October 14, 1928 - August 28, 2013
Dr. McCay Vernon, an iconic figure in the fields of deafness and psychology, passed from life on August 28, 2013 at age 84. His exploration of the psychological aspects of deafness, his challenges to poor educational and mental health services for people who are deaf, and his advocacy of legal rights for people who are deaf extended throughout his nearly 60-year career in those fields. His lasting legacy includes the many former students and colleagues now serving in the fields of deafness and psychology. Dr. Vernon was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. to Colonel Percy Vernon and Teresa Preble Vernon. Upon his father’s death, the family moved to St. Augustine where he attended Ketterlinus High School. He entered the Army at age 17 and served with military intelligence in Korea. Upon his discharge, he obtained his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and later earned Master’s degrees from Gallaudet University and Florida State University. He completed his doctoral work in Psychology at Claremont Graduate University in California. Vernon was author of five books in the field of deafness, over 250 journal articles, and an award-winning public television documentary, “They Grow in Silence.” After serving in a number of schools for the deaf, he became head of a research project on deafness at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Later he was instrumental in establishing a graduate program at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) to prepare professionals to work with individuals who are deaf. He was active in the field of deaf/blindness and served on the board of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In more recent times he focused on his forensic practice in which he became a strong advocate for justice and legal rights for people who are deaf. He was always a strong advocate for the use of sign language. Among the many awards Vernon received during his career were The American Psychological Association Award for “Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest,” the Medal of Honor from the British Association of the Deaf, the Declaration of Merit from the World Federation of the Deaf, and the American Psychiatric Association Award for “Career Contributions to Mental Health and Deafness.” He received Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Gallaudet University and McDaniel College. Vernon was predeceased by his first wife, Edith Goldston Vernon, who was deaf and played a vital role in his career. Through her, he gained critical insights into the needs of people who are deaf. With his second wife, the former Marie vonGunten, he co-authored two books on serial killers, one of whom was deaf. Dr. Vernon is survived by his wife, Marie; his daughter, Eve Vernon Peters and son-in-law Brian Peters, of Riverton, New Jersey; brother, Col. (ret.) Graham Vernon of Carlisle, Pennsylvania; sister, Terese Vernon Douglass (Dexter) of Tallahassee; and stepchildren Dr. Jean Aims (Clifford) of Smithfield, Virginia, Hollace Feist (Rodney) of St. Augustine, Florida, Wade Wisner (Lucy) of Dandridge, Tennessee, Roger Wisner of Long Beach, California, Dr. Priscilla Wisner (Joe) of Knoxville, Tennessee and Patricia Miller (Cameron) of Reisterstown, Maryland. His family wishes to thank the staff of the Northeast Florida Community Hospice and the Bailey Center for Caring in St. Augustine for their many kindnesses during Dr. Vernon’s final illness. No memorial service is planned at this time. Those wishing to make a memorial donation may contribute to the Dr. McCay Vernon Fund for Support of Deaf Education, McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster, MD 21157.
Dr. McCay Vernon, an iconic figure in the fields of deafness and psychology, passed from life on August 28, 2013 at age 84. His exploration of the psychological aspects of deafness, his challenges to poor educational and mental health services... View Obituary & Service Information
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