He began by making us laugh.
B. Mills (one name, two syllables) was easily the funniest member of the Class of 1972. But his humor was not the jokey college boy kind. He was an acute observer of our Bowdoin adventure and all the human foibles it put on display. Wherever he saw pretense, self-importance, or anything remotely false, he poked fun at it and deflated it, often reducing friends within earshot to tears of laughter.
Even then, he was teaching us and leading us with his sense of values and his insistence on standing up for the things that really matter. With his love of mischief and his keen sense of life’s absurdities, he made us laugh our way to the truth.
Could we have suspected back then that our B. Mills would transform Bowdoin forever? That he would be the one to grow it and enlarge its spirit and influence from the proud New England college it had always been into the player on the world stage it had the potential to become?
“He began by making us laugh.”
No. At the time, we had no idea where any of us would end up. But we all knew for certain that B. Mills was destined to do something that would have significance and meaning.
Fast forward to our budding careers in Manhattan: The scene is an eccentric Mitteleuropean restaurant on Columbus Avenue. My wife (then girlfriend), Evelyn, and I have invited Barry to dine on the special roast duck with sauerkraut. We were the only patrons in the restaurant that snowy night. The proprietor’s young son rode his new bike with training wheels around and around us. We laughed and talked, mostly about Barry’s life as a single man.
Afterward, Evelyn said to me, “He’s unsuited for bachelorhood. And he’s too good a catch not to find the right woman.” She declared her determination, “I am going to fix him up!”
Dissolve to: Evelyn and I escorting her ninety-year-old grandmother to a party in her honor given by Karen Gordon, the young woman who had accompanied Grandma on a recent trip to Israel, where she had been guest lecturer at a university. Although Evelyn and Karen had never met, their grandmothers had been lifelong friends.
It was a lovely party.
As we were saying our good-byes, Evelyn took Karen aside and asked if she would like to be fixed up.
Karen said sure.
Evelyn said, “Do you like skinny lawyers?”
The rest is history.
To think that moment of matchmaking helped lead to the extraordinary family Karen and Barry created. And the countless lives they have touched with their hard work and love.
—Glenn Kaplan ’72
Bowdoin Classmate; Executive Creative Director, Barnes & Noble