Peter David Fenner, age 80, died Thursday, August 25, 2016, in Portland, after suffering a stroke. He was surrounded by family, and passed peacefully. Pete was born April 18, 1936, to John and Janice (Gleason) Fenner in Montclair, N.J., the middle of three children. He grew up in Madison, N.J., and graduated from Madison High School in 1954. Pete was a member of the Kappa Alpha Society while he attended Lehigh University, and graduated in 1958 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After college, he married his childhood sweetheart Nancy Carrell Royce, and began a long career with Ma Bell, starting as an engineer with Western Electric, and finishing as a Vice President and Division Head at AT&T. During that time, he took a 1-year sabbatical and earned a masters degree from MITs Sloan School of Management. He and Nancy lived in many parts of the country during the Bell years, and raised three sons in the process. After retiring from AT&T at age 55, he worked for several more years in Silicon Valley, where he was proud to take Com21 from high-tech startup to a publicly-traded company.
Petes longest-lived passion was sailing. He learned the ropes (literally) as a child sailing on Long Islands Moriches Bay, and won shelves of trophies in the SS and Narrasketuck classes. He continued to race at the national level in his twenties, and competed at the Olympic Trials in the Finn class. He crewed on a small yacht across the Atlantic, continued to team with his brother George in races into the 21st century, and maintained an active membership in the Westhampton Yacht Squadron. Pete also happily joined in any sport he could talk his sons into trying, and coached many of their youth teams. He enjoyed tennis and skiing through his 60s, and never stopped playing golf and ping pong. Pete trained his sons in the art of do-it-yourself, from small repairs to modest construction projects. Together they fixed bicycles, built out-buildings, and even constructed a replica of a 1929 Mercedes from a fiberglass body and an old Ford. He passed on numerous bits of wisdom to his boys, and as anyone who has ever looked into one of their garages can attest, he never let them forget that, Its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Pete was generous with his time and his ideas. He was always willing to discuss any topic from a variety of angles. He forged lifetime bonds, and will be dearly missed by generations of friends and admirers. Pete was also generous with his resources; he supported numerous charitable causes such as Habitat for Humanity, and he founded an endowed scholarship at his alma mater, Lehigh University.
Peter is survived by his wife, Nancy; sons, Guy (Kristie), Karl (Leslie), and James (Wendy); grandchildren, Calhoun, Lilian, Tavish, Tobias, Coleman, and Madeline; and his sister, Pamela Kellett. Peter was preceded in death by his parents, and by his brother, George. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, September 5, 2016, at Mirabella Portland. Burial of his ashes will occur later, in Remsenburg, N.Y., and some will be scattered on Moriches Bay.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the John Hart Hunter Educational Foundation.
This obituary was taken in part from the Oregonian, published September 2, 2016.