Nicolai Timenes, Jr.

Son of Norwegian Immigrants, the late Nicolai and Margit B. Timenes, Nic showed strong academic talents at the Taft School ’56 (Watertown, CT) and Yale University “60, where he further completed an MS in Mathematics. Nic joined the Federal Government early in his career, where he served with distinction in several departments and agencies, including Departments of Interior, Energy and Defense, the Carter White House Staff, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA). While on a CNA carrier study during the Vietnam War, Nic was severely injured and narrowly escaped death in a fire aboard the USS Oriskany. He retired in 1995 from OSD as the Principal Deputy Director for Military Personnel Policy.

Nic had a keen analytical mind and a wry with that served him well, both in the friendships he made and his record of successes throughout his government career. He loved backpacking in the Sierras, sailings the Chesapeake Bay, and was an avid model railroader.

He was a great friend and colleague, and is missed by all who knew him.

Remembrances from classmates and roommates:

Dear John:

I’m writing to you in your capacity as corresponding secretary of our class to inform you, if you have not already heard from Tim Light or others, of the passing of our classmate and our roommate, Nic Timenes. Nic had a keen mind and a wry wit. He was a fine mathematician. One of his early contributions in that area was helping me pass introductory calculus in senior year. He went on to perform important work for our country, working for the Center for Naval Analyses during the Vietnam War, narrowly escaping death while working on the USS Oriskany at the time of the disastrous fire which broke out on October 26, 1966. He made important contributions to our knowledge of anti-ship missile defense. As early as 1976, he co-authored , with our roommate, Dick Dowd, a paper for the Congressional Budget Office discussing alternative strategies for development of new energy technologies, foreshadowing our current interest in alternative energy sources and replacement of fossil fuels. He served our country with distinction during his many years in government service. Nic’s views on morality in government are well-expressed in a letter he wrote to the Washington Post in 1998, in which he said, “Trust is at the core of the consent of the governed, and thus of just governance. How can we trust those who lie? How can we trust in a government of liars? And why should we?” Those words resonate today.

In October 2018 the 1959-1960 occupants of the Castle in Calhoun College met in reunion in Silver Spring, Maryland, at the home of Dick and Terry Dowd. In attendance were Nic Timenes, Dick and Terry Dowd, Tim and Joy Light, Ray Firehock, and Ray and Laura Crystal. It was wonderful to be together again. Nic, may you rest in peace.

Ray Crystal


Dear John,

Ray Crystal’s wonderful memoir on Nic deserves publishing in Class Notes (if not elsewhere in things pertaining to the 60th reunion) as is. However here are a few footnotes.

1. Among Nic’s professional accomplishments was his plan for the downsizing of the military. Among the fallouts from the Vietnam War were the elimination of the draft and the reduction of the total size of the military, including both the number on active duty and the number of permanent installations throughout the country. Passing the legislation which authorized this downsizing required a negotiated agreement on the size and composition of America’s military footprint for peacetime. Both the inherent complications in the sheer math and the political necessity of an ending arrangement which was generally perceived as fair made it a herculean task. (And, I suspect, called for someone that all the politicians could blame when their constituents raised hell about the loss of the major fort in their district with all of its local employees.)  Nic was the perfect person for that job and he was justly proud of being the only one who could carry it out.

2. However, beyond career, what I think of most when I think of Nic is the fun we had. At some point while still at Yale, the rest of the Castle Crowd decided that Nic required a middle name, which we determined was “Aloysius,” and thereafter he was often addressed by that name. In middle age, we backpacked in the Sierras together a couple of times. Nic took most of his vacations hiking and camping in the Western national parks, with which he became as familiar as professional rangers. So the food and gear we packed was 40 pounds a person, precisely the amount assigned mathematically by Nic and left the rest of the planning to him as well. All the rest of us just had to be sure that we were following him dutifully. N. Aloysius also came to Kalamazoo to join a bunch of us locals for our annual July 4th walk. As age began to take its toll more and more visibly, those walks declined from 12 miles down to barely 2 and the the participants to just a handful. Even before we actually acknowledged that two years ago was the last one for us, Nic and I distinguished ourselves In the Indiana Dunes by barely making it up to a height (on sand, of course, one step forward, two steps back) where we could still see the Lake Michigan water below and a clear stretch of silicon erosion between us and the shore, which we gratefully took—on our butts because it was impossible to stay standing for more than a few vertical yards.

Nic is greatly missed.

Best to all of you