Elbow Rubbing: Last December Don Henney’s son, Joe (Class of ’09), called Don and asked him if he had any plans for December 19th, and if not, would he like to go to the White House Christmas Party. Don checked his calendar, saw that he wasn’t playing dominoes with the guys or taking his semimonthly bath that night and replied that he might be able to fit it in. So Don and his w-a-a-a-y better half, Debbie, attended the gala event, and while they were there took a short break from socializing to have their picture taken with President and Melania Trump. President Trump is the one wearing a striped tie. Don is the one on the left trying to palm an ornament off the tree to take home as a souvenir. Don and Debbie have three sons. Joe oversees the medical support for the president and vice-president, and Dan and Caleb haven’t been convicted of any felonies for at least a year. They’re actually successful as well, but if their stories were told this would turn into a Christmas letter, so suffice it to say Don and Debbie are proud of the Henney boys, and justifiably so. (Photos 1 & 2 Below)
Gary Exelby continues to garner awards for his journalism. In the Smaller Dailies category, the 2018 Arkansas Press Association Better Newspaper Contest awarded him second place for in-depth series on Drug Court, Honorable Mention for a single news photograph: fiery crash claims life, first place for coverage of business and agriculture, and first place for coverage of education. One gets the feeling that Gary was one of the few that stayed awake in English classes before his parole from the Zoo. (Photo 3 Below)
Retirements Done Right: For those of you who can't remember anything before you rolled out of bed this morning or anything after your attempt to avoid daily embarrassment as a teenager in the late ‘60s, you may also recall Mark Volcheff’s expedition to Antarctica last February to fulfill his son Paul’s goal to visit all seven continents before Paul turned 30. It appears Mark’s and Paul’s wanderlust has ratcheted up another level, and their newest goal is to visit 100 countries. They came nearer to that mark by visiting Cuba in January. Check off country 77 for Paul and 82 for Mark. Mark had the advantage of being an airlift pilot for 32+ years, but in family competitions there is no such thing as an “unfair” advantage. Mark reports that the contrasts in a communist country are fascinating; it was easy traveling there, he found the people incredibly friendly, and it was 100% safe. You cannot travel there in a tourist category, but there are 12 other categories that Mark is happy to explain if you are interested in going there.
Rick Benbow sent in the following update from Charles Town, West Virginia. “Retired from American Airlines officially in January 2017 with 28 years of service after being with USAirways for 26 of those years. Actually, I was on Long Term disability for almost half of those years due to a little heart trouble. What the Captain means, I didn't have a "little heart," but the heart I had was having a little trouble pumping. After retiring I was bitten by the golf bug and try to play 2-3 times a week. Last summer I was able to play in a Washington DC golf outing that pitted USAFA, USNA, and West Point grads against each other. The USAFA team succeeded in achieving ‘the fruits of victory’ on the ‘fields of friendly strife!’ Several ‘75 grads were there led by General Mark Beesley. Staying in the golf vein, I checked off a ‘Bucket List’ trip this year. Myself and 3 other USAFA grads/American Airline pilots (Stafford Rogers '79, Keith Wilson '77, Jeff Mayer '77) traveled to Carmel-by-the-Sea to play Pebble Beach. The weather was sometimes great and sometimes wet and wild, but the trip was fantastic and everything about it rated a FAST-NEAT-AVERAGE-FRIENDLY-GOOD-GOOD to the max.”
Retirement Done Wrong: This is woeful and disheartening. Tom Whiteside reports, “In the Fall of 2018, more than 3 years after my retirement to the beach, I un-retired and joined a law group in West Houston as the senior attorney. Starting over, I plan to retire again in 30 years.” We mourn Tom’s loss from the ranks of the retired. The fact that another !@#$ lawyer is re-entering the workforce makes it just that much more troubling.
45th Reunion Class of 1975 Gift Campaign: Endowing Contrails and Renovating the Air Gardens. (The following message was sent out through the AOG and is being presented here to ensure as wide a distribution as possible). Over the past year, the Class Quiet Phase Committee (Beesley, Pyatt, Fariss, Hennek, and Smith-Harrison) along with input from class officers and other classmates, selected an overall "stretch goal" of $1.975M (yes, “1975”), with the first $200K funding the Contrails endowment, and the balance applied to the Restoration of the Air Gardens. Due to the diligent and assiduous efforts of the Quiet Phase Committee members, initial classmate response for these two iconic gifts was overwhelming. A small portion of our class (less than 5%) incredibly has already made pledges to this effort totaling in excess of $800,000! Many thanks to them, and to the persistence of our fine Committee.
With that great start, we now enter the “Public Phase” of the campaign with a Public Phase Committee consisting of classmates Larry Fariss (Chair), Rick Pyatt (1st Group), Mark Volcheff (2nd Group), Bentley Rayburn (3rd Group) and Duane Jones (4th Group), who will conduct a class-wide funding campaign commencing January 2019. This will be accomplished by a squadron-mate in direct contact with every classmate, who will each have the opportunity to donate and help the class reach our goal. The committee wants to get the word out to all classmates, updating them on the Gifting Plan and their role, prior to kicking off the Public Phase. Please participate, no matter the amount of your donation. It’s important that we have all classmates involved in this milestone moment for the Class of ‘75. This is a gift from our class to our alma mater that will endure.
And Finally: Class President and Supreme Allied Poobah, Jim Carlson, has gone all out to ensure he retains the newest-father-in-the-class title. He and Sarah are expecting a new addition in 2019, and Jim is confident it will be a boy or a girl. Congratulations Jim and Sarah! If other classmates are considering staging an attempt to challenge Jim for the title of newest father, a thorough checkup with a strong emphasis on the mental aspects of your health is recommended. (UPDATE: Aya Carlson was born in January, weighing in at 8 lb).
For more class news, including newly-added ZoomieNation Checkpoints column archives and some never before published recollections of the golden years of 1971-1975, go to 75bestalive.org (Nevermind. You're There!)