John Lee Vlcek


A most mid-western slow temper / quick wit combination, with a truly infectious smile.  Perhaps the fastest thumb, forefinger, middle finger typist in history. Mr. can-do, undone.  Still and always a missing catalyst.John Louchheim 


I never knew John Vlcek. We never had classes together. We never spoke. I only knew him by sight, but that was enough. John Vlcek had the most ecstatically happy smile of anyone I had ever seen. I can’t imagine the resources or the need that could cause someone to produce such a smile. 

Or it could simply have been a matter of how John’s facial muscles were configured. I’ll never know. As I recall, John Vlcek, the guy with the incredible smile, died not too long after our graduation.  John merits inclusion here not only because of his mind-blowing smile but also because the kind person who read the names of our deceased classmates at the 30th reunion pronounced his last name as “Vleck,” and that just can’t be right. (She must have thought “Vlcek” was a typo and supplied a well-intended correction.) 

Although I don’t know for sure — because I never knew John — I suspect his surname is pronounced “Vilseck,” similar to the presidential candidate, Tom Vilsack of Iowa. And, eerily enough, when I look at the Yale Banner for our class, I see that John Vlcek specified as his future occupation “President of the United States.”

Todd Freter


Freshman year John and I attended a mixer and met a young woman from Connecticut College.  She asked John where he was from, and John proudly answered “Omaha.”  The young woman responded:  “Omaha!  That’s as bad as being from Nebraska.”  For one of the few times, John was speechless for a moment. 

 By the way, that young woman with a shaky geographic sense, transferred to Yale the next year and graduated as a member of the Class of 1972.

                Timothy Sehr

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