Kimberly Eve Fernald, known to everyone as Kim, passed away unexpectedly from respiratory complications at her home in Holyoke, MA on Friday, December 1st at the age of 41. Her family finds comfort in knowing that Kim was not alone, but had her best friend, Max, by her side. She was born on March 26, 1982, in Concord, Massachusetts, the first Fernald to be born at Emerson Hospital. She grew up in Westford, MA in a great neighborhood playing outside on the street with her sisters and neighbors and best childhood friend Matt. Everyone played egg (with the hot oven), kickball, ghost in the graveyard, flashlight tag, rode bikes and swam in the pool. She bunny-hopped like the best of them for the annual Easter Egg Hunt with all the neighbors. She was the first of her sisters to poop in the woods, and also sold ‘Boy’ Scout cookies at church with her sister.
Kim graduated from Westford Academy in 2000. During high school, Kim was in the drama club, and tried every year to get her artwork in the art club calendar. She worked at Kimball Farms, and had fun driving over the bump listening to Ultimate Dance Party with her friends and sisters. She earned her BS at Fitchburg State University in 2005 studying Photography and Art and earned a Masters of Social Work from Springfield College School of Social Work in 2016.
She worked as a LICSW, serving children, adolescents and adults therapeutically through multiple modalities including group and family practice. Kim always met people where they were and looked at the whole person. She had a trauma-informed perspective to honor, support, and serve with compassion. She had significant experience working with substance use disorders in both adolescents and adults, including understanding multiple pathways to recovery and supporting harm-reduction. Kim was well-versed in trauma therapy with all ages. She helped her clients create safety and the skills to heal and enhance their empowerment through resiliency. Kim practiced radical acceptance.
Kim had a creative and hilarious personality, always bringing joy and fun to those around her. She found humor and good in every situation. Kim was compassionate and caring and had a deep love for animals, especially her dog Max even when she had to break up a fight he had with an emu or when he rolled in human feces by the Connecticut River. She was a vegan for the animals. She was a best friend to many (including Kim2), and was known for her generous nature. She enjoyed spending time outdoors, whether it was hiking, camping, doing a 5K, visiting the dinosaur footprints with her nieces and nephews, or going to the beach. Every year she hiked the Seven Sisters in the Holyoke Range with her sisters, nieces, nephews and friends, always meeting for brunch at Pulse at the end. She loved games! She recently started playing disc golf after being inspired by her VT friends, Christine, Justin, John and Julie. She was a champion knockout player beating all the Fernalds in the driveway, including Julie who had a special cousin bond with her for all of Kim’s life. She was a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winner in individual and team events in the Fernald Olympics in Maine. She used games in her work and she was an avid Wingspan player. When we all said, “This game is too complicated!” her love for the game ended up being contagious. Kim also loved taking vacations with Max, her family, and friends to her sister’s house in Maine, and going to family gatherings and holidays at Auntie Linda’s in New Bedford. She loved traveling and went on several road trips (RV or van) with her mom.
She was reflective and service-focused in the recovery community, always doing for others. She was a board member of the Western Massachusetts Substance Addiction Providers’ Association and shared her knowledge through trainings with colleagues throughout the area.
She had a passion for yoga, crocheting, crafting, essential oils, vegan cooking, and diamond art. She became a Yoga teacher after studying at Yogaville in VA. She savored self-care-quiet moments, floating, reading, manicures and pedicures. During the pandemic, a gift to herself was getting full sleeve tattoos from her favorite tattoo artist in NH. Kim was an artist and these hobbies brought her joy and allowed her to express her creativity.
Kim is survived by her “precious” yellow lab mix, Max, and her parents, Nancy (Levangie) and Wayne Fernald of Westford, MA. She is also survived by her sisters, Heather Fernald of Acton, MA, Nicole Fernald and her husband, Peter Rijntjes, of Framingham, MA, Alissa Fernald and her husband, Derek Engel, of Charlestown, MA, and Jodie Fernald of Lexington, MA. She was declared the favorite auntie by her nieces Magdalena Eve and Aidia of Acton, MA and her nephews Gregory and Neil of Framingham, MA. She is also survived by extended family including the Fernalds (Auntie Ann, Uncle Rick, Julie, Ricky, Joey, Holli, Makayla, Jason, Camden, Addy, and Penny), the Burkes (Auntie Linda, Uncle Jim, Kathy, Timm, Kate, and Indy), the Levangies (Auntie Janet, Jacqui, Juliet, Helder, Braelin and Braoin), the Bouldrys (Auntie Mary, Sharon, Susan and Little Burt), and cousins Shane, Kyler, and Andy. Kim was preceded in death by her Uncle Jack, Auntie Debbie, Uncle Burt, Auntie Susan, her cousin Cherie, Uncle Jeth, Uncle Bill, grandparents, and good friends.
Kim’s family sincerely thanks her support network in western MA including her friendship of over 15 years with Bill W.
Friends and loved ones are invited to attend the calling hours from 1-4 pm on Sunday December 10, immediately followed by a service at 4 pm, both held at the McKenna-Ouellette D'Amato Funeral Home, located at 327 Hildreth St. Lowell, MA. Overflow parking will be available on the street. Come as you are, Kim was very casual, so be comfortable. Please bring a story or memory to share if you would like. Music, food, and sharing stories about Kim will continue at a reception from 5 to 8 pm at UTEC located at 41 Warren Street in Lowell. Street parking is free or garage parking is available across the street at 90 Warren Street.
Kim will be remembered for her kind heart, her love for animals, her laugh and her ability to bring laughter into the lives of those around her. She will be deeply missed by all who had the joy of knowing her.
The family requests that no flowers be sent and that you instead consider a donation in memory of Kim to the Gàndara Center, www.gandaracenter.org or to Farm Sanctuary, www.farmsanctuary.com. Kim would want you to honor her by laughing and passing on a random act of kindness which could be as simple as holding a spontaneous dance party or texting a friend.