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Jim and Sally Fenton


March 8, 2010



Dr. Albert James “Jim” Fenton passed away on March 8. Beloved husband of 56 years to Sally Fenton; loving father of Jamie Fenton, Bill (Leigh) Fenton, and Kathy Scharko; fond grandfather of seven; great-grandfather of ten. Respected teacher of Chemistry at Chicago area community colleges, affiliated with the Institute of Cultural Affairs in India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States.





More on Sally:

Sally was a member of the Friendship UMC cadre in Cincinnati before she and Jim joined the Order in 1971. In later years she became a founding member of the Archives Project and anchored the project with Marg Philbrook and Jean Long as part of the Chicago troika.



Sally, you were part of the group of deeply committed colleagues in the Cleveland Region, teaching RS-I, Jim working at the Cleveland Clinic (kids Kathy & Jamie), moved into the Cleveland House at 902 Wheelock Avenue with Joan and Frank (Bob) Knutson (Kristin + ), Martha and Dick Talbot, Joe and Sandra Cliff, Jan and Sherwood Shankland (kids Shonna and Kevin), Joy and Herman Greene, Sean Burke, Betty and Phil (?) Webber, Barbara and Don Barkony, Jody (later May), Zoe and Ken Barley, Sharon and Attis (Ed) Feldmanis, David & Joyce Reese, (Ginny +); Jim and Dorthea Jewell (Mark, Diane, and Russel) with a powerful Local Church Galaxy led by Mark and Jean Poole, metro pedagogues – Jack and Judy Gilles, Michael and Judith Tippet, Bob and Sandra Rafos, Lois Reeves, Fred and Marian Karpoff, Clancy and Mary Ann Mann, Rose and her Mom Albright, and many, many more! What an amazing multi-faceted team. Claudia and Don Cramer had just departed for DC.


So many memories are surging this year as you Sally and so many others have joined the collegium beyond… there is a great hall in the Other World where one by one we slowly file in singing and witnessing to our incredible journeys…and the Amazing Grace of Freedom and Forgiveness. Grace and Peace all around,
~~  Sherwood  Shankland


June 10, 1934 – July 16, 2020


Sally Jean Fenton was born on June 10, 1934 to James and Cordelia Smith. Two years later, her sister Marty was born, and they have been lifetime best friends. The eldest of two daughters, Sally had to help lead the family after her father passed in 1948. A diligent student, Sally won a merit scholarship to the New Jersey College for Women at Rutgers University.


On a train trip home Sally met Princeton student, Jim Fenton, whom she married in 1953. Sally took a few years off to have and raise her 3 children, Jamie, Bill, & Kathy. When the children grew up to where they could take care of themselves, Sally resumed her studies in the 1960s, getting a degree in political science at the University of Cincinnati.


During her time of young motherhood, Sally became President of the League of Woman Voters in Princeton, New Jersey and Wyoming, Ohio. Sally became a lay leader at the Friendship United Methodist Church.


After completing her degree, Sally and Jim attended a Religious Studies One (RS-1) weekend program of the Ecumenical Institute. They were hooked. They attended EI programs and applied their efforts to local church renewal.  A high school student Larry Ware spent a year living with the family in an exchange student program.


The next step was to join the Order of the Ecumenical Institute/Institute for Cultural Affairs in 1972.Their children also joined, but left when they became of age. Sally and Jim lived in EI/ICA religious houses in Cleveland, Wichita, St. Louis, New York, Washington, Hong Kong, Taipei, Pune India, and finally Chicago. Everywhere they went Sally was training community leaders and managing the affairs of the religious houses they lived at.


Sally and Jim returned to Chicago in 1992. Jim taught chemistry at local colleges, and both became very involved in their community at Epworth United Methodist Church. They both greatly enjoyed the opportunity to be greeters for Sunday service. Sally served on the finance committee and as Treasurer for many years. She taught Sunday school, led adult studies, assisted with the men’s shelter, and tutoring programs. They still traveled, mostly for pleasure, and to visit their growing brood of grandchildren. Living in Chicago allowed them to play very active roles in the lives of their great-grandchildren as well.


Sally was an effortless leader who welcomed all and touched a multitude of lives in as many ways. She served in a wide variety of roles throughout her accomplished career. More than can be listed in this short document. She was a statistician, a bookkeeper, a business manager and a community liaison for housing authorities in several cities.


Jim died in 2010 after a long illness. In this trying time, Sally spent every possible moment with Jim, often staying overnight in hospitals. Sally and Jim shared 56 years together.


In her final years, Sally continued a robust, impactful life centered on service and family. She continued to attend services at Epworth and worked on her many projects.


Sally and Jim had 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren. So far, there are two great-great-grandchildren: She raised us all. At one point there were 5 generations living under one roof.


Around 3 years ago, Sally was diagnosed with a form of dementia. Daughter Kathy organized a care-giving campaign that allowed Sally to stay home. Sally’s feisty “take charge” attitude never left her.


Sally left his world surrounded by friends, descendants, and her faithful cat Fritz.