Ten days, nine cities, four amazing events: Head of School Robert Hill, Director of Alumni engagement, Jill Stern, and Dave Werner from the advancement office took an epic road trip from November 4 to 14 visiting with West Coast alumni and friends from Napa to San Diego.
After a long flight (and a minor luggage fiasco) we hit the ground running, driving north to Petaluma for dinner at The Drawing Board, owned by Rosie Wiggins ’09. Bob Hill swears the burger he ate was the best he’s ever had! Sunday morning saw us heading to St. Helena in Napa Valley where James DeLuca ’95, general manager at the Harvest Inn was hosting a brunch for alumni. Despite the wildfires that had ravaged nearby towns, Napa was verdant. James was a gracious and welcoming host, and the “family style” brunch on the outdoor porch was the perfect chance for everyone to share Williston stories and memories. A special shout-out to Robb Suchecki ’91— visiting SF from his home base in Panama — who joined the group for the day-long adventure. Class of ’95 had a mini-reunion, with Matthew Burke, James DeLuca, and Adam Zedonis. Rose Titcomb ’93, Sam Levin ’80, and Ann Tobey ’79 also made the drive north to enjoy the day. The Harvest Inn is a beautiful resort featuring charming cottages tucked into a redwood forest. We are already working on a Wildcat Wine Weekend for next year, but if you just can’t wait that long, we don’t blame you. Let James know you’re coming: Williston “family” gets special treatment!
After brunch, the group took a quick trip down the road to Hall Wines for a tasting. After admiring the iconic Hall Wines bunny, we toured the winery and got down to the serious business of educating our palates. Finally, with new friendships formed and old connections renewed, the group returned to the Inn to wrap up the day over snacks in the lounge.
We were sad to leave beautiful the beautiful Napa Valley, but it was off to Scottsdale to have dinner with an alumna from the Northampton School for Girls Class of 1949 and thank her for her ongoing support of our Faculty Enrichment funds. The next morning, we were back in Northern California with a stop to see Alexis Speliotis ’11 who is working in group sales for Levi’s Stadium. We got a tour of the stadium (including the fantasty football lounge and boxes) and would love to hear from any of you who think a Williston sports or music outing would be a good idea!
Despite the traffic from San Francisco’s largest tech conference, we made it into the city in plenty of time to get ready for our wine tasting event (are you detecting a theme to our Northern California travesl?) hosted by Jen Kash ’89 and David Connolly ’83 at Jen’s home. We were happy to see Arwin Gbolie ’02, who recently relocated to SF, as well as Joe Cavallaro ’03 and his wife, Jamie. Ivana Kurian ’94, Nicole Clausing ’88 and Meserve Platt ’83 were among other alumni braving the traffic.
We hated to leave San Francisco, but with two more excellent events for our LA alumni on the calendar, it was time to head south. Along the way, we visited with a Northampton School for Girls alumna of the class of 1965 whose generous investment in the arts at Williston through the Grum Project has allowed us to bring artists of every kind to the campus for residencies and workshops. We are so grateful to all of our alumni who enrich the lives of our students and the campus community in so many ways. It’s exciting to be able to share stories of their impact on the current generation of Williston students.
Friday night, Williston alumni were in for a rare treat with a special performance from The Reverend Shawn Amos ’86 and his band. (The hotel manager said that the band is usually only available to them on major holidays like New Year’s Eve. This special guest appearance was a treat for them as well!) Mr. C’s lobby lounge was practically a private venue for alumni including Serra Aladag ’00, Bill Mahoney ’86, Fleming Brooks ’89, Joe Orlando ’87, Keith Solomon ’87, Asuko Naito ’93, Charlie McNeil ’03, Mickey Meyer ’03, Valli Thorton ’82, Alex Paolo ’12, who, along with other guests, sipped, snacked, and listened to some of the best blues and soul on either coast! The Reverend’s got a new album out and will be touring most of next year. Watch his web site for dates, and if you’re lucky enough to have him swing through your town, don’t miss the show.
We closed out our California trip with a fantastic brunch at The Shore Hotel, hosted by Bruce Reichenbacher ’74. Sunday was overcast –and perhaps a bit chilly by SoCal standards — but LA locals assured us that they appreciated the New England-like weather. Alumni from the classes of 1947 – 2017 listened as Bob Hill shared all the news from campus, including where to find the livestream of the new dorm construction! Among those in attendance: Bunny Feuer ’47, Elena Allen ’59, Brian Studwell ’59, Michael Hirsch ’73, Steve Holcomb ’65 (visiting from his home in Vero Beach, FL), Ceanna Ellner ’04, Chic Eglee ’70, John Vollbrecht ’65, Leanna Albanese ’16 (fresh from being cast in an upcoming production at USC), Pinky King ’17, and Joe Orlandon ’87 and Fleming Brooks ’89, who had so much fun with us on Friday, they joined us for brunch too!