In Memory Of
Teresa Carol Whitehurst, PhD
December 9, 1954 - August 4, 2020
Virtual Memorial Service
Teresa Carol Whitehurst, born on December 9, 1954 in Portsmouth, Virginia passed away in Berlin, New Hampshire on August 4, 2020. The eldest child of parents Ouida (Alford) Whitehurst and Floyd Thomas (Tom) Whitehurst, she is survived by her younger brother, David Whitehurst and his wife Bonnie Whitehurst, daughter Sascha Demerjian and her husband Peter Demerjian, daughter Isadora Pennington and her husband Matthew McDaniel, as well as three grandchildren, Luca Demerjian (15), Rilo Demerjian (10), and Delilah McDaniel (3 months).
Teresa’s parents loved her immensely and were always there for her, their Portsmouth home acting as a home base throughout Teresa’s life until their passing in the mid 2000s. Spending holidays, summers, and periods of time residing in the family home was a source of great comfort to Teresa and her daughters. Ouida, known to the grandkids as Granny, was a science teacher at a local high school and Tom, known to his family as Daddy Tom, worked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The family remained an active part of the local Nazarene church and owned a small cabin at the Nazarene campgrounds in Dillwyn, Virginia, where they spent many happy days.
From a young age, Teresa was precocious, intelligent, and had a great sense of humor. She met her first husband, Crit Caudill, at the church camp in Dillwyn when she was a teenager and by 17 they had married. He joined the military and together they moved to Germany where they shared once-in-a-lifetime experiences as newlyweds abroad. Subsequently they returned to Virginia and had their first child, Sascha, while earning their bachelor’s degrees at Old Dominion University. After some years the relationship ended. At that point, Teresa went back to school to get a Master’s degree before moving with her seven year old daughter to Charlotte, NC for work. One year later, she and Sascha relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and Teresa entered the doctoral program in Psychology at Vanderbilt University.
During a theater class in Nashville, Teresa met her second husband Daniel Pennington. The two married in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles for one year for an internship before returning to Nashville prior to the birth of their daughter Isadora in 1987. For some years the family of four enjoyed happy times in Nashville, Portsmouth, and Belmont, Massachusetts. During the early 90s she opened her first private practice in Belmont Center. She also wrote her first book, The Practical Therapist, which was published in 1996.
The family moved again to Nashville and in the mid 90s, where she launched a private practice and appeared in segments on the local Nashville news station, taking calls and offering guidance to those seeking counseling on air. Teresa’s second and last marriage came to an end in 1996 prompting her to return to her family home in Portsmouth. Shortly thereafter she returned to Belmont and nearby Cambridge as a single mother with daughter Isadora in tow. During this time Sascha spent summers and holidays at home to help in the transition and briefly the three lived together in Belmont.
While in Boston Teresa found employment at McLean Hospital and then at Harvard University, an institution that she deeply loved and where she felt valued and at home. She enjoyed going out dancing, had an active circle of friends, and cultivated meaningful relationships with other intellectuals from all around the globe. In the early 2000s Teresa returned to Portsmouth with Isadora, living once again in her childhood home. During this time she wrote her second book, How Would Jesus Raise A Child, and started actively writing for religious websites and her own personal blog on topics of ethics, religion, and politics. Later Teresa and Isadora moved back to Nashville for two years before Teresa’s parents’ health began to fail and they returned to help care for them.
When Isadora left for college in 2005, and following the loss of her parents in 2005 and 2009, Teresa relocated to Boston and later to Atlanta where Isadora and Sascha were then living. She found work as a neuropsych evaluator at Kaiser Permanente where she helped patients with debilitating injuries get the treatment they needed. Those years in Atlanta were some of the happiest times for Teresa who got to know Sascha’s children, often babysitting and attending special events and spending time with Isadora, bonding over shared interests such as Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Teresa was a fiery, spunky person who loved fiercely and was very outspoken. She taught her daughters to stand up for themselves and others, encouraged their education, and pushed them to achieve their dreams. Her inclination to travel led to many road trips across the country and she was an avid camper, staying at campsites hundreds of times during her life. She loved dramas and some of her favorite films included Evita, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail, and Moulin Rouge, which she would watch on repeat. Teresa also exhibited an affinity for British television shows such as Jeeves and Wooster, Miss Marple, Dark Towers, and All Creatures Great and Small. She was an avid reader and had a large collection of books that she carried with her throughout her life, instilling a lasting love for reading in her children.
In the last decade Teresa lived a more nomadic life, residing in different locations up and down the east coast, staying with friends and making new ones, before she found herself once again in Cambridge where she met friend Bob Paradise. In her last years, Bob provided a source of comfort and stability to Teresa and together the two traveled together, sharing happy times and coping with Teresa’s declining health due to issues with substance abuse and addiction. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Bob and Teresa relocated to Berlin, New Hampshire, and in her last weeks the two went out to dinner, had nice conversations, and Teresa got her hair done which she enjoyed very much. Her death was sudden but painless, and we hope that her spirit is now reunited with her parents in the afterlife, we know that their bond will last far beyond their earthly days. Teresa’s love for her children lives on in their relationships with their own children, and we know that she would be proud to see their successes.
Bastian: “Why is it so dark?”
Empress Moonchild: “In the beginning it is always dark.”
– Neverending Story
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
"The other night dear, as I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms.
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken,
So I hung my head down and cried."
– "You Are My Sunshine" (1940)
“She died while my 10 year old daughter and I walked through Thatcher woods. We marveled at the sunlight and bright green growth emerging through the mud and how beauty can show up in such different ways. I took pictures of so many broken things. Broken things giving way to new life. Broken things beautiful in their brokenness. Broken things dangerous in their brokenness. Broken things that still live. Broken things that have died. My mother died and I didn't say goodbye.”
– Sascha Caudill Whitehurst Demerjian
“I don't think I have ever met a person who had such empathy for people who suffer, especially those whose suffering is caused or aggravated by the policies and actions of those who profess religion and abuse its scriptures. Teresa was physically affected by the suffering of people whom she did not know personally and who lived thousands of miles away. She excelled at cutting through layers of Christian hypocrisy to arrive at the essence of Jesus' message as one of genuine love for the people he came to save, meaning absolutely everyone. Even through her declining months and years of substance abuse, I think Teresa always remained a person of love, or one who saw a life of love as a compelling ideal, even when her physical condition prevented her from fully implementing it. That is how I wish to remember her.”
– Leonard Maluf
“Teresa was my first therapist. I had a young daughter and was struggling in my life. Her compassion and wisdom helped see me through some difficult years. I was grateful to know her.”
– Nancy Lee Mauger
“My sister was always trying to solve problems and correct injustices she perceived as being ignored. She helped me in some awkward times I had growing up and she was definitely someone who would fight for you if she felt you were being wronged. We were different siblings and saw some things differently, but we had the same sense of humor, and to the end we could make each other laugh. We both loved John 3:16 & 17. She is with the Lord now and I look forward to seeing her again one day.”
– David Whitehurst
“Today I recalled such a thing my mother did beautifully right. When I was 8 or so, my mother took our book of fairy tales and switched all the gendered characters. Instead of Beauty and the Beast, it read Handsome and the Beast. The idea of that story being about a handsome, sweet prince helping a grotesque and difficult woman is substantially different from the classic. She gave me the gift of these new stories and the gift of seeing the crack in these norms that serve to shape us all.”
– October 2012 blog post by Sascha Caudill Whitehurst Demerjian
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Music & Video Gallery
The gallery below is a tribute to Teresa from her family and friends.
The gallery below is a tribute to Teresa Carol Whitehurst from her family and friends.
In lieu of flowers
Charities for Teresa Carol Whitehurst @ NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) https://www.nami.org/Home
NAMI started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 and has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. They are now an alliance of more than 600 local affiliates who work to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.
“What mental health needs are more sunlight, more candor, the more unashamed conversation about illnesses that affect not only individuals but their families as well.” Glenn Close