traveling on business.  Jeff is retired form the active faculty at Duke University, but maintains part time positions as the faculty ombudsman and as an associate dean in the School of Medicine.  In the latter capacity, he enjoys working with a new U.S.-style graduate school of medicine in Singapore.  Duke has formed this joint venture with the National University of Singapore to promote the training of academic physicians.  Jeff extends his warmest wishes to all of his friends at RPI, with a special hello to those who shared life and experiences at RSE. He and his wife Linda (Issler), from Russell Sage, hope to be in Troy for our 50th!  Convince him to join us by e-mailing him at 


Fall '10

Be sure to check out our Class of ’64 website,, which is being updated and maintained by our friend Bob Burns, from his home in the Alaskan north country.  Our plan is to keep the website updated and current between now and our big 50th Reunion (2014 is closer than you think!) as a means of facilitating contacts among members of our class.  Check it out.  And thanks, Bob, again for all your hard work.   Bob is at

 I saw my friend Richard Koser (and his wife Mary-Jane) at their home in Croton Falls, NY, recently.  He is looking remarkably well – and why not:  Rich has just retired from many years at IBM in Somers, and is now trying to figure out how to keep busy all day.  You can offer suggestions to Rich by e-mailing him at

 Some updated news from Tony Buffa in San Luis Obispo:  “I fully retired in March 2010, after five years of half-time in the early retirement program. I still have my introductory physics book to work on, not to mention traveling, basketball and my always-lengthening “honey-do” list.  We had our first grandchild, Wesley, born to our daughter and her husband in New Orleans in May of last and we were there!  We also got the news that after my son-in-law’s residency is done next year (between that and med school at Tulane, they have been there 9 years!), they will head to Harvard (I won’t hold it against them) for one year of a specialty fellowship.  And we are already planning to visit them the weekend RPI plays at Harvard in 2011-12!!”

Back in New Orleans:  Last Thanksgiving (2009) Tony had a visit with Jim McGuire (also Physics ‘64) who is chairman of the physics department at Tulane.  It was great to see him after 46 years!  And he also ran across Don Hartig (Math ‘64) occasionally on campus at Cal Poly; not sure whether or not he is taking early retirement.  Finally, Tony recently learned that the fellow who manages his favorite local winery was born and raised in Troy (although he left for college and has not lived there since).  Small world!  Get more info by e-mailing Tony at

David Haviland writes in to say that he remains busy since his retirement as a Vice President at the ‘Tute.  His term as board chair at The Arts Center of the Capital Region has ended, and he 'celebrated' by joining the board of the Northeast Health Foundation.  David, Carl Westerdahl and Assistant Institute Archivist Amy Rupert presented a talk on Alumni Architects of RPI's campus buildings in May for the Friends of the Folsom Library.   Learn more of the goings on in Troy from Dave at

Mark Wallis reports that his "retirement" company, Soccer Partners, has been appointed as exclusive USA and Canada distributor of the official trading cards for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. This is actually a big deal in the soccer world.  Of course, Mark says that he could not have done it without his RPI education.  Mark could not make our 45th reunion, but promises to try harder for the big 50th!  Write to him at

Alex Hills is still a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  Part of his work is supervising CMU students doing consulting projects in developing nations.  The student consultants work on projects for hospitals, schools, NGOs and government agencies.  The most recent projects have been in Ghana, Palau, the Philippines and the Cook Islands.  Alex also continues to teach part of each year at universities in Chile and in his home state of Alaska.  Get more details at 

 My Westchester (NY) buddy Danny Gold recently retired after 43 years with IBM, and now they have asked him to come back to work, either full-time or part-time. He said that he had had enough full-time work (43 years!), so now he is back working three days a week, which still gives him plenty of time for his own activities.  Life is good, getting his pension and now getting regular pay as well.  Nice job! Find out how he did it at