Kathleen Ayers Ferland


Updated June 12. This is the expanded obituary that ran in this week’s paper. 

Kathleen Ayers Ferland of Edgartown, who with indomitable courage and quiet grace pursued an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Cape Cod Community College (CCCC) in the face of the cancer that would rob her of life but not her love of learning, died peacefully on Sunday, May 31, 2015, comforted by the loving embrace of her family. She was 53.

She was passionate about life, which included her love of reading, puzzles, and walking. She received the most joy from being a mother to her two “golden treasures,” her daughter Alexandra, a recent college graduate, and son Elliot, a high school student.
Kathy fought her cancer for five years, but she would not let it run her life.

Education was so important to Kathy that she continued her work toward an associate’s degree even as she grew weaker by the day. Her example provided an inspiration to others.

Knowing she had entered hospice and would be unable to attend graduation, one week prior to the ceremony, CCCC President John Cox and Tom Hallahan of Oak Bluffs, CCCC Vineyard outreach coordinator, traveled to Kathy’s home, donned robes, and presented her with an associate’s degree in liberal arts with Phi Theta Kappa honors in a ceremony held in her kitchen, watched by her family and two friends.

At the school’s commencement on May 28, a ceremony the Ferland family watched on a livestream broadcast over the Internet the school arranged, President Cox told the new graduates, “I had the honor of presenting Kathy her diploma and congratulating her for completing her degree. In the quiet intensity as she viewed the diploma, I could sense Kathy’s feeling of accomplishment.”

Following Kathy’s death, Mr. Hallahan, in an email informing her fellow students, said, “Despite being diagnosed with cancer four years ago, she decided to pursue her associate’s degree. Many of you probably had classes with her and did not know she was battling cancer — she never complained.”

Kathy was a generous person who found fulfillment in helping other. For many years she was operations manager for Vineyard House. “Kathy Ferland ran our organization for seven years, and in that time she proved herself to be an incredibly organized employee,” Mark Jenkins, Vineyard House board president, said. “She balanced that with having a lot of compassion for the residents of Vineyard House, which is a key when dealing with men and women in early recovery from substance abuse. She was an extremely loyal and dedicated employee, and despite having to leave the position due to her ill health, she continued to volunteer in the office at Vineyard House whenever her health permitted.”

Kathy was born in Newport, R.I., the daughter of Mary Rundle Baker and her father who predeceased her, John P. Ayers.

She is survived by her loving husband of 23 years, Alfred; daughter Alexandra and son Elliot.
Mr. Ferland offered his “heartfelt thanks to the community for all their support in troubling times.”
She is also survived and loved by her mother Mary and stepfather David, her sisters Julie and Coleen, and by many other family members and friends.

A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, June 6.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

Visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.