He was born on January 31, 1932 in Bradenton, Florida. His parents were Francis Gordon and Rebecca Jane Fernald. He is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Jean Kathryn Martin Fernald, and brother, Harry Fernald. He is survived by two sons, Thomas Edward Fernald (Cindy) of Tallahassee and Gary Martin Fernald (Kim) of St Petersburg, and one daughter, Joy Kathryn Portero of Tallahassee. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Ashlyn Portero of London, UK, Sarah Fernald Miller (Josh) and Amberly Portero of Tallahassee, Scott and Emma Fernald of St. Petersburg, FL, and Rebecca Fernald Groves (Dakota) of Denver, CO, and 2 great-granddaughters, Caroline and Kate Miller.
Ed graduated from Manatee County High School, Bradenton in 1949, where he also taught from 1957 to 1960. He was an Eagle Scout, and a member of the first National Championship team in gymnastics at Florida State University. Ed served in the U.S. Navy four years, including a tour in the Far East on the aircraft carrier Yorktown. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FSU and a Ph.D. in geography from Michigan State University. Ed began teaching at Florida High in 1960 and transferred to the FSU Geography Department in 1967. During a 38-year career of teaching and administration at FSU, he founded and was Director of the Institute of Science and Public Affairs which included 17 centers for research and service.
Ed was very active in his profession on both the state and national levels. He served as president of the Florida Society of Geographers and the National Council for Geographic Education. In addition, he served as State Geographer of Florida for over 30 years; eight years on the Leon/Tallahassee Planning Commission; member of the U.S. State Department Directorate on Man and Biosphere (28 years); chaired the Florida Board on Geographic Names (10 years); and developed and chaired the Florida Geographic Alliance (30 years). His work with the U.S. State Department and the National Geographic Society took him to 45 countries. Among his books written and edited are Atlas of Florida (2 editions), Water Atlas of Florida (2 editions), Florida: Problems and Prospects, and Florida: Heritage and Horizons. He was quick to point out that the only way to get so much done was to have bright, hard-working colleagues carrying much of the load.
Ed was a member of First Baptist Church, serving as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. He acknowledged his dependence on Jesus, his Savior, and his faith in the statement from Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
A private family burial will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First Baptist Church – Tallahassee for the Fernald Family Endowment Fund – Children’s Ministry, or for a scholarship in the FSU Department of Geography. FSU contributions can be sent to: The FSU Foundation, 325 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee FL 32301. Please note the gift is “In memory of Dr. Ed Fernald”.
Click on the following link for the FSU Foundation: https://give.fsu.edu/EdFernald