Ferris Swithin Chandler Jr.

September 27, 1927June 29, 2021

Ferris Swithin Chandler Jr. passed away June 29, 2021 at the age of 93.

I never thought I would be writing my dad’s obituary. . . I am not sure why either because we all pass away some time and Dad was just months from turning ninety-four and was ill, so the end was obviously nearing. But here I find myself with pad and paper (and tissues) trying to summarize my dad’s life to honor him and to share his incredible life with others. Please keep in mind, it will only be an outline. . . details are far too many.

Though I am writing this story, my wonderful older sister, Cindy, shares the same deep respect, admiration, and love toward our father.

For the newspaper obituary, my mom, my sister, and I decided to just be very generic as we were and still are numb from our loss. It is an odd feeling to be so empty since Dad lived such a full and blessed life. We had so many years with him. I believe it just shows the incredible impact he made on our lives and the hole he has left in our hearts with his passing. My dad may have been a quiet gentle soul, but he was a powerful influence on the lives of those who knew him. His passing is intensely felt by many.

I don’t remember reading many, if any, obituaries so I don’t have an impression of what to follow and I don’t want to Google it either as Dad’s life would never fit in a formal template anyway. He made his own path through life and loved every minute of it.

Mom (who is turning ninety-one in a few months), Cindy, and I have scoured their files for information on Dad to share dates and specific accomplishments but again true to Dad, those papers were never kept. Dad always focused on the present and the future.

From stories and personal accounts, I can confidently share some interesting information about Dad. He had two older sisters, Eleanor and Connie who loved him dearly. Though his parents Ferris Swithin Chandler Sr. and Martha Keowon Chandler named him Ferris Swithin Chandler Jr., Dad’s sisters refused to call him that. They chose the name Jim. And Jim it was, all through high school. His diploma was even written for James Chandler!

Dad had many names; Ferris given at birth and used at work; Jim, used growing up and used by certain friends; Spike, used at college and we never found out where that name came from but it was used by all his college friends; Hun, used by Mom; and of course Dad used by Cindy and me. No matter the name, Dad was consistently himself. His moral code, focus on life, and "doing good" in the world that he could affect, never faltered no matter what name or group of people he was with.

After James, i.e Dad, graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in Pennsylvania, he joined the army in the later years of WWII. Having honorably served his beloved country, he entered college and graduated from Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon with a chemical engineering degree.

It was in college Dad met the love of his life, Mary Jane Troop on a blind date. Soon after graduating, they married and started the most wonderful love story even Hollywood couldn’t come close to writing. Their marriage held strong for sixty-seven years!

Yes, it is true to have a love story, you need love. . . but you also need focus, commitment, and determination to work together and that is exactly what Dad and Mom had and did. Their focus was always on the impact any decision might have on their marriage and their two children: Cindy and yours truly, Kathy. We were a family, a unit, where everyone mattered.

Their first years married, Dad and Mom lived on an apple farm. Though Dad knew nothing of apples, Dad and Mom learned together. And those apples were the best tasting apples ever.

Whatever Dad pursued he did with the pursuit of perfection. In business, he progressed through companies: Screw and Bolt, Cooper Bessemer, Lufkin, and Cooper Group. Though Dad had many powerful titles and accomplished incredible goals in the corporate world, true to their focus, Dad and Mom didn’t keep records of details on Dad’s employment. Trying to be more specific with this story, I contacted Dad’s former executive assistant. . . She summed it up all very well. She said that she never saw Dad as a title. . . he was always a person first and foremost. Dad never changed who he was regardless of the name used or the title given.

With work, Dad’s philosophy was to give twelve hours worth of work in eight hours. And he did not waver from that discipline. Before and after his eight very productive hours, he was a husband and a father. All in. . .all the time.

After early retirement, Dad and Mom became entrepreneurs. They bought a cabinet company and later bought a franchise from Huntington Learning Center. They knew nothing of either business, but they learned together and loved all the ups and downs and challenges along the way. Later, in their entrepreneurial journey, they started a company which helped raise money for startup businesses. (Way before Kick-Start) This is when Dad and Mom met Brian Hamilton, co-founder of Sageworks.

At sixty-nine, Dad entered a new journey, a new adventure into the unknown, dealing with a technology-based company. For twenty some years, Dad was part of this wonderful group of energetic, hardworking, forward thinking people and Dad soaked it all up. Though some people he worked with were half Dad’s age, most were in their twenties and thirties. Over the years with Sageworks, Dad offered sound wisdom and direction toward the building of the business yet also learned a great deal from the dear friends he made at Sageworks.

Throughout his life, Dad was an avid reader. He loved history, philosophy, politics, the arts, etc. He loved reading so much and personally knew the power of reading that he believed if you wanted to do something or learn something, you should get a book about it, read it, teach yourself how to do it, and then do it. No excuses. That is what he did throughout his life.

During his employment and entrepreneurial journeys, Dad was busy building. (Enter in lots of reading!) Never having any prior knowledge on designing or building a house, he and Mom designed and built two spectacular houses that they lived in. One was built in Harlansburg, Pennsylvania and the other was in Cary, North Carolina. Both homes were very modern and extremely unusual at the time they were designed. Building homes was always a family project and I must say a great way to grow up.

Along with the homes Dad designed and built for our family, he also helped design the two beautiful homes my sister and I now live in.

While Dad was being a loving husband, fabulous father, excellent businessman/entrepreneur, and successful home designer/builder, he also designed and built our furniture and later designed and made toddler tables and toys. He also became a master (self-taught) potter. His artwork is displayed in homes all around the world as well as in a Shinto Temple in Japan. With his love of pottery, he finally used his chemical engineering background to create fabulous glazes to adorn his architectural pottery.

Dad loved people and loved sharing his philosophies of life with anyone who would listen. Whether you were a family member, friend, cashier, or someone he stood by in the grocery line, Dad would impart his philosophies of life.

I would like to share those philosophies as they are sound and important to today’s culture but there are so many, I would have to write a book. Fortunately for me, Dad wrote a book! He actually wrote it about sixty years ago but only published it recently. It is amazingly powerful advice especially in today’s culture. I am not trying to give a sales pitch, but it is definitely worth reading.

Though it is painful to say “good-bye” to such an incredible man, Dad knows that he is leaving the love of his life in the good hands of his daughters, Cynthia Ann Chappell, Katherine Ann and her husband, Chris Boerner; grandchildren, Clarkson Boerner, and his wife, Hannah, Kylene and her husband Josh Puryear; and great grandson, Harrison Puryear. We know he continues to love us. . . and we him!

A Celebration of Life will be held 1:30pm Sunday, July 25th at McGregor Downs, 430 Saint Andrews Lane, Cary NC 27511. Please come and share stories of Dad with us.

In lieu of flowers, if you would like to donate in Ferris' memory, please donate to Crossnore Communities for Children as it is a special place that Dad and Mom have been supporting for years. Crossnore Communities for Children designate "In memory of Ferris Chandler" by phone at 828-733-4305 or mail Crossnore Communities for Children, PO Box 249, Crossnore, NC 28616.


  • In lieu of flowers, if you would like to donate in Ferris' memory, please donate to Crossnore Communities for Children as it is a special place that Dad and Mom have been supporting for years. Crossnore Communities for Children designate "In memory of Ferris Chandler" by phone at 828-733-4305 or mail Crossnore Communities for Children, PO Box 249, Crossnore, NC 28616.


  • A Celebration of Life

    Sunday, July 25, 2021


Ferris Swithin Chandler Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ethel Smith

July 12, 2021

Soon after Mary Jane and Ferris moved to Waltonwood, I had a nice long visit with them in the sun room and it was such a delightful event. Ferris shared so much about how they had met and it was obvious what an adventure they had shared for so many years. He was so proud of her and their daughters and you knew immediately he loved his entire family with every thread of his heart. He also made endless remarks which made me laugh and feel blessed that I also crossed paths with this very special man.

Chris Farr

July 12, 2021

I am so sorry to hear about Ferris's passing. I enjoyed my acquaintance with Mary Jane and Ferris through social/political networks. What a truly lovely couple. Ferris was a positive, erudite, talented and interesting force of nature. The world was a better place with him in it. He once handed me a box and said "I threw you a pot." When someone like Ferris creates and gives you a beautiful gift, it is a treasure indeed. I am glad I have it to remember him by. Many condolences.

Scott Ogle

June 30, 2021

Wow - what an incredible human being who touched so many people. I am so fortunate to have crossed paths with Ferris. He taught me so many things that I will use for the rest of my professional and personal life. I don’t even know where to begin…the list of lessons is so large. But one of my all time favorites was he always closed each conversation with “you have fun now, OK?” Well Ferris, I am trying to live this everyday and repeat this to others always - I will think of you every time I do that.

My very best to Mary Jane, Kathy, Cindy and the rest of the family.
- Scott Ogle

Chris Lee

June 30, 2021

Our lives and the world are immeasurably better because Ferris was, well, Ferris. He was such an original person, there are no comparatives. As humble as he was wise, Ferris brought a powerful intellect and curiosity to everything he did.

His passing is sad, but that sadness is overwhelmed by the joy he brought to everyone he knew. Let’s all toast to Ferris and a life well lived.

Brian Hamilton

June 30, 2021

What an amazing life. I have been friends with Ferris and Mary Jane for 20 years. Ferris taught me many things by words and, more importantly, by his actions and his steadfast friendship in good times and bad. Anyone is a friend when things are going well- I could always count on him. A truly devoted husband. God Bless to Kathy, Cindy, and Mary Jane. Your friend, Brian Hamilton