Marilyn Fernberger – A Woman on Whose Broad Shoulders We Stand
Marilyn Fernberger died on May 2, 2012 at the age of 84. Mrs. Fernberger will always be remembered as one of the earliest, most formidable and most valuable pioneers of the organization.
This heroic woman served on the Board of the Philadelphia Tennis Patrons Association, which was founded in 1952 and is the predecessor organization to Philadelphia Youth Tennis, Inc. which became Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education in 2002. She always cared deeply about providing opportunities for all young people, especially those from families without abundant resources.
Mrs. Fernberger was married to Edward Fernberger, who she met during her college years at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. The Fernbergers, under Mrs. Fernberger’s tenacious leadership, co-chaired the US Pro Indoor Tennis Championships for 25 years. This event, over time, became the best known professional indoor tennis tournament for men in the entire world, attracting the likes of tennis greats Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Pete Sampras. In the beginning years of their professional competition, many of these players would live at the Fernberger’s home during this week long competition. Pivotal to our organization was Mrs. Fernberger’s insistence that a significant portion of the proceeds from the US Pro Indoor Championships be donated each year to cover the lion’s share of the cost of our summer public park tennis programs, called the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) which was co-founded nationally by Arthur Ashe.
Our organization is extremely blessed to have been cared for and stewarded by Mrs. Fernberger and her family. Her younger son, Jim Fernberger, coached for years in the summer NJTL program and now serves as Vice-Chair for Development of our Board of Directors. We have rarely made a major decision or completed any significant piece of work without Jim’s wise counsel and leadership.
For a fuller acknowledgement of Marilyn Fernberger’s contributions to Philadelphia and the local, national, and international tennis communities, please click here to read the following information which was compiled by Mrs. Fernberger’s children.