Deceased January 18, 2015

View alumni profile (log in required)
Read obituary
50th Reunion Book Entry


In Memory

Donald E. Kane died on Jan. 18, 2015, after a long battle with cancer. Born and raised in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Amherst, Don earned a M.Ed. in industrial psychology. He then served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed here and in Germany.

Following his military service, Don worked at General Electric Co. for 32 years as an executive in organizational planning, plying his trade in Syracuse, Chicago and Louisville, before landing at corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., where he headed up the Corporate Organization Planning Function. He retired from GE in 1988 and two days later opened his own consulting business, which he ran for seven very rewarding years, finally tiring of all the domestic and international travel (visiting some 30 countries) that this entailed. In 1987 he and his wife, Margaret, moved to Clinton, Mont. There he built a log home where he could fish and enjoy the outdoors for the next 26 years. He also made frequent trips to Alaska, specializing in salmon, trout and arctic char fishing. The folks in Montana even named a bend in the river after him. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Don was a self-taught pianist who loved to lead sing-a-longs.

His three children, all of whom graduated from good colleges, were the apple of his eye. What he most remembers about Amherst was that it taught him to think logically. His favorite course: English 1-2. And he said in ’52 Pick-up, “The future is now.” Often referred to as “Sugar” by his many friends, he will be missed.

Harry H. “Tim” Westbay ’52

Log in to post comments
50th Reunion

52DonaldKane3.jpg My first stop on my post-Amherst career was a Masters Degree from Springfield College in Industrial Psychology in J954. After two years in the Anny serving Uncle Sam both in the U.S and in Germany, I plunged into 1956-indeed a momentous year for me. In March, I joined General Electric Company in the Human Resources function. Then, in December, Margaret Madara (Mount Holyoke 1956) and I were married, thus initiating what has become a very rewarding 45 year 'joint venture.'

After 12 years of varied operating component assignments in Syracuse, Chicago and Louisville, we moved in 1968 to GE Corporate Headquarters in Fairfield CT. In 1973, after several corporate staff assignments in the executive management development area, I was promoted to head up the Corporate Organization Planning function serving GE's Corporate Executive Office. I served in this capacity for the last 15 years of my GE career under three very different CEOs -Fred Barch, Reg Jones and Jack Welch. Each had a different management style, different convictions and a different sense of mission. While many would say that 15 years in one job is far too long, I truly feel it was a perfect match between my skills and interests and the changing/challenging demands of the cultural evolution of the Company. I loved every minute of it and would happily choose to do it over again. 

In 1988, after 32 years with GE, I retired. But only for two days. I guess I wanted to prove to myse1fthat the learning and insights from my GE experience would be applicable to other companies. So I formed a solo consulting practice and spent 7 very rewarding years doing exactly that, with a wide variety of companies both in this country and overseas. These assignments acted to confirm my hunch that, while the number and texture of companies world-wide approaches infinity, the most critical organization and management problems are interestingly quite generic, much more finite in number and seem to occur irrespective of the size, product line or geographic location of the business.

When I initiated my practice, I envisioned a pleasant diversion from normal retirement leisure activities say perhaps a couple of days a week max. But by 1994, the tail was surely wagging the dog and I found myself on planes more than at home and actually working 50 days a year more than I had at GE. With truly mixed emotions, in late 1994 I decided it was finally time to fully retire. And so I did -cold turkey. 

Earlier, in 1989, after 22 years of living in southern CT, we had made a lifestyle change, moving to western Montana where we live in a log home on Rock Creek in the Rocky Mountains, east of Missoula. Here and in Alaska, I pursue my lifetime passion for trout and salmon fishing. We winter on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle, in Sequim, the heart of the ‘rainshadow effect’. We receive only about 16 inches of rain a year and little or no snow. And, by the way, the winter steelhead trout fishing is excellent. 

Margaret, after a career of community health nursing, received her masters in nursing at City University of New York; Hunter Bellevue. She then taught nursing on the college level and was Director of one of the early Hospice Programs in southern CT. She later attended Yale Divinity School and was ordained into the United Methodist Church. She served as a hospital chaplain until our move to MT where she pastored 3 churches. She put into place a pastoral care department for the Hospice of Missoula and a bereavement program for a local funeral home. She still performs occasional weddings, baptisms, and funerals. We were blessed when she officiated at our daughter's wedding and two years later, at the wedding of one of our sons. 

How did Amherst influence my life? It helped me to learn to think logically and not jump to ‘obvious conclusions'-a critical need in my career and in my life. My favorite course? English 1-2!! Professor Barber would retort that my learnings therein are belied by my lack of brevity herein.Our 3 children David, John and Suzanne, graduated from Princeton, Syracuse and Boston College respectively. They and our 4 grandchildren are spread from Elkridge, MD to San Francisco to Marblehead, MA. We are proud of our children's wise life choices, their successes and their loving ways.

And what of the future? Frankly, for me, the future is NOW!!!

52DonaldKane2.jpg 52DonaldKane.jpg

Log in to post comments