We have lost a great one, haven't we? Although he was small in stature, in every other way a man can be "measured", he was a giant: in talent; in the respect - even awe, all of us who sang under his precise, strict and almost minimalist direction had for him; in the reputation he so richly deserved as a composer and choral arranger not only at Yale but throughout the world of music; and in the friendships he maintained with his gentleman (and woman) songsters following their graduation.
The worst thing about growing old is not the feelings of pain or discomfort all of us experience every morning somewhere. Nor is the realization that we somehow have not realized our full potential as a father, a husband, a friend, or as a participant in our chosen profession. It is the awful truth that often we have not "tilled the fields of friendship" and have come to realize too late that what would have been extraordinary and fulfilling times of common experience and dialogue can never be recaptured.
While I caught glimpses of Fenno and had short conversations with him at alumnae functions and at his "retirement party", the occasion I most remember that puts a smile on my face and in my heart was the dinner party several years ago at fellow Whiff's (Ash Gulliver) lovely Connecticut home with Bill and Judy Holding and Fenno and Carol in attendance. After a fine meal, we spent perhaps three hours just talking about our shared adventures at Yale midst the singing of many of "the old songs" (Judy and Carol substituting as first tenors). Fenno, as usual, looked at least twenty years younger than his biological age although we were all aware that he had just gone through some tough times health-wise. I kept in touch via e-mails with Carol after that wonderful night (apparently Fenno had little use for computers), but as the years passed, the correspondence just faded away. I so regret my inattention to that "untilled field". Now it is too late to make amends, but it will never be too late to exclaim to all that my choral director, my traveling companion on all those Yale Glee Club trips, and ultimately, my friend, Fenno Heath, was, indeed , a true giant!!!
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
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have just been forwarded an e-mail from Linus Travers commenting on the awful news about Fenno. He was a great part of my Yale experience: a non pariel musician and leader who was admired by all. Being a Whiff was an honor, but nothing could compare to being a part of the glee club doing one of his magnificent arrangements. I can still feel the frisson, as if it was yesterday, singing "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight". My heart goes out to both of you. with much affection and warm memories. Froggy email@example.com