Maria Erlinda (Ging) Fernandez died peacefully in her home surrounded by family on July 17, 2021 in Chapel Hill, NC due to complications following a stroke and lung cancer. She was 75.
Ging was born on February 15, 1946 in Cebu City, Philippines to her parents, Venancio Fernandez and Maria Consuelo Lozada Fernandez. She was raised in a rural community along with her six siblings. She grew up with a love for books, a love for learning, and a love for sharing both. These loves were the foundation for a life dedicated to the service of others.
Growing up, she would often bike to the library, taking her siblings with her even when many had to ride dangerously on the same bike. Later in life, she was known for taking her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to the bookstore to buy every book they wished.
Her love for learning was apparent throughout her career. Ging graduated from the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City with degrees in English and Psychology (BA) and in Anthropology (MA). After eighteen years as faculty member at USC she completed her Doctorate of Public Health in 1990 and four years of post-doctoral research at UNC Chapel Hill.
As the eldest of seven siblings, Ging supported her brothers and sisters through their education after their father’s untimely death. She continued this tradition, supporting the education of her children, various nieces and nephews, and others. An admired faculty member of USC, Ging inspired excellence and commitment to public service in thousands of students.
All her careers demonstrated a life dedicated to others. From her work as a community organizer during a tumultuous time in the Philippines to her work in public health, she worked to use knowledge to improve public service.
While at USC, she worked with a network of community organizers and residents in marginalized urban neighborhoods to win fair housing, access to credit, city services, and labor rights. She strived to gain support and resources from local governments, Filipino foundations, international aid agencies, and the Catholic Church, training her colleagues to demonstrate positive results with hard data.
During twenty years with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources, and upon her retirement, for seven years as a consultant, Ging worked tirelessly to assist nonprofit agencies across the State to improve services and secure needed resources. Ging was a respected friend and colleague both in North Carolina and nationally for her excellence in grant writing, program evaluation and planning in support of services for mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse prevention and recovery. She emphasized system improvement through evidence based practice. One of many important contributions was the integration of behavioral health services with primary care.
Devoted mother, aunt and grandmother, she has served throughout her life as friend, mentor and inspiration to all of the members of her extended families on both sides of the Pacific.
Ging is survived by her husband of 36 years, James Bateson, of Chapel Hill; their daughter, Michelle Lown of Cary, NC; their son and daughter-in-law, Emmanuel and Jarmie Bateson of Cebu City, Philippines; their daughter, Rosalie Bateson, of Chapel Hill; her brothers and sisters-in-law, Francisco and Teresa Fernandez, Raymund and Estela Fernandez, and Vicente and Grace Fernandez; sister and brother-in-law Teresa and Jack Jaca, all of Cebu City, Philippines, sister Margarita Fernandez of Oxnard, CA; sister-in-law Rhodelia Fernandez of Marion, IL; her husband’s siblings and their families; numerous nieces and nephews; and three grandchildren, Brannon Lown, Samantha Lown, and Alessandra Bateson. She is preceded in death by her brother, Dr. Jose Gerardo Fernandez.
Ging will be buried in a private ceremony in her home town of Dumanjug, Cebu Province, Philippines once travel restrictions allow. An afternoon funeral mass will take place during the week of August 2nd at UNC Chapel Hill Newman Catholic Student Center. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Ging’s' life.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday August 6, 2021 at the Newman Catholic Student Center, 218 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, NC.
Her family members request that, in lieu of flowers, friends please consider a donation in Ging’s honor to Freedom House Recovery Center. Information about this organization, and instructions for donating in memorial can be found here: