Couple takes on class agent duties together 

March 10, 2020 — As students, Yafa Napadensky ‘81 and Bob Shannon ’81 had paths that crisscrossed but rarely connected.

They briefly met more than four decades ago on a Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) cave trip to Missouri. He was in Germany studying one year, while she was in Japan studying another. They both lived in Veggie House and helped coordinate Grinnell’s Food Buying Club – at different times. And they were both GORP student leaders, leading different trips on weekends and fall and spring breaks.

It wasn’t until their 20th Reunion back in 2000 that the two really got to know another. Married since 2003 and now settled in the recreational paradise of Grand Marais, Minnesota, Bob and Yafa share their love for the outdoors, as well as class agent duties. From Reunion planning to writing the class newsletter, they do it together.

Bob Shannon ’81, left, and Yafa Napadensky ‘81 stop to pose for a picture while visiting the Great Wall of China.
Bob Shannon ’81, left, and Yafa Napadensky ‘81 stop to pose for a picture while visiting the Great Wall of China. The couple have been co-class agents since 2005.

“At Grinnell you know a small group of people really well, and you know a lot of people less well,” explains Bob, a retired chemist whose sister Lynn Shannon Morgan ’83 and niece Rachael Morgan ’16, are also alumni. “What I like about being class agent is that as time goes on, you go to reunions and interact through class letters and you get to meet new people who you never spent time with in Grinnell.”

Yafa proposed to the alumni office that the couple work as co-class agents. “They said sure,” she says, “so we share it all.”

“We got our first class newsletter out in October 2005,” recounts Yafa, a history major who is retired from a 30-year accounting career. “We had to get three class letters out in nine months, plus we were planning Reunion.”

The arrangement works well. “There are a number of people I knew at Grinnell and that Bob wasn’t friends with, and there are people he knew well that I didn’t,” Yafa says, “so we each contact people directly when we’re putting together class letters or planning reunions. We’ve also reconnected in person with alumni while we’ve traveled, and when people come up here to visit.”

Besides being co-class agents, the two help lead weekly hikes in Grand Marais, which is home to six other Grinnell graduates. They also host bonfire/potlucks on the beach, and volunteer with the county to monitor water quality at local lakes. Yafa gardens, and the two travel and occasionally teach cooking and other crafts at the local food co-op and at North House Folk School.

When they lived in Denver for a time, they organized local alumni events, bringing together a broad range of Grinnellians of all ages, and they continue to give to the College.

“You start talking to Grinnellians and realize that we have so much in common,” Yafa says. “I’ve been to every reunion for the class of ’81 to hang out with old friends. Then I’ll talk one-on-one with someone I didn’t know really well. And one time when I did that, I ended up marrying that person.”

—by Anne Stein '84

For your information:

Learn more about the responsibilities of a class agent and how to get involved.

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