Teresa Carol Whitehurst, PhD
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.