Class Notes - February 11, 1998

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Class notes features

Lucius Wilmerding '27 survives armed carjacking

His longtime friend, class secretary Curtin Winsor '27 reports on the event
LAST NOVEMBER 6, just as Lucius Wilmerding '27 was about to drive his friend Noelle Veitch to a family dinner party for his granddaughter at the Nassau Club in Princeton, they were carjacked and became involved in a fatal bank robbery that was featured by most newspapers and several television news programs on the East Coast. Lucius's assailant was one of the three bank robbers; he had just crashed his getaway car while fleeing the scene of the robbery of $140,000 from the Princeton branch of the Sovereign Bank.
A repairman for the bank's automated teller machine who arrived on the scene as the robbery was taking place saw a teller in the bank's lobby with her hands tied. He called the police. Officers responding to the call entered the bank and encountered a robber, who threatened the bound teller with a 22-magnum pistol. The officers, who had just returned from target practice at a firing range, shot the robber, killing him instantly.
News articles reported that the remaining robber fled with another hostage and met up with an accomplice in the parking lot behind the bank. Racing from the scene, the two crashed their car into a stone wall about one mile north of Nassau Street and one block from where Lucius was escorting his friend to the car. The two robbers separated on foot, leaving their hostage in the wrecked car.
Brandishing a machine pistol, one of the robbers encountered Lucius at his friend's home. When the gunman burst into the rear seat of Lucius's car, Noelle Veitch astutely jumped out of the car's front seat, ran back into her home, and called the police. The gunman climbed into the front seat of the car and ordered Wilmerding to drive back up Witherspoon Street as fast as possible--at over 70 m.p.h. Lucius, angered by his assailant's rudeness, hit the brakes, whereupon the gunman stamped on the accelerator and threatened to kill him.
Wilmerding, an eminent historian, responded by quoting Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay: "You may fire when ready, Gridley." This historical allusion fortunately was missed by the gunman, who pistol-whipped Lucius across the face and threw him out of the car near Forer's Drug Store, located close to the Princeton Medical Center.
Lucius received a black eye from the pistol-whipping and a concussion when his head struck the pavement. He was hospitalized for three days, with a minor skull fracture and abrasions on his arm. Curiously, his assailant also threw Lucius's cane out of the car. Now, Lucius says he feels "pretty much back to normal, bothered only by occasional bouts of double vision." In December he made a trip to England to meet with some wartime friends.
Lucius modestly defers credit for resisting the carjacking to his friend Noelle, who called the police after jumping from the car. After his ejection from the car, he was assisted by two young people named Doug and Susan, who called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
The assailant was apprehended in New York City two weeks after the incident and remains in custody. He left $10,000 of his loot in Lucius's station wagon, after hastily abandoning it in downtown Princeton.
One of the Class of 1927's most original characters, Lucius as an undergraduate was a member of the varsity chess club, which suggests a clearheaded thinker. His subsequent career included 10 years of distinguished service with the Treasury Department, work for the city of New York, and service as a naval staff officer in England during World War II. He later taught at the Army/Navy staff college.
A prolific writer and a nationally recognized authority on the origins of the Constitution, Lucius, following the war, became a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. His book The Spending Power, originally published by Anchor Press in 1971, was recently reissued.
Two hip replacements some years ago enabled him to continue his active lifestyle. His wife of 66 years, Jane Mather, died in 1995. She was the adopted daughter of New York Times columnist Walter Lippman, with whom Lucius coauthored several articles.
Following the carjacking, Lucius's press coverage and celebrity status were such that his son, Lucius '52, reportedly had to station a guard by his hospital door to protect him from the media onslaught. I've known him for nearly 75 years, and the courage and quick wit he showed on that night last November are completely in character.
--Curtin Winsor '27

Martha McCully '82 tells American women how to be beautiful
Laser hair removal, botulism injections, cellulite suctions--all in a day's work
SOME SAY that beauty is truth; others contend that it's knowing the right plastic surgeon. There are those who think beauty is a joy forever, and those who believe it grows familiar and fades. But no one, anywhere, feels that beauty has anything to do with cellulite. Here's a sampler of thoughts on the topic, gleaned from centuries of literature: beauty is its own excuse for being; it makes the heart break; it's a silent deceit; it's unbearable; it's skin deep; it's in the eye of the beholder; it drives us to despair; it's a gift of God; it's a fatal gift. A quick glance through Allure, the beauty and fashion magazine, provides a much more concrete idea of beauty: it's shiny hair and unwrinkled skin and sculpted eyebrows and smooth nails and a hard body.
Not quite, says Martha McCully '82, Allure's beauty director. "It's the relationship between our appearance and ourselves, the positive emotional feeling that is associated with appearance," she says.
Positive emotional feeling? About one's appearance? But isn't the success of Allure and other beauty magazines dependent on negative feelings about appearance? Aren't we all neurotic cesspools of said emotion? Isn't that negativity a large part of what being an American woman in the '90s is all about? Well, yes, McCully says, but that's not the way it should be, and that's not what Allure is about. "The negative energy women spend on berating themselves because they're not perfect is a crime," she says. "Women dwell on these things and prevent themselves from having a life."
McCully, who's commented on beauty-related issues in television appearances on programs including Oprah, Good Morning America, and The Today Show, feels that most beauty magazines tell women that there's a "right" way to look, and "you just can't live up to them." But Allure's approach is different, she says. "What we do is put out a lot of options and resources and help women explore what is right for them, not what is right for us. Whether it's something as stupid as a lipstick shade or as serious as reconstructive surgery, I feel that if women can feel better about themselves, then we've accomplished something."
Giving women the options--letting them know what's new, what's good, and what's a sham in the beauty business--requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work. No beauty product makes it to the pages of Allure without first gracing the applicable part of McCully's body. She's had the hair on her legs removed by a laser (yes, it hurt, and no, it didn't work any of the three times she tried it), a strain of botulism was injected into her forehead (it paralyzes the muscles, which reduces wrinkles), her cellulite was suctioned by a vacuum-like device applied to the skin (it's a procedure from France, okay?), she's been subjected to a cellulite massage ("it hurts so much you're basically screaming"), she's been covered with mud and then wrapped in plastic and then brushed with a doormat-like object, and her body has been slathered with salts and with oatmeal.
"I enjoy it all," says McCully. "I always have high hopes."
Now, how many of you can say that about your jobs? Bring on the botulism. Line forms to the right.
In addition to testing the products and meeting with the cosmetic companies to keep abreast of what's new, McCully produces Allure's beauty stories and oversees the stories on trends as well as the columns on fitness and eating.
McCully has been on Allure's staff since the publication was founded, in 1990 (the first issue was March 1991). Prior to that, she was the marketing services director for GQ, which, like Allure, is a Condé Nast publication. She began working for GQ right after graduating from Princeton, where she studied chemistry for two years before switching her major to art history.
Her career today still reflects the variety of her interests. In addition to her job at Allure, she's writing a book about the homocysteine theory of heart disease with her father, Kilmer McCully, the doctor who developed the theory, which maintains that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but a symptom of it. Other projects include renovating a house in the Hamptons and being on the board of the New York City theater group Naked Angels. "I've always felt like one job is not enough," she says, describing what sounds like a frenetically busy schedule, in which "there are never enough hours in the day."
Conclusion? Allure's beauty director can't possibly be getting enough beauty sleep. But she's certainly getting on with her life, which is exactly the message she's trying to convey to Allure's readers.
--Andrea Gollin '88

Service Points
Family services agency
Helping families, especially those in crisis, is the primary goal of Family Resource Coalition of America, headquartered in Chicago. KATHY GOETZ WOLF '83, the coalition's associate executive director for communications and marketing, recently wrote the text for Pursuing the Dream, a book of photographs by Stephen Shames that documents more than 27 families across the country who are aided by various social-service programs. The book is copublished by the coalition and the Aperture Foundation with the hope that its images will heighten the public's awareness of the need to help poor and broken families. Wolf, who majored in anthropology, came to the coalition in 1991 after stints in advertising and publishing. Concurrent with the book's publication is a traveling show of Shames's photographs.
Family Resource Coalition, 200 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604; 312-338-0900.

Deficit reduction climb
Last June 25, DEMETRI COUPOUNAS '88 and KIM RIETHER COUPOUNAS '89 climbed North America's highest peak, the 20,320-foot Denali (Mt. McKinley). The Coupounases, who called their expedition the Zero Deficit Climb, hoped to raise awareness about the national debt, which at the time stood at $20,320 per citizen, or one dollar for every foot of the mountain's height. Demetri is policy director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization founded by Senators Warren Rudman and the late Paul Tsongas that works to eliminate the country's deficit. Kim is an instructor for Outward Bound, an adventure-education program. In scaling Denali, they became the second couple to climb to the highest point in all 50 states.
Concord Coalition, 1019 19th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-467-6222;

Building houses in Alaska
DANIELLE "D. S." PENSLEY '92, who lives in a log house near Fairbanks, Alaska, is in the initial stages of a three-year project called Above the Ice Fog to build 10 affordable housing units for qualified residents of Fairbanks. "I see housing as the core of what we are," says Pensley, who has always been interested in domicile issues and wrote her thesis for the Woodrow Wilson School on a socialist housing development in East Berlin. Her current project, which is ambitious because of the need to buy land, build infrastructure, and erect houses that reflect Alaskan architecture, is supported in part by Echoing Green, an environmental foundation in New York City. The Drucker Foundation, a philanthropy also in New York, provides a fellowship to Pensley that enables her to attend conferences with other leaders from the nonprofit sector.
After Princeton, Pensley worked as a VISTA volunteer in Seattle, where she was involved in housing issues. From Seattle, she moved to Alaska, about which she says, "Here I am in the backwaters, a million miles from nowhere. But Alaska gives anyone a chance to do anything."
Above the Ice Fog, P.O. Box 258, Ester, Alaska 99725; 907-451-7230;

Improving a school
As assistant principal in charge of finance and development at St. Joseph of the Holy Family School, in New York City, ERIC WESTENDORF '94 works with the advisory board he created to raise money for the school. As a teacher of a course for eighth graders called Facing History and Ourselves, he prods his students to look at the history of the Holocaust. "The big question when I introduced the course was relevance," he says. "The students would ask, 'Why are we learning about German history? Why aren't we learning about African history?' But after I created a museum that included photographs of concentration camps, the problem came alive for them. My hope is that they continue to ask the questions and relate it to their lives in America today.
"I see my work as community building," adds Westendorf, who majored in the Woodrow Wilson School and wrote his thesis on community organizing. Placed at St. Joseph's as part of a Princeton Project 55 fellowship, he is in his second and final year at the school, whose students are largely African American and non-Catholic. Besides setting up the advisory board that raised money to replace the school's roof, Westendorf reformed St. Joseph's accounting system, reawakened alumni to its mission and needs, raised $60,000 for computers, and overhauled the after-school program.
St. Joseph of the Holy Family, 168 Morningside Ave., New York, NY 10027; 212-662-1736.