Class of 1923 Cane Recipient: Reverend Donald R. Fletcher ’39 *51

Class of 1923 Cane Recipient: Reverend Donald R. Fletcher ’39 *51

Class of 1923 Cane Recipient: Reverend Donald R. Fletcher ’39 *51

Class of 1923 Cane Recipient: Reverend Donald R. Fletcher ’39 *51

Rev. Donald Fletcher ’39 *51 received the Class of 1923 Cane given to the oldest living alum from the oldest class at the Old Guard Luncheon on Saturday before the P-rade.

Reverend Donald R. Fletcher, age 105, received the Class of 1923 Cane at the Old Guard Luncheon on the Saturday before the P-rade. Don was celebrating his 85th reunion. The cane was awarded by President Christopher L. Eisgruber who shared these remarks about Don:

Don was born in Ventnor, New Jersey, in 1919. He spent his formative years in Korea as the son of medical missionaries. After graduation from Pyongyang Foreign School at 16, Don traveled to Princeton by way of the Trans-Siberian railroad and an Atlantic steamship, joining his elder brother, Arch, at the University. Don majored in English and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, with the Class of 1939. He was awarded the Class of 1870 Prize in Old English, the Thomas B. Wanamaker English Language Prize, and the Class of 1859 Prize.  Beyond the classroom, Don was a member of the Gateway Club, an avid photographer, and president of the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship.

Don tells the story of being called in by Dean Robert K. Root, who expected Don to decline the graduate fellowship in English that came with his many undergraduate distinctions. Dean Root knew of Don’s plans to enter Princeton Theological Seminary. Instead, Don accepted and declared that he would pursue both English studies and his theological commitment. And so he did, receiving his M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1943 while continuing to study English.

Rev. Donald Fletcher

With his wife, Martha, a graduate of Westminster Choir College, Don served the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in Chile until 1955, returning to Princeton on a furlough in 1951 to receive his doctorate in English. He and Martha finished their mission career in Mexico before Don joined the faculty of the University of Texas and Austin Theological Seminary where he taught Biblical Studies. Don was moved by the civil rights campaigns of the sixties to volunteer in 1964 during the Freedom Summer for the Hattiesburg Ministers Project. He later served as Head of Humanities at Stillman College.

Don finished his formal career in New Jersey teaching English at Cherry Hill High School West, but after retirement returned to serve the Rossmoor Community Church for several years.  Somehow, he also found time to serve on the elected school board of Cherry Hill and to build a 21-foot wooden sailboat from a kit – a 13-year project. After surviving cancer at age 80, Don embarked on a writing career.  In 2020, at the relatively young age of 101, he published his ninth book, titled My First Hundred Years — A Life on Three Continents.

All six of Don’s children attended the Old Guard Luncheon: daughter Sylvia *75; son Alan ’78; and son Lawrence ’81 and daughter-in-law June ’81. Don’s nephew, Don Fletcher ’72 also attended. After receiving the cane from President Eisgruber, Don spoke for a few minutes about the impact that Princeton has had on his life, reciting the words to “Old Nassau.” Following the luncheon, Don led the P-rade surrounded by his family and friends.

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