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Rev Donald A. Fonda, Jr
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Birth: Aug. 17, 1938
Death: Oct. 11, 2008
Veneto, Italy

Rev. Donald A. Fonda Jr., 70, exuberant and compassionate American Baptist minister.

His smile was as wide as his open arms, radiating his love of life. Whether it was family, friends, parishioners or strangers, Donald A. Fonda (Jr.) enjoyed the people in his life. He embraced each one as special and unique. After encountering Don's lively interest in a person's story, one remembered especially his joy and compassion.

Don Fonda's exuberance flowed into the varied interests he shared with his wife, Jeanne Dancey Fonda: going to concerts and the theatre, traveling, gardening, doing family research and being a grandparent on each side of the Atlantic ocean. It was while staying in Venice, Italy, the first leg of a vacation trip, that Don Fonda died in his sleep on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008.

Donald Fonda was born on Aug. 17, 1938 in Washington. He was the son of Dr. Donald Albert Fonda Sr. and Mary Gladys Speaker. He graduated from Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, N.J.

Don Fonda graduated from Alderson-Broaddus College, Philippi, W.Va. (BA 1962) and Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y. (B.D./M.Div, 1966). During his studies the seminary community was living in the midst of civil rights' unrest which made an impact on Don's ministry. In 1966 Don was ordained an American Baptist minister in the Gaines-Carlton larger Parish of Albion, N.Y.

Don was passionate in his ministry; ecumenical and interfaith activities were especially important to him. Serving churches in four states, he immersed himself in each congregational setting, including people, history and local resources. They were: Warrenville Baptist Church, Ashford, Conn.; First Baptist Church of Youngstown, Ohio; First Baptist Church of Northampton; the Federated Church of Bolton (Baptist, Unitarian, and Quaker roots); First Baptist Church of Beverly; and, Church of the Master in Providence, R.I.

During his 35 years in ministry, Don Fonda took an active leadership role in The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (TABCOM). With them he served twice as interim area minister providing support and resources for local churches, including multi-ethnic congregations. In his retirement he continued with TABCOM as Project Coordinator, working with two Baptist, Portuguese-speaking seminaries. Then, in 2006 he became WatchCare Mentoring Coordinator, preparing Baptists for ordination.

In addition, Don Fonda continued to share his compassion through the Greater Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; and as a Board Member of the Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM) in Malden, Don offered support to refugees, immigrants, and those in need of asylum seeking legal standing and the search for justice.

Love of laughter was one of Don Fonda's gifts, one he exercised regularly. Playing a game, compassionately seeing human foibles, listening to a good story or joke were occasions for his laughter. However, in times of human suffering, he was equally committed to healing and justice.

Retiring early in October 2001, Don and Jeanne moved to Haverhill to enjoy activities with their two married adult children and four grandchildren: their daughter, Debbie, husband Ed, and granddaughters Niki and Kesli in N.H.; and their son, Douw, wife, Sanne De Graaf, and grandchildren Aiske and Minne in the Netherlands. To all the grandchildren Don was affectionately known as "Opa" (Dutch for grandfather).

Donations made be made to the "Don Fonda Fund" established for immigrant clergy support by The Conference of Baptist Ministers at 15 Spring Valley Road, Worcester, MA 01609.

Published Eagle Tribune 21 Oct. 2008
Created by: D. J. Goldman
Record added: Oct 15, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30603823

Rest in heavenly peace. God bless.
 Added: Oct. 16, 2009

- Rewrite
 Added: Dec. 26, 2008
Don, you will be sadly missed by our genealogy group. You were always so kind and friendly. Your enthusiasm was contagious. May God watch over your family at this very difficult time. Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon ...(Read more)
- Kyla
 Added: Oct. 16, 2008
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