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Sad news of three passings, Victoria Donohoe, Willis (Nomo) Humphrey and Susan Fenton
Today, we send love and thoughts to friends, family and colleagues who lost their loved ones in November: Victoria Donohoe, Willis (Nomo) Humphrey, and Susan Fenton.



We are sad to bring you word of three recent art world passings: Susan Fenton, Victoria Donohoe, Willis (Nomo) Humphrey. Our thoughts and love go out to the family, friends, neighbors and colleagues of these well-loved individuals in Philadelphia’s arts community.

Susan Fenton, photographer, educator

(from Jeanne Brady, Saint Joseph’s University) It is with great sorrow that I write to share the news that Susan Fenton, M.F.A., associate professor of art, passed away on November 23 in her Bala Cynwyd home after a brief battle with a previously unrecognized and aggressive form of brain cancer. Ms. Fenton will be dearly missed by her many friends, colleagues and students at Saint Joseph’s University.

Ms. Fenton joined the Saint Joseph’s community in 1997, serving as an adjunct faculty member and, later, as gallery coordinator and as a visiting assistant professor. In 2005, she was hired as a member of the tenure-track faculty; she earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2011. Ms. Fenton taught introductory and advanced courses in traditional (black and white) fine art photography involving darkroom work with film-based and alternative processes. Prior to joining the faculty at Saint Joseph’s, she taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Arcadia University and Temple University, as well as at Saint Mary’s College in Rome and Temple University Japan in Tokyo.

Ms. Fenton’s photographs investigated the human figure and selected objects; they were tightly composed in the studio and responded to various cultural concerns. Her work has been displayed in galleries and museums, both nationally and internationally, with over 30 solo and curatorial exhibitions. A number of her works have earned inclusion in permanent collections throughout the United States and abroad.

Ms. Fenton is survived by her spouse, Larry Spaid, and their two children, Raphael Fenton-Spaid and Petra Fenton-Spaid.

Services and interment are private. In lieu of condolences, her family requests the consideration of a tax deductible contribution in Ms. Fenton’s honor be made to:

NRG Oncology Foundation Inc.
1600 JFK Boulevard, #1020
Philadelphia, PA 19103
EIN 90-0912747

Read Artblog on Susan Fenton’s work in 2010.

Willis (Nomo) Humphrey (44), mural painter

Willis “Nomo” Humphrey, who died Wednesday, was a beloved muralist and a leading voice in Philadelphia black portraiture, whose steady hand can be seen around town on subjects from W.E.B. Du Bois to Octavius V. Catto.

Willis (Nomo) Humphrey, muralist with Mural Arts and Amber Arts. Photo by Steve Weinik
Willis (Nomo) Humphrey, muralist with Mural Arts and Amber Arts. Photo by Steve Weinik

News of the painter’s death sent shock waves through Philly’s artistic community. According to his partner, Valerie Caesar, Humphrey died of a heart attack at age 44. He was the father of three teens.

“Willis was rare in that his brilliance flowed in every direction: As an artist, he was intelligent and intuitive, committed to expressing the experiences of his people from a soul level,” Caesar said. “And as a partner, father and friend, he was beautifully kind, patient, and supportive.” Read the full article at

Victoria Donohoe (90), art critic, Philadelphia Inquirer

Commuters on the Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail line may recall Victoria Donohoe, a small woman with bright red hair, moving slowly down the aisle when the train pulled to a halt in Narberth.

Wearing her customary hat, plaid suit, and pearls, she typically greeted fellow riders in a soft, musical voice. Many on the platform seemed to know her. She was much loved in the borough.

Miss Donohoe, 89, an artist and historian as well as a freelance Inquirer art critic for 50 years, died Wednesday, Nov. 21, of pneumonia at Westgate Hills Rehab & Nursing Center in Havertown, where she had been since June 19. Before that, she had lived in her family’s historic home in Narberth. Read the full article at

On a personal note, my neighbor, Ted Goldsborough, who knew Victoria from his own childhood in Narberth, has worked to place his friend Vicky’s articles in the archive at Rosemont College Library, which is where will be soon.


susan fenton, Victoria Donohoe, Willis (Nomo) Humphrey