Yale University

In Memoriam

Wayne Ellis Batcheler

Wayne died on August 1, 2013. Below is an obituary written by his wife and daughters, as well as a remembrance by roommate Jim Baxter '64.


Wayne Batcheler
1964 graduation

Wayne was born in Chicago and moved to Charlotte, NC while in high school. He majored in economics, while being active as Branford College's chief printer, president of Omicron Delta Epsilon, active in the AIESEC, and a member of the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club.  He went on to receive his law degree from Harvard Law School.

Wayne subsequently practiced with several New York law firms, including Chadbourne Parke Whiteside & Wolf, Sullivan Donovan Hanrahan & Silliere, Drinker Biddle & Reath, and Tufo Johnston & Zuccotti.  In later years he made the choice to develop a solo practice so that his time was more his own, the better to devote more attention to his many special personal interests and hobbies. A friend remembers  "one of his especially notable qualities was the passion he demonstrated for anything that interested him, be that printing or sailing or some particular legal angle."

Always deeply involved with typography and how words read on a page, whether in legal documents or in his own letterpress printing, Wayne was able to set up his own basement print shop at home.  He acquired several printing presses, and then cabinets full of lead type bought cheaply by the pound from auctions at downtown print shops as they switched to digital printing. He taught his two daughters how to set type and print at an early age; his oldest grandchildren are now learning on the same press using the same hand-set type.  He was a member of the Grolier Club and the Center for Book Arts in New York.

Wayne's long-time interest in genealogy  (his parents were children of first generation immigrants from Sweden and Denmark) was enabled by the internet, and he had extensive lists of contacts for Batchelers all across the country.  His work was often complicated by the many different spellings of the name Batcheler, but nonetheless he was able to assemble an impressive list of relatives, many of them several removes from his direct line. And in the early 1970s, through research into his family, he was able to track down 200 acres of Pennsylvania land originally owned by his great-great-great grandfather early in the 19th century, and he and Barbara were able to buy more than 100 acres for the Batcheler Farm.  This retreat is still used by all members of the family to recharge by living a simpler lifestyle.  Although the house has plumbing, a daughter's suitor's willingness to use the two-hole privy when visiting was Wayne's test as to his compatibility with both the daughter and the Batcheler Farm.

About thirty years ago a friend persuaded Wayne to attend an English Country Dance session and he became an avid and accomplished dancer, traveling all over New England to dance and to demonstrate dances. Wayne wrote: "Part of the appeal was the peculiar names of the dances, and the delightful tunes." He remembered being terrified at first by "triple minors" and intimidated by a few dance snobs, but once he got the hang of the idiom, things went much more smoothly on the floor.  Perhaps the appeal was also because the complicated patterns woven by the dances appealed to his mathematical brain.  He was dancing until shortly before his death.

Always an outdoorsman, Wayne loved to lead dancers on hikes and snowshoe trips whenever he could during dance weekends. More recently he developed real skill as a bird watcher and photographer as he focused on a new outdoor hobby.

Wayne devoted much time to supporting the causes he believed in, particularly the election process.  He volunteered with every presidential campaign, starting at Yale in 1964 in the Branford print shop where he printed posters of Barry Goldwater with a giant hole in his head. He became more deeply involved after working for Bruce Babbitt in the 1988 election.  For the past two general elections he worked tirelessly in Pennsylvania for Obama, going door to door to get out the vote, reasoning that his efforts would make more difference there than in traditionally Democratic New York.  Last fall he engaged in door-to-door campaigning despite strong medication and general weakness from radiation treatments.  He was a committed and passionate believer in the democratic process and lent his legal skills to make sure that process was protected. Friends and colleagues remember Wayne as politically argumentative and engaged.

But without a doubt, Wayne's main recreational interest was sailing, first nurtured by the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club.  When he was younger, he enjoyed the speed of his Laser. In 2000 he sailed across the Atlantic as part of a six-man crew.  A decade ago he bought a cruising sailboat, a Bristol 24 fixer-upper that he docked in Noank.  For almost five years he lovingly repaired and refitted the boat, and finally three years ago "Banoo" was launched.  He loved weekend cruising out to Block Island with friends, and took his grandchildren out for overnight trips to teach them the rudiments of sailing.  He was never happier than when fellow sailors were heading into port in anticipation of some heavy weather, and he was heading out in foul-weather gear with the wind and the spray and a big grin on in his face.  His passion was his boat, and when he became sick it saddened him to think that he would not be able to sail Banoo.

Wayne is survived by his wife Barbara of New York (whom he met while working in London after junior year), his architect-daughter Sarah Batcheler and grandson Daniel of Washington DC, and his engineer-daughter Rachael Kasper and grandchildren Davis and Hallie of Dexter, Michigan.

Remembrance by Jim Baxter '64

I met Wayne in the first few weeks of freshman year in 1960.  I asked how he had avoided a Southern accent, coming from North Carolina.  He explained that he had been forced to move from Chicago to Charlotte, but he did not like the South. In fact he had endeared himself to a teacher at West Mecklenberg County (NC) High School by saying he could not understand her because she had grits in her mouth. Nevertheless, sixteen-year-old Wayne was entrepreneurial and got a job driving the school bus.  Wayne scoffed at Southerners' habit of calling each other "Jackson."  So we addressed each other as "Jackson" for about six months, until it got too silly even for us.

Wayne and Artie Holshouser, a fellow West Mecklenbergian, lived on the top floor of towering Bingham Hall, a perfect launch pad for Artie's water balloons. Probably the most brilliant math and engineering student in our class, Artie was blocked by Dean Whiteman from entering the second-year calculus course because he had no apparent secondary-school preparation. Artie crashed the first hour test of the second-year calculus class and made 100%, ruining the curve for the other students, whose top grade was 60%. Artie wrote "Show this to Dean Whiteman and tell him to let me into this class!" on his exam bluebook. Artie departed after freshman year to find a college which did not require any English courses.

In sophomore year Wayne roomed with Dave DeVoe, Dan Batson and me in 798 Branford, where Dave started playing Wagner's Ring Cycle early on Saturdays so that it could be completed by midnight. In sophomore year, Wayne's biggest challenge, aside from living through Saturdays, was passing Spanish.  His heroic struggle to master the rolled "R" amused us all year. It often came out as chutzpah.  He passed, as a correctly rolled "R" was apparently not absolutely required.

Reportedly Wayne was diverted from economics, his first love, when his local draft board advised that his economics study in England in a non-degree program would not exempt him from the draft.  That same day he received his acceptance to Harvard Law School. Thus Wayne and I found ourselves in the same class at Harvard, where my wife and I sometimes found the time to socialize with Wayne and his wife Barbara. 

Answering Wall Street's call, Wayne initially worked at Chadbourne Parke, where TWA was one of his clients, and later was the New York partner of Drinker Biddle, where he hired Dave DeVoe on his return from a sabbatical from Lord, Day & Lord.

Decades ago Wayne decided that big-firm practice was not for him and he began a long career as a solo lawyer in Manhattan.  I asked what he specialized in and he responded, "Whatever walks in the door."  True enough, Wayne handled real-estate closings, contract-dispute litigation, defamation lawsuits, and investment disputes.  He was one of the few lawyers in New York equally at home drafting an SEC registration statement or going to court to litigate a real-estate development dispute.  When asked whether Wayne was capable of handling a lawsuit against a large corporate defendant, I responded that Wayne's litigation style is that of the proverbial "junkyard dog."  The defendant would wish it had never litigated the matter.

For over 25 years Wayne immersed himself in English country dancing and English contra dancing, where changing partners is de rigueur, playing an active role in the Country Dance New York organization. He participated in performing the music and doing English dances originated from 1600 to the present.

Wayne was an avid sailor, setting sail in his boat whenever possible. Always a devotee of the printing art, Wayne was a member of the Grolier Club.

Wayne was very proud of his accomplished daughters, SCUBA-equipment mogul Rachael,  a graduate of Brown and MIT graduate school, and architect Sarah, a graduate of Bryn Mawr and Columbia graduate architecture school, mothers of Barbara and Wayne's three grandchildren, Davis, Hallie and Daniel.  Wayne was also very proud of his accomplished wife Barbara, who moved on from her nursing career to become associate dean at Columbia University.

Wayne was a devoted Yale alumnus.  He volunteered ever since graduation, participating in innumerable fund-raising telethons.  He was a valuable and active member of the Yale '64 Class Council.  He was a member of the Yale '64 50th Reunion Committee and its attendance subcommittee.  When he became too weak, after months of surgery and chemo, to work on the reunion phone calls, he urged me to put him down as "planning to attend."  It is particularly poignant that Wayne did not make it to the 50th reunion after his compassionate and inspired leadership in planning the memorial services of many past reunions.

As hard as it has been for us to learn of the deaths of so many other classmates, Wayne's passing so quickly from his active vibrant life has hit many of us especially hard.

A memorial service for Wayne was held at the Yale Club of New York City on Saturday, August 17, 2013. His wife Barbara and daughters Sarah and Rachael spoke, as did his grandson Davis, who recited a poem. Sarah and Rachael compiled and displayed a moving array of photos ranging from 1945 to last month. Wayne's Yale roommate and law partner Dave DeVoe gave a moving and descriptive talk about the many aspects of Wayne's life and personality. I also added a few words. Wayne's younger sister Karen described the ways in which very young Wayne was not so different from the older Wayne that we knew. I learned of many aspects of Wayne's life which were new to me — his building and electrician skills, his successful sail across the Atlantic, his printing skills, and his teaching skills which he lavished on his beloved grandchildren. The Class of 1964 has lost a very good man.