Maureen Naughton Fernandez
Maureen Naughton Fernandez, of Orleans, MA and Sanibel, FL, left the world peacefully at her Sanibel home, surrounded by her loving family on February 1, 2021, following a year’s valiant endeavor to overcome non-smoking lung cancer. Born March 5, 1952 to parents James Naughton and Virginia Farmer, Maureen grew up in Scarsdale, New York, having graduated from Scarsdale High School and Skidmore College. Maureen leaves her beloved husband of 36 years, Frank Fernandez, her devoted and loving children, Conor Fernandez of Boston, MA and Devon Fernandez of North Hollywood, CA, her sister Kathleen (Naughton) Moran and her husband Michael of Chevy Chase, MD, her brother Michael Naughton of Slingerlands, NY, and several brothers and sisters-in law, many nieces, nephews, and grand nieces and nephews. Besides parents, she is also preceded in death by her darling daughter, Keenan Fernandez.
Creative from a young age, Maureen attended Skidmore College to study art. After an early career in art education, Maureen’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to create a design company specializing in hand-painted silk fabrics and wearable art, selling both retail, and wholesale to companies including Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. When children arrived and needed more of Mom, her creativity turned toward endeavors more easily managed from home, including writing children’s books and designing barn houses.
Maureen returned to painting full time once the last of her three children left for college. At first, it was her love of oil on canvas, creating stunning scenes of waterscapes, trees, flowers, boats, birds and children playing on the beach. Always in search of reinventing her artistic passion, she became fascinated with encaustic painting, where she used heated beeswax and colored pigments to bring her creativity to life. Her paintings earned her several national and local awards. With art studios in Atlanta, Cape Cod and Sanibel, her work was offered through the prestigious Huff Harrington Gallery in Atlanta and curated on her website, MaureenNaughton.com.
Apart from her professional accomplishments, Maureen’s artistic talents were boundless. She moved and restored an antique house, designed unique stone and wooden sculptures, and kept her family surrounded in ever-changing floral creations and gardens. Growing up, her children and the neighborhood kids would delight at the infinite art projects undertaken in the magical setting of her studio, complete with puppets and antique carousel horses. Family travel has been chronicled in her artistic scrapbooks capturing wonders of the world through her children’s eyes. For Maureen, art made life beautiful, and she was forever grateful to be blessed with this passion.
Maureen was also the glue of both her extended family groups the Fernandez and Naughton clans. Every year she would organize getaways to wondrous places like Lake George, Vermont, and Cape Cod, where grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and children would gather for a week of nonstop outdoor adventures and family bonding. She loved watching all the young cousins grow up, and how over the years, they learned to draw strength and support from each other. Her commitment to maintaining a closely-knit extended family was her signature gift, and for that, the family she leaves behind is eternally grateful.
Throughout Maureen’s life, she found travel to be the most inspiring form of personal growth and development. She was intrigued by alternative cultures, world views, music and religions which awakened her to see the world as a whole. After the death of her daughter, she and Frank established Keenan’s Kids, a charity devoted to providing food and nutrition to indigent children throughout the world. She also devoted herself to The MoonCatcher Project, a nonprofit organization with the mission of optimizing girls’ lives worldwide by removing barriers related to menstruation.
Beyond family, Maureen considered strong friendships to be a building block of her life. She valued every one of her friends, and had the unique ability to recognize when any one of them needed her strength and support, and would always be there, no matter what. She just had a way of being able to walk into your soul, and make you feel safe. She was the very best of humanity.
Her family will cherish the memory of her gentle nature, her kindness and patience, her love of family and friends, her morning kayaks, her nature walks, the twinkle in her eye, her quick wit and wonderful sense of humor, that amazing spontaneous smile and laugh, and of course, her chocolate-butterscotch-coconut Rene bars.
A celebration of Maureen’s life will be held on a date and location to be announced, pending the pandemic. In the interim, a virtual I Love You Wall will be created, sharing family and friends’ messages of love and endearment. In lieu of flowers, donations in Maureen’s memory may be made at either MoonCatcher.org or at KeenansKids.org.