A memorial service was held to remember Philosophy Professor James Fennelly on Wednesday, February 9th in the University Center. Among the crowd were family, friends, faculty and students who gathered together to share smiles and laughter in his memory. Longtime friend and fellow Philosophy Professor Stephen Greenfield reflected on "JMF" as he called him, saying, "His life was like a Persian rug, colorful, complex and rich in detail."
Professor Fennelly, 70, died on January 8 at home in New Jersey after suffering a heart attack.
Professor Richard Olsen opened the service. He looked around at the standing room-only crowd and said, "He had so many friends, that's why this service is being held."
Others who spoke included fellow professors, long time students and even those who had only taken a class or two with Professor Fennelly. Those who spoke used some of his favorite sayings like "Wonderful" and "Isn't that fun!" to reflect on Professor Fennelly. Other shared something that Jim (as he was called) instilled in them. For Professor Judith Johnston the number one thing he taught her was "Be of good cheer" and she remained that way in reflecting upon him.
James Mathius Fennelly was born September 5th, 1929 in New York City and grew up in the lower Hudson Valley. He received his undergraduate degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts. After finding his interest in religious studies he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he earned his Graduate Degree. In 1954, he was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry and also married Zee Zohma Zeiger. In 1967 after years of study he attended Victoria University in Manchester England, where he received his Masters in New Testament Studies.
Throughout his lifetime Professor Fennelly circled the globe numerous times finding himself studying in England or leading archaeological field studies in Egypt. In 1973, he began working at Adelphi University. In a short time he became very popular among students; his classes were often filled in a few days. Throughout his tenure at Adelphi, Professor Fennelly led numerous educational tours in the New York area and to such places as India, North Africa and Egypt. Speakers at his memorial service noted that he knew so much about so many cultures, that when he gave tours strangers who overheard him often asked if they could "join the tour."
One could only guess that Professor Fennelly was present for the service looking down from above saying "Wonderful, they are holding a memorial service for me, Isn't that fun!"