I was a member of the Pioneer Class of '66. Although my picture is in the yearbook, I am technically not part of the graduating class. I left BK in the middle of my senior year, for reasons almost nobody knew because I wasn't very good then at letting anyone know. During the summer before senior year, my parents moved to Syracuse. McFarlin's had opened a store there and my dad was asked to be manager. I spent the summer of 1965 living in Syracuse, but my parents were great and didn't want me to interrupt my high school years, so they generously made arrangements for me to stay in Rochester, living with a family friend. Meanwhile, I visited back and forth a lot, for many reasons, not the least of which was that their new neighbors in Syracuse had a daughter my age. She was a high-spirited Irish Catholic girl who was smart, funny and pretty - and liked me. So I transferred to her public high school. Part of me is sorry I didn't stay to graduate from BK, but hey, I kinda like to embrace it all, or at least think I should. I think everything has its reason and its purpose.
To make a long story short, that girl and I went away to college together, where we really got to know each other, and after college she became my wife. We both moved to New York City in 1971. We were married for more than 17 years. We have both moved on and she has relocated in London, but we have remained transatlantic friends.
I've had a variety of interesting careers in New York, including owning an art gallery in Greenwich Village. I'm semi-retired now. I do consulting work in the area of fundraising and audience building for music and performing arts organizations. In 1998 I was diagnosed with a very serious heart condition that I nearly didn't survive. I was rushed by ambulance to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where an incredible doctor, Mehmet Oz (yep, that guy on Oprah), saved my life. I had open-heart surgery performed by both Dr. Oz and the chief of transplant surgery, who joined the process because they thought I could end up needing a heart transplant. After telling my friends and family that there was only a 20-25% change of my survival, they repaired an aortic dissection about an inch from my heart. That was an interesting time for me. I made peace with facing the end and I prayed. No moment of my life has been the same since. Every minute has new meaning.
My roommate after surgery was a Jesuit priest from Princeton who was recovering from a quadruple bypass. We've become close friends and still support each other to this day. I've been blessed.
So, back to BK and what I was doing late on a Saturday night, roaming around your great web site. I was home and I was watching the PBS production of the Royal National Theater's version of "Oklahoma," directed by the great Trevor Nunn. I love this production because it's real and a little raw, rather than Broadway-polished, and the performances are great, including Hugh Jackman as Curly. Well, it started me on a trip down memory lane. To me there have never been better high school musical productions than the Oklahoma I was in during junior year (chorus) and the Brigadoon I saw the next year after leaving BK. (I drove from Syracuse with my future wife to see it.) I started thinking about the cast of Oklahoma. I know there were alternating casts, but the standouts in my mind were Randy Macksamie as Curly, Mary Jean Manion as Laurie, Dan Oberst as Will, and a feller named Greg Wroblewski as Jud. For some reason I kept thinking about Dan. Somewhere I had stumbled on the fact that he was at Princeton and I googled him first. It really hit me in the gut to see his obituary, so I read as much about him as I could find and a phrase kept running through my mind, "He had every gift but length of years." God rest his soul. I bet he's doing great, playing and singing in some eternal band. All the names from 50 years ago kept showing up, including Andy Langkopf (the roll call in homeroom was always Langkopf, Larter, Macksamie), Tim Mellon, and Dennis Muoio, my friends who were with me in the chorus. Then I saw a post from Dan Young, one of my best friends dating back to grammar school. I knew so many because I started at St. Salome's, then we moved closer to St. Margaret Mary's, which got split to create Christ the King. So there are a lot of memories.
Thank you for all you do with this wonderful web site.