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College mourns loss of longtime benefactor Donald E. Axinn

October 14, 2009

Donald Everett Axinn, a member of the Middlebury College Class of 1951 and namesake of the Donald E. Axinn '51 Litt. D. '89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library, died Tuesday, October 13. He was 80.
An author, poet and avid aviator, Axinn was the founder and chairman of Donald E. Axinn Companies, an investment firm and developer of office and industrial parks throughout the New York metropolitan area. Referred to by friends and colleagues as a Renaissance man, Axinn was also the author of three novels and 11 books of poetry and served as a director and partner of the publishing house Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He produced the film version of his novel Spin. Articles Axinn wrote about flying were published in major New York newspapers, including the New York Times.
Axinn received an honorary doctor of letters from Middlebury College in 1989. He also endowed a chair in English and creative writing in 1987, which is currently held by Middlebury College Professor Jay Parini. In 2006, Axinn contributed to the funds necessary to build the Axinn Center at Starr Library.
After graduating from Middlebury, he received his master of arts in humanities from Hofstra University in 1975. Axinn is survived by his wife Joan, six children, and seven grandchildren.