“Well, I was brought to Tulane University by my mother. I had been abused since the time I was two years old. She was friends with the Chairman of the Board, Mr. [Darwin S.] Fenner, and she asked for a recommendation of a top psychiatrist in New Orleans, and Dr. Robert G. Heath, who was Chairman of the Department at Tulane Medical School, was recommended.”
Helping One's Neighbor
Darwin Schriever Fenner (1908-1979), financier, was a member of the old-line social establishment in New Orleans and a managing partner of the brokerage firm of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane (now Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith). His father, Charles E. Fenner (1876-1963), was a founding partner of the New Orleans firm of Fenner & Beane, which merged in 1941 with Merrill Lynch, E. A. Pierce & Cassatt to become the world's largest securities house.
In 1953, Darwin S. Fenner, a Tulane dropout, was appointed to the Board of Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, and from 1963 to 1968 he served as its chairman. He was also a leader in Rex, New Orleans' premier Mardi Gras organization, and in 1955 paraded as King of Carnival. His wife, Flora H. Sanders Fenner, was Queen of Carnival in 1959. The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce considered Fenner a member of the "ruling class."
As a member of Tulane's board, Fenner defended its tradition of segregation in a lawsuit brought against it in 1962 by two black applicants who were denied admission to the university on the basis of race. During the Civil War, Fenner's grandfather, Darwin Ponton Fenner (1841-1888), a physician, had served in the Confederate Army as a surgeon along with other members of the Fenner family. Tulane won that lawsuit and retained the legal right to discriminate at its own discretion, although it ultimately decided to admit black students in 1963 to avoid losing financial support from the Ford Foundation.
For service to his community, Fenner received The Times-Picayune Loving Cup in 1965. In 1969, Fenner served as Chairman of the Board of station WYES-TV, and in 1978 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tulane.
- John P. Dyer, Tulane: The Biography of a University, 1834 - 1965, Harper & Row Publishers, New York and London, 1st Ed., 1966.
- Clarence L. Mohr and Joseph E. Gordon, Tulane: The Emergence of a Modern University, 1945 - 1980, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2001.
- Charles L. Dufour, Darwin Fenner: A Life of Service, New Orleans, Louisiana (privately published) 1984.
- Cheryl V. Cunningham, The Desegregation of Tulane University, M.A. thesis, University of New Orleans, 1982.
- Beatrice M. Field and Amanda R. Rittenhouse, POTPOURRI, 2002 (http://alumni.tulane.edu/potpourri/) accessed 1/18/05.
- "Our History," Merrill Lynch (http://www.ml.com/...) accessed 2/7/05.
- Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com), accessed 2/5/05 et seqq.
- United States National Archives, Civil War Compiled Military Service Records [database online] Provo UT, accessed through Ancestry.com.
- "Presidents & Chairmen of the Board and Presidents of WYES", WYES-TV12, New Orleans, (document aquired 2/7/05).