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Donald H. Fey, 82, father of Tina Fey

Donald H. Fey, 82, a Korean War veteran, former Philadelphia firefighter, and retired fund-raising writer, died Sunday, Oct. 18, of heart failure at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Don Fey, father of Tina Fey.
Don Fey, father of Tina Fey.Read moreContributed

Donald H. Fey, 82, a Korean War veteran, former Philadelphia firefighter, and retired fund-raising writer, died Sunday, Oct. 18, of heart failure at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Mr. Fey, of Drexel Hill, whose daughter is award-winning writer and actress Tina Fey, was a professional writer for more than 30 years, primarily in fund-raising and development. He helped raise more than $500 million for schools, hospitals, and public-service agencies.

In 1992, he retired from Thomas Jefferson University, where he was director of development communications. He worked previously at University of Pennsylvania, where he was senior development writer and science news officer. Before that, he was an editor at Business Week.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Fey was a graduate of Temple University; he also studied at Franklin and Marshall College and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Mr. Fey received an award for excellence in copywriting from Time Life, and in 1995 published The Complete Book of Fund-Raising Writing. He lectured on fund-raising writing at Penn, Villanova University, Swarthmore College, Rowan College, Thomas Jefferson University, and various nonprofits.

Mr. Fey's passion for knowledge and the arts included a lifelong love of painting and creative writing.

"He was a great dad and a talented artist and writer, but I also think of him as a Great American - he served his country in Korea, he served his city as a fireman, he took his kids regularly to art museums and historical sites," daughter Tina recalled.

"When he taught me how to play baseball he would say to me, 'If you throw like a girl again, we're going in.' (I took it in the spirit it was intended.) He read poetry and history and newspapers. He was an informed patriot. The Republican Party should have tried to clone him."

Mr. Fey's son, Peter, said, "He was a great painter, and we read two of his poems at the funeral service.

"He was very dapper, loved learning, and showed us how to expand our horizons and how to live a life properly."

In 1952, Mr. Fey enlisted in the Army. He attended the Army Security Agency's Cryptanalyst School at Fort Devens, Mass., and in 1953 was assigned to the 501st Communications Reconnaissance Battalion in Seoul, Korea, where he analyzed, decoded, and translated intercepted radio messages of the North Korean army.

He also designed and created that unit's insignia: a Sylvester the Cat over South Korea, looking north. In 1954, he rose to sergeant, and was discharged with the new technical rank of SP2 in 1955.

He joined the Philadelphia Fire Department (Rescue 1) in Center City in the late 1950s and served until the early 1960s, when he left to attend college. He supported his young family working nights at United Parcel Service. By then, the Feys had moved to Upper Darby.

Mr. Fey and his wife, the former Jeanne Xenakes, married in 1961. Besides his wife, son, and daughter, he is survived by a sister, two brothers, and three grandchildren.

Private services were held Friday.

A scholarship has been established in Mr. Fey's name to support returning veterans enrolled at Temple University's School of Media & Communication, Department of Journalism. Gifts - checks can be made payable to "Temple University - Donald H. Fey Scholarship" - may be sent to Temple University, P.O. Box 827651, Philadelphia 19182-7651.