PITTSFIELD and TOPSHAM – Phyllis K. Fernald, 97, died peacefully May 10, 2013, after a brief illness. The second of four daughters, she was born July 24, 1915, in Corinna, to Leon and Fern Knowles.
As a young girl, Phyllis always wanted to become a teacher. She graduated in 1934 from Eastern States Normal School at 18, then returned to her hometown of Newport, to teach first grade. She moved to Augusta in 1936 to teach first grade, but her teaching contract there did not allow women to marry, which prompted her to return to Pittsfield in 1939 to marry Wayne Fernald, the love of her life. She and Wayne would live a very happy life, participating in all aspects of their Pittsfield community until his death in 1973. Phyllis taught second grade in Pittsfield from 1949 until 1963, completing her master’s degree from the University of Maine during those years. She was promoted to elementary reading supervisor in1963, and served in that capacity until her retirement in 1977. As a teacher, and as a thoughtful guide and mentor for many, she is still remembered as a caring educator who gave far more than she ever expected. Phyllis also had a lifelong love of music. She studied piano and voice as a young woman, and, fittingly, was labeled in her college yearbook as the “class songbird.” Throughout the years she performed as a soloist, in local music groups and at First Baptist Church as a singer, pianist, organist and music director. She was the choir director for many years, and was also instrumental in starting the first handbell choir there, often playing solo bells. Community activities were important to her and she served as president of the local arts club, coordinator of music for the Kiwanis Club’s annual minstrel show, and an organizer of many fundraisers. An avid knitter, she donated hundreds of mittens and prayer shawls to those in need.
She is survived by her sons, David Fernald and wife, Mary, of Portland, and Allan Fernald and wife, Teresa, of Londonderry, N.H.; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 18, at First Baptist Church, Pittsfield. Arrangements are under the care of Jones, Rich and Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Phyllis’ memory to First Baptist Church, 245 Main St., Pittsfield, ME 04967; or The Highlands, 30 Governor’s Way, Topsham, ME 04086, where she lived since 2002. For additional information and to sign Phyllis’ guestbook, please visit www.jonesrichandhutchins.com.