ONE IN 360,000
In Winter 2006, Reed told the story of Nina Morrison, who was born in April 2003 with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disorder. On December 20, 2006, Nina died of brain cancer caused by the disease. She was at home in Corbett, Oregon, with her parents, Rachel Altmann ’88 and Tyler Morrison ’90, and her ten-year-old brother, Benjamin. Contributions in Nina’s memory can be made to the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, http://www.fanconi.org/.
It has been my great pleasure to know Tyler Morrison and Rachel Altmann since the days when we were all sleep-deprived Reedies wondering how there could ever be enough caffeine to see us through the rigors of our education. After Reed, I shared a house with Rachel and Tyler until I met the man who would become my husband. Many years have passed since then and happily our paths have continued to cross regardless of where we were living or what vocation we were pursuing. We started our families at the same time. Benjamin, their oldest son, was born within a few days of our first daughter, Corrina. After our third daughter arrived, I shared my maternity clothes with Rachel when she announced she was pregnant with Nina.
When Rachel and Tyler learned that Nina would be born with frightening physical differences, I was honored to be able to walk with them through their fear. My oldest daughter has a rare chromosome disorder (chromosome 15q duplication syndrome), and I know how important it is to have familiar hands to hold when facing this kind of challenge. (Readers can learn more about this syndrome at www.idic15.org.)
When Nina was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, I was heartened that Rachel and Tyler were joining their energies with the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. Having incorporated a nonprofit organization to provide family support and promote research into my daughter’s genetic disorder, I knew the enormous power and potential of families working together for answers and better treatment options for children affected by rare “orphan” diseases. One of the greatest gifts of a Reed education is the ability to think critically about challenging problems, envision potential solutions, and approach them with confidence. This is exactly the approach Tyler and Rachel took with Nina’s diagnosis.
When Tyler and I were sitting together in Dell Rhodes’ neural bases of behavior class as psychology majors, we could never have anticipated how we would apply what we were learning 20 years later. Yet, it was this experience that gave each of us the confidence to learn quickly about a rare disease and do our best to make our children’s lives as full and meaningful as possible. Tyler and Rachel gave Nina an extraordinarily full life—full of family, learning, love, required medical procedures, the delights of bubbles and blueberries in the summer and mud puddles in the wet Oregon winter.
In January, I had the honor of attending the memorial service Tyler and Rachel held for Nina. There were many familiar Reed faces there. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a moment when we can rise above our daily concerns and realize the beauty and gifts of this life. Nina’s memorial service was one of these moments. In her short three-and-a-half years, she taught us more about living than any highly esteemed Greek philosopher ever could. Together with her parents and brother, Nina Morrison demonstrated what it is to live your life. Thank you, Tyler and Rachel, for sharing her story and her life with all of us. Her bright little star will continue to shine on in my heart, reminding me that despite all its challenges life is good.
Nicole Iseli Cleary ’88
THANKS FOR THE JOB
I read with pleasure the interview with historian Wallace MacCaffrey ’42 [Fall 2006]. It was he who got me my job at Reed. I was teaching at Haverford College when he was there, and at that time, inquiries for job openings at Reed were directed to alumni who might be able to evaluate potential candidates. I gather I passed the test. I am pleased he is doing well.
WHEN ONE REED ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS
Anent Randy Hardee’s query [Fall 2006] as to the demarcation between the Old and the New Reed: It is a Well-Known Fact that on Reed’s first day of classes in September 1911, a bad streetcar connection caused one student to miss the first hour of class. After attending the second hour, he remarked (to no one in particular) that Reed seemed like a good thing. His classmates replied, “You should have seen the old Reed.”
Richard Roistacher ’65
IF GATES CAN DO IT
I am writing to follow up on the earlier discussion in the magazine [Fall and Summer 2006] about socially responsible investing and Reed’s policy of “political neutrality.” In January, the Los Angeles Times ran a two-part story on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, challenging their practice of investing in industries that seem to contradict the goals of their grant-making. Apparently, many American philanthropies are now using “social responsibility screens” to guide their investment policies (as well as voting shareholder resolutions), to ensure that a higher proportion of their assets are actually working for their health, justice, environmental, and economic development missions. The series concluded with an announcement that—not as a result of any public pressure, of course—the Gates’ foundation is reexamining its investment policies with an eye toward achieving greater consistency with their values. Would that Reed College might do likewise.
Claire Gorfinkel ’66