Heads of the Parade

And a precedent-setting eightieth Harvard reunion

President Alan Garber greets Bertram A. “Bert” Huberman ’44  and George Post ’45

President Alan Garber greets Bertram A. “Bert” Huberman ’44 (on the left) and George Post ’45 | Photograph by Jim Harrison

“I don’t think we have reunions anymore,” said George Post ’45, who turns 102 in the fall, at this year’s third annual Alumni Day, on Friday, May 31. Post—the oldest alumnus at this year’s Alumni Day by three months, who marks his seventh-ninth reunion this year—could be forgiven for thinking his reunions were over: until this year, Harvard had never celebrated an eightieth reunion.

But this year marked the first. Bertram A. “Bert” Huberman ’44, M.B.A. ’48, spent the last few months reaching out to the nine living members of his class to encourage them to come—no easy feat when “nobody has cell phones,” said Huberman’s daughter, Danielle Alexandra ’80, “and they don’t live at home anymore.” He was ultimately joined by one other classmate: Henry Ashworth ’44 who sat beside him on a radiant day in Tercentenary Theatre.

Huberman said it was important to him to come all the way from Florida, where he lives, to show his loyalty to his alma mater—as he did last year, too. He recalled, during college, commuting from his family’s home in Brookline to Cambridge, since he couldn’t afford to live on campus. He worked at a campus cafeteria to make extra money. “He came to Harvard on full scholarship—he couldn’t afford it otherwise,” Alexandra said. “But he worked hard in high school, and somebody decided to take a chance on him.”

“That’s why I cherish this place so much,” Huberman said, in a class of 1944 hat and jacket that he received 55 years ago at his twenty-fifth reunion: “because of the opportunities it’s given me.” When people “remember the first eightieth reunion on campus,” he continued, he hopes they also remember “the results that we can achieve once we leave this place, using the opportunities we were given when we were here.”

Huberman and Post both recalled that their educations were marked by interruption and sacrifice: they took time off from their studies to serve in the military during World War II. Huberman served as a lead navigator in the Army Air Force, and Post as a flier in the Pacific.

“I was a scared kid when I got here,” Post said. But eventually he found his place on campus: “I remember James Bryant Conant, the president, telling us all to say hello to each other in the Yard. And I made such amazing friends.”

 

 

Two women sitting
Linda Cabot Black and Elizabeth “Libbie” Berrow ’51  |  Photograph by Jim Harrison

 

The eldest alumna at this year’s Alumni Day—Linda Cabot Black ’51, who will turn 96 in December—traveled from closer by to join the festivities: she walked three blocks from her home in Cambridge. “I’m glad to be within walking distance of the Yard,” Black said, donning crimson velvet pants and a red bandana in her hair. She led this year’s alumni parade along with Post and Huberman.

Black recalled that her time at Radcliffe represented a chance to try something new: “I realized I had to major in something that my father knew nothing about,” she said, “and there were only two things in the world that he knew nothing about: music and art.” She ended up choosing music. In those classes, she found herself out of her comfort zone: “I was a top student when I got here, and I immediately went to the bottom, because I was up against really serious musicians.”

After graduation, she continued to expand her horizons. “I realized I grew up in a monoculture,” said Black, who hails from Weston, Massachusetts. “I had to get out. So as soon as I graduated, I went to Europe, where I immersed myself in opera for four and a half years.” When she returned to the United States, she worked to make the artform she loved more accessible, serving as the director of the Boston Lyric Opera and organizing a tour of opera for children and families across New England.

 

Even during a challenging year for Harvard, Alexandra said, it was important to her father to return for his reunion. “It’s really important for us…to remind everybody what the heart and soul of Harvard is about,” she said. “The gifts of Harvard are extraordinary. And we need to remember this education is a gift.”

Read more articles by Nina Pasquini

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