James A. Rogers

Dave Kagan and Jim Rogers were among my earliest acquaintances at Welch Hall.  As our class notes move inexorably toward the front of YAM, they are not here to witness that progress (or regress) of the Class of ’72.  Dave, ably assisted by Geoff Taylor and Dave Zucker, introduced me to pot smoking, which quickly supplemented, rather than supplanted, my alcohol consumption.  Jim, through circumstances which I can’t recall, became one of my sophomore roommates, along with Steve Brodie and Rick Kirkpatrick.  I do vividly recall tormenting him in ways which I still regret and which I will not detail.  That he did not beat the snot out of me is testament to his gentle nature.  Happily I made my peace with Jim the following summer, when he accepted my apology with grace and magnanimity. I say that without intending to be facetious in the least.  Jim’s misfortune was to want to be hip and cool without being hip and cool enough not to show it.  He was good person and a good friend.  Yale and we are poorer for his premature demise.  

Dave was hip and cool, but made an even earlier exit, also to the loss of those who knew him.  Dave spent a year or two–1975-1976 I believe–working for Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood Legal Services while I was at Pitt Law School.  The task of providing legal aid to people whose problems went far beyond their troubles with the law threatened to submerge his buoyant spirit.  So he headed to California where he died in a car accident en route to Mexico.  It was very sad that his sprightly flame was extinguished so soon. 

With deaths of classmates and the advance of age I feel ever more acutely the truth of the characterization of the Yale experience as  “the shortest, gladdest years of life,” though I don’t believe that is a unique attribute of Yale’s so much as of youth, when one feels immortal.  I think a desire to reconnect with those “intimations of immortality from recollections of early adulthood” is in large measure what draws people to reunions.  Whatever the motivation, I plan to be at our 35th – older, hopefully wiser than in 1968 when I met Jim and Dave, and with my blue considerably faded.  I look forward to seeing everyone, time and change notwithstanding. 

Dave Helwig

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