Irene Fast, Professor Emerita of Clinical Psychology, died peacefully on July 19, 2019 at the age of 91.

Professor Fast received her A.B. degree from Bethel College in 1951, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1958. From 1959-1963 she was appointed as a lecturer in the Department. In 1963, she left the University to serve as Chief of Psychological Services at the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Center. She returned to the University of Michigan as a lecturer in 1965. In 1968 she was promoted to Associate Professor and in 1973 to Professor. From 1982-1987 she served as Associate Director of the University of Michigan Counseling Center.

Professor Fast published three books on early childhood development: Gender Identity: A Differentiation Perspective (1984), Event Theory: A Piaget-Freud Integration (1985), and Selving: A Relational Theory of Self-Organization (1998). These books and her early work on bereavement and on step-parenting helped shape the face of modern theories of early sexual and cognitive-emotional development.  

She retired from active faculty status in 1998, after which she did volunteer work teaching elementary school children who experienced difficulties learning to read. She enjoyed walks in Gallup Park with her dogs. Later in life she donated many animal sculptures along the footpaths in Gallup Park for the benefit of children. She made donations to a school in Honduras, to Food Gatherers, and to the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative.

Professor Fast is survived by four siblings, Ingrid Harms, Araya Fast, Paul Fast and Ronald Fast and by numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

To read more about Professor Fast and her legacy, please visit her obituary here (link).

--Contributed by Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, Psychology Department Chair, based on a U-M retirement memoir, and by Dr. Irving Leon and Dr. Jonathan Slavin