J. Pierce Fenhagen, 84, copy editor at Sun, writer


J. Pierce Fenhagen, a retired newspaper copy editor and editorial writer, died of heart failure Monday at his Wakefield, R.I., home. He was 84.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Fenhagen was the son of George Corner Fenhagen, a partner in the architectural firm of Buckler & Fenhagen, which designed the library at the Johns Hopkins University and the present City College.

Mr. Fenhagen was raised in the 900 block of St. Paul St. and graduated from St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Del. He earned his bachelor's degree from Haverford College in 1939.

He joined The Sun in 1939 as a copy editor and served in the Army during World War II. He remained at the newspaper until 1966, when he left to study marine biology and work on a research project at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston.

"His co-workers at The Sun remembered him as a tall, slender man with a professional appearance and a warm, quiet sense of humor. He particularly enjoyed writing a headline with an exquisitely funny twist," said John H. Plunkett, retired assistant managing editor of The Sun.

After funding for the marine biology project was eliminated, Mr. Fenhagen returned to newspaper work. In 1970, he joined the staff of the Gazette in Montreal as an editorial writer.

In 1995, he published Where Angels Fear to Tread, a collection of his editorials.

In the introduction to the book, Joan Fraser, a senator in the Canadian Parliament, wrote: "When Pierce wrote about death, or birth, or love or hate, the rest of us stood humbled. ... His editorials upheld the great liberal principles: equality, freedom of speech and most other human conduct."

He retired in 1992 and returned to his home in Wakefield.

Mr. Fenhagen was married for 59 years to Anne Leakin Sioussat, who died in 1998.

He enjoyed chess, bird watching and reading.

Plans for a memorial service in Baltimore were incomplete yesterday.

Mr. Fenhagen is survived by a son, Robert S. Fenhagen of Pittsburgh; three daughters, Barbara Fenhagen of Poultney, Vt., Mildred "Didi" Ballenger of Wakefield and Susanna Grady of Tampa, Fla.; a half-brother, F. Weston Fenhagen of Chapel Hill, N.C.; a half-sister, Christina Fenhagen Anderson of Las Vegas; and six grandchildren. A son, Henry Pierce Fenhagen, died in 1985.

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