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Howard Baetjer '70


As I did last year, I’ll give only a summary and highlights of class news, because almost all news of interest is available on the class list-serve that Bob Cole set up for us months ago.

I’ll start with news from Alumni Weekend 2021 that is not on the list-serve:

As I write this on April 22, a bunch of us have just logged off a pleasant, big Alumni Weekend Zoom gathering with Gilman’s fourth grade. Participants Jeff Putterman, Bob Cole, Bob Tickner, Allen Moore, Bob Seims, Don Gettinger, Harry Shaw, Warren Marcus, John Gilpin, Bruce Eisenberg, Mike Russo, Bill Fitzpatrick, Chad Pistell, and Howie Baetjer were pen pals with a number of those boys last spring when they were third graders. We were supposed to meet with them face to face then, before our 50th reunion, but of course COVID scotched that, so we made it up with the Zoom meeting. All the fourth graders and several of their teachers were there, so in all we made up three Zoom screens’ worth of participants. In breakout rooms of two or three of us, our pen pals, other boys, and a teacher, we talked about the sports they play, the books they are reading, the musical instruments they play, and lots else.

In the whole group wrap-up, Howie (discouraged as usual at the poor preparation for college of many of his Towson University students) asked them to be grateful for the reading and writing skills they are learning and urged them to read all they can. Harry Shaw backed that up by telling of the rewriting he has to do for his clients in the publishing world, and Don Gettinger got us all smiling and nodding with remembering the page of 12 punctuation rules we used to be given each year, and the red-ink notations of “p3,” “p7,” and so on that decorated our papers. Bob Cole remarked on how well prepared we found ourselves when we got to college. Warren Marcus advised the boys in his low-key way to “be true to themselves” in a world where there is pressure to conform to one thing or another.

The boys seemed to enjoy our visit with them (it was a bit hard to tell behind their masks). Certainly it was fun for us. 

The next night we had our virtual reunion on Zoom with the following in attendance, in the order I copied the names from my Zoom window: Gettinger, Frank Sanger, Fitzpatrick, Siems, Duane Chase, Putterman, Pistell, Tickner, Marcus, Shaw, Bill Mueller, Rick Gumpert, Stewart Wise, Julien Hecht, Russo, Steve Wexler, Moore, Ed Sutton, Cole, Page West, Eisenberg, Andy Quartner, John Gilpin, Boo Smith, and Baetjer, H. 

There was the banter we’d expect, with Duane instigating a lot of it, naturally, but we also focused on a few of us for a few minutes each, learning how Bill Fitzpatrick ended up in NYC, about Jeff Putterman’s musical career (7string guitar only now), Bob Tickner’s recent daunting treatment and strong recovery from brain surgery and melanoma (all signs are positive! And Bob tells us that Thayer Simmons and Carlton Sexton have been a valuable source of support and information about his treatments), Allen Moore’s favorite of the many Ken Burns films he has worked on (The Vietnam War), and Boo Smith’s being back to work full time after (daunting, again) treatment for multiple myeloma.

It was a good gathering, but it lacked the richness of face-to-face interaction. So we look forward hopefully to our long-delayed true reunion, now scheduled for November 5-6. Keep those days clear!

We have had sad news of the loss of three of our classmates over the past year. 

Rob Lloyd is one, and I have no information other than this obituary, which Hunter Nesbitt found for us:

Here is a photo of Rob for us to remember him by. He does not appear to be doing schoolwork. Rest in peace, Rob.

Rob Lloyd

Jeff Peabody died last December also, after suffering from Alzheimer’s. Classmates wrote in remembering Jeff this way: He was “a really kind, friendly guy.” “A really sweet, friendly and good person!” He was “always friendly, never pretentious.” “I loved his thin smirky smile. And I was inspired by his athletic ability. He sort of walked around stand-up carelessly, but boy was he fast. No, maybe he was quick more than he was fast. It came as no surprise that he excelled in lacrosse.” Rest in peace, Jeff.

And we lost Doug Warner to brain cancer on February 17. His passing came with no warning for many of us. His wife, Yvonne, wrote to the class before he died, asking for “some stories/memories to add to his bio.” She read it all to Doug as it came in. Here is some of what we said:

[He was] “one of the kinder and easier going people in our class. He exuded a strength of character that few had, and while strong overall, he was a gentle soul.” “I recall his kindness and his being a sort of shining light.” “He personified solid and fair and approachable.” Rick Gumpert recounted the highlights of a drive across country and back after graduation; see the photos of Rick by the tent and Doug at the Grand Canyon. 

Doug Warner
Rick Gumpert

This is from Cranston Dize: At Union, Muv [Doug] would emerge in the Spring and play touch football with all of the jocks on campus as it dug out from the winter. My roommate Mark Chittim was a Western Mass sprint champion. Nobody knew him or Muv. They became campus legends — “Those Rabbits” — and connected with regular 50-yard TDs. Could Doug ever throw!

Some weeks after Doug died, Yvonne sent the following, along with some photos, three of which we reproduce here (the group shot is of Carlton Sexton, Thayer Simmons, Dick Richardson, Bill Fitzpatrick, Bucky Rulon-Miller, and Doug, at Dick Richardson’s wedding):

Dick Richardson's wedding

I want to thank you all for your wonderful emails and photos and phone calls to our home, both before and after Doug’s death. 

I read all the emails to Doug, which brought many smiles to his face (especially mention of the vigilante egg squad! He tried claiming innocence, but the notation next to his yearbook photo says it all!).

And as he lay there, pretty unresponsive the last few days, I would sometimes call him “Muv”...and it must have brought back good memories every time I said it, because through the haze, he would summon up a smile.

Rest in peace, Doug.

Stewart Wise writes with “greetings from the distant past! Here’s my news: After working in property management for 37 years, I have finally retired. The plan is to fix up our house, sell it, and move to Greensboro, North Carolinaso we can be closer to our daughter, son-in-law and grandson, who live down there.” 

Chad Pistell’s update: “I will turn 70 this summer, and my wife and I hope to ride at least one tourist railroad to celebrate the momentous event.”

Your secretary is eagerly looking forward to getting back into the economics classroom (at Towson University) and off Zoom! I have experienced more stress and anxiety over teaching in the last year than I did in the 20-plus previous put together. Reworking presentations for the computer screen rather than the whiteboard has been challenging. And I hate not being able to read students’ expressions and body language and get them talking to one another easily. I plan on staying full time two more years, then going part time.

Last August, Jeff Putterman announced the release of his new album, Solo 7string 2020, a collection of tunes composed and arranged over the past decade, all recorded in his home studio on a Hill 7string Classical Guitar. For a preview and links to one’s preferred listening platform, go to Then, in October, Jeff announced Quartet 97, available at He writes, “This recording was made 23 years ago. I was still playing 6string guitars and using a pick on the electric guitar. (I’ve been a 7string player with fingers only since the turn of this century.) The sessions were completed in one weekend without sound separation between instruments, so they truly sound like live recordings with spirited moments and with blemishes.” Way to go, Jeff!

Bruce Beehler writes with news of yet another book. For scholarly output accessible to everyone, he seems to be our class star. His latest book is out (Princeton University Press 2020): “New Guinea: Nature and Culture of the Earth’s Grandest Island.” The book provides an overview of the history, natural history and anthropology of the largest and highest tropical island, complemented by more than 250 photographs by National Geographic photographer Tim Laman. Bruce has done research on the island of New Guinea for more than 35 years and the new volume captures the wonders of this faraway place. The other of Bruce’s books that most Gilman readers might want to own is “Birds of Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia” (Johns Hopkins, 2019, 461 pages). Bruce says he is “currently working on my biggest book yet (to be published by Hopkins), entitled “Photographic Atlas of the Birds of North America.” That sounds like a terrific reference book for people serious about birds. 

New Guinea by Bruce Beehler

I hate to report that Bill Johnson sends distressing news that, unlike Boo, he is not responding well to his treatment for multiple myeloma. The night of our Zoom reunion (April 23) he wrote that he has “been having a hard time with the myeloma. My pain level has increased considerably, and I have low energy and spend more time lying around. The drugs they try haven’t stopped the cancer very well of late… Side effects are frequently present. Options are dwindling. We consult again with the Mayo expert early next week.” He added, positively, “At least the signs of spring are ‘sprung’. I hope the virtual reunion was/is a success!” We all hope Bill starts to get great results so we can see him in Roland Park in November.

Let’s finish with a quick glimpse at what has interested us enough for us to write about it on the class list-serve in the last year. This sampling shows a pretty rich intellectual life, and some reminiscing.

  • Earth Day and the beauty of the planet – Renneburg

  • Single-payer health system – Renneburg

  • Shareholder capitalism – Jade Tippett

  • Lincoln on capital and labor – Mark Morrill

  • Quality of US healthcare system based on life expectancy stats – West

  • The Mayflower Compact and the 14th Amendment – Farber

  • U.S. criminal justice system – Baetjer, H.

  • The divergence (or not) of wages and productivity – West, Baetjer, Tippett

  • John Taylor Gatto’s 14 Themes of the Elite Private School Curriculum – Dize

  • An “incident” the night before the Gilman-McDonogh game our senior year – Baetjer, G. and various others…

  • Our 40-0 loss in that game: “That was a sad and futile day!” – Ted Bauer

  • Critical Race Theory – Cole, Tippett, Dize

And a final item:

Consensus has it that this is our second form year class photo, as Bill Mueller says, “ablaze with Madras.” I think it was also Bill who observed that this might be the last photograph taken of as children. Fifty-five years ago. I hope to see you kids in November.


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