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 Persian 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, when 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 the movement. He covered the March on Washington of 1963, traveling from Milwaukee with a bus load of Wisconsin civil rights activists. For the Star he covered the drive for home rule for the District of Columbia, led by King.
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, identified 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. He was one of three Journal reporters who covered the bombing of the “Army Math” center at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. In mainstream politics he covered important aspects of the presidential campaigns of 1972, ’76 and ’80, and, in Wisconsin, campaigns for Congress, governor and the state Supreme Court.
He also wrote for the Journal on crime and crime victims, labor relations, affirmative action, the movement of blacks to the Milwaukee suburbs, and the personal lives of black members of the Green Bay Packers living in a virtually all-white city. He left 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 novels and shorter fiction featured on this web site.
His elder daughter, Liza Loofbourrow, is a counsellor for troubled families in Napa, California, where she works in both English and Spanish. Many of her clients are women who have survived or are still living in abusive relationships. His younger daughter, Zoe Groom, operates a Pilates studio in Warren, Vermont. Zoe is the mother of Pfarrer’s grandsons, Ian and Luke Groom.
Pfarrer lives with his wife, Anne Burling, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.