Biography

Donald Hudson Pfarrer studied literature, history and economics at Harvard College.

After graduating he worked for six months on a weekly paper in Dayton, Ohio, his home town, then spent three years as an officer in the Navy. For the first two years he was in the gunnery department on a destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet. The ship was deployed to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Red Sea and Persion Gulf. In two episodes on shore Pfarrer delivered codes by jeep and motorcycle to US communication stations in Iran and Eritrea.

In his third year in the Navy he was a naval gunfire officer in the 10th Marines, stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC., and deploying again to the Mediterranean. He conducted live fire exercises with artillery at Lejeune and naval gunfire in Puerto Rico. This experience shaped an important personal decision when the war in Vietnam began five years later, as the Navy was in need of experienced naval gunfire officers.

While covering civil rights in the ’60s for the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal and the Washington Star he interviewed Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, James Farmer, Roy Wilkins and other leaders of movement. He covered the March on Washington of 1963, traveling from Milwaukee to Washington with a bus load of Wisconsin civil rights activists.

When the US entered the war in Vietnam he volunteered for recall to active duty and served as naval gunfire boss in the 7th Marine (infantry) Regiment in Quang Ngai and adjacent provinces.

As naval gunfire liaison officer he worked as assistant fire support coordinator for the regiment, weaving air, artillery and naval gunfire support into a coherent whole and guarding against friendly-fire casualties; as artillery and naval gunfire forward observer he moved with the infantry in the jungles and rice paddies, assigned targets and adjusted the fire of Marine artillery and Navy ships lying off shore. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V and the Purple Heart.

Returning from the war he covered the antiwar movement and the politics of protest for the Milwaukee Journal, and switched to mainstream politics when the war ended. He covered important aspects of the presidential campaigns of 1972, ’76 and ’80, and, in Wisconsin, campaigns for Congress and governor before leaving the Journal in 1984.

While living in Vermont from 1984 to ’90 he was an emergency care attendant in the First Branch Ambulance Service, covering the towns of Tunbridge and Chelsea, and was president of the service.

He has written several historical pieces for Reader’s Digest General Books. His most important work has been the writing of the four novels featured on this web site and his work-in-progress, a novel called Grace Stanley.

Don lives with his wife, Anne Burling, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.