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NIMH Administrator Wayne S. Fenton, 53

Wayne S. Fenton wanted to help people with schizophrenia become functioning members of society.
Wayne S. Fenton wanted to help people with schizophrenia become functioning members of society. (Family Photo)

A native of Albany, N.Y., Dr. Fenton moved to Reston when he was in the seventh grade and then to Potomac. He was a graduate of Churchill High School, where he met his future wife in Spanish class. He received a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from Bard College in New York and graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine in 1979.

After an internship at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut, he did postgraduate training in psychiatry at Yale University in 1983. He also completed a National Research Service Award Fellowship at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University in 1984.

He then joined the staff of Chestnut Lodge Hospital, where over 15 years he served as director of research, medical director and chief executive and helped modernize treatment there.

In 1999, Dr. Fenton joined NIMH as deputy director for clinical affairs in the division of mental disorders, behavioral research and AIDS. He headed the division that administered grants and served as NIMH's liaison to the American Psychiatric Association and World Psychiatric Association. He was the author of numerous articles.

In recent years, Dr. Fenton, a soft-spoken, slender man, took up the guitar. His Rockville neighbors would hear him singing and playing old-time Southern blues.

Survivors include his wife, Nancy Fenton of Rockville; four children, Kaylan Fenton of Bethesda, Amalia Fenton of Baltimore, Claire Fenton of Southern Maryland and Nathaniel Fenton of Rockville; his parents, Joseph and Roselyn Fenton of Potomac; a brother; and a sister.

Thomas H. McGlashan, a professor of psychiatry at Yale, worked with Dr. Fenton in the 1980s at Chestnut Lodge Hospital and published several articles with him.

He said Dr. Fenton realized the danger inherent in working with potentially violent patients. He always knew it could be dangerous.

"The worst outcome of all of this is that patients like this would have a harder time getting the help they needed," McGlashan said. "He would hate that, if that's the outcome."

Staff writer Dan Morse contributed to this report.

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