School 09

Henry III and Sharon Fordham

July 18, 2021

Obituary

HENRY J. FORDHAM, III & SHARON E. (WRIGHT) FORDHAM
Henry Joseph Fordham III, known affectionately
as “Butch” to family and friends, was born to parents
Henry Joseph Fordham II and Geneva Duncan on
August 27, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He
graduated from Oakwood Academy in 1961 and was
voted “Most Versatile” in his high school year book.
Henry could play multiple instruments, including the
piano, organ, clarinet, and trumpet, and enjoyed roller
skating, bowling, and other sports. He went on to work
at Monsanto in Dayton, Ohio. Henry was a remarkably
responsible and dependable worker. Sometimes, in the
absence of transportation, he walked 14 miles
to get to work. At the age of 19, Henry married his
first and only love, Sharon Elaine Wright (lovingly
known as “Sherry”) on July 20, 1963. To their union
they added four children: Joseph (Joey), Shawn,
Donovan and Danielle.
By all accounts, Henry and Sharon first met when
they were just seven years old. His father, Henry
J. Fordham II was the Pastor of Berea Chapel, the
little Wright Family church in Germantown, Ohio.
According to Sharon’s brothers—Paul Jr., Tommy, and
Brian—Henry was smitten with Sharon from the start.
She was taller than Henry at that time and she was not
very responsive to his overtures at first. He started to
really pursue her when they were preteens at Allegheny
Campmeeting. Henry was always so attentive –
anticipating her needs and making every effort to meet
them. Over time their affections grew as Henry courted
her, often driving from Philadelphia to Germantown
just to see Sharon. That’s over 550 miles, with
a drive time of about 9 hours.
After answering God’s call to the ministry, Henry
and his family moved to Huntsville, Alabama where he
earned a Theology Degree from Oakwood College in
1973. He later received a Master’s Degree in Theology
from The Ohio State University. While completing
his coursework and awaiting a call into the ministry,
Henry worked various jobs to provide for his family
as they moved to various cities, including working
as a welder, an X-ray technician, and while living
in Philadelphia he worked with the Street Brothers
selling hotdogs in their vending business. In 1974, the
family moved to Pine Forge Academy where Henry was
offered a job as a teacher. In 1976, Luther Palmer, then
president of Allegheny East Conference, extended him
an offer to join the Conference. His first assignment
was the Sharon Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church
in Wilmington, Delaware.
Henry followed God’s call and faithfully pastored
several Adventist Churches, including in successive
order the Emmanuel Brinklow Seventh-day Adventist
Church, Brinklow, MD; Berryville Seventh-day
Adventist Church, Berryville, VA; Berea Temple
Adventist Church, Baltimore, MD. He also served as
an interim pastor for Cedars of Lebanon Seventhday
Adventist Church, Chesapeake VA; Capitol
Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington
DC; Germantown Seventh-day Adventist Church,
Philadelphia, PA; Dupont Park Seventh-day Adventist
Church, Washington, DC; and Trinity Temple
Seventh-day Adventist Church, Newark, NJ. Henry
also evangelized portions of India and several
countries in Africa.
Henry’s ministerial career assumed greater
leadership responsibility in the early 1990s. He was
elected to serve in the Allegheny East Conference
as Director for Ministerial, Personal Ministries, and
Religious Liberty Director. He was elected Executive
Secretary in 2000 and conference President in 2012, a
position he held until his death. Henry’s selfless service
in the cause of God spanned more than 45 years.
Sharon, “Sherry” to those who knew her best, was
born to parents Paul LaMar Wright and Bessie Louise
Pitts Wright on November 4, 1943 in Dayton, Ohio.
She graduated from Germantown High School and
6 CELEBRATION OF LIFE
married the love of her life, Henry Fordham, at the
age of 19, in a simple wedding ceremony in which her
brother Tommy and her cousin Mark Wright were
their only witnesses. Although a simple ceremony,
Sharon often reflected on the special white dress that
her Aunt Rudy loaned her to wear for the wedding.
Aunt Rudy, a member of the famous BlendWrights
singing group, loaned Sharon the white dress that was
used when the trio posed for the cover of one of their
famous albums, “Let Down the Ladder.”
Sharon came from a musical family and she loved
to sing. Sharon had a rich, soulful voice that she
used often to minister in song to others. In her early
years she sang with her cousins in a musical group in
Germantown. She had the opportunity to meet gospelgreat
Mahalia Jackson and the two made an instant
connection. They remained friends for many years and
Sharon’s singing style was influenced by Mahalia.
Sharon was determined to support her husband
in ministry and held various jobs while he attended
college and during his long tenure in ministry. Her
determination was unmatched. Once she worked for
a women’s prison. On the second day of the job, an
incarcerated individual grabbed a hold of her hair
and pulled out a lock of it by the roots. Undeterred,
she showed up again the next day for work. Sharon
would later develop excellent secretarial skills, typing
more than 100 words-per-minute, and easily gained
employment in an effort to support her family while
Henry was in the ministry. She was hired at the Social
Security Administration (SSA) as a secretary and was
eventually promoted to Budget Analyst. She retired
from SSA after 30 years of exemplary service. Sharon
stepped elegantly and thoughtfully into her role as
Henry’s First Lady. She exemplified the values of the
Proverbs 31 virtuous woman: (excerpts)
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days
of her life. 23 Her husband is known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 25
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she
shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her
mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law
of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her
household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her
husband also, and he praiseth her.”
Sharon encouraged other Pastors’ wives in Allegheny
East to develop these values as they ministered
alongside their husbands.
Sharon was the Queen of the castle, their home. Her
role expanded as she and Henry took responsibility for
raising Danielle’s children after her untimely passing
in August of 2003. In addition to the mission fields to
which she and Henry traveled across the world, Sharon
knew the importance of shepherding her children and
her children’s children, including Shane, India, Brook,
and Kaleb, thus playing a significant role in raising
their grandchildren.
One cousin shared that it was beautiful to see them
interacting as a team. Sharon would always say how
thankful she was that the Lord gave her Henry, often
saying to others, “He’s a good man.”
Recently their son, Shawn, shared that when he and
his parents were together, sometimes Shawn would
point to his dad and jokingly ask his mom, “Who’s that
guy?” Sharon would answer, “He’s the love of my life.”
Henry and Sharon had been married two days
shy of 58 years.
Henry and Sharon were globally respected and
much beloved. They easily forged friendships through
their gracious compassion. Both, at age 77, passed away
together on July 18, 2021 from smoke inhalation during
a fire that consumed their home in Douglassville,
Pennsylvania.
Henry and Sharon are survived by their three sons:
Henry Joseph Fordham IV and spouse Tamy, and their
children, Kristen Racquel Fordham, Henry Joseph
Fordham V, and Shawn LaMar Fordham II; Shawn
LaMar Fordham and his son Shane Robert Braxton
Fordham; Donovan Troy Duncan Fordham and his
children, Donovan Elijah Michael Fordham and Leila
Danielle Fordham; and Danielle’s children, William
Shane Fordham-Brown, India Indrani Fordham-Brown,
Taylor Brooke Fordham-Brown, and Kaleb Israel
Michael Marshall.
They are also survived by their
HENRY J. FORDHAM III AND SHARON E. (WRIGHT) FORDHAM 7
great-grandchildren: Journey Noelle Jefferson, Elijah
Monroe Fordham-Wilson, and Alaina Danielle Fordham;
Sharon’s siblings Paul LaMar Wright Jr. and spouse
Linda; Thomas Milton Wright, and spouse Sheila; Brian
DeWitt Wright, and spouse Tracy. Sherry’s first cousins,
Saundra Brooks, William Wright Jr., Henry Wright; and
Henry’s first cousins, Audrey Fordham Booker, Walter
Fordham Jr., Marialyce Fordham and Carole Wagner
Matthews. And many other cousins, nieces, and nephews
who will dearly miss their Aunt Sherry and Uncle Butch.
Countless friends, colleagues and constituents from
around the world will also miss them dearly and have
been deeply impacted by their passing.
Henry and Sharon were preceded in death by his
parents, Henry Joseph Fordham II and Geneva Duncan
Fordham; her parents Paul LaMar Wright and Bessie
Louise Pitts Wright; his sisters, Zella Fordham Street
and Kathleen Fordham, and their daughter Danielle
Genene Fordham Brown-Marshall.
If we were to consider Butch and Sherry’s views
of death, and the words with which they comforted
grieving congregants and by which they comforted
themselves following the devastating loss of Danielle—
their “Baby Girl,” these Bible verses surely sustained
their hope:
I Thessalonians 4:13, 16, & 17
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow
not, even as others which have no hope. 16 For the
Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the
trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall
be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever
be with the Lord.
And these:
Isaiah 25: 8 & 9
8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord
God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the
rebuke of His people shall He take away from off
all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. 9 And it
shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have
waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord;
we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice
in His salvation.”
These powerful words from God’s Word gave
them strength for each new day and “bright hope
for tomorrow.”
One day we will sing “Lo, This Is Our God” as we
see Him coming in the clouds. It will be glorious to see
Jesus, and it will give us unspeakable joy to see Henry
and Sharon again.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Henry III and Sharon Fordham, please visit our floral store.


Services

Viewing
Sunday
August 8, 2021

9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Martin's West
6817 Dogwood Road Baltimore, MD 21244
Baltimore, MD 21244

Funeral Service
Sunday
August 8, 2021

10:30 AM
Martin's West
6817 Dogwood Road Baltimore, MD 21244
Baltimore, MD 21244

© 2021 Harris Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy