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James R. Fernald ’84

Somesville and Brewer – James R. Fernald of Somesville and Brewer died Saturday, March 9, 2024, as a result of injuries sustained in a skiing accident, following a life lived fully, consciously and purposefully.
He was born on Friday, March 13, 1962, in Bar Harbor, the second child of the Fernald clan. Jim grew up on Mount Desert Island, where Somesville and Somes Sound were his playground. At a young age he developed his love for the ocean and sailing. He graduated from Mount Desert High School, class of 1980.
He graduated from Maine Maritime Academy, class of 1984, where he earned a degree in marine engineering, and participated in the sailing team. After graduation, he worked in major cities across the country, where he found himself in the chief engineer role for high-rise buildings and mega hotels. After a few years away, he found himself longing to return home to Maine and MDI. After his return, he continued his love of sailing, racing with the Northeast Harbor Fleet, and working for his family business. Jim attended The New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences at Mount Ida College obtaining a degree in mortuary science to become a certified funeral service practitioner.
Jim’s real professional love was serving families in a time of need, which he did as a fifth-generation funeral director. He served his community at both Jordan Fernald Funeral Homes and Brookings-Smith Funeral Homes. At Brookings-Smith, he led the creation of Pine Grove Crematorium, the first of its kind in our state, to create more transparency in the industry and better serve families in their time of need. He gave back to his profession by developing and mentoring a number of practitioners, championing the skills learned growing up in a small business and helping the profession continue to meet the changing needs of the community. He was a past president of the Maine Funeral Directors Association and was a past member of the State of Maine Board of Funeral Service, advocating on a state and national level for his profession. He empowered local hospice agencies, and as then-president of the board of Hospice of Hancock County, he combined his love of sailing and support of hospice, playing a crucial role in creating the Hospice Regatta of Maine as a charity fundraiser for the agency. The event created key support for the organization having raised more than $500,000 since its launch in 1997, and raised awareness for hospice’s role in helping maintain dignity in care.
Jim never missed a chance to reconnect with the places and people he loved. Summers were spent boating, whether it was trips with family and friends, or to share his favorite spots found off the coast. When not with family or friends he enjoyed sailing with his racing team. Jim loved to sail his Luders 16, Sea Bee, always a competitor, winning several Labor Day series and Hospice Regattas, which twice led him to the National Hospice Regatta Alliance Championship in Florida. He also enjoyed cycling the Park Loop Road at Acadia National Park, hiking the peaks of Acadia with Caroline and his beloved dog, Baxter, cannon balling into the ocean, no matter the temperature of the water, or convertible rides around MDI, only making stops for a good view or an ice cream cone. Winters were spent attending UMaine Hockey games, watching the Celtics, and skiing. An avid Sugarloafer since 1980, Jim was an unofficial ambassador of the mountain and a guide to how best to experience it based on winds, light and the time of season. Jim shared his experiences with those he knew and loved, never missing an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend or make a new connection.
Jim is survived by his daughter, Caroline Fernald; his life partner, Christii Maquillan; Christii’s daughter, Sam; parents, Jeanne and William; sisters, Katherine, Rebecca, Amy, and Missy; and by his many loved nieces, nephews, cousins, and uncle. He is also survived by his four-legged best friend, Baxter; his longtime friend and family, Holly Smith; and his chosen brother, Mike Clisham. He was predeceased by his grandparents; his niece, Lindsey Allard; and a dog he loved like no other, Nick Dingo.

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