WGES Spotlight

Golden Opportunities

After losing touch with his classmates, an emeritus alumnus rediscovers the magic of his fellow Whartonites and their impact on the world

McClain Gordon, WG’73
McClain Gordon, WG’73

Early on in my first year at Wharton, I had a conversation with my roommate, Barrie Lepley WG73, about what he did in the military between Yale and our MBA program. Barrie had been interviewed by Hyman Rickover, the father of the U.S. nuclear submarine program, to be accepted into the Navy nuclear engineer program. Later, he designed fleet-defense software. I can’t say for sure if it was at this moment or during one of my many similarly impressive conversations with classmates, but I recall thinking that I’d never again find myself surrounded by such a concentration of brainpower and talent. That turned out to be true — almost.

As an outgoing person, I made a lot of friends in my two years on campus. Determined to keep in touch with my colleagues after graduation, I wrote and distributed an annual newsletter with updates and stories from 50 classmates. But as pressures of my career as a founder and leader in the trucking industry took precedence, the newsletter faded away. I visited with Wharton friends in Chicago and New York when there on business, yet that became less of a priority over time. I had little or no contact with classmates or Wharton for decades, with a few exceptions. Dean Tom Gerrity came to Memphis around 1990 and hosted a large luncheon that I attended. Later on, an Australian wag from my class, Kevin Crombie WG73, sent me an invitation to a large America’s Cup party in Perth that specified “BYOY” — that is, “Bring your own yacht.” Sadly, I couldn’t take time off from work and didn’t have a yacht.