- Alfred Fengler
On February 9, Alfred (Fred) Fengler left this earth for his next adventure — an adventure he was intrigued by and had extensively researched and taught courses in: “Is there life after death?” He believed strongly that there is and that the experience is more beautiful and loving than can be described in words.
Almost two years ago, Fred was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Through months of treatment, he remained strong in spirit and determined to live life to the fullest. He continued to garden (and grew the most delicious tomatoes), kayak (54 times this past summer!) and work on his numerous research projects, including completing a novel coauthored with his son.
Fred was born in the Bronx, N.Y., to Wilhelm and Florence Fengler. When he was age 2, they moved to Berkley Heights, N.J. Growing up, Fred shared a love of baseball with his father and became an avid Yankees fan. This past September, it was a major highlight for him to visit Baltimore, Md., to see the Yankees beat the Orioles.
Fred graduated from Colgate University with a degree in sociology and obtained his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin. His interests at that time were in gerontology, marriage and family, and he began teaching those subjects at the University of Vermont in 1975. Shortly after, Fred became a proud father of twin boys, lovingly sharing full duties in their upbringing with his first wife, Christie. Fred prioritized his family and was a wonderful father and role model to Paul and Carl throughout his life.
In 1981, Sally Conrad, then director of RSVP, asked Fred for help in developing intake forms for home-sharing applicants for a new program she was starting called Project Home, now HomeShare Vermont. Fred and his colleague, Nick Danigelis, performed evaluation services for Project Home for over 10 years. In 1991, Columbia University Press published their book, No Place Like Home: Intergenerational Homesharing Through Social Exchange.
In 1986, after reading Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, Fred found his interests moving in a new direction. He was fascinated as he began to learn about reincarnation, after-death communications, Atlantis and the possibility of life beyond our planet. His curiosity and research in these areas led him to teach courses on these subjects, which included “Are We Alone in the Universe?" "Science and Spirituality," and After Death Communications. Fred loved teaching, whether it was in a classroom setting or a one-to-one conversation with a new acquaintance or a longtime friend. He would present differing viewpoints and encourage others to question their beliefs and consider other possibilities.
When he retired from UVM in 2003, the plaque he received best describes his impact on others; “You touched the lives of thousands of students and invited them to discover, explore and understand their own experiences in ways that transcend the traditional academic experience.”
Fred’s growing interests led him and his close friend Todd Varnum to lead and co-participate in a group of 40 diverse, unconnected individuals who shared the same fascination with the question “What happens if we assume we can create the lives we want?" This project led to their coauthorship of two books, Manifesting Your Heart’s Desire and Opening to Your Higher Self.
It was through his books that Fred and Kandace Benedini met, and both knew soon after that they were meant to be life partners. They shared a life of love, laughter, support and extensive travel throughout the world. On this last “journey” together, they faced each challenge with strength and deep gratitude for the support of family, friends and the many health care providers who guided them along the way.
Left to cherish Fred’s memory are his wife, Kandace; his sons Paul (Arlington, Va.) and Carl (Brooklyn, N.Y.), of whom he was so proud; and his beloved dog, Ginger.
Rather than mourn Fred's passing in the dark, cold months of winter, there will be a celebration of his life this summer, Fred's favorite time of year.
Arrangements are in the care of the Cremation Society of Chittenden County, a division of the Ready Funeral Home. To send online condolences, please visit cremationsocietycc.com. Donations in Fred’s memory may be made to Franklin County Animal Rescue, 30 Sunset Meadows, St. Albans, VT or the VNA of Chittenden County, 1110 Prim Rd., Colchester, VT.