Deceased December 3, 2013

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50th Reunion Book Entry

In Memory

Don and I spent the last 20 years of his life together. We met at the right time in our lives. His children were grown and making their impact on the world. Don was verbal, analytical and musical. He frequently amazed me with his often brilliant, iconoclastic ideas.

After Amherst, he did his military service and then got an M.S.W. at UC Berkeley. He was a psychologist in private practice in Oakland for 38 years, helping many clients turn their lives around. He had three children: Denise, now the principal flutist and director of the Chapel Hill Symphony and a project director for an environmental companyPaul, an internationally acknowledged green energy expert; and Evonne, who was sadly killed in a small plane crash in 2000. He has five grandchildren.

In addition to his psychology career, he always wanted to write and to compose music. He wrote 15 books and several plays (one of which was performed Off-Broadway), and was teaching himself to compose music and write songs on his keyboard.

People say that it is not easy being married to a psychologist, and indeed it is true that nothing is ever simple with them, but in times of trouble there is no better friend to have. I miss him every day of my life, but I am so glad to have walked together with him on his journey through this life.

Ellen Dreibelbis

50th Reunion 

56 Donn Fenn

I've been a psychologist for 35 years. After directing a psychiatric clinic for 5 years, I've been in private practice since. I have 3 children, two surviving, and 5 grandchildren. I am NOT retired, nor do I believe in the idea of it. Several years ago I halved my practice in order to begin a serious writing career. It took me 15 years of writing philosophy (2 books), poetry (over 300 poems), over 20 plays (one of which was produced Off Bdwy in NYC, other at the SF Playwright Center), and 3 novels --before I found the right woman to love me, and began writing my best stuff. My novel, TROUBADOUR, has just been published --currently in the marketing stage (sending out material, doing interviews, bookstore speeches and signings). See TROUBADOUR'S Website: --where a book of my best poems ("Emotional Moments -Poems From a Mending Heart") is web-published. I've already written my next novel, titled "FOOLS LIKE US", The Reluctant Detective. An unlikely loving couple is thrown into solving a serious criminal case --a process which is life-threatening to them, and very evocative to their love affair in both negative and positive directions.

My experience at Amherst was academically wonderful and marvelous, but personally very unsatisfying, because my character was severely handicapped by parental misuse of my life.

It's taken me the greater portion of living to redeem myself from my own particular version of human suffering, in order to liberate my true spirit as an artist --which curiously is happening at a time when most people retire, I'm just catching fire. Though profoundly committed for 35 years to be the best psychotherapist I could, being a shrink turned out to be an intermediary affair in the evolution of my identity. Though I am still deeply committed to my patients, and deeply honor my profession when it's done right, which for me is the Control Mastery way, I'm now more of a writer than a psychologist.

After the first miracle of my life --finding and catching Ellen --to my utter amazement a second one happened. I started writing music without the slightest theoretical training (only 3 years of adolescent piano lessons). I've written over 30 songs, a few of which can be heard via STREAMING AUDIO on TROUBADOUR'S Website (see "songs"). I've also written many 'chamber' pieces for a few instruments.

There's one additional blessing life has offered me --the realization that "walking the dog" --meaning the animal who carries me around every day, my body --is the secret of the best possible old age. I work out 2 hours a day -yoga, weight bearing, aerobics, and every time my body thanks me for giving it a little extra strength just when physical motion is gradually becoming more and more difficult.

With respect and regards to my classmates... particularly Bill Manley, James Blackburn, Don Newberg, and another guy whose name I can't get quite right. He told me about hitchhiking around the country one summer --revealing to me the possibilities of life if you have confidence in yourself long before I was able to have the actual experience. Confidence is something life has blessed me with at the very end.

On Sunday, June 10th, 1956, 243 members of the class of 1956 received degrees; 105 with honors including 7 summa and 21 magna degrees. Dr. James Killian of MIT was the commencement speaker.

(My photo is a portrait done by my wife, Ellen Dreibelbis, a fine art painter of some renown (see her website). It's by far the best likeness of me.)