The Yale experience and the Fenno experience are inextricably linked. All of us at one time or another were afraid of Fenno -- Lord knows that man could make the paint chip off Hendrie's walls if he wanted to with a shout, a whisper or even one of the famous looks. However, everything came from a point of love and wanting to bring out the best in the music and our voices.
Fenno graciously gave me $500 toward tour because he knew I did not have the funds. The fact that he made the process virtually painless was greatly appreciated -- only years later did he tell me he knew that I was scared to ask him. However, it came with a Fenno warning; "If you are late, even one minute late to one rehearsal, you're out." Well, one day I woke up late and had minutes to make it to Hendrie -- no time to change out of PJ's. I ran all the way to Hendrie and then faced the dreaded stairwell that could make even the best Glee Clubber late. I climbed those stairs and made it inside to the Glee Club room with seconds to spare -- that metal folding chair never felt so good. Fenno looked down, saw my jammies/winded demeanor and said, "Hello, Sandra" as if nothing had happened. Then he gave me a genuine Fenno smile with that curve of the lip.
Fenno was always a supporter of women's voices at Yale -- from his arrangements for Proof of the Pudding and Whim to all the behind the scenes work that few knew about and many benefitted from; that is part of his living legacy. When we travelled to Harvard for the joint Glee Club concerts, he reminded us to "Let the crowd know why we have women and they don't."
As a person who has zero sight reading skills, I was able to look at Fenno all the time and cherish the faces -- OH ALL THOSE FACES -- that he made. And watching Fenno in a concert was a true joy. He brought out the best in us and gave so much through sharing himself. Over the years, I have been very thankful for wonderful interactions and conversations with our dear Fenno.
My strong faith tells me that when Fenno is called Home, he will be welcomed by angel choruses -- but there will be resounding voices from earth below from all of his friends and family singing. Fenno will simply smile and know, that's his YGC!!!
I love you Fenno, and I thank the Heath Family for sharing themselves with us over the years. And Carol, the Altos still knit and crochet with you -- I can still hear Fenno say "Put those Goddam needles down!!" followed by Carol's calm response, "Keep going, Girls."
Sandra L. Davis '92
F F Heath Jr. 12-30-1926 to 12-05-2008
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Please feel free to share your memories with us about Fenno/Dad. Send your stories/memories to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly post your letter, unless you indicate otherwise.
Thank you. Your letters bring us joy.
~Carol, Sarah, Lucy, Peggy, and Terry Heath