SUSAN AND I moved to Berkeley in 2001, when she was still weak from her latest round of chemotherapy and the walk up the steep stairs to our rented house in the Berkeley hills left her panting. We wanted to be close to the children if she had to undergo further treatment. A few years later, through the kindness of a friend, I found myself across the table from the playwright Tony Kushner at a dinner sponsored by the Berkeley Repertory Theater at a French bistro near the Berkeley campus. Kushner, who was in town for the opening of his play, Caroline or Change, was remarkably gracious in engaging the strangers assembled for this dinner.

I was introduced as the former president of the Nathan Cum-mings Foundation, perhaps ...

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