Born in Morganton, North Carolina, Charles Vernon was the son of Sarah Cole Taylor and James William Vernon, MD. He was the youngest brother of Taylor Vernon, MD, Judge Livingston Vernon, and Isaac Montrose Taylor, MD. Vernon and his brother, Taylor, may have been the only third-generation psychiatrists in North Carolina.
He graduated from McCallie School, in Chattanooga, Tenn. and the University of North Carolina and was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. Receiving his certificate in Medicine at the University of North Carolina, he graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in 1952. His internship and residency training in psychiatry were done at North Carolina Memorial Hospital and he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha, Honorary Medical Fraternity.
For several years, he was on the UNC faculty. He became director of the North Carolina Community Mental Health Services in 1963 and deputy director of the North Carolina Mental Health Region in 1969. He was in private practice in Chapel Hill and Durham before moving to Wilmington in 1968.
Vernon’s Organizational Associations included the North Carolina Psychiatric Association (President 1967), The American College of Psychiatry (Emeritus Charter Fellow), North Carolina Congress of Parents and Teachers (Life Member), the Southern Psychiatric Association and numerous others related to his profession. He was also a member of the Cape Fear Country Club and the Carolina Yacht Club.
His dedication to and success in the field of community mental health at a critical time for the mental health system in the nation earned him the highest award in 1979 that a North Carolina governor makes: entry into The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.
In The Best Doctors in America: Southeast Region, 1996-97, he was listed as “tops in his field” of General Psychiatry, the psychiatrist to which his medical peers would send their own families.
Charles Vernon is survived by his wife Laura Harriss Head Vernon; sons Jim Vernon and Patrick Vernon (Julie Russell) of Chapel Hill, Fox Vernon (Ann Gretter) of Alexandria, Va.; daughters Catharine Vernon of Arlington, Va., and Ellie Vernon Altman (Rich) of Chestertown Md. His grandsons Ben Vernon of Boulder, Colo., and Amos Vernon of New York City, as well as three granddaughters, Allison Vernon of Arlington and Susanna Vernon and Kate Vernon of Chapel Hill. His stepchildren are Will Head of Wrightsville Beach and Laura Head Lambert (John) of Wilmington and New Bern. Step-grandchildren are Alexandra Morse of Wilmington and Lilli Head of Chapel Hill.
Vernon’s ashes will be interred in St. Francis Memorial Garden at St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington and also scattered at Sandy Bottom, his beloved North Carolina mountain retreat. Funeral services were held Saturday, March 16 at St. James with a reception following in the Great Hall.
Dr. Vernon’s favorite charity is NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), 3803 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203.