Myrna Fenn Baskin

Myrna Fenn Baskin, 91, of Whitney Center, Hamden, and Palm Beach, Florida, passed away peacefully on October 27, 2021. She was married to the late Arnold M. Baskin, M.D. for 50 years. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Myrna was the daughter of Ann and William H. Fenn.

She attended Hillhouse High School, from which she graduated as Valedictorian. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in music from Smith College in 1952. Myrna was an exemplary civic and community leader. She lived by her motto to appreciate her blessings and to make every effort to enhance the lives of others and she worked tirelessly on behalf of organizations in New Haven, of which she was a third-generation resident and an enthusiastic supporter.

After a brief stint in New York City after college dancing on the Arthur Murray television show, she returned to New Haven to marry her beloved Arnold and worked at the New Haven Redevelopment Authority. Myrna served on the board of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra for almost forty years and as its President for three years (known as the first woman elected President), served on the board of the Shubert Theater for many years, including during its renovation and reopening in the early 1980s, and was President of the New Haven Chorale, in which she sang for decades.

Myrna helped found the Community Fund for Women and Girls at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and created the Myrna & Arnold Baskin Fund there to support local programs that aid women and girls. Myrna founded and was a director of Spotlight on Books, bringing packets of books to schoolchildren in New Haven, and was recognized for that work in the United States Congressional Record. Myrna also contributed her time to Friends of Music at Yale, was a fellow at Jonathan Edwards College at Yale, and was the first non-Yale graduate elected to the board of the Mory’s Association. Myrna served on the Board of Trustees of Whitney Center and was President of her alumna class at Smith College for five years.

Myrna was on the board of the Hopkins School, where she also worked for almost a decade, founding and directing its annual fund. Myrna was on the Board of the New Haven Lawn Club and served in the Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation Guild in Palm Beach, Florida, where she was also a member of the Society of the Four Arts. Myrna was honored in 2008 by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra as a Woman of Note and was the 2014 NHSO Gala honoree.

Myrna and Arnold raised their family at their home of over forty years on Old Orchard Road in North Haven, and spent many happy times on Uncas Lake in Lyme, CT and later in their lives, on their boat, the Oasis. While dedicating endless time, energy, and excellence to her commitments, Myrna always put her family and friends, and all of the people in her life, first, with her well-known kindness, generosity, warmth, and love.

Myrna is survived by her brother, John Fenn, M.D., by her adoring children, Suzanne Baskin Slade (Jonathan Blair Slade) of Potomac, MD and Nancy Fenn Baskin (Jorge Plutzky, M.D.) of Boston, MA, and by her loving grandchildren, Amanda Slade of Boston, MA, Jeffrey Slade of Washington, DC, Abigail Baskin of Cambridge, MA, and Emily Baskin of New York, NY.

Private graveside funeral services were officiated by Rabbi Herbert Brockman at the Congregation Mishkan Israel Cemetery in New Haven.

Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Myrna & Arnold Baskin Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven at cfgnh.org/baskinfund.

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1 Comment


    11.05.21 at 10:20 am

    To Myrna’s family I send my condolences, knowing that she was one of the most charming, philanthropic, and classy women I have ever known. Although we were not contemporaries, we shared our love of music through the New Haven Symphony performances and our love of New Haven through various organizations. And our love of Judaism, of course. The entire community will feel her absence along with you.