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BIOSketches

 

Ballantyne

Balz

Biggers

Bohon

Breck

Broder

Butterfield

Haymans

Hirt

Hoffman

Holdsworth

D  Jones

T   Jones

Koch

 

Laverty

Leister

Lewis

Macomber

Matter

Maxwell

McGowan

 

Nelson

Osnos

Peterson

Rabe

Rice

Shulevitz

Simpson

 

A Smith

smith

Spoehr

Townsend

Truettner

Webb

Whitfield


Return

 

In 1999, when design icon Stefan Sagmeister is invited to depict his forthcoming lecture at Cranbrook, he asks his assistant to carve his central message onto his torso with an X-acto knife. The body graphic is the result -- catch Cranbrook's name underneath Sagmeister's name. 

Stefan Sagmeister 

Somewhat similarly, in 2008 when surviving members of the Class of '49 are invited to depict their lives after their boys' school, they carve out bold and striking messages. And in the links to their biosketches above, as their reports move between past and present simultaneously, sometimes Cranbrook hovers in their life stories. 

 

 

RONALD WILLIAM BALLANTYNE

Has spent his life tinkering with anything he can get his hands on. Used to play a mediocre piano and a somewhat better banjo. Is a pretty good woodworker; likes restoring antique power-boats; favorite possessions are his ‘35 Ford roadster and his ‘30 Chris-Craft. Has about 1000 hours flying, but now couldnt land a Piper Cub. Currently flies rather large model airplanes, with indifferent results. Is a 17 handicap golfer. Has devoted too much time fly-fishing all over the place and will tell you that trout may be dumb, but they are honest. While capable on some days of having a complaint (like all of us), regards this life as very well worthwhile... Now considers a great day as having a good dinner with mandatory glass or 2 while talking with his wife Barbara and hearing from his kids and grandkids. Has been married to Barbara for almost 30 years and they continue to live in their dream home near School. Barbara is an accomplished artist and a beautiful competitive ballroom dancer. Ron treasures family as well as new and life-long friendships. He remembers the years at Purdue and those distant days at Cranbrook with hazy but real affection. Most admires Thomas Edison for his “cut and try” approach. His hero is brother John, Cranbrook 48. Rons greatest hopes are for his extended family and for all other honest people to follow their hearts. He genuinely thinks that Cranbrook’s faculty and his buddies saved his ass.

Ballantyne

balz

 

 

 

GUNTHER WILLIAM BALZ

Gunther emailed these barebones data: “‘53, B.S. Business/Engineering, M.I.T; 53-57, Active duty on destroyer, U.S. Navy; 57-84, Worked in metal finishing industry; 88-‘94, PhD in Experimental Psychology, Florida Atlantic University; happily married to Susan; 3 children, 1 grandson, Will; Hobbies: aviation, tennis, reading.” That was it: 39 words. Needed: about 240 more… Happily, anyone can look Gunther up on the world-wide web. So here is a quick thumbprint... Is still tall and blue-eyed. Sold his company in Kalamazoo to retire at age 53. Lives with beautiful wife Susan in oceanfront condo, Highland Park, FL. Theyre vegetarians, drinking no alcohol (“…I grew up in a time where most well-to-do people were alcoholics. It just was the way life was. Leisure to those people meant getting plastered.”)… Describes self as “half-fast inventor.” Holds about 50 patents, several becoming big moneymakers… Builds & flies planes. Donated one to a Kalamazoo museum. Is a licensed aircraft mechanic. Says his round-the world trip in ‘62 “should last a lifetime.” Once won the National Air Races in Reno. Is said by others to speak in an “ingenuous manner that serves to conceal his erudition and sometimes to psych his [air-racing] opponents into taking him too lightly.” Describes himself as “still scared right up till I get buckled into the cockpit. After every race, I practically faint from sheer terror at what Ive done.”… Loves Victorian novels & classical music, especially Bachs organ works. Has taught himself French, German, Latin, and Quantum Mechanics. In ‘72, published a book of poetry, The Feasting Eye (out of print)… Seeks spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional balance in the unhurried life. “I dont know whats going to happen next. So what? The most valuable lesson I have learned in life is to live comfortably with uncertainty, the pathway to freedom.”

Balz

 
balz

 biggers

 

JAMES WESLEY BIGGERS JR.

“After Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in organ and choral music from Northwestern University, I was one of those ‘49ers who served in the army in Germany. There, I took the opportunity to tour parts of Europe by bicycle, train, and bus. Since then I have spent most of my life working in music, education, churches, and church schools. A short time in pipe-organ factories and 17 years in retail management also have helped fill-out my time since Commencement.  For the past 22 years, I have been "Ministries Coordinator" in Hudson, Florida for a large Roman Catholic community (over 5,000 families). My duties are that of associate musician, adult education director, teacher in the children's program, director of a program involving 800 volunteers who reach out to handicapped adults as well as to the elderly who live alone, and director/host for various church and community events held in the parish center. In that last capacity, sometimes I find myself directing fairs and carnivals. Even with 21 others on the church’s staff, I’m on call for different tasks as needed. I also visit other parishes in the Diocese giving workshops on "Safe Environment" for those volunteers who visit or work with ‘vulnerable adults.’… In my travels, I encounter many a northerner who is at his wit’s end after moving down here to the ‘Sunshine State’ – they haven’t much of a clue about what to do with all their free time. I feel that it is good to be busy.  So, I have no intentions of retiring. My wife, Cornelia, after 22 years in The Florida Orchestra, also keeps busy: throughout the 5 counties of the Tampa Bay area, Cornelia free lances bassoon and organ engagements.”

Biggers 

 

bohon

 

JOHN WILLIAM BOHON

Wearing his Cranbrook shirt at left, Jack is standing beside Sally Landis, a Kingswood and Florida girl he met at Michigan State. Theyre parents of 5, 2 sons and 3 daughters, all married and living the breadth of the nation – Maine, Texas, Kansas, and California. Off camera are their grandchildren and great-grandkids… Along the way, Jacks been a soldier, a masters student in Sallys hometown of DeLand, a PhD in Russian and East Asian History (University of North Carolina), and an award-winning History Prof at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth….When he hit 65, Jack retired to Granbury, Texas, where “four years of life on the river was a story in itself…After traveling throughout Europe and the Far East, and seeing all 50 states and Canada, were back in DeLand. We have a beautiful home on 1.5 acres. It is all I can do physically just to keep the grass cut. My hobby, I guess, is relearning Mandarin Chinese. Sally plunged into the life of the city, becoming president of the historical association. I help there and at the Garden Club, and we volunteer for Meals on Wheels and Faith at Work, an outreach organization to help indigents at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church where we were married almost 58 years ago. Needless to say, this is work in a universe light years removed from our Cranbrook/Kingswood experience. It has fostered our appreciation for how fortunate weve been. Health is good, for our age. Financial health? Well, may God bless the stock market.”

Bohon

 
balz

 

 

DAVID FREDERICK BRECK

UPDATE: After a battle with leukemia (AML), Dick left us peacefully on

April 10, 2009.

Dick, record-holder for most times on the "Un-Sat" list, barely graduated from Cranbrook, Michigan State, & U of MI Law. Through law school, he mooched off a school teacher, his wonderful live-in wife, Fran. After law school, he knocked on law firms' doors (his résumé didn't help), finally getting hired in a 5-person firm after the 5th member was fired. He eventually became an assistant prosecutor, until swept out of office by Lyndon Johnson's landside. Then he became a solo practitioner. Favorite litigation: representing minorities for housing discrimination. Elected to Birmingham’s City Commission, served 15 years, twice as Mayor…  He earned his moniker (Saint) when Rev. Walt Young was teaching about sainthood; unfortunately for Dick, Walt heard Dick whisper, "What a bunch of bull." Penalty: he was ordered to write an essay on how to become a Saint…  Governor Milliken later appointed Saint to the Circuit Court, the major trial court, where he served for 18 years. Unfortunately, during that time, he lost Fran to cancer... Among his memorable trials: Michigan's first right-to-die case and an inmate's petition to order the prison to remove his penis and give him a vagina, thus completing his sex change… Michigan law prevents judges from running for re-election at age 70, but Dick was assigned to continue the drug-treatment court he’d founded. That court recognizes we’ve lost the war on drugs, and so emphasizes rehabilitation. Currently Dick presides over murder trials in Detroit. Unique accomplishments: avoiding hit men and his modesty (for a photo capturing that modesty, see the discreet frontal on the page after Whitfield’s bio). He also surprised everyone by receiving Cranbrook’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Michigan State Bar Association’s highest honor, ‘Champion of Justice.’ He’s proud that his 3 kids say he’s “the best mom a dad can be.” Based on heredity (their mother's), Dick claims his children are much smarter than yours.

Breck

 
balz

 

 

WILLIAM KEIDAN BRODER

Bill remains grateful to a number of teachers at Cranbrook:  Mr. Ricketts, Mr. Davis, Mr. Borbas, Coach Grba, and Mr. Yule, who recommended that he attend Columbia College.  His experience at Columbia lived up to Senior Master’s promise  -- a fascinating introduction to world thought under stimulating teachers along with a lively experience in New York City…  After serving in the Far East on a destroyer during the Korean War, Bill wrote and taught writing as a Teaching Assistant under Wallace Stegner and Richard Scowcroft at Stanford.  Professionally, Bill has worked extensively as a free-lance writer, specializing in the writing, design, and production of educational materials for museums, schools, exhibitions, and publishing companies… He   has published 3 books of fiction:  The Sacred Hoop (Sierra Club Books); Remember This Time, written with his wife, Gloria (Newmarket Press); and Taking Care of Cleo (Handsel Books/Other Press); Cleo was chosen as 1 of 6 fiction finalists in the Great Lakes Book Awards and was 1 of 20 books from all categories selected as a Notable Book of 2007 by the Michigan Library Foundation… Bill has also acted as member, Executive Director, and Artistic Director of a playwrights workshop, California On Stage, and has completed a number of full-length plays.  Abalone!  was produced in Carmel, while his other plays have received staged readings throughout the northern part of the state…  Bill has been joyously married to Gloria Kurian Broder for 52 years.  She is the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, Their Magician and Other Stories.  Their daughter Tanya is a public-interest lawyer; their son Adam, a film writer and director.  The Broders have lived in Sausalito, California for 47 years and continue their writing careers.  Bill still enjoys the outdoor life -- hiking and rafting whenever he can.