Pasadena Reunion Report

[As reported by Joe McDonough]

Class of 1981 in Pasadena, March 2023

An Appreciation

One wonders if Pasadena, California has ever shown itself better than it did to the Class of 1981 on March 23-26, 2023.  And Pasadena, after all, is the home of the Rose Bowl!

The committee of Pasadena reunion organizers included: Liz Ryan (Chairperson), Alison Dundes Renteln, Joel Ball, Edward Bettigole, Bonnie Bottoms, Bradley Stoner, George Melrod, Lois Nesbitt, Pamela Chin, and Paula Tavrow.    

Of course, in any group of volunteers, leadership makes the difference, and all would agree that the dedication and direction of Liz and Alison provided the essential drive that propelled the weekend to such success.

Our hosts started the week worrying about unusually heavy rains and high winds but by Thursday afternoon these had given way to warm, spring sunshine, brilliantly clean air, fleecy clouds in the sky, and even wildflowers in the fields.  

Headlining the weekend’s agenda were numerous tours and planned events, including:

  • A VIP visit to the NASA Jet Propulsion Labs at Caltech
  • The Norton Simon Museum
  • The Gamble House
  • The Pacific Asia Museum and Lunasia Dim Sum lunch
  • The Huntington Library, Museums, & Gardens
  • Presentations by authors in the class of 1981 at Vroman’s bookstore
  • Nature hikes in and around Pasadena
  • A jazz brunch at The George restaurant
  • Top-line Survey Results and Comments from Classmates (more detailed results will be posted here later in the week)
  • And, as a grand finale, a hosted dinner & dance at the Caltech Athenaeum

Piling on top of all that was the warmth and camaraderie of being with Harvard friends again as we toured places that should be described, without any exaggeration, as “wonders to behold.”  

The highlights are frankly too many and too rich to review in any detail but if you would enjoy more color commentary in this regard, I’d suggest reaching out to a classmate or two who was there.  Suffice it to say now that we are deeply grateful to the organizers who conceived, executed, and funded this unofficial reunion and that we likewise appreciate the classmates who came from around the world to join the fun.  And finally, we offer special thanks and appreciation to Liz Ryan and Alison Dundes Renteln for their gigantic contributions.

Those who were there look forward to returning to Pasadena again, and if you haven’t been to Pasadena in a while do yourself a favor and go soon.

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Upcoming Events: HR1981 Community

All our events are on the HR1981 class calendar.


Sunday, Mar. 19, 4-5:30 pm ET, Drop-In Social
Register now.  Drop-in socializing, gently led by Jeanne Heifetz. Join us at any time. Contact:

Thursday, Mar. 23 – Sun, Mar. 26, HR1981 In-Person Reunion in Pasadena
Join us! Check out the details.


Sunday, Apr. 16, 4-5:30 pm ET, Drop-In Social
Register now.  Drop-in socializing, gently led by Jeanne Heifetz. Join us at any time. Contact:

Sun. Apr. 23, 3:30-5 pm ET, Book Club: More Faces at the Bottom of the Well
Register now. We will continue discussing Derrick Bell’s collection of stories, Faces at the Bottom of the Well (PDF of 1992 edition), focusing on the stories “The Space Traders,” “The Rules of Racial Standing,” and “Racism’s Secret Bonding.”  All classmates are welcome, even if you missed the last meeting.

This 1992 classic on the problem of racism was reissued in 2018 with a thoughtful foreword by Michelle Alexander (author of The New Jim Crow). If you can’t read the whole book, read “The Space Traders”, and/or watch the short film based on that story by Reginald Hudlin ’83 (director, ex-BET President and Black Panther writer). Contact: Daphne de Marneffe.


Sunday June 11, 3:30-5 pm ET, Book Club: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God
Register Now. Details to follow.

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Upcoming Events: HR1981 Community

40th Reunion HIGHLIGHTS

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40th Reunion HIGHLIGHTS

Pasadena Reunion Forms for Download

Click here for Important Updates!

Download Forms for the Pasadena Reunion

Covid-19 Protocol for Pasadena

Liability Waiver for Recreational Hiking Activities


Pasadena Restaurants

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Pasadena Reunion Updates

PLEASE, if you haven’t done so already, download the Whova mobile app!

The app is your link to other reunion attendees, and will let you send messages, get people’s contact information, share photos, see lists of area restaurants etc. It also provides day-by-day access to the reunion agenda, as well as last-minute announcements from the event planners.

Once you’ve downloaded the mobile app and registered,

…you can find more information about all the events on the web portal:

And if you haven’t done so yet, please complete our brief survey:

Thursday night dinner

Technically, on your own since nothing is officially organized, but the Planning Committee has tentatively reserved a couple of tables for 6pm at Saladang Thai restaurant (363 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105) and we encourage folks to gather there. Even without a reservation, the table waits shouldn’t be too long on a Thursday night, and there’s also their sister restaurant next door for overflow: Saladang Garden, with a lovely patio for outdoor dining (383 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105).

Late night gatherings

If you’re a night owl, you can plan to meet classmates informally at the Tap Room bar at the Langham hotel (1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106) – Thursday night & Friday night starting at 9pm, and also Saturday night after the dinner dance.

Friday morning hike

Word to the wise: the Echo Mountain hike is rated as “moderately strenuous” five-mile activity, and will probably take up to four hours to complete. Please bring water and a snack, wear appropriate shoes with tread. Also, we’ve been advised to ask everyone to complete a liability waiver (sorry – a sign of the times) and will follow up directly about this with those who’ve signed up.

Friday morning & afternoon

These events are all on track, so please enjoy the ones for which you’ve signed up: Gamble House Tour at (10am, 10:30am or 11am), Norton Simon Museum at 2pm, Authors’ Voices at Vroman’s at 5pm). There’s still plenty of room at Vroman’s to hear several of our illustrious classmates read from recently published works – please sign up! Also note that you can arrive at the Norton Simon Museum anytime between 2pm-3pm and still have plenty of time to make it to Vroman’s.

Friday night dinner

definitely on your own with old friends and new acquaintances. Nothing planned for tonight – see the list of excellent Pasadena restaurants on the Whova site. Suggestions include The Arbour or Granville Pasadena.

Saturday morning

We will likely have extra tickets for the Huntington Gardens tour at 10am, because some who purchased them can’t make it. If you haven’t signed up for this event and would like to attend, please contact Paula Tavrow directly ( The dim sum event at Lunasia starts at 12pm, followed by a tour of the Pacific-American Museum. It would be challenging to do both Huntington Gardens and Lunasia unless you leave Huntington Gardens no later than 11:30am.

Saturday evening dinner-dance

This is the marquee event of the reunion, and here’s the final schedule: cocktail hour 5pm-6pm, dinner 6pm-8pm, dancing 8pm-10pm. Dress code is “cocktail attire” – a bit more formal than business casual, and a bit less formal than black tie. Be there or be square!

Sunday morning

Jazz Brunch is planned for 11am at The George Restaurant (1615 East Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104). The cost is $50 per person, and brunch will be served buffet style. We’ve reserved several tables at 10:45am, 11am, and 11:15am, and the restaurant will try to accommodate as many people as possible as walk-ins, but there could be a bit of a wait. Please come, since this will be the final event of the reunion, and chance to say goodbye to friends old and new.


The Reunion Planning Team

Liz, Joel, Alison, Pamela, Paula, George, Brad, Edward, Lois

HR1981 Pasadena Reunion Committee
The Harvard-Radcliffe Class of ’81 Pasadena Reunion


Covid-19 Protocol for Pasadena

Liability Waiver for Recreational Hiking Activities


Pasadena Restaurants

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COVID-19 Protocol for the HR1981 Pasadena Reunion

The HR1981 Pasadena Reunion Planning Team is committed to protecting the health and welfare of all attendees. Toward this end, we will follow all current public health recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among reunion attendees.

Fortunately, community spread of COVID-19 has decreased significantly, to the point that the Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) has now announced the termination of the local public health emergency for COVID-19, effective Monday, March 6.

Because the Pasadena Reunion Team values the health of all attendees, we are promoting these prudent infection prevention measures:

  • We strongly recommend that all attendees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • We strongly recommend that all attendees take a COVID-19 test prior to arrival, particularly before the gatherings at the Athenaeum on Saturday;
  • We will ensure that masks and hand sanitizer are available at all indoor events for anyone who wishes to use them;
  • The cocktail hour and dinner/dance locations at the Athenaeum will have outdoor patio (with canopy) and indoor seating options with ample ventilation. We endorse the Pasadena Public Health Department’s recommendations that all reunion attendees assess their own susceptibility to COVID-19 and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others. Your Reunion Planning Team looks forward to a safe and healthy event!
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Restaurants in Pasadena Area

Outdoor seating
Il Fornaio (Old town) – chain

Mi Piace

A favorite Great desserts!

Piccolo – South Pasadena Good food; uncomfortable benches

Bacchus – a few outdoor tables 

Excellent food

Alta Eats – a few outdoor tables [No sign in front]
Delicious, not inexpensive

Arbour – Lake Avenue
near Athenaeum (across street from the Magnolai) can accommodate 16-19 in a private room
24 with tables put together
Not inexpensive; indoor dining

The Magnolia House

Saladang – Fair Oaks
A favorite. Delicious; reasonable prices Near Old Town; Norton Simon

President Thai

Entre Nous

The George

Gale’s – Italian



Mint Leaf (Indian)

Orange Café and the Luggage Room

Radhika’s (So. Pasadena, Indian)

True Food Kitchen

Near Norton Simon (another option besides museum café)


The Counter

Pie N’ Burger

Institution; down the street from Athenaeum


Good! Outdoor seating
Argentinian (To celebrate World Cup?)


Not fancy; large portions. Tasty.

Mediterranean fare


 (South Pasadena) fancy

Sushi of Naples 

Weird name; good. Nearish to Vromans

Kabuki (chain)
Two locations; one Old Town; near Norton Simon


California Pizza kitchen

Across street from Pacific Asia Museum Near Vroman’s

Blaze Pizza (next to Vromans)

I haven’t been to this one.

Sapori Di 786 Degrees (take out – chewy!)

I like their pizza; no where to sit there, however.

Steak houses
Parkway Grill

Arroyo Chop House

(next to and same owner ? Parkway Grill – outdoor seating)


(steak house in the Langham Hotel; just re-opened)

For special occasions

Julienne’s (San Marino, outdoor seating)
[box lunches for Huntington Garden event?]



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Past 40th Reunion (and Post-Reunion) Events

(Archived here for your reference, for your fond memories, and for your proof that, yes, the list is this long.)

See the list of our future events, also visible on our front page, and in our Calendar.

January 2021:

Tuesday, January 5, 2021, 6 p.m. EST, Reunion Committee Meeting
Join us—whether you have attended yet or not! Email Adam Kane (our Harvard liaison) to attend if you are new:

Saturday, January 9, 2021, 5 p.m. EST, Class Social
Hear a very brief overview of our virtual reunion plans and then hang out with classmates in small groups. Contact:

Saturday, January 16, 2021, 3:30 p.m. EST, Book Club
N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice and the Law. We will be joined by the author, Jody David Armour ’82, Professor at USC Gould School of Law (and husband of classmate Phreda Devereaux). While reading the Book Club selection is encouraged, it is not required. Contact:

Continue reading

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Past 40th Reunion (and Post-Reunion) Events

Pasadena Reunion Agenda

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