The December 2017 magazine that appeared on my doorstep over winter break was titled “Into Oblivion” and contained sad news to match: an obituary for Reed College’s longtime tai chi teacher, David Barrett ’79.
I received my first tai chi lessons from Dave back in spring 2003, standing in the gym alongside half a dozen Reed students, spending the entire year learning the full hand form, and then continuing to practice with Dave, his new batch of Reed students, and (when my schedule permitted) his off-campus regulars. Every April Dave would take some time out of class to share stories about the Renn Fayres of his student days in the late ’70’s. These nearly always included a nod in my direction, accompanied by the question, “am I right, Professore?” Dave’s message was always on point: enjoy the end of classes and stay healthy and safe. As the start of classes approached each fall, I always looked forward to reuniting with him on the South Lawn to talk about tai chi practice, his summer travels, our families, and anything else that came to mind. He was a terrific teacher. He was also a wise, good friend and, like everyone who crossed his path, I miss him dearly.
Chemistry-related news was sparse in December ’17, but the random bits that emerged had their own distinctive flavor. There was a shout out to biochem major, Trevor Soucy ’18, who turned in the fastest time of all Reed runners in the annual Portland marathon. The “Running Jokes”, as Reed’s track stars dubbed themselves, included students, faculty, and staff, and featured runners, walkers, marathoners and half-marathoners (Scrappy Runners Storm Portland Marathon, p. 9).
The Earl family celebrated along with Kristen Earl ’05, recipient of the Babson Society Outstanding Volunteer Award. The Earl family, which includes two Reed chemists, Lyndsey Earl ’07 and husband Thom Draine ’08, was justifiably proud of Kristen, who the Alumni Board cited for having “had an amazing and last impact. Kristen’s tireless efforts to advance the mission of the college and serve the alumni community make her a perfect candidate for this honor.” (Earl Takes Babson Award, p. 14)
Class Notes contained a message from Justin Ashworth ’03 who wrote (in part), “enjoying a generous and timely experiment in transnational green science while the US sketches out some fair and sane plan for its future” … and Claire Trageser ’05 passed along joyous news regarding the birth of her son, Devon, in late summer. Claire added that he is already preparing for Hum 110! Claire Remington ’11 supplied news that can only be quoted, not abridged. To wit, Claire R. “took a brief hiatus this year from her work with SOIL (founded by Sasha Kramer ’99) to found the Iron River Institute, located in Iron River, Wisconsin, and dedicated to the advancement of strength and coziness. The inaugural summer intensive featured workshops on Stand-Up Paddleboard Jousting with Paul Whittredge ’12, Floating Pyre Polo with Aquatic Marshmallow Braising with Glenn Harrison ’10, Kayak-Bound Coastal Indentation Survey (at least 2 of them were caves) with Claire, Total Euchre Domination, Popcorn-Method Forced Emotional Divulging with …” (and it continues – see Class Notes). The final entry in Class Notes is a “we heard” from the magazine itself that reports Zachary Mathe ’17 received a highly competitive graduate scholarship through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Congratulations, Zac!