Descendant of renowned TGI editor is White House speechwriter

Charlene “Charlie” Fern is the grand-niece of Charlie Fern the late long-time editor/publisher of The Garden Island.

Building upon a career in journalism that included a stint with as a reporter with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Charlene Fern is now the official speechwriter for First Lady Laura Bush, and has an office within the White House.

Paul Fern, Charlene’s brother, visited The Garden Island last summer. He’s a dentist with a practice in Colorado and was attending a dental convention in Honolulu. He missed by about a month attending the 100th anniversary gathering The Garden Island sponsored in May. At the time, a search for descendants of Charlie Fern came up blank. During his visit Paul said his sister, Charlene, had followed in the footsteps of her great uncle and had pursued a career in journalism. He left behind a White House business card which provided his sister’s contact information.

A call to the White House brought a cheerful response from Charlene. She told of receiving letters from her great-uncle as a young girl that encouraged her to become a journalist, and put her on the path for working for the most famous couple in the United States.

A search of the White House’s Web site showed a long list of speeches by Mrs. Bush that were probably mostly written by Charlene. She also on occasion writes for President Bush.

Through the connection with Paul and Charlene, their father Albert “Al” Fern was also contacted through e-mail. Al is the son of Charlie Fern’s brother Albert. Charlie Fern arrived on Kaua’i for the first time in the late 1910s as an Army aviator, and was renowned for piloting the first airplane flight from O’ahu to Kaua’i, landing on the grounds of the old Waipouli Race Track. His brother Albert was also an early military aviator.

Al, who served as a career Army officer, told of visiting Kaua’i during a break from duty in Vietnam. He said his uncle arranged a helicopter tour of Kaua’i piloted by Jack Harter. He added that the Fern family is proud of the mark Charlie Fern made on Kaua’i in his decades with The Garden Island.

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