Message Board Posting
Kenneth Bley
----------------------- Message from 60th Year Class Reunion ------------------

I join the others who are sorry that they arenít able to attend today. My best wishes to everyone. I hope to see you at our 65th reunion.

Kenneth B. Bley

----------------------- Message from 50th Year Class Reunion ------------------

I was sorry to see the names of our classmates who have died. Jim Weinberger and I had decided we would get an apartment together at Berkeley if we didn't go into fraternities. Jim went into Acacia and I went into Pi Lambda Phi (along with several other Lowellites) and I didn't see much of him after that.

I'm looking forward to hearing from others what they've done since graduation in 1956. I've put together a short description of my life; I hope others will too.

I started Cal in September, 1956, majoring in engineering. While I was at Berkeley, I got into a work study-program where I went to school for six months and worked for six months. Before I graduated in 1961, I had worked on designing rocket engines at Rocketdyne in Los Angeles and Aerojet in Sacramento. I met my wife, Karlene at Aerojet. We were married in 1961 and remain married today.

We went to Massachusetts after I graduated from Cal. We had a 1960 MGA 1600 and managed to get lost in the slums of virtually every big city between San Francisco and Boston. The Examiner, at my mother's instigation, said that we were honeymooning at Niagara falls. The truth is that we drove right past it. I went to AVCO, where I worked on the guidance and control of missiles, and attended MIT part time. Karlene worked at RCA and went to Boston University part time, working on her BA.

We came back to California in 1962 so I could work on my masters, again at Cal, and Karlene could go to Oakland City College. After graduation in 1963, we came down to Los Angeles where I worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica doing research on space operations. I also started working part time on a PhD in engineering (guidance and control with a minor in national defense studies) at UCLA. Karlene went to Santa Monica City College and then UCLA, receiving her BA in History in 1967, the year our first son, Christopher, was born. I went to work for Hughes Aircraft in 1967 and got my PhD in 1969. Our second son, Andrew, was born in 1970.

I didn't like the uncertainty of the aerospace industry. I was a supervisor at one point with six people reporting to me in the morning. The contract we were working on was canceled and I had one person reporting to me in the afternoon. Further, the things that I had learned in seminars while I was getting my PhD were integrated into courses taught to seniors a few years later. The result was that new graduates were starting having been taught two thirds what I had learned but being paid only half as much. It wasn't an attractive situation for older engineers.

Accordingly, I took the LSATs in 1970, was accepted to the Harvard Law School in 1971 and graduated in 1974. The only person I knew at Harvard when I started was Steve Breyer, who was on the faculty. His parents and mine had been good friends and Steve and I had known each other in Forensics under George Lorbeer.

After graduation, I started work at a law firm in Beverly Hills and became, quite without expecting it, a land use lawyer and litigator, representing landowners and developers in getting approvals from cities and counties and then defending the approvals in court if they are attacked, which they often are. I stayed with my first firm for eight and a half years until it dissolved in 1982. I then went to my current firm, Cox, Castle & Nicholson in Century City, where I became the head of its land use practice. I'm still practicing. In fact, I'm currently awaiting oral argument in the California Supreme Court in a case I won in the trial court and then lost in the Court of Appeal. I have no plans to retire in the foreseeable future.

I taught remedies and land use for 25 years as an adjunct professor at the USC Law School (although I was never a supporter of USC's teams. How could I be having gone to Cal and UCLA?) I also lectured, and continue to so, around the nation to lawyers, judges and developers on various aspects of land use. We're an academic family. Karlene is an archeologist, having received her PhD in Indo European Studies at UCLA in 1989. She teaches, writes and lectures around the world.

My parents died in 1992. My father graduated from Lowell in 1920. Our Dean of Girls, Gladys Lorigan, was in his class and our original principal, Edith Pense, was then a teacher. My brother, Steve, and my two sisters, Pam and Vikki, also went to Lowell after me. Steve is a lawyer practicing in San Francisco, Pam died in 2003 and Vikki, the only one of us who didn't go to the old Lowell on Masonic, lives in Maryland. She'll be in San Francisco the weekend of our reunion to see her daughter run in a marathon to raise money for research in leukemia.

Both of our sons graduated from San Francisco State. Both of them are married and the older one, who lives in Los Angeles, has a five year old son. Our younger one lives in the City in the West Portal district. The older one is the Director of Acquisitions for a company which puts out money for development for Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. The younger one is a map maker - a cartographer - and GIS (geographic information systems) analyst who worked for the Golden Gate Park Conservancy until two months ago.

We bought our home in West Los Angeles (only a realtor would call it Westwood) in 1974 and still live in it. Every time we though about moving, we found that a nicer home in a better neighborhood would be too expensive so we remodeled our house twice, adding a second floor in 1981 and expanding it slightly in 2001.

I'm in pretty good shape, all things considered. I started taking Krav Maga, an Israeli self defense technique, three years ago but had to give it up last year after tearing a rotator cuff and almost rupturing a tendon in my knee. My current three day a week workouts are limited to cardio exercises, stretching and heavy bag work. It's great exercise but nowhere near as much fun.

No hobbies to speak of. I read a lot - history, biography and science fiction - and I used to watch sumo but the television stations here in Los Angeles stopped carrying it several years ago.

I've attached a recent photo. I guess it's fair to say that I don't look quite the way I did in 1956.