Deceased April 14, 2020
View alumni profile (log in required)
Richard Fernald, class of 1950 and my grandfather, passed away the morning of April 14, 2020, in his hometown of Peterborough, N.H. He was with his wife and sons, who sang and played him his favorite songs during his final hours: Frank Sinatra selections, “Lord Jeffery Amherst” and the “Senior Song.”
Dick Fernald attended Amherst from 1946 to 1950. He lived over 90 years but never forgot those four. For the rest of his life, he told anyone and everyone that there wasn’t any college better than old Amherst. (Especially not that Williams school in Western Massachusetts—even though his brother went there.)
He served in the U.S. Navy after law school as a JAG officer in Europe, later teaching military justice in Newport, R.I., and California. When he was discharged, he chose a rural life over beckoning Wall Street firms and worked in Peterborough until he was 86. He was devoted to the town: serving as town counsel and as planning board chair for more than 20 years. Dick was also an avid tennis player; he competed in a local tennis tournament every year until 2014 and, deciding tennis should be year-round even in New Hampshire, founded the state’s first indoor tennis court.
Later in life, his memory slowly faded. But Amherst never did: at reunion in 2018, my grandfather wasn’t fully clear on why he was at Amherst, but he sure as hell knew where he was. And as we walked him to the car, we struck up his favorite college songs. He sang every word.
The College neither expects nor strives for such adamant loyalty from all its students. Still, it’s noteworthy that they had such a man walking the earth for so long. Richard Fernald, Amherst man, will be deeply missed.
Matt Fernald ’13 and Mark Fernald ’81