Sunday, November 10, 2013

"A Knight of Yale and a Rare Bird"

Bill Nightingale '53 (left) is saluted by YWAA chair Merrell Clark '57 '70 MAR and AYA Executive Director Mark Dollhopf '77 at the Standing Ovation Dinner for Nightingale in Harrison, Nov. 8. (Mattison photo)

YWAA Chair Merrell Clark '57 '70 MAR organized the Nov. 8 "Standing Ovation" dinner tribute to Bill Nightingale '53. Clark also acted as emcee for the event and wrote the notes in the program distributed to guests. "A Knight of Yale and a Rare Bird," he called Nightingale. He highlights "Bill's creativity, bright ideas, clear thinking, artistry, innovation, determination, follow-through, inspiration, helpfulness, cooperation, humor, diligence, writing skill, planning or anything that has to do with leadership, ebullience, and success." Excerpts from his tribute notes follow:

The reality of Bill's career and the affection for him of many people is a testament to his creativity, ideas and determination.  As is the loyalty to Yale that has marked his every year since 1949, when he matriculated with the Yale Class of 1953.

Bill excelled at Horace Mann School in preparation for Yale, where he was accepted with the Class of 1953, moving to Silliman College in his sophomore year.  Upon graduation, he entered a broadcasting business in New York where he could pursue graduate credits at NYU and at Columbia.  His academic and career plans, however, where interrupted by service in the Army, 1954-56.  Stationed at Fort Dix, he was engaged as an Army cartoonist.  Also, and of much greater import, he married Nancy Bomeister in 1954. The marriage of Nancy and Bill has endured through mutual help for 59 years with many more years expected.

In 1990, Nightingale and Angela Cason '83 formed a new advertising agency, Cason Nightingale.  Twenty-three years later, Cason Nightingale continues as an established and creative organization with enduring clients. 

While Bill's long career in advertising was developing, he also was active as a Yale alumnus.  At his Class's 5th Reunion, a long alumni career began. He attracted attention and handled an embarrassing event with aplomb, so that he was tapped to work with the Class officers by art-directing a Class Directory for the 10th Reunion.  This task was productive and well received, so he has published the Class Directory every five years since 1963.  In 1983, at his 30th Reunion, Bill was elected Treasurer of his Class, a position he still holds.

The Class of 1953 had been holding an annual class dinner in New York City every February.  Eighteen years ago, Bill turned the Friday Dinner into an annual New York City mini-reunion weekend, with a Friday art tour, Friday Class Dinner, Saturday brunch, Saturday theater matinee, post-theater party and Sunday brunch.

In 1960, Bill began to take responsibility for applicant interviews in Westchester for the Alumni Schools Committee.  He has continued in that responsibility for 53 years and has been responsible for one-fourth of the Westchester interviews for 15 years.

Standing Ovation Dinner, Nov. 8, Harrison
During the tenure of Barlett Giamatti '60 as president of Yale, Bill was asked to serve on the University Communications Council, serving for five of the years between 1978 and 1986.  Toward the end of that period, he was asked to serve instead on the Publications Council, which he did until President Giamatti left Yale.

Bill's involvement with YWAA began in the 1960's.  He doesn't recall exactly the date.  Pete Alee was then secretary, and Bill was asked to serve as assistant secretary. When Allee became president of YWAA, Bill rose to secretary.  In that role, he has served Yale Westchester from 1980 to present, undoubtedly the longest tenure of any secretary in YWAA history.  

In 2000, having been named by his peers on the board of YWAA as an especially valuable contributor to Yale activities in Westchester, he received the Yale Outstanding Service Award, presented by Governor George Pataki '67, the speaker at the annual Scholarship Banquet.

During his term as secretary of YWAA, he became a delegate to the AYA in New Haven at the annual Yale Assembly. After he served one term for his class and three for YWAA, he was voted a member of the AYA Board of Governors, which he served for three years.

In 1997, Bill took a bold step as a YWAA board member, supported by the board, to organize an unprecedented Debate Program that would bring Harvard, Yale and Princeton debate teams to Westchester for a demonstration debate in a large school auditorium, to which students of all Westchester schools would be invited.  The design called for a collegiate debate first, followed by a refreshment break in which six local high-school team of two debaters, coached by the college debaters, would compete in three mini-debates.

Highlights from the Standing Ovation dinner, Nov. 8 in Harrison

Each year after 1997, Yale collegians have taken on their counterparts at Harvard and (now) at Brown (not Princeton) to renew the challenge and to cooperate with high-school students in a practicum in debate for the benefit of those high-school boys and girls.  Sometimes, one of the high-school kids is so good, we have wished we could make a meaningful award they could keep as a personal award and inspiration to press forward in their debate skill.

This debate program is one of the finest achievement of the YWAA (founded in 1908).  It is unexcelled by any Yale or other known alumni association.  It clearly benefits the high-school students and their teachers and the schools where they study and teach.  Expenses are low, and enthusiasm is high.  It was Bill Nightingale who created the program and, with inspired help from the other schools and other Yale alumni and with strong support of the YWAA board, has carried it forward to this point.

At this time, it is the intention of YWAA to establish a permanent fund to sustain the debate program in the future in honor of William L. Nightingale, and to provide an annual award, the William L. Nightingale Award for Excellence in Debate, to be presented annually to the most outstanding high-school debater.

Merrell Clark '57 '70 MAR
Chair, Board of Directors, YWAA

Nightingale and his wife Nancy (top, right) at the tribute dinner. Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. expressed his warmest wishes in a letter read to dinner guests. Chuck Lesnick '80, City Council President, presented a resolution honoring Nightingale.

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