The Wheatley Alumni Association Newsletter #30: March 16, 2019

Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Other Interested Persons,

Welcome to The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 30.

Thanks to our fabulous Webmaster, Keith Aufhauser (1963), you can regale yourself with the first twenty-nine newsletters (and other Wheatley data and arcana) at  Conversely, if you are completely uninterested in Wheatley matters, please ask me to remove you from my distribution list.

I edit all submissions, even material in quotes, for clarity and concision, without any indication thereof.  I do not censor ideas, which may not be my own.

The Seventh Annual Wheatley School Alumni Association NYC Luncheon Report and Photos
The event was held on Monday, January 28, 2019, at Colbeh Restaurant, 32 West 39th Street.  The following 33 people attended:

Last Name


First Name

Middle, etc.

Wheatley Address






180 Shepherd Ln






408 Andrews Rd






Meadowbrook Ln






51 Hayloft Ln





417 Roslyn Rd





76 Bengeyfield Dr






Park Dr E






1 Rustic Ln






36 Sycamore Ln






107 Weeks Rd





40 Saddle Ln





55 Carriage Ln





1 Sycamore Ln






4 Westwood Cir







181 Shepherd Ln





22 Corncrib Ln






26 Bengeyfield Dr





115 Arlington St





28 Farm Ln






71 Barnyard Ln






28 Amherst Rd






7 Griffin La





71 Dogleg Ln





5 Bengeyfield Dr





Willets Rd






2 Farm Ln






45 Dogleg Ln





38 Shepherd Ln






7 Forte Dr







2 Sherwood Ln






29 Meritoria Dr





58 Meritoria Dr





39 Meritoria Dr



The coveted Attendance Award was split between 1966 and 1967 – six each.  Honorable mention goes to 1961, with five.  The Thoroughfare Award was split between Bengeyfield Drive, Shepherd Lane, and Meritoria Drive, at three each.

The revelatory photos are accessible at

If you double-click on any individual photo you will get a significant enlargement and the fully identifying caption.  I hope that all names are spelled correctly; remembering that “Leifer” is “ei” and Liebert is “ie” is way above my present pay-grade.  Several guests contributed money to the cause, which the Treasurer greatly appreciated, as the event still ran a small deficit.


Phyllis Johnson Satter – Teacher of French
Writes Mrs. Johnson – “I come to NYC once a month during good weather, take in a play, a museum or two, lunch with a friend.  Whenever I see Art’s name I remember with amusement that he was one of the few ‘critics’ who took my second husband, Judge Robert Satter, to task for sounding a bit full of himself in his book - a compliment, really, because it showed that he had actually read the book, more than many did who received copies.”

Judge Satter’s on-line obituary includes these words:  “In 1993 Bob married Phyllis Johnson. They enjoyed a rich intellectual life, many years of companionship and a spirited cribbage competition.  In Bob's final years, she was his devoted caregiver.”



1958 – Carol Gettleman Berkowitz – Fond Memories
Writes Carol – “Dear Art, I attended The Wheatley School at its inception.  We were taken out of Mineola High School after our freshman year and sent to the new Wheatley School, Class of 1958.  What a fantastic first year, making many new friends, many who have remained so for all these years?!  Sadly, we are the old folks now, all in our late 70’s, except for Steve Nelson, who was a brilliant baby when he joined our class.  Many of my former classmates have died, most recently Bobbie Kauffman.  I still feel like I’m 18, and I look back on my days at Wheatley with fond happy memories.  I was thrilled to hear about Matt Sanzone, as he was a part of my youth.  One super nice guy.  Many of my best friends from Wheatley have died, and still I remember them with fond memories. 

With love, Carol Gettleman Berkowitz”

1958 – Roberta (“Bobbie”) Kaufman – Deceased
Bobbie leaves a sister, Harriet Kaufman Kozitsky, 1961; an older sister predeceased Bobbie.
Writes classmate Howard L. Cohen – “Bobbie passed away Saturday night, February 2, 2019 in Boston after battling pancreatic cancer.  Last year she moved from South Hampton, L.I. to Wellington, Florida with her second husband, Mal Danker, but then she went to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for treatment.  Bobbie was cremated; a memorial service may be held, but no date or location has been announced.  Bobbie grew up at 181 Parkway Drive. 

She was in Wheatley's first graduating class, which was relatively small; there were only about 87 of us.”

1960 – Ken Martin – Host with the Most


Writes Art Engoron, 1967 – “Ken is a proud former Marine, successful businessperson, and terrific raconteur who last month hosted me and some other folks at his amazing house in Florida.  The weather (low 80s) and hospitality were equally perfect.”

1961 – Tim Jerome – The Actor Who Played Falstaff - Part Two
Writes Tim – “Rick Kaplin’s Newsletter # 29 remembrance of Hal Holbrook brought to mind a flood of memories about that brilliant actor – and wonderful person.  As many of my classmates know, I became a professional actor after college.  As luck would have it, in 1972, I was hired to understudy Hal – playing Lucifer – in the original production of Arthur Miller’s CREATION OF THE WORLD AND OTHER BUSINESS.  

I got to watch him work during rehearsals and he generously shared his thoughts and insights with me.  For a young actor, it was a seminal experience.  
However, CREATION was a troubled production.   The original director, Harold Clurman, was released soon after the Boston opening, and Mr. Miller took over the directorship, leaving many of the actors, including Hal, confused about how to play their parts.  As Hal and I had become friendly during the rehearsal period, he made me aware of his struggles.  

Prior to the Broadway opening, Hal resigned – as did several others in the cast – and though it was sad in many ways, those lessons – in the details of craft, in the realities of negotiating the ‘business,’ in those critical ethical and artistic standards - which the superb Mr. Holbrook demonstrated so clearly - have served me to this day.” 

1961 – Patricia Kirk Hefferan – Then and Now
Writes Patty – “East Williston was somewhat surreal, with its village green and few, if any businesses.  Growing up there was somewhat idyllic.  I remember sitting around the pot belly stove, waiting for the LIRR.  My mother loved the theater, and starting when I was six-years-old she dragged me into New York to watch plays.  Of course, the time in which we grew up had a great deal to do with our experiences.  The Wheatley School was unique and ahead of  its time.  I remember being in Honors classes and getting an ‘H’ for a grade rather than an ‘A.’  We had some outstanding teachers. 

As the Wheatley Newsletters continue to arrive, I believe there is more sharing and a greater sense of closeness.  This has often been said of the school itself.  We were not overly close as schoolmates, but we became more so at reunions.  I believe the Newsletters accomplish this same thing.  As I am recuperating from a broken ankle and leg, today I read every last word of Newsletter # 29, a pleasant respite.  I am working on watching all 456 episodes of ‘Law and Order.’”

1961 – Gene Razzetti – Remembering the Roman Family
Writes Gene – “Art, Great to hear from Ed ‘Butch’ Roman.  Everybody liked Butch, and his parents were, far and away, the most loyal cheering section our sports teams had - home or away.  Butch's father donated his 1953 Hudson to the Auto Shop.  The car was as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar - and just as fast.  Cheers, Butch!"

1962 – David Friedman – Mallet Music Maestro

David is on the far right.  He writes – “I‘ve been living in Berlin for the past 30 years, so participating in Wheatley alumni events has been difficult.  I did, however, attend a class reunion two years ago with my girlfriend, Bettina, who had a great time, as did I. 

I turned 75 on March 10th, 2019.  Two years ago I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Percussive Arts Society in Indianapolis.  I retired from teaching at The University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, last semester and formed my own record company, Malletmuse Records.  The first two releases were my Generations Trio recording ‘Thursday’ and my Generations Quartet recording ‘Flight.’  All the musicians in the Generations bands are my former students.”

1962 – Leo Smith
Writes Leo – “The pledge: my folks sent me the news article about the students refusing to say the pledge while I was stationed in Korea.  At first l was angered, thinking how bad could they have it in a country that provided safety and security for their, our, life-style.  While they were exercising their '’I haven't had a job, haven't paid taxes, haven’t done anything to make the country better'' rights, they were probably patted on the backs for taking a stand.  If back then there were a few minutes of required ‘reflection’ instead of ‘prayer’ time to think about what you, we, had/have as compared to others on LI, the country and the wider world, the whole pledge thing might not have occurred. 

I completed my three-year service hitch with a tour in Germany, after which I received a full college scholarship, thanks to Uncle Sam.  I never had to fire a shot in anger while serving....timing is everything!  Thank you for your service, Richard Buzen (1962), and any others not mentioned in the newsletter. 

Leo Smith”

1964 – Richard Friedman – Sad Passing

Writes Richard – “The night before I knew it was going to be your last, Hadley, I rubbed my nose deep into the fur on your back.  I wanted to remember always your smell and feel.  I gently held you and rubbed you until we fell asleep.  This was the end of a ten-year love affair like no other.  We were brothers, father and son, and always ached to be with each other.  The unconditional love we had for each other was, and always will be, unique to us. 

Hadley, I hope I made you as happy as you made me.  No one will ever take your place, and I will miss you forever.  I love you.  Dad”

1964 – Michael Garin – Oscar Winner Now Making Movies in the Middle East
The following article is from Arab News, “ the leading English language newspaper in the Gulf.”

“Image Nation CEO Michael Garin: Abu Dhabi Oscar winner turns gaze toward Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: It is not every day you get to meet an Oscar winner.
Last week, the genial and straight-talking Michael Garin, CEO of Abu Dhabi film production company Image Nation, assumed that title.  One of his projects, ‘Free Solo,’ about the rock climber Alex Honnold’s epic ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan wall in the US, won the award for Best Documentary at the gala Hollywood event.  Rami Malek’s award for Best Actor in a Leading Role drew plaudits across the Middle East, but “Free Solo” — having also won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award — is a testament to the Gulf’s burgeoning film industry.  Garin has played a big part in that.

So, who would he like to thank?  ‘Well, my mother, my father…’ he joked, before naming Evan Hayes, who developed and produced the film, and Ben Ross, his chief content officer in Abu Dhabi. He also paid tribute to the UAE itself, which launched Image Nation 12 years ago, and Saudi Arabia, where the company is increasingly focusing.

The traditional nature of society in the Gulf had provided stability, he said, allowing a younger generation to “let go” and the industry to expand. ‘At the end of the day this is a tribal society with a lot of traditions that are not going to change as rapidly as technology and economics change.  There’s a unity and a solidarity,’ the native New Yorker said.  “People in the rest of the world don’t understand, but democracy gave us Donald Trump.”

After a successful career in US media Garin transferred to the UAE in 2007, and became Image Nation’s CEO six years later. With the CV of a media mogul, he was well positioned to recognize the challenges.
‘Failure was punished, culturally.  The first thing we had to do was make Image Nation a place where it was safe to fail.  You can’t create excellence without people taking creative risks, and most creative risks don’t succeed.  If you try and fail, you have to be protected,’ he added.  Another issue was that there were few Emiratis with expertise in film.  ‘We were able to convince the leadership that, because this was an industry that did not exist before, you could not populate the upper levels of the organization with local staff.  We had to bring expats in who would provide the guidance and training to create a professional industry.’

Now, most of Image Nation’s 73 permanent employees are Emirati, many of them in senior positions.  ‘We do not have a single Emirati working here just because they are Emirati.  They’re very talented.’
Some have talked about a ‘motivational deficit and skills gap’ in the ongoing policy of ‘localization’ in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but Garin dismisses it.  ‘There’s a skills gap in an industry that wasn’t there before.  There’s a difference between talent and skill.  What they don’t lack is desire and ambition,’ he said.

Image Nation was set up to cultivate a creative film industry in the region, but was not expected to be a source of financial profit.  It lives off state funding. 'What I’m very grateful for is that the money comes with no strings. I’ve never had a complaint about the content, never been told what to create,’ Garin said.  ‘In the beginning, they were talking like audiences, not producers.  We did what they wanted, but not necessarily in the way they wanted it to be done.’ He also explained how the ‘leadership was lamenting potentially raising a generation of spoiled children,’ which led to the twin criteria for films encouraging social development as well as entertainment. He highlighted a series on the Philippines, designed to show pampered Emirati youth the realities of life beyond their privileged horizons, and a short movie, ‘Leap of Faith,’ to accompany the $4.5 billion campaign by the UAE, in partnership with US philanthropist Bill Gates, to eradicate polio in Pakistan.

 But his proudest professional achievement to date — at least before the Oscar — was the series ‘Justice,’ which follows the lives of a family of Emirati lawyers and their clients, starring local actors and filmed on location in the UAE.  ‘“LA Law’ meets ‘Dallas’ in Abu Dhabi,”’ Garin described the show, which was translated into 27 languages on Netflix.:

"This is one of the secrets of our success.  Everything we do is culturally authentic.  I think Saudi Arabia is following suit, combining international expertise with local talent, knowledge and resources.  I really admire the way Saudi Arabia has gone about the development of their entertainment sector.  You can get AMC and VOX to build theaters. You can get Paramount, Disney, or Universal to book their movies in those theaters. You can hire Six Flags to build a theme park. The Kingdom accomplished two things very quickly: It convinced the world it was serious about opening up society and loosening control, and more importantly, it convinced the local population they were serious."

Garin had a warning for Saudi policymakers, however:  ‘The only thing that money does not buy in our industry, and I don’t think they understand this yet, is the creation of local content capability.  That’s decades-long efforts of training and development and getting people to learn the craft.’ Throwing money at the problem was the biggest mistake the UAE made in the early days of Image Nation, he believes.  ‘Giving money to aspiring filmmakers without oversight and controls is the quickest way to kill the industry.  Even Steven Spielberg works for a studio,’ he said.

A note of frustration creeps in when he mentions bureaucracy. ‘We’ve had great meetings, but it’s all “inshallah” (“if God wills it”) at this stage.He is equally perplexed at the low financial esteem in which screenwriters are held, which he calls ‘the single greatest weakness in the whole region.’  He also wants Saudi Arabia to follow the example set by Image Nation’s Arab Film Studios, which teaches young filmmakers in the region about the industry.  ‘But we don’t want them to pay.  We’ll give them all our programs and their curriculum and when they are ready to manage it themselves then we can walk away.’

Despite the Oscars euphoria, Garin thinks the Arab world must set realistic expectations for its films. ‘There is the Best Foreign Film category, which one day we will win, but we’re never going to win Best Picture because of the budgets for those movies.  They are made for a global audience.  And who votes for them?  Americans!  It’s a very parochial industry.’”

1964 – John F. Sullivan – Stratford Trip
Writes John – ‘Re Rick Kaplan’s reminiscing about the Stratford trip (I did not know about the Hal Holbrook performance), I remember Peter LaBriola playing guitar & leading us in ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ on the bus trip home.  That was a great day.”

1965 – Eliot “Ike” Evans – In Love with Shakespeare
Writes Ike – “That the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut burned down is tragic.  I was there two or three times and always loved it.”

Here's information from Wikipedia:  In 1955 Stratford, Connecticut became home to the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, an 1,100-seat theatre with grounds on the Housatonic River.  The theatre featured such actors as Katharine HepburnJames Earl JonesPaul NewmanJessica TandyJane AlexanderHal HolbrookRoddy McDowallNina Foch and Will Geer.  John Houseman served as its artistic director during the late 1950s.

The company operating the theater ceased operations in the mid-1980s, and the building has been vacant since then.  In February 2005, the Town of Stratford received the deed for the Stratford Festival Shakespeare Theater from the state of Connecticut.  In 2006 it selected a New York City development company to reopen the theater as a tourist destination, but the company's contract was terminated in July 2007 because of lack of progress. In 2019 the theatre burned to the ground.

1965 – Robert (“Bob”) Stern – Still Playing Jazz
Writes Robert – “Wheatley was a life altering (positively) experience for so many of us.  Certainly, for me,
Wheatley's academics,  music faculty -- and gifted schoolmates -- changed the arc of my life.

Here I am, 70 years old, and playing jazz/Latin violin (for the THIRD year running) in a series of 4 gigs over two nights at the world-famous Jazz Standard (116 E 27th St) with the amazing Mexican guitar shredder Gil Gutierrez and accomplished bassist David Rodriguez.  I would love to see some Wheatley-ites there on May 21 and/or May 22!  The link to get tickets is at Gil's website: or at the Jazz Standard website starting  in mid-March.  You can check us out on YouTube; just search ‘Gil Gutierrez Trio.’

PS: I play jazz gigs in the Hamptons with younger Wheatley grad Peter Martin Weiss (1977) -- an accomplished bassist and guitarist in his own right.”

1966 – Lorraine Gallard - Chanteuse

Writes classmate Karen Wattel Arenson – “Phil Ardell and I both attended Lorraine’s recent, wonderful concert at The Park Avenue Armory.  The evening was very special.  She sang beautifully and is an amazing performer.”

1966 – Claude Levy – Exchange Student Responds to Three Classmates
Writes Claude – “Re:  Steve Hanft and the Pledge of Allegiance: 

Whatever the huge majority of Wheatley-ites experienced, you may be interested in having a foreigner’s recollection.  Can you even think of how strange it was to see the American flag in each classroom (at least, that’s my recollection), not only because it wasn’t my own flag, but because French schools  never had flags?  When the students stood up for the daily ceremonial, I thought it was my duty to do so as a guest (after all, “When in Rome...”).  I tried to learn the text, but I was uncomfortable with it.  I was told it wasn’t necessary at all to put my hand on my heart.  I also noticed that some of the students would just remain silent when the ‘under God’ words appeared.  I can’t tell if this was a spontaneous protest or if they were aware of the fact that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that ‘everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all.’  It’s still weird for me, more than half a century later, to see how much church and state are connected in the US, and I’m always perplexed to see some major public-school events take place in churches.  This obviously comes from my secular background.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I find everything right in French society!

Re:  Diana Noble:  Well, that makes two of us remembering the ‘Mouse in the Cafeteria’ incident!  I’m glad that you mentioned the girls screaming, as I would have thought it politically incorrect to report it.

Re:  Henry ‘Roy’ Smith:  I’m afraid we missed each other as guests of the school, but I’m happy to report that I’m still in touch with Harold/Hal Whack, who graciously gave my wife and me a customized tour of Charleston, South Carolina when we visited there, and who recently also gave some of his time to a couple of friends of mine – an elderly couple involved life-long in Amnesty International - when  I put them in touch with each other.  Also, I was interested to learn that STEP stood for ‘Student Transfer Enlightenment Project.’  I always thought the E stood for ‘Education’!  I think that my ‘American mother’ (Margery Gross, mother of Bob Gross, 1967, and Jean Gross, 1969) worked for STEP, but I didn’t get involved.”

1966 – Bette Spiro Neuman – Thoughts About Diversity
Writes Bette – “Hi Art, I have always felt that I was fortunate to have been in a high school where students from different  backgrounds, from different sides of town, could be together and go through those years as a group.  Many districts nearby were entirely homogeneous, offering kids a narrow social experience.  In a less than perfect world... for its time and place... it was ... in my mind...a pretty good arrangement.”

1967 – Art Engoron – Another Decision

1967 – Lee Fein – Looking Good Out West


Writes Lee – “Here is a picture of classmate Merrill Stanton (R), me and my wife Sharon (L) having brunch in La Jolla, California.  Since moving out here Merrill and I have stayed in contact, and our time together is like Memory Lane.”

1967 – Howard Kirchick – Meeting Gerald Michael Riviera

Writes Howard – “My wife and I were at my grand nephews’ (twins) Bar Mitzvahs in Beachwood, Ohio in January.  At the temple my wife nudges me and points to our left and says, ‘Doesn’t that guy look like Geraldo Rivera?’  I look over and say, ‘Maybe a little.’  Turns out Geraldo lives in Shaker Heights, and my nephew’s wife is tutoring his youngest daughter for her Bat Mitzvah.  I remember when he was an investigative reporter for ABC in New York in the early 70’s.  I think I’ve seen Geraldo once since he’s been with Fox News.”

1968 – Steven Cohen – Remembering Steve

That’s Steve in between (L-R) classmates Howard Suss and Ken Gallard.


That’s Steve with (L-R) classmates Joel Blumenthal and David Pinter.

1968 – Nancy Lagin – More on Prayer
Writes Nancy – “Hi Art, I just finished reading your Wheatley Newsletter, for my very first time, as it was forwarded to me by classmate Jamie Davis Germaine.  Thank you - it was fun and insightful!  I'm not on social media, and I live a fairly reclusive life in the woods of Maine. I frequently travel to Nova Scotia, where my kids live, and I do some volunteer teaching in Nepal.

Related to the pledge of allegiance incidents at Wheatley - I was suspended for not reciting the words, although I did stand and held my hand over my heart.  My homeroom teacher was the typing teacher, Evelyn Tegnell, who reported me to the administration.  My father was so enraged by this that he called the ACLU and wanted to sue the school.  The school backed down after hearing from the ACLU - hushed it all up.  I went back to school and continued as before.  And the typing teacher eventually gave me a ‘D,’ and we never spoke to each other again.

I don't recall myself as being all that political at that time or wanting attention - I think I just didn't respond well to behaving like ‘part of a herd of sheep,’ and I thought nobody would notice me.  I went to my first class reunion last May, in NYC, and it was wonderful - Best Wishes, Nancy Lagin”

1969 – Halayne Ehrenberg – Hanging out with Art

1969 – William (“Bill”) Kirchick – Trusts and Estates Titan

Bill is a partner in Nutter McClennen & Fish, a Boston law firm.  In 2018 he was elected Secretary of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) during its annual conference in New Orleans.  In 2020, Bill will become President of NAEPC.  He was also selected as a 2018 Best Lawyers in America “Lawyer of the Year” in Trusts and Estates for the Boston area, a prestigious honor that recognizes only one lawyer per practice area within each metropolitan region, based on the highest peer ratings received.

1970 – John Weiss – Progressive Upbringing
Writes John – “I grew up on Long Island in the '50s and '60s.  My parents were just the sort of white, liberals that conservatives like to complain about……the kind with AU+H2O=H2SO4 (Goldwater smells like rotten eggs in case your chemistry is rusty) bumper stickers.  Also, the kind to strongly support exchange students.  We hosted one from Sweden, and my older brother spent his junior year of high school living as an American Field Service student in Italy.  Eventually, my folks chose to host a S.T.E.P. (Student Transfer Enlightenment Project) student named Kenneth Daniels.  This was a program that uprooted promising Black students from poor Southern schools and relocated them to rich, Northern ones for their junior and senior years of high school, where they would have improved chances of going to Ivy League or other elite schools.  Ken Daniels got his Ph.D. in Business from the U. of Chicago and then (I think) taught at the U. of Virginia.  In that sense, the program worked!  However, his time at Wheatley wasn't the joyful experience for which one hopes.  I am partially responsible.  I was unhappy in high school and took my SATs and applied to college early.  I did assist in getting Ken an alternative placement, with my best friend's family, but evidently he was unhappy.  My evidence is that when my 10th-year reunion was being planned, he denied ever having gone to Wheatley!  With the benefit of hindsight, I understand how the well-meaning-but-flawed attempts by suburban whites to try to correct for past injustices must seem to urban Blacks, but I'm working for a better future.  I take solace in knowing that however unpleasant it may have been for him, the desired result was achieved.”

1973 – Timothy Clarke
Writes Tim –

“If not for SWS and many of the great teachers at Wheatley, I am not sure I would have ever graduated high school.  One teacher in particular, Stewart Doig, was without doubt the most creative social studies teacher I ever had.  He gave me a life-long love of learning, starting with doing research to prove one’s point and finding one’s own creative outlook.  My art teacher, Gerry Pagliaro, created more art classes for me during my senior year, as I had taken every single one that was available by the end of my junior year.  She always encouraged my wacky imagination.  My humanities teacher, Merle Levine, opened my eyes to the New York art scene with trips to visit the MOMA, the MET, the Guggenheim, and to see performances by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company; the Joffrey Ballet, for whom I later built costumes; and the NYC Ballet, for whom I later constructed a 20-foot-tall giant marionette for Don Quixote through Kermit Love's workshop.  

I came from a very creative and artistic family; my older brother John, Class of 1968, and my younger sister Annie, Class of 1974, both became artists.  John is a graphic artist in NYC, and Annie is a potter in Williamstown, MA.
I followed my big brother by going to Pratt Institute, where I majored in art education, mainly due to the positive education I had at Wheatley.  In my senior year at Pratt I took a class in puppetry taught by Kermit Love, who designed Big Bird and Snuffleupagus.  I was determined to outdo everyone in the class, and at the end of the semester I was offered a job working part-time for Kermit and the Muppets.  My first job was dyeing Snuffleupagus’s fur the correct color brown, and the next was feathering that season’s Big Bird. 

After a year working on Sesame Street I was sent by Kermit to interview with Jim Henson and landed a job working on Dark Crystal building, The Mystics, and other weird creatures based on the drawings of Brian Froud.  I then worked on the Muppet Show and, eventually, Fraggle Rock, for which I built Uncle Traveling Matt and some of the very first computer-controlled puppets.  After a five-year stint at Muppets I started designing my own toys and have been doing so ever since.  Some of the more notable toys I have designed are: co-creating Sectaurs (Coleco) and Boglins (Mattel), both in the ‘80’s.

I went on to create toys for Melissa and Doug, EK Success, Hasbro, Kenner, and Ideal, to mention just a few.  I have just finished a puppet for a Sling TV commercial which should be out by the middle of March.  Life hasn't always been easy, but it has never been boring.”

1973 – Leonore Gordon – Her Wife Remembers
Writes Myra Kooy –

“Dear Friends of Leonore, Many of you have known Leonore for much longer than I have, and some have only recently met her.  I wanted to share my thoughts about Leonore, to honor who she was and to acknowledge what she brought to our lives.  Leonore demonstrated a fearless strength in how she lived her life.  She dove into life head-first, knowing that at any minute a wave could come and slam her down.   Her faith and belief in her loved ones were filled with encouragement, unwavering expectation, and unconditional love.  Leonore cut through the niceties in life and saw and spoke the truth without sugar coating, sometimes painfully but always with helpful insights into life.  When Leonore advocated for something, she put her all into it; her determination was unrelenting. 

As I began to go through piles of her paperwork, I was introduced to a depth of Leonore that I had not previously known.  I knew she loved teaching poetry and that she created well over 50 student anthologies, but I didn’t realize she also produced a guide for other teachers to follow so that they, too, could teach poetry.

I knew she and a group of other condo members defied T-Mobile by blocking them from building a cell tower on the roof of their building.  Their work resulted in enough documentation for any other group or organization to be able to do the same.  Leonore created documents for educators on lesser-known symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease to give to their doctoral students.  She presented abstracts at the World Parkinson’s Conference with handouts that can benefit both the medical and non-medical fields.  The medical community recognized her work by inviting her to speak on the topic of apathy among Parkinson’s patients, both in doctoral classes and a TV segment.  Leonore always went the extra mile and believed that what she thought was important was also important to others.  She proved her points through research, and she transcribed her research into a useable guide for others.  (Note: If anyone is interested in these materials, please e-mail me through Art.  I am in the process of pulling them together.  I still have many boxes, a filing cabinet, and her desk to go through, so who knows what treasures still lay waiting.) 

Within the first month of knowing Leonore, it became clear to me she was very driven.  Her morals and sense of right and wrong were unyielding.  Although we often butted heads, being with her helped me grow by leaps and bounds.  I hope she knows how grateful I am to her for sharing her life with me. Most people who knew Leonore have, at times, come up against her strong opinions about issues and things, and over time found that she was often right.  This strong sense of self-served her, and the causes she advocated for, well. 

As the group leader for the New York Parkinson Unity Walk since 2003, Leonore raised over a quarter of a million dollars for PD research. As a community member, she worked on getting curb cuts in our local landmarked district.  After five years of continuous work on this issue, a city truck pulled up to the curb one day, dropped asphalt, and in less than a half hour four curb cuts were created.  Shortly after that, new curb cuts with touch ribs for the sight impaired started to appear all over the Park Slope area.  In addition, at Long Island University exercise class chairs were placed in the school’s gym in response to Leonore’s advocacy for the simple needs of person’s with Parkinson’s.  One time when we were on vacation in Rome, Leonore got a call from someone she didn’t know who needed her knowledge around his changing Parkinson’s symptoms.  She took the time to listen and reach out to additional connections she had, for him to find the best possible relief.  I have always said I did not lift her walker into our car for just one person, but for a team.

I was only in Leonore’s life for six and a half years, but based on the multitude of photos that I’ve gone through, it is clear that she enjoyed a full and rich life.  Leonore’s role as a wife for 26 years to Aminah Rachman appeared fulfilling in so many ways.  Through the photographs, I can see the love they shared in raising their child, Josh, together.  Leonore's role as a mother was one of complete dedication.  She was not a pushover and believed in her son with all she had to give as a person.  Although there were many painful tests of their relationship, I think she set a solid foundation for her son, and her faith in him is paying off today.

I will close by saying that Leonore had a way of seeing beyond a blooming flower and understood the work of nurturing a seed before cutting down a tree.

By Myra Kooy, wife of Leonore Gordon
February, 2019”

1973 – Bonnie Greenberg – Almost an Oscar

Writes Bonnie – “Left to right that’s Ray Costa (a publicist ); me; Diane Warren, who has been nominated for songwriting  Oscars 10 times…this year for ‘I’ll  Fight,’ the song we did together for the movie‘RBG’; and Jeff Sanderson (another publicist).”

1977 – Nanette (“Nan”) Asimov –
Wrote Nan two years ago, and recently come to light – “Hi Arthur,  I loved Mrs. Shapiro, our wonderful school librarian back at North Side, though I don’t think I ever knew that her first name was ‘Lillian.’  I’m glad she lived such a long life, which I hope was a happy one.  99!  Thanks, too, for including her photo in Newsletter # 12:

I recognized her instantly.  I’m also sorry to learn that Mr. Wattel, my former neighbor of a few doors down on Shepherd Lane, died.  His daughter, Karen (1966), occasionally babysat for my brother, Eric, and me, and it would be nice to see her again.  Unfortunately, I’m 3,000 miles away in San Francisco.  Please pass along my greetings — and condolences.  Other names I recognize are Suzanne Stone (1966), Martha Heffner Pollack (1972), and Andrea Gould Schwarz (1977).  I wish I could say hello to them in person!”

1978 – Eric Kahan – Hanging out with Art

1983 – Takemi Ueno – Playing Cello in Symphony Space
“Discounted Tickets for an Evening of Beautiful 19th-Century Music”:  On Friday, April 5, at 8 pm, the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra -- in which Takemi Ueno '83 plays cello -- will perform at Symphony Space (Broadway & 95th St. in Manhattan).  The program consists of the overture to Weber's "Oberon," Dvorak's Violin Concerto, and Schumann's Symphony No. 3 ("Rhenish").  Tickets for students, seniors, and Symphony Space members are $18.  Tickets for non-students etc. are normally $25; however, you can get them for $20 at the orchestra's website, until 4 PM on Thursday, April 4.  You can probably also get $20 tickets at the box office until 6 PM the day of the concert with the code "NASOFAMILY."

Fan Mail:

Faculty (Karen Bartscherer) – “Hi Art, Newsletter # 29 featured interesting local history from Wheatley decades preceding my years of teaching English there.  Also, a few alumni from more recent graduating classes contributed this time; I recognized family names, even if the writer must have been an older sibling or maybe even a parent of the one I remember.  As so many others have said, Art, I appreciate the time and care you put into this exceptional newsletter.  Karen Bartscherer (1977-2015, teacher of English at Wheatley)”

Faculty (Robert Bernstein) – “I enjoy the Newsletters, and I’m glad to see that more students who graduated in the late sixties and up are responding as well.”

Faculty (Stephen Ehre) – “Art…thanks for all you do.  I love seeing the many names and pictures and stories attached to so many fond memories.  Steve”

Parent (Leah Tchack) – “Arthur, Thanks so much for keeping me on your readers' list.  I rarely know anyone, but still I enjoy sharing a bit of the Wheatley World.  You do such an excellent job, it is a complete pleasure to read.  Congratulations on your decision in the horse carriage case.  I agree they should be out of the traffic, and even if your ruling was because of a narrow legal issue, the horses and the people and the traffic will be better off.  I see there are some old Wheatley hands who are still, even after more than 50 years, quibbling about the Princeton Plan and school prayer.  The same old political issues still trouble our whole country.  Thanks so much, all best to you and yours....Leah”

1958 (Florence Berlinghoff Sudakow) – “Would love to receive the Wheatley Newsletters.”

1958 (Howard L. Cohen) – “Thank you for all the hard work you do to put out The Wheatley Alumni Newsletter.  Please keep it up, though I fear it is a thankless job.”

1958 (Carol Gettleman Berkowitz) – “I thoroughly enjoy reading about the lives of many of our Wheatley classmates.  Please continue to write your interesting reports; I always look forward to hearing about us.  Thanks for the good memories you provide.”

1958 (Cynthia Messing Frank) - “I graduated with our first class, in 1958.  I am living happily in Delaware with my husband of 50 years, Herb.  I would like to receive the newsletter.  Thanks”

1961 (Patricia Kirk Hefferan) – “Wheatley Newsletter # 29 is full of great stuff.”

1963 (Donna Kenton) – “ Art, this represents a lot of time and work, and I very much appreciate that you choose to do it.”  Art Responds – “I have not chosen it; it has chosen me.”
1964 (Michael Garin) – “Thanks so much for the yeoman effort you make to keep everyone so well connected.”

1964 (John F. Sullivan) – “Art, Great newsletter as always - you have set the bar high!”

1965 (Eliot “Ike” Evans) – “Hi Art - another fantastic Newsletter (# 29).”

1965 (Robert (“Bob”) Stern) – “I appreciate all you do to keep us ‘in the loop’ on all things Wheatley.”

1966 (Ken Distler) – “Yours is truly a great ongoing effort.  Your newsletters are treasures, Art.”

1966 (Claude Levy) – “Hi Art,  Thanks for pursuing this great job.  It’s so nice, 50 years later, to read the names of people I remember.” 

1966 (Bette Spiro Neuman) – “Your Wheatley project has become more and more interesting!  Thanks for your effort!”

1966 (Suzanne Stone) – “Great newsletter, as always.  I enjoyed reading about all the Wildcats, especially 66ers Amy Gruskin Gerstein, Diana Noble Rubinger Olmert, Larry Fox, etc.  But Charles Trantum brought tears to my eyes.  I never knew he was adopted; nor that he struggled with that issue, like so many other adopted children.  I hope he finds peace.”

1967 (Seth Bardo) – “Know that your attention to Wheatley is greatly appreciated.”

1967 (Lorraine Eisner Fitelson) – “Thanks for all the work you do to keep us informed.  I love these updates!”

1967 (Phil Fea) – “Thanks for all you do, Art.”

1967 (Lee Fein) – “Kudos on the newsletter – I love it and appreciate your good work.”

1967 (Robert Gross) – “Thanks for all you are doing with the newsletter.  It is interesting to hear what is going on.  My wife and I moved to the Berkshires several years ago full-time and love it.”

1967 (Howard Kirchick) – “Kudos on Newsletter # 29 and all that came before it.”

1967 (Barbara Smith Stanisic) – “Hi Art, Thank you so much for the Wheatley updates.”

1968 (Nancy Lagin) – “Thanks for Newsletter # 29 - it was fun and insightful!  I appreciate your time and caring to keep us connected!  I look forward to your newsletters as wonderful mini-excursions down memory lane, a good break from the craziness of today!”

1969 (Halayne Ehrenberg) – “Thank you for the latest Wheatley Newsletter.”

1969 (Madlyn “Maddy” Nathanson) – “I savor the Newsletters and save them for reading on Sunday, like the New York Times.”

1971 (Dale Ilsley Goldberg) – “I really enjoy reading the newsletters.  Thank you for all of your work and organization in putting it together and sending it out.”

1972 (Henry Noble) – “Lost siblings found; old friends reunited.  Tales of triumph and success and of those lost forever, to live another moment in our memories.  Thank you, Art.”

1973 (Bonnie Greenberg) – “Another great issue (# 29), Art.”

1974 (Victoria Abbott Pitcavage) – “I commend you on how many people you have engaged in your newsletters.  You continue to allow Wheatley graduates to discuss anything that comes to mind.  This is just a note of appreciation for your efforts.  Again, thank you.  Vicki”

1974 (Gregory Cave) – “Thank you, Art.”

1975 (LeAnne Grillo) – “I look forward to receiving the Newsletters.”

1976 (Lisa Kozupsky Pritchard) -  “Thanks for all the work that you do on this endeavor.  It's really great.”

1977 (Nanette Asimov) – “Hi Arthur, I want to thank you so much for putting the newsletters together. They bring back a lot of memories, and I appreciate your taking the time to do it.  Thanks for keeping us all connected!”

1977 (Amy Brumer) – “Art , thank you for all you do to keep the Wheatley community connected.”

1977 (Robert Kass) – “I love the newsletters.”

1986 (Sarah Schwadron Mizrahi) – “Thank you for the work you do keeping all us Wheatley grads up to date and in touch!”

2009 (Amanda Hartman) – “Thank you for another great newsletter.  I love reading them, despite the large generational gap.”

That’s it for The Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter # 30.  Please send me your autobiography before someone else sends me your obituary.

Arthur Fredericks Engoron
The Wheatley School Class of 1967