John ("Bud") Moner

by Theodore ("Ted") Sargent

I arrived at the University of Massachusetts as an incoming freshman in the fall of 1954. During my sophomore year, after deciding to be a Zoology major, I first met a newly-arrived professor, Dr. John G. Moner, who was enthusiastically introduced to my Introductory Zoology class by Dr. Gilbert Woodside, then head of the Zoology Department. Little did I dream that one day, in the not too distant future, John and I would share in teaching a similar introductory course in this very department.

After graduating from UMass in 1958, I went on to the University of Wisconsin, and obtained a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1963. As luck would have it, a faculty position opened up at UMass, just as I had begun job-searching. "Why not?" I asked myself, thinking that I would move on to another place in due course. Such a move, however, never took place, and I would remain on the faculty here for some 38 years. So, John (others call him Bud, but I prefer John) and I have been faculty colleagues for what is now almost fifty years.

At first, we were not particularly close. There were several factors that worked to keep us separated back then. First, there was the clear difference in seniority. At that time, Dr. Donald Fairbairn was head of the department, and circumstances were totally unlike those obtaining today. At my first meeting with him, Dr. Fairbairn made it clear that I could not call him "Don", and that junior faculty members (like all "kids") should be seen, but never heard, at faculty meetings. Ah, the good old days! Then there were the obvious differences in our areas of specialization — John was a cellular physiologist, and a member of the "cell and molecular" interest group; while I was an animal behaviorist, and a member of the "ecology and evolution" interest group. And back then, much as today, these groups rarely saw eye-to-eye on any subject, and were especially contentious regarding crucial departmental issues (e.g., space, hiring, and the curriculum).

Friendship, however, eventually overcame these obstacles. I think both of us had always felt that a good biology department should include specialists at all levels of organization — from molecules to ecosystems — and should encourage both reductionist and holistic explanatory approaches. Then, when we were both put on an inter-departmental committee charged with drawing up a "new and improved" introductory biology course (1982), we began to recognize our common fundamental outlook. We also shared (along with Peter Webster from Botany and Ed Westhead from Biochemistry) in the teaching of this new course for several years, and so became better and better acquainted. We also discovered a number of common interests, and common tendencies — like becoming totally debilitated when responding to each other's sense of humor. Soon we were talking about everything — science (of course), music (our tastes are quite different), politics (we are closer here), current events (with frequent references to our shared past), and women (a perennial favorite, though perhaps a little more wistful these days!).

There was also baseball. We were both fanatic fans, but each passionately devoted to one of those two ultimate archrivals — the New York Yankees (he), and the Boston Red Sox (me). He has had the advantage for most of both our lifetimes — the Yankees having won over 20 World Series during that period, while the Red Sox lost World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986 (as well as the famous "Bucky Dent" play-off game against the Yankees in 1978). The Red Sox would finally win a World Series in 2004 (and again in 2007), while the Yankees went on to win yet another world championship in 2009. Through all of this, however, we have never allowed our enthusiasm for different teams to take anything away from our friendship. I think this is because we both understand what it means to be an avid baseball fan — the incredible "highs", the unimaginable "lows" — and we respect the wonderful tribalism that we thereby share.

Local prize-winning photo of Ted and Bud with their teams' heroes, Ted and Joe:

Clearly, we have long been the best of friends. And, as such, we have shared many things at a more personal level. I knew John's first wife, Barbara, and my wife and I enjoyed many social occasions with the two of them and their three children (Chris, Curt, and Marianne). I also was privileged to serve as best man at John's second wedding, to Meriel (Andrews), who was then (1987) a graduate student in our department. Since then, I have seen his daughter, Emily, grow up — and note John's pride in her accomplishments, including her just-completed first year at Mount Holyoke College. In the meantime, he and I still get together for lunch, usually twice a week, at a local eatery. In this connection, some may recall our earlier "Classe Café" days, which have now become our "Kelly's" days. The format remains the same: How are you doing? How is your team doing? What else is new? What's happening in the world? Heard any good jokes lately? 'Til next time . . .

Neither of us has remained particularly active, in terms of research and publications, in the fields that we specialized in when serving on the faculty. But John keeps up — religiously perusing every issue of Science, Nature, and the New England Journal of Medicine as it appears. And he keeps me informed! I have also been writing in other areas, including a recent biography of the Berkshire poet, Elaine Goodale Eastman. John, in the meantime, has been working on his own memoirs, and actively pursuing relevant historical resources. So, then, life goes on for two old-timers — and in many ways, as we had often hoped, these later years have been the best of all.

Ted Sargent
Professor Emeritus