REUNION WEEKEND: MAY 12-14
REUNION WEEKEND: MAY 12-14
NOW WE GATHER, MEN OF AVON, MEN OF HONOR, MEN OF WILL
"Time it was, and what a time it was... It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences. Preserve your memories..."
Excerpt from the 1987 Winged Beaver Yearbook, Simon and Garfunkel Quoted by Clifford Lanier '87
Catch up with your classmates over cocktails and a catered dinner at 6:30 p.m.
AOF: The Barnes Lounge
500 Old Farms Road, Avon, CT
|Garvin Brown||Palmer Hallagan|
|Charles Deckers||Reid Hipp|
|Eric Delnicki||Warner James|
|David Drew||Edward Lahey|
|Garrett Fish||Jimmy McCormick
|David Gordon||David Murray|
|Scott Gwilliam||Robert Whitty|
- Featured in 2012: Garrett Fish
- Featured in 2012: Luke Dye
- Featured in 2012: Alex Hitz
- Featured in 2011: Jake Menges
- Featured in 2010: Andrew McCalla
Garrett Fish ’87
Garrett Fish ’87 grew up a resident of Avon, Connecticut; his father was a superintendent in the public school system. Coming to Avon Old Farms was a pretty big change for him – the first of many big changes in his life.
While at Avon, Garrett was the editor of the yearbook, and a member of the squash team, a sport about which he became passionate and that he continues to enjoy today: “Currently I play singles and doubles squash, and both kids are also playing. Now my wife has started to play after watching us hit the ball around.”
Garrett matriculated to Bates, where he began as a math major, but switched to Japanese history. He captained the squash team, overlapping two seasons, for two years, and thus never had the opportunity to study abroad. After graduation and a brief stint with Aetna Capital management, Garrett began his travel adventures, working in Hong Kong at Jadine Fleming, later part of J.P. Morgan.
“My first apartment in Hong Kong was six and a half feet by 12 and a half feet with a window into the manager’s office!” he recalls. “But what do you have to lose at age 24?”
After meeting his future wife, Terri, there, Garrett left Hong Kong in 1997, and went to London, working with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers. He and Terri were married in July of 2001 in San Casciano Val di Pesa, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany. “We were all there for about a week or so and the weather, food, wine, and company were all wonderful. Terri and I spent two nights in Paris and a week in Morocco for our honeymoon.”
After almost eight years overseas, Garrett returned to the United States, to Atlanta, on September 7, 2001. He said, “We had planned an around-the-world trip, but September 11th changed that. We settled for a 16 day trip to New Zealand in November.”
Terri’s job brought the Fish family around the world, as well, says Garrett, who cites trips to Korea (“I stepped over the DMZ”), in addition to memorable vacations to Italy (three times), Africa, and, earlier this month, the Cayman Islands.
Clearly bitten by the travel bug, Garrett notes that Avon may have helped foster that adventurous spirit. “While at Avon, I never would have imagined the direction my life would take me. If you had told me while I was a student that my early career would include jobs in Hong Kong and London, and that I’d meet my wife in Hong Kong and get married in Italy, I would have thought, ‘Unlikely!’ Avon, with its diverse community and opportunities, probably helped me get a head start on the larger world.”
Now a CFA Charter Holder in New York City, working for JP Morgan Asset Management, Garrett manages three large capital equity mutual funds with approximately $1.1 billion in assets. Garrett and Terri currently live in Greenwich, Connecticut. They have a son, 9, and daughter, 7.
Luke Dye ’87
As the photos attest, Luke Dye ’87, has an eye for beauty, but his work since taking a lead in Dye Designs (http://dyedesigns.com), the family business in golf course design started by his grandfather, has been about much more than appreciating beauty. It seems more about solving puzzles. Luke comments that his work nowadays involves “many different puzzles with many diverse personalities to orchestrate carefully in many cultures and languages.” Speaking languages helps, so Luke is currently taking French to help him orchestrate the construction of a course in French New Caledonia, which is about 200 miles west of Fiji. At the same time, he has one or more golf courses either in design or under construction in the following overseas locations: China, Korea, Portugal, and Azerbaijan. Additionally, he is designing courses state-side in Indiana and Utah. Although his business has him traveling constantly—and living abroad for extended periods of time in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and the Phillipines— Luke and his wife, Laura, and children make their home base in Phoenix, AZ. They are active in local charities and charity events, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Homeward Bound, Special Olympics, and Volunteers for the Phoenix Open.
Alex Hitz '87
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Alex Hitz ‘87 is a celebrity chef, cookbook author, philanthropist, and founder of the luxury gourmet food product line The Beverly Hills Kitchen. His culinary specialty is described as traditional Southern food, enhanced with classically French details he extracted from years of immersion in French culture.
Alex grew up on Southern cooking and enjoyed spending time with his family’s cook, who he credits with teaching him much about cooking. But it was his parents’ influence that instilled in him a love of all things French, especially French food; he spent time at a family home in France, where his parents were educated, and also spent much time in Paris as a student.
After graduating from Avon Old Farms, Alex took a summer job at the restaurant The Patio by The River in Atlanta. There he mastered many aspects of the restaurant business, including the sauté and grill stations, the pantry, garnish, table service, and the front. He continued working at The Patio by the River every summer for the next four years while he attended college, obtaining a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University in 1991.
During Alex’s schooling he also attended undergraduate programs at the University of London and at L’Université de Paris-La Sorbonne, where he studied French culture and civilization. After graduation, he purchased a portion of The Patio by the River, becoming co-owner of the restaurant where he had first trained. While owning and working at The Patio by The River, Alex completed advanced programs at Peter Kump’s Cooking School (now the Institute of Culinary Education) in New York City, as well as Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Under Alex’s ownership, the restaurant welcomed many guest chefs, including Edna Lewis, Julia Child, and Robert Mondavi.
Among the most memorable he has been privileged to serve, he recalls, was Nancy Reagan, who dined in his home in Los Angeles. “I made her favorite food – chicken pot pie,” he says. “Everybody loved it.”
Alex sold the restaurant in 1994, and since then has continued to explore his love of food, splitting time between New York and Los Angeles and working on additional projects spanning from film to fashion. In 2008, he began developing The Beverly Hills Kitchen, a line of luxury gourmet food products. He premiered his first food product, Beef Bourguignon, on the television shopping network QVC in 2009. In 2011 he moved his product line to the Home Shopping Network (HSN) television station and became the only food brand with its own dedicated timeslot. In 2012, his HSN show was ranked #1 (measured in dollars per minute) in the Kitchen and Food category.
Most recently, Alex authored the cookbook My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Classic Southern Cooking with a French Twist, which features 175 of his original recipes. He is currently working on more books, as well as a television project. He was also just named food columnist for the next year at a monthly magazine to be announced in January.
Alex is known for his culinary expertise – so it’s no surprise that many of his memories of Avon took place in Riddle Refectory. “The Boar's Head Festival in that dining hall was awesome,” he says. “The drama of that place alone…and when the holiday spin was put on it, it became something truly fantastic.”
He also notes, as a student from the south – and a future celebrity chef with a discerning palate, even then – “I never really cottoned to the New England boiled dinner!”
Aside from the menu, Alex is quick to cite Avon’s positive impact on him, naming former history teacher Peter Evans and art teacher Gail Laferriere as mentors, in addition to “force of nature” George Trautman, then Headmaster. Alex recalls with fondness the Vespers services on Sunday nights in “that gorgeous chapel."
"I can remember Mr. Trautman saying, ‘You may not remember what you had for dinner each night, but you will remember that you were nourished. These services are the same: you may not remember exactly what was said but you will remember that you were here in this chapel for fellowship and reflection.’ I certainly do, and am reminded quite often of his words.”
Jake Menges ’87
Avon Old Farms wasn’t on the top of Jake Menges’s list. The last stop on his boarding school tour, Avon’s charm worked its magic at the very last minute on Jake, who was tired of looking at schools and dead set on attending another.
“As soon as I stepped on campus, everything changed,” recalls Jake. “I knew this was the place for me. The leaves were changing; students were moving about the Quad on their way to class; there was an energy on campus that I have never felt at any other school, and I still feel today when I visit.”
After an interview and tour with Director of Admissions Frank Leavitt ’52, Jake knew he had found his place: “I walked out of his office determined to go to AOF.” And he never looked back. With the guidance and support of many people along the way, Jake had a greatly rewarding experience at Avon. People like George Trautman – who Jake describes as “tough, but fair” – and Art Custer and Chandra Narsipur, who “planted the seed of history that has blossomed into the passion I have for the subject today,” reminded him to “behave like gentleman, be proud of your school, and represent your school with honor and dignity.”
A talented thespian while a student at Avon, Jake also credits former faculty member and drama advisor Jock Gracey, for pushing him to follow his passion on stage when he thought he had lost it, and former faculty members John Gelinas and Gerry McGinley, “who acted as supportive crutches to a young kid who at times was a little lost.”
Although he no longer counts acting among his hobbies, Jake’s daughter has caught “the acting bug” and he is enjoying living vicariously through her, recalling fondly his time in Avon’s theater program and reveling in its growth: “I love the fact that the drama and music departments are generating the interest they are,” he observes. “They will continue to diversify the Avon experience that produces well-rounded men. I have traveled to dozens of schools in the area and have yet to see a school that has as many beautiful facilities as Avon.”
Additionally, Jake claims that his training and experience on the Avon stage helped shape his decision to step into the political spotlight, as well.
After graduating from college, Jake got a job lobbying for the New Hampshire Ski Area Association and the Small Business Association. “I was walking the halls of the capitol by day and taking legislators skiing at night,” he explains.
“It was a great job, and I loved it, but I really wanted to get involved with political consulting, so I sought out one of the top political consultants at the time and asked him how to break into the business. He said to get on a nationally watched campaign and learn every aspect of that winning campaign. At the time, there were only two big races in the country; the governor’s race in New Jersey, and Rudy Giuliani’s long shot bid for New York City Mayor. I’m a lifelong New Yorker, so the decision was simple.
“I packed my bags and left the mountains of New Hampshire for the political rough and tumble streets of New York,” continues Jake. “It was the best decision of my life.”
Jake joined the Giuliani campaign in the fall of 1992; after an exciting upset, he went to work with the administration, “ready to change New York.” He served in various capacities throughout the administration for six years, in roles that included deputy chief of staff. He also ran Giuliani’s legislative office that oversaw congress, state, and local legislative bodies.
“It was an exciting time to be in government in New York City,” notes Jake. “It was an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience.”
Jake went on to open a political consulting firm, but still sees and works with Giuliani regularly; he even officiated Jake’s wedding to Nicole de Groot Robinson, the sister of Colt Robinson ’96.
Jake is a nationally recognized Republican political consultant who has won dozens of campaigns across the country for members of Congress, United States senators, mayors, and governors. He has advised emerging democracies in Eastern Europe, and Fortune 500 companies on crisis management, advertising campaigns, and government relations.
Yet, throughout all of his success, he is quick to cite Avon, and the many friends, teachers, and coaches who inspired him, as instrumental in helping him achieve what he has throughout his life: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Avon, and reflect on how important the school was to shaping me into the person that I am today,” he comments.
“In these scary and uncertain times, it is comforting to know that there is a place like Avon teaching the next generation of leaders the importance of honor, dignity, respect, and values. Sometimes it feels as though people who cut corners and bend the law to get ahead of the next guy get away with it. That’s why it is important today, more than ever, to have a place like Avon where this next generation of leaders can learn how working in a community and playing by the rules does pay off.”
Jake lives in New York City with his wife, Nicole, and his three children. He is looking forward to attending his 25th Reunion this May, and hopes to catch up with many classmates from the Class of 1987!
Andrew H. McCalla ’87
Andrew became passionate about renewable energy in his college years and decided to get involved. In 1999, after some post-graduate technology training, and four subsequent years with a solar distribution company, Andrew started his own company, Meridian, to focus on the design and installation of high quality solar power systems.
In the early days, with his grandmother’s garage serving as “corporate headquarters,” business was at times slow; but over ten years later, with hundreds of installations nationwide, Meridian Solar is a rarity — a seasoned veteran in an industry replete with newcomers. Today, Meridian is the leading solar integrator in Texas, with more installed solar capacity than any other company in the state. They are headquartered in Austin with offices in Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio.
“I’d like to say that I saw this coming,” offers Andrew “but fundamentally, I got into this because I thought it should be big, not because I knew it would be big.” Andrew credits Avon with instilling in him the ability to focus and achieve. With a nod to the school motto, he comments, “Once inspired, a continued perseverance towards an aspiration is, in and of itself, success.”
When he’s not at Meridian, Andrew enjoys tinkering, renovating old houses, playing guitar, and spending time with his family.
For more on Andrew, please visit www.meridiansolar.com.