Summer 2016 /Keeping the Faith/

Letter Box

Dying With Dignity



I read your “Before I Die” article with interest, as I am sure most of us from the Class of 1962 did. It is called current events. However, I suggest that there is one important part of the death process that was not included in the story.

Twenty years ago Oregon passed the nation’s first Death With Dignity Act. Two years later an attempt to repeal it was soundly defeated. My wife and I voted in favor of the act both times, little suspecting that we would use it later. Since then, Washington, Vermont, California and Montana have passed virtually identical laws, and quite a few other states are considering such a law now. The law is nothing at all like the “death panels” that Gov. Palin carried on about for a long time.

In our case, my wife had colon cancer surgery and then breast cancer surgery within one year. Initially the doctors believed that the surgeries were successful. The colon cancer never returned, but the breast cancer came back three years later. After four more surgeries during the next six years, four rounds of radiology treatments (15 each) and close to 100 chemotherapy treatments, her body began to stop functioning. She did not want to get to a point that she would be a “vegetable” (her term) in a care facility, and the family could recognize that life, as any normal person would like to live it, was about over. She was bedridden and had stopped eating or processing food.

A two-week process is required, with certifications from two doctors that the patient’s life will likely end within six months. The doctors referred us to Compassion & Choices, a fabulous group of volunteers nationwide who are leading the effort to expand legislation in other states, and who provide volunteers to help with the process. My wife took the medicine and passed away in less than an hour. She was satisfied with the process, as were all of the family, and friends when told about it later.

C&C can provide much more specific information on the subject. But with the law now in effect in CA, and with so many Pomona alums living in California, I believe it is important that information about Death With Dignity should be included in the otherwise very interesting article you wrote this quarter.

—James A. (Jim) Johnson ’62

Portland, Ore. 

Face to Face

PCM-summer2016text58-web2_Page_10_Image_0002We loved the latest Pomona College Magazine “Face to Face” feature. We wanted to share our relationship to last a lifetime.

In the summer of 1963, we each received a letter from Dean of Women Ina T. Nider informing us that we had been assigned to one another as freshman roommates. It was apparently a successful pairing. We were suite-mates sophomore year and roommates again our senior year. Linda was a religion major, active in Chapel Committee and the Claremont Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Lesley was a biochemistry major and spent most of her time in the chemistry lab.

After graduation, Lesley went on to obtain a Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin, did two postdoctoral fellowships at UC Berkeley and then worked for 32 years at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, starting as an assistant professor and serving her last 20 years as provost. She has served as president of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., since 2009.

Linda worked in a garment factory in San Diego, then obtained her teaching credential and taught for 36 years in inner-city Los Angeles, the last 28 years at Manual Arts High School, retiring in 2009. Finding that unsatisfactory, she went back to school, obtained a master’s in history at Cal State Los Angeles and is now an adjunct instructor at East Los Angeles College.

Through the years, we have shared annual trips to Disneyland with our kids, weddings, divorces, an untimely funeral and innumerable photographs of adorable grandchildren. We currently see each other a couple of times a year, chat regularly on Facebook and compete daily in cutthroat games of Words With Friends.

Thanks, Ina T.

—Linda Baughn ’67

Los Angeles, Calif.

and Lesley Moore Hallick ’67

Forest Grove, Ore.

You do, indeed, publish a beautiful magazine! I usually start at the back, to see if any of my classmates are in the Class Notes. Then I page through the entire thing.

However, this month your “Face to Face” feature grabbed my attention right away, so I read all of these stories first thing. That was a clever and time-consuming project for you, I would think. Loved it! The only face I knew was that of Bob Herman ’51. As I remember, he has led our class tours of the campus on Alumni Weekends. A terrific storyteller! My husband, DeForrest ’61 and I met at Pomona, so the married couples who met there were of special interest. We’ve been married 52 years.

One of the many things I like about the magazine is how you include stories from the school’s past, along with what is currently happening on campus. Of course, I love to read what the graduates have done recently. I’m always interested in the books they’ve published. I appreciate your including very short articles as well as longer ones in just the right mix. Some college magazines are so dense with material that there is no hope of reading everything.

DeForrest and I spent a bit of time studying Jeff Hing’s gorgeous double-page photo of the campus. The snow-covered mountains with the clouds spilling over them were spectacular.

I’ve finished reading the “Letter Box.” So, what to read next … the story on Cuba, since some of my friends are traveling there? The article about the celebrity photographer? Maybe about that “youngster” Peggy Arnold, who graduated three years after I did.

My grandniece is a Pomona student at the moment, so I feel that your magazine is keeping me in touch with her there. I’m looking forward to my 55th reunion next year. How I love returning to that beautiful place, full of so many memories.

—Bonnie Bennett Home ’62

San Jose, Calif.

As a friend of Pomona College, I have enjoyed reading Pomona College Magazine for many years. The latest issue moves me to send this appreciation of the continuing quality of the publication under your most competent custodianship. I especially liked the piece about relationships. This reminder of how important and durable they can be during one’s collegiate interlude is nicely done. Thanks to you, your staff and contributors.

—Gilbert Pattison Joynt

Seattle, Wash.

Pomona Lifeline

Since my retirement in 2006, the Pomona College Magazine has become my cherished lifeline to the College and the Pomona family and community that was my home for so many years—and I miss so keenly. Each issue offers delight and fascination for me, as you offer marvelous features about the extraordinary individuals within our diverse community whose creative lives have so enriched our world. As such, the magazine is a beacon of hope for me in a world so darkened by forces of bitter divisiveness and destruction. Our Pomona students, faculty, administration, staff and alumni all have voices within your magazine, and I read every word to learn more about their lives and accomplishments and to celebrate them.

May I say, too, as an English teacher forever enamored with fine writing, that the quality of writing in every article is superb. I especially enjoy your “Stray Thoughts,” always a personal and engaging reflection on issues at hand from your marvelously unique and candid point of view.

Your layout and design are glorious indeed. You offer visual as well as verbal pleasures.

With every best wish for the flourishing of the Pomona College Magazine—and for your ongoing delight in your devoted and inspired efforts for us all.

—Martha Andresen Wilder

Professor Emerita of English

Claremont, Calif.

Note Correction

In the Class of ’59 Notes in PCM Spring 2016, there are three entries: Epps, Lathrop Wells and myself. Two of us were botany majors (there were, in total, three botany majors in 1959. How’s that for keeping the Pomona College connection? I think botany was unique because of the three-day field trip fall and spring to all of the vegetation zones of the West over a three-quarter-year span. These field trips formed a cohesion to the department and College, just as student research with faculty does today. Both Betsy and I had keys to the botany building—master keys at that—and this was a bonding element also. But somehow, my note in Class Notes ended short of the complete sentence. I intended for it to say: “I am rich in experiences, but in retirement short on pension. Pomona and Harvard shaped my life, and I will be eternally grateful for the expanding opportunities and challenges I took from them.” I appreciate the correction. We are downsizing and I found 60-year-old 8-page magazines—a far cry from now.

—Garrison Wilkes ’59

Hingham, Mass.

Alumni, parents and friends are invited to email letters to or “snail-mail” them to Pomona College Magazine, 550 North College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Letters may be edited for length, style and clarity.