Tina Fey Eulogizes Late Father: ‘The Republican Party Should Have Tried to Clone Him’

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Tina Fey. Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

As daughter Tina tells, Donald Fey, who died October 18 at the age of 82, was more than just “a great dad.” “[He was] a talented artist and writer, but I also think of him as a Great American,” she told his obituary writer. “He served his country in Korea, he served his city as a fireman, he took his kids regularly to art museums and historical sites.”

Don Fey was a veteran of the Korean War and an administrator for both the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University. In his daughter’s descriptions, he often appeared as an almost superhuman example of a strong father figure. “When he taught me how to play baseball he would say to me, ‘If you throw like a girl again, we’re going in.’ (I took it in the spirit it was intended.),” she told Fey goes on to call her father an “informed patriot,” who “read poetry and history and newspapers.” She added, “The Republican Party should have tried to clone him.”

This echoes the sentiment of Tina’s 2011 memoir Bossypants, in which she wrote a chapter dedicated to him. She wrote:

My dad looks like Clint Eastwood. His half-Scottish, half-German face in repose is handsome but terrifying. I searched the audience for him during the sixth-grade chorus concert and, seeing his stern expression, was convinced that he had seen me messing up the words to the Happy Days theme and that I was in big trouble. I spent the rest of the concert suppressing terror burps, only to be given a big hug and a kiss afterward. It took me years to realize, ‘Oh, that’s just his face.’

[…] My dad looks like he’s ‘somebody’. One day when I was visiting him on his lunch hour, he ran into a couple of old high school buddies in downtown Philadelphia. “Hey, Don Fey!” one of the guys called from across the street. “Oh my God, Don Fey,” the other guy said excitedly. Two secretaries waiting at the light with my dad whispered knowingly to each other, “That’s Don Fey.”

[…] That’s Don Fey. He’s just a badass. He was a code breaker in Korea. He was a fireman in Philadelphia. He’s a skilled watercolorist. He’s written two mystery novels. He taught himself Greek so well that when he went to buy tickets to the Acropolis once, the docent told him, “It’s free for Greek citizens.”

Later, she wrote, she noticed how powerful men in show business often seemed taken aback by her father’s sheer presence. “Only Colin Quinn was direct about it,” Fey recalled. “‘Your father doesn’t fucking play games. You would never come home with a shamrock tattoo in that house.’ That’s Don Fey.”

Tina Fey Eulogizes Late Father, Don Fey