Obituaries | July 5, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - July 5, 2019


Donald Fitton

Donald Fitton, 94, died on June 26. He was born on an orange ranch in Lindsay, California, to Roland and Georgia Fitton. His father had been an ace fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force in WWI. One of his early aspirations was to follow in his father's footsteps, so on his 18th birthday in 1942, he joined the U.S. Air Force, training as a fighter pilot.

After his military service, he attended San Jose State University, where he met and fell in love with Virginia Luke in 1948. They married in 1949 and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

He had a 20-year career as an executive in the scientific and technical publishing industry. However, he decided to make a career change after attending a seminar with Stanford University professor Dr. Harry Rathbun and his wife, Emilia, on the teachings of Jesus in 1954.

In 1962, he became one of the co-founders and first president of Creative Initiative Foundation (CIF), located in Palo Alto. Working with the Rathbuns and others in the community, he and his wife were instrumental in forming the AMR Institute, which focused on the human condition as influenced by attitude, motivation and response.

With his wife, he also taught a Stanford Senior Colloquium on human maturation and led seminars for the Peace Corps and Vista. In 1982, CIF's focus shifted to increasing awareness and education to prevent nuclear war. This led to the genesis of the Beyond War movement, which he and his wife co-founded.

In the 1990s, the couple continued to work with the Foundation for Global Community in Palo Alto.

They lived in the Bay Area for 70 years and in Palo Alto for over 40 years. He is survived by his wife, Virginia; their son, John (Mary Lynn); and three grandchildren. His daughter, Kris, predeceased him.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his name may be made to The Art of Yoga Project at

Robert Therrien

Robert Therrien, a sculptor who grew up in Palo Alto, died June 17 after a battle with cancer. He was born in Chicago on Nov. 17, 1947, according to the Gagosian art gallery website, where his work was recently exhibited.

He moved to Palo Alto at the age of 5 and went to Palo Alto High School before attending the California College of Arts and Crafts (California College of the Arts). He later received a photography degree from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara followed by a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was best known for taking ordinary objects, such as tables and chairs, and making them extraordinary by sculpting enormous replicas of them. He once described himself as falling in between a romantic and realist artist, his online biography states. His work can be found in museums across the globe, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Broad, both located in Los Angeles, as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Dorothy Hassett

Dorothy Hassett, a longtime former Weekly employee, died on June 6. A fourth generation Californian, she was born in Modesto to Lester and Velma Smith on July 2, 1929, the second child of three. She attended Canoga Park High School in the San Fernando Valley, where her mom was a secretary and liberal activist and her dad was an itinerant farmer at first and then a home builder.

She attended San Jose State University and remained in the Santa Clara Valley the rest of her life. She taught physical education at San Mateo High School and married Bob Hassett, who taught shop classes at Sunnyvale High School. The couple raised three children together: Sally, Allan and Carla. When the kids were in school, she took a job at the Los Altos Town Crier newspaper followed by two stints with the Palo Alto Weekly, starting in 1989 and ending in 2015. As a lifelong athlete, she was a fan of the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco 49ers and the Golden State Warriors.

Her husband developed dementia early, but she became an advocate and loyal part of his caregiving family at Sunnyside Gardens for over 10 years before he died. She was also predeceased by her daughter, Sally; her son, Allan; her older sister, Mary Lou; and her younger brother, Dale. She is survived by her daughter, Carla (Brian); three grandchildren; her sister-in-law, Nancy; and a host of nieces and nephews.


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