Michael Fersen

Michael Fersen (1952 - ?)

Michael was brought up under his mother’s influence, and grew to resent his father’s interest in anything that took him away from home. Protective of his mother, Michael eventually rebelled against his father during his teenage years, becoming more interested in an academic life. He preferred to learn about commerce rather than horses or joinery, and became fascinated by ships and engineering. His college education transformed his life, where he excelled by majoring in economics and captaining the college football team in their best ever season.

It was while at Colgate University that Michael met his future wife, Sarah Curtis.  Two years his junior, he was totally devoted to her. Her bright and vivacious personality also captivated John and Teresa-Louise (Michael’s parents), and she almost succeeded in bringing father and son together again.

They were married in 1973 and their son Edward was born a year later.

In the meantime Michael had bought into a Detroit engineering company that specialised in ship construction, and he persuaded his mother to invest her money and buy further shares. Within two years the Fersens held the controlling stock, and Michael was appointed Chairman of Dolman Marine Engineering, with Teresa-Louise as President and major share-holder. The company changed its name to Fersen Marine, and in 1997 expanded its interests overseas by taking over a smaller company in Glasgow, Scotland.

But while he was successful in business, home life for Michael was not to be easy.  Sarah often found herself excluded from conversations between her husband and his mother, and so naturally she grew closer to her father-in-law. Following his marriage to Sarah, Michael had bought a house in Short Hills, Essex County, New Jersey with the help of his mother. Teresa-Louise also felt it providential to buy an adjoining (larger) plot of land, and so the two families were able to live side by side. In practical terms, they could co-exist for weeks without seeing each other, and sometimes that would happen. But once Edward was at kindergarten, Sarah would usually find herself taking a short walk to her neighbour’s house, and often pass the time of day with John Fersen.

In 1978 Sarah gave birth to a daughter – Christina. The event was almost a surprise, as she had not realised she was pregnant until the fourth month. It soon became clear that the pregnancy itself was a surprise to Michael too, who had decided he did not want any further children after Edward, and took his own precautions to prevent such an accident by having a vasectomy in 1976.  So who was the father?

John Fersen had never lost his charm with the female sex, and it appeared that what started out as supportive friendship had developed out of control. The Fersen family faced a huge dilemma, and the relationship between father and son broke down irretrievably. Abortion was considered but immediately rejected as Sarah was too far gone, and the eventual course of action was that, to the public eye, Michael would accept the child as his own, and that Christina must never know the true circumstances behind her birth. John would still be a grandfather to the little girl, and she could live with her grandparents at any time.

In practice, Sarah found herself isolated by everyone after her daughter was born.  Michael found more excuses to work away from home, Edward was at elementary school, and Christina was often with John and Teresa-Louise. In 1980 she drove off by herself and was killed in a car crash on the nearby Interstate 78. Although the official verdict was that she had died in an accident, Michael Fersen was convinced his young wife had committed suicide, and was inconsolable.

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