Charles Denton (Denny) Fernald

FernaldCharles Denton (Denny) Fernald, 77, on October 5, 2021, in Spruce Pine, N.C. Denny was born on November 9, 1943, to Loren Sumner Fernald and Dorothy Emery Fernald in Melrose, Mass., where he was christened at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Denny earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the first in the family to receive a college degree. He earned a doctorate in psychology at Indiana University in 1970. While there, Denny met Sue Sampen. Denny and Sue married and had two daughters, Beth and Lori.

Denny taught psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for 42 years, retiring as associate professor emeritus. Denny loved teaching. He gave tirelessly to his students, especially those who were struggling. Denny developed more than 25 courses at UNC Charlotte, many of which were innovative, emphasizing off-campus internships, hands-on learning, multiculturalism, and community service. Denny was awarded fellowships at the University of Maryland and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Denny found his spiritual home at Charlotte (N.C.) Meeting. He served his meeting community, university community, and beyond throughout his life, strongly advocating for those cast-off or in need. He initiated and advocated for projects that worked with individuals and organizational boards on issues of incarceration, low income, disabilities, immigration, racial justice, peace, conflict resolution, and homelessness. For ten years he provided grief counseling and worked as an adviser at Urban Ministry Center.

In 1989, Sue died following a six-year battle with brain cancer. After years of grieving deeply, Denny fell in love with Jo Ann Anderson Weinstein; they married in 1999. Denny and Jo Ann prioritized blending their families, which consisted of Jo Ann’s son, Joshua, and daughter, Rebekah, and Denny’s two daughters. To help blend the family, Denny created a cookbook to share his cooking skills and love of good food. When grandchildren arrived, Denny was grandpa extraordinaire. His silliness was matched by his ability to listen intently and love deeply.

Denny and Jo Ann spent a year in Kingston Upon Thames in London, UK, while Denny was the UNC Charlotte faculty supervisor at Kingston University. After a semester teaching at the University of Stirling in Scotland, he developed a study abroad program for UNC Charlotte students to live for a month in Scotland, work at a center for disabled adults, and travel around Britain. He maintained a strong spiritual connection to Iona, Scotland, for more than 25 years, as an intercessor for those in need of healing.

Denny received many honors and awards, including the Association for Retarded Citizens (now called the Arc) North Carolina Educator of the Year Award and an International Education Faculty Award from UNC Charlotte.

To escape the summer heat in Charlotte, Denny and Jo Ann began exploring the North Carolina mountains and found Celo Meeting in Burnsville, N.C. They built a house in Spruce Pine to be close to the community and moved to the mountains full-time following retirement. Denny threw his energy into Celo Meeting, serving in a variety of leadership roles and helping to develop Charity House Mission, which supports local people who are homeless and food insecure.

Denny will be remembered as a quiet and serious but also quirky, lovable, funny, truth-speaking, prone to dramatic outbursts, kind-hearted, and devoted family member and friend.

Denny was predeceased by his wife, Sue Sampen Fernald, in 1989. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Jo Ann Fernald; two children, Beth Hoos (Willy) and Lori Khamala (Sean Chen); two stepchildren, Rebekah Chow and Joshua Weinstein (Yvonne); nine grandchildren; two sisters, Linda Mayo and Susan O’Brien; a sister-in-law, Gale Rivera (Frank); and beloved nieces and nephews.

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