Connector

Peter Pratt

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River
  Road, Barrytown NY

Doris’ home is a great Victorian with a barn she and Jon rebuilt during the Bard years. From the right points on the property, one can see one of best views of the Catskills across the Hudson from along the storied River Road. The house sits at the corner of River and Barrytown Roads. The latter runs to the River rolling down past the farm of Chanler Chapman, the real life character that Saul Bellow based his novel Henderson the Rain King on. Jon and I spent many a winter day in the barn doing our work with a wood stove roaring away. We spent far more time scavenging for wood, and wiring up a stereo with speakers hung from the rafters, than was good for our work.

Doris’ home sits across from fields of the Unification Theological Seminary, the seminary that trains the clergy of the Moonies. Jon was in the room at the campus security office with Leon Botstein, Mark Callahan, Scott Porter, and me the night the College had the New York Troopers arrest the head of the Moonies himself, Rev. Sun Myung Moon for trespassing on Bard lands. Mark, Scott, and I were or had been presidents of the student body. Leon was in a state and wanted the advice and support of the student “leaders” for a decision that would be controversial in some quarters. We talked it though, and convinced each other that yes, Bard should go ahead and press trespass charges against Moon and his bodyguards.

Jon had a personal relationship with Leon that most of us did not. Jon was younger than the rest of us, but even then he was the connector, tying together his friend the college president with his upper classmen politico friends. I think that Jon had a lot more to do with putting us all together in that room than anyone else, including Leon. Something about sitting in that crisis meeting, largely put together with Jon's help, has stayed with me through the years. It was the first time I was treated like an adult, being asked to help make a very adult decision, by someone that mattered in the larger world.

Over the past 4 years, Jon has again been the connector. He is the person that brought us together to share each other's gifts and skills.

Jon reprised his role yet again with me in a way that changed my life. He called me up in early 2009, after we had lost track of each other after many years. Jon insisted that I should put all my information up on the Bard alumnae site, saying I'd otherwise never know who might try to get in touch with me. Two months later, Laura and I began emailing each other after seeing our names in the alumnae directory. We had not spoken in 31 years. We now know we will spend our lives together, and should have started doing so 31 years earlier. Jon was the only person that knew us both that we remained in touch with. He told us he knew it made sense to start on this new course, and for me to move across the country to do so. Jon helped me understand some things matter more than others. Clearly we hadn't used his good offices in the spring of 1978, but were just wise enough to listen to him in 2009.

Our sorrow is only exceeded by the gratitude we have for what he gave us.

— Peter.

†Jon’s mother.