Kerri Elizabeth Fernley

Kerri Elizabeth Fernley

Loving, compassionate, kind, strong-willed, humanitarian, environmentalist

“A consistent theme in Kerri’s life from her early years to her final day was her deep love for her family,” her mother, Lisa, said. She loved from the depths of her soul. Kerri enjoyed the beach, hiking, yoga, and fighting for just about any cause. She was empathetic but could also hold a grudge like no other. When she got mad, her mom would say, “You get more bees with honey,” to which Kerri would respond, “Yes, mom, but a fly swatter works better!”

As a child, Kerri was fiercely independent and determined to do everything by herself. She observed her mom teaching her preschool class and soon mimicked her and tried to take over! She worked at the daycare during high school and into college, where she graduated in forensic psychology with a 4.0. After college, she worked in group homes with special needs adults and children on the autism spectrum. She was planning to return to school to get her master’s degree.

Kerri was best friends with her younger brother, Kevin. They were inseparable much of their lives. “One of Kerri’s biggest fears was that Kevin would never know how much Kerri loved him and how much she never meant to leave him,” her mom said. Kerri told her mom to make sure Kevin knew this if something happened to her. Kerri had another brother, DJ, who died a few years prior to her birth. Though she never met him, Kerri made sure he was remembered each year on his birthday.

Kerri was artistic, loved to act, and was a gifted writer. She touched a lot of lives, as evidenced by the many people who related personal stories at her memorial service. She wanted to write about addiction and mental health issues to share her experience and benefit others. Nine days prior to Kerri’s death, she came with her stepsister to visit her mom and stepdad. They went to Universal Studios, reconnected with her grandparents, and made a lot of memories. “We laughed, talked, cried, and sang songs in the car at the top of our lungs,” her mom stated. ‘I felt I had my little girl back. She looked and sounded so good; I was proud of the progress she made.’ It was a wonderful change from Kerri feeling shame and like she was a burden to her loved ones. Her family is forever grateful for that time together.

Lisa is using her experience as an educator to raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders. Despite Kerri “knowing better” and being told “don’t do drugs,” addiction can happen to anyone, drugs do not discriminate. At her memorial service, Lisa shared the last message from Kerri to the world: “Maybe the innocence of childhood is nothing more than the ignorance of life. As we get older, the events that have occurred in one’s life put life itself into a new perspective.”

Lisa said, “Losing Kerri not only changed my life but who I am, she took an enormous piece of me with her. She also taught me to appreciate every moment and to take a stand. I will make sure her life and death are not in vain, her voice will be heard.”

Kerri’s mother, Lisa Bolton, provided the information for this narrative.

August 14, 1992-January 25, 2019

Age 26–Lived with the disease of addiction five years

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