Lasting Memories

Donald Fitton
Nov. 10, 1924-June 26, 2019
Palo Alto, CA

At the age of 94, Don died peacefully in his home with his family at his side. In his final hours, Don expressed profound gratitude for the full and blessed life he led.

A native Californian, Don was born on an orange ranch in Lindsay, California, to Roland and Georgia Fitton. His father was an “Ace” fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force in WWI. To follow in his footsteps became Don’s greatest early aspiration, so on his 18th birthday in 1942, he joined the US Air Force training as a fighter pilot.

After his military service, Don attended San Jose State University, where he met and fell in love with Virginia in 1948. “Kaboom!” he shared in a recent note to her, their lives together “just took off on a wonderful journey!” They married in 1949 and last month celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Don had a successful professional career for 20 years as an executive in the scientific and technical publishing industry. This said, attending a seminar with Stanford professor, Dr. Harry Rathbun, and his wife, Emilia, on the teachings of Jesus in 1954 was the inspiration that transformed Don and Virginia’s lives going forward. Don’s growing interest in these teachings and the human maturation process led to a second career.

In 1962, he became one of the co-founders and first president of Creative Initiative Foundation (CIF), located in Palo Alto, California. Working with the Rathbuns and others in the community, Don and Virginia were instrumental in forming the AMR Institute, which focused on the human condition as influenced by Attitude, Motivation and Response.

During the Vietnam War Years, Don directed the formation of an urban, interracial youth service corps. With Virginia, he also taught a Stanford Senior Colloquium on human maturation and led seminars for the Peace Corps and Vista. In addition, they taught students and community members about the establishment of an ethical base for contemporary life as well as seminars on Jesus as Teacher.

In 1982, based on the growing threat of nuclear war, CIF’s focus shifted to increasing awareness and education to prevent nuclear war. This led to the genesis of the Beyond War movement which began locally and grew to 50,000 worldwide. Don and Virginia were co-founders of Beyond War, working with others throughout the 1980s to teach and communicate the “new mode of thinking” that was the cornerstone of the Beyond War philosophy. Don was senior editor of the book “Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking” and was a member of the Beyond War steering committee focused on changing relationships between the US and USSR in the later 1980s.

In the 1990s, Don and Virginia continued to work with the Foundation For Global Community in Palo Alto, which held the tenet that “as humans our highest purpose is to discover, live and communicate what is needed to achieve a world that functions for the benefit of all life.”

Don and Virginia lived in the local San Francisco Bay Area for 70 years and in Palo Alto for over 40 years. Don is survived by his wife, Virginia, their son, John, daughter-in-law, Mary Lynn, and grandchildren, Tyler, Jack and Ellie. Their daughter, Kris, predeceased him.

From Jeff Sutherland
March 11, 2020

Don was one of the great teachers in my life and helped me and thousands of others to grow personally, emotionally, and spiritually and to give back to others in a significant way. There are many who come to me and thank me for changing their lives for the better, so Don's work goes on.

From Ray Dempsey
June 29, 2019

Don was a wonderful, gentle soul. The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide; above the world is stretched the sky no higher than the soul is high. Edna, St. Vincent Millay

From John Fitton
June 27, 2019

My father was the kindest man I've known. A gentleman in all ways. He was also a strong leader, teacher, and advocate for global community. He was loved by many. My family and I will love him forever.