Descendants of Captain Arthur Fenner
Richard Gary Fenner & Gerri Emmons
[b 18 October 1953 in Pensacola, FL] As a child of a career Navy officer, Richard and his siblings lived in several places—Pensacola, FL; Brunswick, GA; Lakehurst, NJ; Jacksonville, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Marietta, GA—before settling in the Kalamazoo, MI area. Richard is a graduate of Portage Central High School and Ferris State University. Richard m Gerri Lee Emmons [b 18 Apr. 1954 in Kalamazoo, MI], daughter of Robert Emmons [1923-1982] and Geraldine Gibbs [1929-1962], on 19 Aug. 1979 in Crane Park, Kalamazoo, MI.
Gerri is a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo. Gerri graduated from Kalamazoo Central the same year that it was ordered to be desegregated, in 1972. She experienced the tension of separate social circles based on race, and the lack of communication between the two groups. She also experienced inequalities between genders. Girls were not allowed to play sports; they mostly took homemaking, nursing, or secretarial courses. When Gerri graduated from high school, she considered herself to be a feminist. After raising two boys, Gerri spent most of her career in the service industry, especially with the Kalamazoo Country Club.
Early in his childhood, Richard showed strong mechanical ability and was skilled in wood craftsmanship. At the age of fourteen, he was hired to remodel the interior of a pet store in Atlanta, GA, and in tenth grade he constructed a sixteen-foot sail boat. He also began designing and building off-road race cars in his teenage years. He loved drag racing, quarter-mile dirt track racing, and off-road racing. He once struck a tree in an off-road race, which prevented him from careening down a large ravine, and walked away without a scratch. He remembers the incident as the first time that he felt he had been spared for a greater purpose. The first experimental drive-thru window in the city of Kalamazoo was built by Richard at a downtown Burger King.
When he was twenty-four, he became a Christian; he was ordained to preach in 1983 at First Baptist Church of Portage, MI. He was integral in establishing Alpha & Omega Ministries in downtown Kalamazoo. His longest tenure as a pastor was at Glendale Baptist Church in Paw Paw, Michigan, where he served from 1989 to 2007. In addition to pastoring, Richard had an extensive tent revival ministry during the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1998, Richard was involved in his first international mission trip with a group of Southern Baptists from Michigan. In the following years, he independently developed relationships with people in several foreign countries, including China, Uganda, India, and Russia. On 5 Aug. 2008, he launched his own network of churches, First Church House of God, in Vijayawada, India.
In contrast to his own itinerant Navy childhood, Richard raised his family in one home in Kalamazoo's Vine neighborhood from 1979 to 2003, then purchased 12 acres of land near Mattawan, MI, dubbed Inspiration Valley.
1. Christopher Jon Fenner [b 28 Feb. 1981 at Kalamazoo, MI].
2. Joshua Robert Fenner [b 20 Apr. 1982 at Kalamazoo, MI] m Elizabeth Lindsay.