Doris B. Ferm

August 13, 1924 - May 03, 2013

Doris B. Ferm

August 13, 1924 - May 03, 2013


Doris Ferm, 88, died peacefully at her Bellingham home on May 3 after a brief illness. She will be profoundly missed by her family, the Bellingham Friends Meeting, and the peace and justice and environmental advocacy communities. Her humble yet determined leadership and quiet faith provided steadfast support and set an example of dedication and integrity.

She was born Doris Lippincott Bye in August 1924 to Raymond Taylor and Virginia Higgins Bye, in Philadelphia, PA. Raised a Quaker with a lifelong commitment to peacemaking, Doris in young adulthood had a profound spiritual experience of oneness with all creation. This became the guiding focus of her life: to live in respectful coexistence with all Earth’s creatures, to seek harmony and justice in local communities, and to advocate for peace among people everywhere.

Doris graduated from Swarthmore College with honors, and earned an M.S. in Geology from Penn State University. In June 1949, she married John Charles Ferm. They had three children over the course of the next dozen years, and raised them in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina, returning to Kentucky in 1979.

Doris helped found the Columbia, SC, Friends (Quaker) Meeting in the early 1970s, served as editor of the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association newsletter, and was a charter member of the Columbia Audubon Society. It was during this period that she began to change her life in accordance with her beliefs about Earth: she became first a vegetarian, then vegan; redoubled her efforts to live simply; and began recycling long before it was common or convenient. In 1980, when she and John returned to Lexington, KY, Doris became active in the Lexington Friends Meeting, in Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting, and as a board member of the Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice. She also helped found the Central Kentucky Fellowship of Reconciliation.

In 1993, she wrote a poem entitled Journey:

Through all my living
how the wilder lives of Earth
brought forth my joy,
and taught me how to be

And I, slow learner,
at last have opened up to that within,
to that which teaches
how to love, to trust,
to care for
all that breathing, growing, feeding, glowing, is.

And in the coming dark,
Across the western sky,
May homeward flights of birds
Now guide me toward the light.

Although she was painfully shy as a child and a young woman, later in life Doris became an able public speaker, and was several times asked to address large gatherings on the subject of peace and the environment. A longtime member of Quaker Earthcare Witness, she gave the keynote address at Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting Annual Session in 2006, concluding: Let us live in communion with all Life Spirit, knowing that wherever we are, we are walking on holy ground.

A faithful matriarch to her family, Doris moved to Bellingham, WA, after John’s death in 1999, to be closer to her daughters, their partners, and her two grandchildren. Here, peace-making and the current environmental crisis became the focus of her activism. She volunteered at Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (now Conservation Northwest) for many years, becoming a valued part of the Bellingham office, and also was awarded the Lifetime Peacemaker Award in 2008 by the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center. Doris enjoyed gardening, corresponding with friends, giving gifts to her extended family and close friends, and caring for her beloved cat, Sunshine.

When word of her final illness reached her community, nearly fifty people gathered in her small backyard May 3, to serenade her with songs of love and peace. Among the songs raised was her request: There are Angels Hovering ‘Round. She fell asleep to the sound of singing, and died a few hours later, surrounded by the love of her family. In accordance with her wishes, her remains were given a green burial at the Greenacres Memorial Park Meadow.

She is survived by her daughters, Peg Ferm (Gregg Hoover) of Monroe, WA, and Carol Virginia Ferm Herrick (Mark Herrick) of Bellingham; her grandchildren, Kendra and Ian Herrick of Bellingham; her sister, Florence Satterthwaite of Moscow, ID; a numerous devoted nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband, John C. Ferm; her son, John Barclay Ferm; and her sister, Elinor B. Harry of Bellingham.

Farewell Tribute Information

A Quaker memorial service, hosted by the Bellingham Friends Meeting, will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 16, 2013, in the social hall at the First Congregational Church of Bellingham, 2401 Cornwall Avenue. All friends of Doris are welcome! Donations Information

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Bellingham Friends Meeting, P.O. Box 30144, Bellingham, WA 98228-2144; Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, P.O. Box 2444, Bellingham, WA 98227; Quaker Earthcare Witness, 173 B N. Prospect St., Burlington, VT 05401-1607; or Conservation Northwest, 1208 Bay St., Bellingham, WA 98225.

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26 responses to Doris B. Ferm

  1. Jessica Bee says:

    My heart is sad for her family’s loss, our loss as individuals, as a community. Yet I feel at the same time Doris is not lost to us. Her many kindnesses, sweet caring for others and our world light me from within when I think on her. May we continue to carry with us her light and work to shine as fearlessly and as truly.

  2. Rita Perry says:

    Please accept my sympathy to the loving Daughters,Family & Friends in the painful loss of your dear Doris. May I offer theses Verses from the Bible in an effort to give comfort & hope at this difficult time. Psalms34:18 “OUR LOVING FATHER IS NEAR TO THOSE THAT ARE BROKEN AT HEART AND THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED IN SPIRIT HE SAVES”

  3. Heather K says:

    Love exists eternally through those we love and those who love us. Doris lived in love of Life Spirit – with elegant simplicity & integrity.
    My grief is full – with the wonder of knowing Doris as a friend, and being welcomed into her family. I can see her loving eyes welcoming me into her home…. I can feel her wise gentle presence whenever I consider my next community earthcare activism.

    I am blessed by sharing life with her daughters, grandchildren, & family of Friends. Though I grieve her absence from this world of flesh & bones, I feel the eternity of the the love & wisdom she lived.

    May I Live a Life of Love in peaceful simplicity- as a servant to the Divine Spirit, experiencing the sacred in each moment. May our losses strengthen our love for each other.

  4. Peg Ferm says:

    Where She Is
    The sky between branches is clear deep twilight Black delicate silhouettes Fir tips touch hazel leaves Complex elegance

    Darkness advances across open spaces Claiming the air softly Having filled hollows Spreading outward From shadowy forest chambers Advances like a presence coming toward me Like the dearest, sweetest hope


    Thrushes sing clear liquid falling notes Three of them in shadows Northwest, east, southeast Each beginning before the others end A round, each song echoing Distant In its tall forest chamber


    But its here I find her How strange to be so certain Inside me, seeing with my eyes That look like hers, they say Listening so she may hear

    As always before, without speaking Sharing solitude, we drink This one-time only pattern of this fir, this hazel These particular thrushes echoing In this soft air This one night only On the edge of June


    A half century ago, there was no difference We did the same, listening for owls Each time in silence Yearning toward the clear night sky Watching black tree shapes Held in a square window Together heard them calling, calling, calling From their dark forest chambers

    Peg Ferm June 2013

  5. Ellen Murphy says:

    Dearest, We have walked, stood up, sat around many tables, been quiet, shared from our hearts, campaigned, but darn it, never arrested together! (Came close, though). Now you have gone willingly into Freedom, released under the recognizance of Love!

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