Ferne Hyman
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Ferne Beverly Hyman was a pioneer resident volunteer at The Brookwood Community, a wife of 65 years, mother of three, grandmother of nine, and reference librarian at Rice University for 35 years. She lived a full and rich life and died on June 26, 2011, surrounded by her beloved family, at her home in the community of the special citizens she adored.
Ferne was born in August 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the oldest daughter of William J. and Lillian Handelsman and sister of Lucille. She graduated from high school in Los Angeles and began college at the University of California at Los Angeles where, in 1945, she met Harold M. Hyman, a Marine returning from the Pacific theater. Their courtship was strongly supported by her parents' love for Harold and her mother's determination to feed him (and every other Jewish soldier returning from the war). Ferne and Harold married in 1946 and continued their education. Ferne interrupted her schooling so that Harold could obtain his doctorate at Columbia University, and they began their academic lives together. She obtained her degree at UCLA and a master's degree in history at Loyola University in Los Angeles while Harold was on the UCLA faculty. She obtained her master's degree in library science at the University of Illinois while he was on the faculty there and began her career as a university reference librarian. She did all this while having and raising their three children, Lee, Ann, and Bill.
After teaching and working at different universities around the country during summers and academic visits, the family came to Houston in 1968. Ferne became the reference librarian at Rice University. She retired from Rice after three decades of service to the Fondren Library. Ferne made the Hyman home a welcoming place for undergraduate and graduate students at every college and university where she and Harold worked. Her colleagues at Rice knew her as devoted and highly professional, generous and hard-working in serving the students, faculty, and members of the public who sought her help. She was the face of Fondren Library to many students and faculty. Ferne was active in national professional organizations and a recognized contributor to the field of library science.
Ferne adored her children and grandchildren and was close to each of them. She kept up with the details of their daily lives and accomplishments and gave them sympathy and support when they needed it most. She did everything she could to help her children when they had children. And when her granddaughter Rebecca's special needs became clear, Ferne reoriented her life to make Rebecca's needs her own. Rebecca renamed her grandmother with the word her grandmother called her. Ferne became not only "Grandma" but "Sweetheart." In 2007, after Rebecca had become a citizen of The Brookwood Community for adults with functional disabilities, Ferne and Harold left their retirement in Houston to become resident volunteers on the beautiful campus in Brookshire. For the past four years, they have served Brookwood as the Community's "Grandma" and "Grandpa." Ferne worked in the café, in the office, and with visitors and touring groups. She did not talk about service. She simply served.
Ferne is survived by her husband, Harold; her daughter, Judge Lee Rosenthal, and her husband, Gary, in Houston; her daughter, Ann Root, and her husband, Dr. Jim Root, in Austin; her son, Dr. William J. Hyman, in Tyler; and her grandchildren, Joshua Root and his wife, Brittany, Eric Root, Rebecca Rosenthal, 2nd Lt. Hannah Rosenthal, Jessica Rosenthal, Rachel Rosenthal, Daniel Hyman, Sarah Hyman, and Andrea Hyman.
There will be a memorial service at The Brookwood Community on August 21, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers or customary remembrances, the family requests donations in Ferne's name to The Brookwood Community, 1752 FM 1489, Brookshire, Tx 77423.


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Published in Houston Chronicle from Jul. 3 to Jul. 6, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
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18 entries
July 14, 2011
Ferne "mothered" me: smoothed over my mistakes, calmed my concerns, and nurturing my self-esteem and careers - for the late 1980s until 2011. Words fail.
Patricia Bell
July 13, 2011
May God bless you in this time of sorrow. I know she will be greatly missed.
June Canulla
July 12, 2011
She was the Magic Reference Librarian, who could tell you where to find anything. She was so good at turning lost and hopeless students into empowered hopeful students with a big stack of books.
Karla Painter Burns
July 12, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort. I greatly admired Mrs Hyman's obvious love and devotion to her children and grandchildren.
Bert Rixner
July 6, 2011
I am indebted to Ferne and Harold for all the advice and more importantly all the listening they pointed my way. I owe both for the inspiration to do one thing in my life I had put on hold; finish my degree. How could I not go back and finish it and earn the diploma even at age 51 with them as examples and mentors. Regardless of any and all of the the personal achievements I hold or might in the future that accomplishment is in the highest position and makes all others possible and its thanks to them that I have that degree to crown my list of accomplishments. Thank you both!

Thank you Ferne! Thank you Harold (The Congressman)!
God bless you and always keep you in his grace! John F. Hinman
John Hinman
July 6, 2011
Mrs. Hyman was a very special person for all of us at Rice. I was a student and employee there for over 20 years (between 1985 and 2007) and always appreciated her kindness and sincerity. I will always remember her as one of the best in the Rice community.
Eric Heineman
July 6, 2011
Auntie Ferne was the most amazing Aunt in the world. She has been there for me and my sister for the best and the worst times of our lives. I miss you so much,,,, You will always be in my heart..
Wendy Wintrob
July 5, 2011
Ferne...whom I met 4.5 years ago at Brookwood, became a dear friend of mine over those years, we had a connection immediately and I am so grateful to have known her. She was a wonderfully kind women and I am so proud to have known her. Ferne & Harold were definetly a perfect match..57 years to share with one another, raising three wonderful childern and grandchildern who are their pride and joy. I will remember Ferne as one of the most wonderful ladies I have had the pleasure of knowning. I Love Ferne and Harold...

Connie
Connie Stalter
July 4, 2011
ms ferne was an inspiration to all of us at brookwood. her memory will live on in all of us as we continue the mission so dear to her heart.
nancy urbish
July 3, 2011
What an amazing and incredible woman Ferne was. I am so blessed and so thankful that her life and mine became intertwined while she was at Brookwood. I have never met a woman with more class, charm, grace and elegance than Ferne Hyman. Thank you for sharing this amazing woman with me. My sympathy and prayers are with you all! Love Heather & BIll Hartt and family
Heather Hartt
July 3, 2011
Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. Our thoughts & prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
Cathy & Soman Chacko
July 3, 2011
Bill, I was inspired reading your Mother's obituary - she was a remarkable woman who gave to others all of her life! Paul and I send our love and sympathy to you and your family.
Janie and Paul Menegay
July 3, 2011
Ernie and I are so sorry for your loss. Ernie has lost a parent to cancer and u know my mom's story. She is still fighting the battle. Would love to see you soon. Stay strong
Ernie & Jeri Negem
July 3, 2011
Auntie Ferne was such an important part of our lives. She was like a mother to Leslye, Wendy and me after we lost our Mom (her sister) so many years ago. She was always there to offer advice, and to comfort us and help us when we needed it. I wish we all could have spent more time with her, but we will cherish our memories of her with great fondness. As a family, I know that our bonds will never be broken.
Frankie Gottlieb
July 3, 2011
I am so sorry to hear about your mom but do understand the relief one feels when a loved one suffers from cancer and finally loses the battle. Julie (my sister) went through a horrible ordeal and when she passed the sadness was great but we were so relieved that she wasn't suffering any more. Our prayers are with you and your family at this time.
Maria Garza-Lozano
July 3, 2011
Bill we are so sorry for your loss! Our prayers are with you and your family.
David & Sophie Pierce
July 3, 2011
My fond memories of Ferne go back to 1968, when I first went to work at Fondren. She welcomed me and took me under her wing, as I'm sure she did countless other young people through the years. My sympathies to the family.
Marie Brannon
July 3, 2011
My profound sympathy. Ferne was an inspiration and resourceful in helping graduate students in their research.
Nicholas Malavis
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