Remembering Donald Fine 
(
February 7, 1943, to May 17, 2010)

  

"He's so fine"

By Howie Levy

  

Donald J. Fine, my dear friend of almost 56 years, was a man of notable generosity, intelligence , wit, and high achievement ─ and he was unusually humble ─ as the song says, "a soft-spoken guy." Donny (as he was known all his life by his many friends) earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University and had an exemplary career in the financial world as one of Wall Street's most esteemed economists. He was the Chief Market Analyst and Managing Director of a division of Chase Manhattan  Bank, his sole employer for 32 years. He was a frequent and, according to a colleague at Chase, an "energetic and well-received" speaker on Federal Reserve policy and the economic outlook. His economic forecasts were quoted almost daily for years in the pages of the Wall St. Journal and the New York Times. Thus, Donny was one of the most influential members of our class. A colleague said, "Don was a hell of a guy."

  

Donny was a loyal fraternity man; he was in Sigma Alpha Mu (or "Sammy") at his beloved University of Michigan, where he did his undergraduate work, and he was my fraternity brother in Alpha Theta at Oceanside High School. As an adult, Donny had no family other than cousins.* He never married, but he traveled the country and the world, lived the life of a

happy bachelor and was never lonely. He maintained close, lifelong relationships with many of his fraternity brothers among lots of other dear friends from all stages of his life.

Donny definitely lived his life to the fullest, and his zest for living focused primarily on his passions for sports (most especially, University of Michigan football), photography (mainly of natural beauty like our national parks), travel (particularly in Asia and the South Pacific), model trains, rock 'n' roll music, fine food, and his many, many friends, both men and women.

  

______________
* Many of the photographs shown below were provided courtesy of Don's closest first cousin, Greg Iger, of Bakersfield, California. 
   (Several dates are estimated.)  You can click on the link provided at the bottom of this page for Greg's extensive and loving  online
   memorial tribute to Donny
with lots more photographs and stories from Donny's life.

  

                                          

                                            c. 1946                                               1956                                                1959                                           c. 1962
                                                                                                                                          
(Photo taken by our fraternity
                                                                                                                                            brother, the late
Joel Pravda)

  

    Above and below, the many faces of Donny Fine:

     

  c. 1975

  

c. 1979, with  top Chase officers, David Rockefeller,
Chairman (center) and Willard Butcher, CEO (right)

 

 

    

1964  
      

 

 

    

1966  

  

   

 

 

 

c.1970

 
   

   

    A Sammy formal, Univ. of Michigan,  c. 1964                         With another famous Donald, c. 1985                 A University of Michigan class reunion, c. 1989
  

And at a couple of our wonderful OHS Class of 1960 reunions:

  

                     

                                                In 1980 (with Doreen Silverstein                                                                  In 2000 (with Audrey Schneiderman, me,
                                                                        and Paul Fishman)
                                                                           Sue Schlesinger and Carole Cohen)

   

           

                                         In 2000 (with Linda Feuerstein, Jay Katz                                  In 2000 (with Ginny Matthews and Penny White)
                                                                                        and Sabin Danziger)
    

In high school, Donny was a wrestler, and he often struggled as wrestlers do to "make weight." Eventually, in his later years, Don's love of good food and the good life caused him to totally abandon that battle and he put on the pounds. Some more recent photos, as we last knew him, follow:

 

          

   

These two recent photos of Donny with his dear friend and our popular OHS classmate, Jack Beaulieu, were submitted by Jack's wife, Nancy Koller Beaulieu, also a popular classmate of ours. Below, the two men are about to enjoy Donny's season tickets at a University of Michigan football game together. At right, they are in Nancy and Jack's home in Rockville Centre, New York.
   

Sadly, we buried our dear friend, Donny, on May 23, 2010.   

  

 

I had the bittersweet privilege of speaking about our friend, Donny, before the people gathered at his burial.

Our friend, Donny, was "a soft-spoken guy," (and he once had wavy hair), he was loved, he will be remembered  and he will be missed.

Below are some written expressions of love, remembrance and shock,  received from a few of our classmates (including some of Donny's closest friends among us) upon learning of his untimely passing.


 

He was looking forward to the reunion. What a loss of a truly special person! Don was a good friend both before and after Jack's accident. Our youngest daughter attended Michigan, and Don took us all under  his wing. Later, he and Jack attended some football games and had talked of going again this fall. They discovered they both loved electric trains and shared information and visits to Trainland. Among our many visits, he had spent a Thanksgiving, Christmas and a wedding with us. We have many good memories. Isn't it too bad that so often we often don't  fully appreciate someone until we have lost him? Don's private ways, his lack of conceit, and his unknown generosity to so many  all made him extra special.─ Jack and Nancy (Koller) Beaulieu

 

This is awful! A shock. Donny was here [in Ann Arbor, Michigan] for football in the fall, and we really enjoyed our dinner and evening with him. He was not well, but we thought we'd have lots more dinners! We are really shocked and saddened.  ─ Jim Heitler

  

I am shocked. ─ Paul Fishman

  

Such awful news. ─ Linda Feuerstein

 

Don and Karen Fazio got together several times in New York with my wife and me over the past six years. Once, he convinced me to go to a Michigan football game with him. We went to three of them, and he was already planning another visit to Ann Arbor next year. He had so many friends out there and clearly reveled in his association with Michigan football. He was extremely generous and became a good friend. He had just called me about six weeks before our reunion to tell me that he would pick me up that Saturday night. and the three of us would trek out to Long Island. Unfortunately, we all know what happened. I will certainly miss him. ─ Terry Brennan

   

What a life he lived!!!!  I feel proud to have been one of his 1960 classmates, as I do with every other graduate ─  ours was a special class ─ and as I see, Donny was a star.  It's so sad to see the "Memorial Page" getting larger every year.  It hurts my heart. ─ Nancy Keegan

  

Donny took me to a Michigan football game. His passion for Michigan is matched only by Howie's passion for Oceanside. Everyone knew and respected him. He also had a passion to help people. At his funeral, many stories were shared about his caring and concern for others. He was truly a good person and friend, and the world is a better place because he lived to make things right.  Bob Rubin

  

Donny will be sorely missed. He called me, and we had dinner together, after we lost my brother, Michael, and he could not have been more supportive, generous or loving. He recalled our high school days together, our long friendship and how much fun we always had in each other's company. Donny was so bright, funny and always willing to share his knowledge and his experiences. He was fun to listen to and a good listener as well. He was a wonderful storyteller, and we laughed and laughed together that night in Greenwich Village at his favorite eatery (where everyone knows his name). He loved his trips to Michigan and football. He had a hearty appetite for life. And he was a star in his chosen profession. I never tired of seeing his name in print daily in the Business Section of the New York Times reading his economic predictions and prognostications and debating (on the phone) his findings if they were controversial, or if I needed expert advice. Donny was so grounded and never forgot his humanity. He was so looking forward to our 50th Reunion. We all missed him. He wasn't with us then but will always be in our hearts. ─ Jay Katz

  

I read the memorial you posted on Donny. It made me cry. Clark Marcus
  

  
The following is taken from correspondence received in early January 2011 from Richard Canty, one of Don's professional colleagues and friends at Chase, who just learned of his passing:  

I have been trying to track down Don for several months and was concerned something wasn't right because his steady stream of e-mail jokes had abruptly stopped last spring, and he replied to none of mine. A Google search just gave me the very sad explanation as to why we haven't heard from him. Don worked for me at Chase back in the late 80s and early 90s. We become good friends, which was an easy thing for Don to become with anyone.

  

Don Fine was a guy we knew and loved both as a person, and in my case, as a highly-respected, professional colleague as well, particularly when one considers the time period in which Don performed at the peak of his gifted craft. 

  

Back then, there was no internet, and there were no smart phones, no I-pads, no 24-hour news networks like CNBC with Kudlow, Cramer, Bartiromo, et al. The only people who had real-time, political, economic, climactic, and financial information were market professionals who subscribed to proprietary services such as Telerate, Reuters, and later, Bloomberg. The rest of us "mortals" had a morning ritual before, or en route to, work. We picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and immediately started reading two things: "What's News" and "Heard on the Street." The latter gave us insights into what had happened in the professional financial markets the prior day, how they were impacted by world events -- in the broadest sense -- and what they might imply for the direction of the various markets. The Wall Street Journal's "go-to man" to decode the prior day's complexity for its readers was Donny. If, as a reporter, Walter Cronkite was "The Most Trusted Man in America," then Don Fine was "The Most Trusted Man on Wall Street."  

 

Just think about it, every morning, the CEOs and CFOs of our major corporations and financial institutions, our legislative leaders, our labor leaders, our academic leaders, our Treasury Secretary, our Federal Reserve Chairman, our President, etc., checked in with Don Fine. Also, just think how lucky I was. For a period, I got to check in with Don Fine, face-to-face, every day. I am smiling right now just thinking about some of those occasions. 

    

It appears from your tribute to Don, that you have lost a very important person in your life. I am sorry. God bless our boy!
   

 

Come back to this special memorial page now and then when you are thinking of Donny or to see if anything has been added. And if you would like to add anything about Don, please write me.

To visit the extensive and loving memorial site made by Donny's cousin, Greg, click here .

Classmates and other visitors are invited to submit material for a special
memorial page like this for any other departed classmate. Just e-mail it to me.

      Howie                   

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