Jane Fassinger, Class of 2023
By Mike Dudurich • November 2, 2023
Many times, people have goals in life that center around being the best they can be every day, but also find something in which they excel.
Dr. Jane Fassinger is one of those people, except she’s managed to excel in two aspects of life, and one of those is the reason she was inducted into the West Penn Golf Association Hall of Fame.
She began her golf career in Westmoreland County around the age of 5, a beginning that included getting lessons from Deacon Palmer, father of Arnold, at Latrobe Country Club.
“Arnold would come around and watch when his dad gave me lessons, but I didn’t really know him all that well,” Fassinger said. “But Deacon played a big role in the success I had in golf. He completely changed my swing, made it more of a power swing. I became one of the longest hitters out there.”
She played in her first tournament at age 5 and finished second in an event at that age.
Her family eventually moved to a farm when she was in seventh grade that helped intensify her love for animals. It also provided enough space for her father build a practice green and clear an area from which she could practice hitting approach shots to that green.
As her golf game continued to mature, so did her interest in and love for animals. In her family there were always animals and doctors, and both made a big impression on her.
But, as she started on the path to becoming a veterinarian, she always remembered something her grandfather told her.
“My grandfather, my mom’s dad, he kept saying if you’re going to be a veterinarian, you need to do horses, that’s the noblest creature on Earth,” she said.
On the golf course, Fassinger developed into a most worthy opponent and put together quite a resume in amateur competition. She won the prestigious Women’s Western Junior in back-to-back years, 1968 and 1969. She beat a pair of highly ranked opponents, Sandra Burns in 1968 and Nancy Hager in 1969.
She was a member of the 1970 Curtis Cup, played at Brae Burn in West Newton, Massachusetts. She competed in one match when she and Cynthia Hill took on Mary Everad and Julia Greenhalgh of the Great Britain & Ireland team and were trounced 5 & 3.
The U.S. Girls Junior Championship was first played in 1949 and, on its 20th anniversary, Fassinger faced Hollis Stacy, a future LPGA Hall of Famer, in the finals. Stacy prevailed, 1-up, and in doing so became the youngest to ever win the event. She was 15.
In the 1971 U.S. Women’s Am, Fassinger put quite a display in the opening round, playing par golf through 14 holes and upset Connie Day of Cleveland, Tenn., 5 & 4.
She left her mark on the Pennsylvania Golf Association record book, too, winning the 1968 and 1969 Junior Girls Championship.
Fassinger finished as the second-lowest amateur in the 1970 U.S. Women’s Open.
She finished in a tie for 17th with professional Michael Skala, shooting rounds of 71-73-78-74.
“That was pretty much a thrill for a teenage kid,” she laughed.
Fassinger knew she was not going to make a career out of playing golf and that allowed her to get fully immersed in her other great passion: animals.
She earned a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Fassinger has owned and cared for animals throughout her life, both hers and those of her clients.
She lives in Magdalena, New Mexico, an area of the country she visited years ago and had relocating out there became a goal somebody. Fassinger and her husband, Dr. John Lee, did just that and she has a thriving veterinarian business, All Creatures Mobile Vet Service, that takes her to animals in need in locations near and far.
“It is very fun for me because I get to drive around this wonderful, beautiful country,” Fassinger said. “The roads are generally hideous, so my truck gets bounced around a lot.She and her husband have many animals and many varieties, including Arabian horses. They live in a house with a 12-stall barn and 14 horses of their own.
How passionate are Fassinger and Lee about their work and the animals they work with? They have pledged a portion of their estate to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Just another indication of why Dr. Jane Fassinger is a Hall of Famer, on and off the golf course.
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and nearly 37,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.