Deborah Atherton
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1951 - 2014
Deborah Atherton, 63, died on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She lived in Manhattan.

Deborah was born on July 19, 1951 in Holyoke, MA. She was the daughter of the late Richard and Franze Wiedorn Atherton and grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1969, she entered Yale University, one of the first group of women admitted as undergraduates. Deborah graduated from Yale in 1974 and moved to New York City in 1977 where she built a career as a librettist, fiction writer and arts administrator.

Her work for music theater and opera was presented by Lincoln Center Serious Fun, Opera Theater of St. Louis, CAP21, the Woman Becoming Festival of the Culture Project, Parabola Arts, the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space, and National Public Radio. She received a commission for her first opera, Under the Double Moon, written with Anthony Davis, from Opera Theater of St. Louis and for her second, Mary Shelley, written with Allan Jaffe, from Parabola Arts. Under the Double Moon was published in book form by Opera Theater of St. Louis and G. Schirmer. At the time of her death, she was working on a new music theater piece, Songs of the City, with Allan Jaffe.
Deborah was a fellow at the Eugene O'Neill Music Theater Conference and an Artist-in-Residence at Opera Theater of St. Louis and the Palenville Arts Colony. Her short stories appeared in a number of literary magazines, including The Distillery, Paper Streets, Reflections: A Literary Journal, Westview, Empire, and others. She gave readings of her fiction for Serial Underground at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City, and, with her writing group, River Writers of Manhattan, at the Jazz Gallery and the Mercantile Library.
During her career, Deborah was Executive Director of the American Composers Alliance, Associate Director of the American Music Center and a senior development writer for Girl Scouts of the USA, overseeing fundraising for their national arts initiative. She maintained a simultaneous arts consulting practice. Clients included the Center for Contemporary Opera, Ensemble Pi, the Brian Groder Ensemble, MEH Multimedia, RPI Acoustic Architecture, the American Composers Alliance, and New England Voices. She worked with a number of published authors and other professionals throughout her career, helping them to bring their work to print. Deborah was the Executive Board Secretary of the Interstitial Arts Foundation and blogged on their website.

Deborah is survived by her son Timothy Charles Davis and her daughter-in-law Danielle Davis of Manhattan, her ex-husband Anthony Davis of San Diego, CA, her sister Susan Atherton Hanson of Boston MA, her brothers Michael Atherton of Cambridge MA and David Atherton of North Wilmington DE, many nieces and nephews and a large extended family.

A celebration of Deborah's life will be held in spring 2015. Contributions in Deborah's memory may be made to the Interstitial Arts Foundation (

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from Jan. 2 to Jan. 3, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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7 entries
January 8, 2015
You touched lives of many people. RIP Dather.
Richard L. Jones
January 7, 2015
I truly do miss her and think of her often. Up there - in the clouds- I think she is quiet busy right now- and I hope she will somehow send us messages as we continue to send our love.
Priscilla Sloss
January 6, 2015
It is an honor to have been associated with Deborah, whose quiet and unassuming public face took many by surprise when she proceeded to reveal the depth of her wit and the reach of her understanding of many aspects of life in the arts. I will miss her very very much.
Joel Eric Suben
January 5, 2015
A lady, a friend, and a creative soul. Godspeed.
William F DeVault
January 5, 2015
You are dearly missed.
Jeffrey Baer
January 4, 2015
To the Atherton family,
My deepest sympathy to all. May you draw comfort that your love one will be restored to a youthful vigor. Job 33: 25.
January 3, 2015
May you be encouraged by God's promise of eternal life.
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