Wheatley Alumni Monthly Newsletter

Number 5:  September 5, 2016

Dear Wheatley Wildcats and Wildcat Supporters,

Welcome to the fifth issue of The Wheatley School Alumni Association (more-frequently-than-monthly-these-days) Newsletter. This issue has more lives and more deaths (but not, I hope, more of the same). If you plan to attend Wheatley’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, please register (if you haven’t already) via www.wheatleyalumni.org; and if you don’t plan to attend, please let me know (if you haven’t already) via artengoron@gmail.com (you can just hit “reply”).

[Just a quick word on sources, accuracy, etc. The story goes that when CoCo Chanel was accused of personally collaborating with the Nazis while German forces occupied Paris during World War II, she infamously responded, “At my age, when a gentleman asks you to spend the night together, you don’t ask to see his passport” (or something to that effect). Well, when someone whom I think I can reasonably trust tells me that a particular Wheatley graduate died, and I am unable to find an on-line obituary or death notice that I think I can reasonably trust, I exercise intuition, experience and discretion in assuming, or not assuming, the truth; I do not ask to see a death certificate. So far, I’ve been lucky; I hope that my luck holds out.]



Graduating from Wheatley in 1966 was a milestone in my life's odyssey to gain more understanding and wisdom of the world within and around me. Growing up with my loving and compassionate African-American parents in Charleston, SC prepared me for the wondrous and abiding love found within the Sugarman family. Donna Sugarman Chamisa has been a life-long friend and a dear sister while Roni and Marvin Sugarman illustrate the true beauty of life when one can look beyond the surface of skin color into both heart and character.

Harvard College was a phenomenal step forward beginning in the fall of 1966. The sea of intellectual excitement at Wheatley was further stimulated by my Harvard years. I talked my way into a job at the Kennedy Institute of Politics doing background research for History Professor Ernest May, who debriefed world leaders like W. Averell Harriman, who was US ambassador successively to the United Kingdom and Soviet Union during WWII. While I was attending college, my youngest sister, Audrey, died at age 9. My Harvard freshman dean provided funds for me to go home for the funeral, as my parents were too poor to do so. The dean told me, "Sir, you are Harvard and this is how we take care of our own.” As a young man I was learning the valuable life lesson that one is blessed to receive and one must also be a blessing to others. In 2010, I was on my Harvard Class of 1970 Gift Committee and endowed the Harold L. Whack Dean's Discretionary Fund so that deans in the future may be able to help others as I was helped. In the summer of 1968 I was back on Long Island, working for Newsday. I started as a summer intern reporter just days before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, who I had met with other Wheatley students at Roosevelt Field as he campaigned for the Senate in 1965. I was travelling through France and Spain late summer ‘68 as the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, and I met Czech students who knew they could not return home.

The world was stirring, and I got to be a part of it with the effort to bring African and African-American Studies to Harvard, followed by nearly two years living in West Africa and helping to build National Black Draft Counselors, which gave legal options to folks in the African-American community to avoid the military draft, as so many of my college classmate had done. Due to an extremely high draft lottery number, I was never subject to the draft. When blessed, be a blessing. My time in Africa opened my eyes to key elements of what it would take to bring transformation to economic and social life. The nexus of markets and education are crucial for sustainable transformation to occur in any society. Returning to Boston in '72, I immersed myself in studying the broadcasting business. My goal was to go back to Africa and apply that life lesson. The paucity of free markets cut that short, but I had a wonderful 39-year career in the broadcast and cable TV advertising business. Being a General Sales Manager of TV stations gave me a much clearer view of how markets, politics and education interact. Years later I taught a course at Northwestern University on Television and American Culture. I served on the Board of Directors of Boy Scouts of America Councils in Chicago and Pittsburgh. The very first home I bought was for my parents, Harold and Lillian Whack, who I cared for over their last 25 years of life. I've been blessed and have sought to be a blessing.

For the last 33 years, I've been a husband and father. My wife, Rita Coburn Whack, just directed the first documentary on Maya Angelou, "And Still I Rise," which was featured at Sundance in January 2016 and has been on a festival tour around the world. I recently returned from Cape Town, South Africa, where the film won for best in its category. Our son, Harold Lee, was Press Secretary of the recent Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, having been Communications Director for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in DC. Our daughter, Christine, obtained a Masters Degree in Music for her soprano voice at the Manhattan School of Music, after a year of living and studying in Vienna, Austria. She is composing her own unique style of music.

I look forward to attending The Wheatley School 60th Anniversary Celebration and the Wheatley School Class of 1966 50th-year Reunion this fall. My Wheatley Latin teacher, Mr. Joseph Fradkin, had a small banner on the wall clock in his classroom that read Tempus Fugit, time flies. How appropriate!


“I was one of the few ‘gear-heads’ in the Class of 1969, and although I did attend some college, I never earned a degree. Nevertheless, IBM hired me within two months of graduation, still shy of my eighteenth birthday,” after I aced a mechanical aptitude exam, and I became an office products field engineer. After several years there I became a Mid-West Regional Technical Specialist for Burroughs Corp (now Unisys). After sixteen years with Burroughs and attaining the position of International Parts Distribution Manager for Office Systems, I changed careers entirely and became Facilities Manager for Dural International (now Euclid Chemical Co.), a maker of polymer construction products. After learning all I could about polymers and their applications in construction, I switched to the position of Product Engineer. I helped design repairs on bridges, tunnels, subways, railroads, and hundreds of major buildings in the Tri-State area. Every bridge in NYC and most on Long Island has my initials somewhere on it! Later I became Training and Field Support Manager and was responsible for training other sales staff and supporting major projects throughout the Americas and South Korea. I helped restore the New Orleans Super Dome and some infrastructure immediately after Katrina.

I have four adult sons: two police officers, one professional engineer and one motorcycle technician. Between them I have eleven grandchildren (so far!). Now that I am retired, my hobbies are fly fishing and Harley Davidsons. My wife teaches first grade, so I took a retirement job as a school bus driver. I look at it as penance for my high school high-jinx!”

Dan is President of New York City’s world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr. Weiss [serves] as chief operating officer of the Museum, reporting to Director and CEO Campbell and serving as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees. As President, he will have direct leadership responsibility for all day-to-day operations of the institution, and will oversee 1,500 employees in all areas of museum administration: facilities and construction, development and membership, finance and investments, information technology, legal affairs, visitor services, human resources, marketing and external relations, merchandising (the Met shops), and government relations. The Museum currently has more than 2,200 full- and part-time employees overall, an operating budget of more than $300 million, and an endowment of approximately $3 billion. Last year, the Museum attracted 6.2 million visitors to its main building and The Cloisters, and more than 40 million visits to its website. Details at www.MetMuseum.org.


Good Start to a Bad Day
When Jack Savoy picked up the phone at home one March afternoon in 1987, he was floored. His wife, Filippa, was calling from work to say she was ready to start a family. "Hearing her say those words was a dream come true for me." At the time, Jack, 36, was traveling most weekends as a cameraman with ABC's Monday Night Football. He loved it--the glorious settings, the chats with Giff and Howard. He lived for the late nights and the bond with his coworkers. But it was a life that Filippa couldn't share. An hour after their conversation, Filippa was shot point-blank while driving near their home on Long Island.

The grief was hard enough; Jack and Filippa had been together since he was in college; he couldn't imagine life without her. But then police turned their attention to Jack as a suspect, despite the lack of motive or evidence. Uniformed officers stopped by unannounced to question him, hoping to confuse him into a lie. His phone records were scrutinized, his coworkers interviewed. Friends avoided him. Gossip spread.

Starting Again
In the meantime, he went about his life. He met Sally after a game in Denver. She was a decade younger, a waitress. As Jack bitterly struggled with his wife's unsolved murder, Sally relocated to New York and helped him through the turmoil. "Everybody has a soul mate," Savoy says. "I have to believe that. Knowing I was meant to be with Sally is what keeps me going. Even now, she'll walk up and give me a kiss for no reason. There's just something magical there."

A Break in The Case
Three years later, a street thug offered information on the murder. Filippa Savoy was killed, he told police, because she'd been pressing a business partner for $5,000 he owed her. Two trials later, the killers were convicted. After the trial, Savoy and Sally, now his wife, moved to Colorado. In 1996, Sally wanted a baby, and Jack knew he didn't want to wait another second.

Don't Take It for Granted
He left Monday Night Football, the late nights, the packed stadiums, and never looked back. Allison was born in 1997. Now Jack and Sally work together at a graphic-design business, and he spends every night at home. There aren't enough hours in the day to be together. In every way, their lives are intertwined. Jack ends each phone call with Sally by saying that he loves her. "Even after everything that's happened to me, I think about how lucky I am. I'm getting a second shot at life, and love. I'm not going to screw it up." Jack Savoy's Second Chance


1970 – Mark A. Stavola

Mark passed in June, 2007. His brother Joseph graduated from Wheatley in 1971. Mark was perhaps best known at school, and among his friends, for his involvement with local rock bands. An accomplished keyboard player, Mark’s love of music continued in college at St. John's and Hofstra. He was also an avid Yankees, Giants and Rangers fan. Mark and his wife Jean lived in Westbury (she is still there). He worked for the Town of North Hempstead as its supervisor of purchasing.

1982 - Michael William Tafreshi

Michael passed on September 21, 2015. He lived in Laurel Hollow, NY, and was married to Wendy Mazzitelli Tafreshi and the father of Michael Joseph and Joseph Cyrus. He leaves behind Wendy; his father, Mahmood (his mother, Genevieve, predeceased); and twin sisters Suzanne and Roxanne (Wheatley 1984). He is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury. See more at Obituary

1999 – Nathaniel (“Nate”) Fougner

Passed in August, 2016. Nate attended Wesleyan University and lived in Southern California. He leaves behind his parents and sister Tamara “Tea” (Wheatley 1996).

1999 – Stephen Toscano

Stephen passed on August 21, 2016. His brother John graduated from Wheatley in 1995.

Coach – Mo Schneider

[For “More on Mo” check out Issue # 4 at More on Mo]

Comments, corrections, news and submissions welcome.