Charles Cannady, Professor of Psychology, has passed away

By Saybrook University

downloadCharles Cannady
Saybrook University is sad to report the passing of faculty member Charles Cannady, PhD.

He died peacefully Friday morning, surrounded by family and friends, of complications from a long fight with cancer.

A gifted scholar who worked across several schools at Saybrook, Charles was a founding faculty member of our MFT program, a recognized international expert on Sandtray Therapy, and a dedicated healer. He worked with youth in crisis, families in need, and men’s groups – particularly for those with anger management issues. He made a difference in many lives.

“The quality and dedication of Charles’ work and relationships is, perhaps, best exemplified by the long term work he had been doing with the Academy of Counselors Japan,” said Saybrook Provost Dan Sewell. “The Academy sent a group of counselors to our offices in San Francisco every year for a five day workshop. Charles started working with this group in 2007; and, his work with them on Sandtray Therapy was considered a highlight of the workshop. This past year, as I awarded certificates to the students, their expressions of gratitude for the workshop and for Charles’ work was astounding.”

An ordained minister with a Master’s Degree in Theology, specializing in Clinical Pastoral Education, from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Charles was the former President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers in California, and (in addition to his work here) a member of the faculty at Merritt College in Oakland. He earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute.

We will miss his expertise greatly, and his presence even more.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, at Clinton Avenue Baptist Church, 3017 Clinton Ave., Richmond, CA 94804-1499,

We hope you will use this “virtual memorial” to Charles to share memories, best wishes, and support with the rest of the Saybrook community.



What I remember most vividly about Dr. Cannady was the Experiential he facilitated for Semester I students. His gift in that setting was imparting to me the ability to trust my intuitive hunches about the therapy mock-ups we role played. That, to me, is the humanistic educational process in a nutshell. I’m very sad to hear of Charles’ passing and send condolences to his family.

Posted by Michael McCarthy (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 12:35 PM
It was a blessing to know Charles. I will miss his warmth and enthusiasm for life.

Posted by Kathia Laszlo (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 01:27 PM
Although I was not in his program I did sneak up one time and Charles was open enough to allow me a tour of his sand trays. What he was able to teach me in just a few minutes will always stay with me. I know he was a gifted healer and he will be missed.

Posted by Anne Vanderlaan (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 01:38 PM
Charles was a singer. Opera, I believe. My dream is shattered. It was to ask Dr. Cannady to sing some opera or sacred music with me at my graduation, which has been slow in coming. He was my adviser for many years and I felt very comfortable and supported by him. I am also a play therapist so as regards the singing and the sand tray work we were well suited. He took pains to put me in contact with a Californian who could supply me with just the right sand-trays to take back to my homeland. Even though he’s no longer my adviser, as I’m now working on my dissertation, I will greatly miss him. I found him a kind and loving “gentle”man and our advisory meetings were always fun. I am so sorry to hear of his illness and his passing and send my condolences to his family. He was a wonderful, blessed man, and I will always remember and be thankful that he was the one who welcomed me and made me feel “at home” in Saybrook. I’m sure he touched a lot of lives positively, including mine. Thank you so much Charles.
Val Kendall

Posted by Val Kendall (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 03:21 PM
Charles was always wonderfully gentle, sweet and kind, and devoted on a very deep, personal level to his students. How he was who he was is one of his most meaningful lessons to all of us.

Posted by Joel Federman (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 06:44 PM
I worked with Charles for many years as an adviser. His love and presence were always so genuine and warm. He will be missed by many, of this I am sure. Love you Charles.

Posted by Joshua Schwartz (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 10:02 PM
Charles was a legend at Saybrook with those of us who gleaned play therapy and sandplay skills. He was a force of peace in the Bay Area and his gifts will continue to ripple across the globe as we carry on in his name. My sentiments to his family and advisees.E

Posted by JoAnne MacTaggart (not verified) | 06/10/2013 @ 10:48 PM
Chalres leaves us in the quiet, warm and gentle manners in which he conducted his life. As a colleague and friend he was always very supportive, instructive and helpful with the pragmatics of the professional practice of psychology and higher education. It turns out that he had cousin I had known as a graduate student at New York University. Lydia was a principal ballerina with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, lovely, and a cousin to Charles. After a few years of knowing and working with Charles, he came to lunch at my art studio. As I was showing him some paintings and photographs I had taken while living in New York, he saw Lydia’s picture and shrieked in excitement that she was his cousin. I told him the story of our friendship in New York, how I met her, and how she agreed to be a model for the photographs. I asked about her. He was so delighted by the synchronicity, the photographs and the story that I could not resist giving one to him. I was in fact grateful to Charles for explaining how Saybrook and the community college system actually worked. He was always very agreeable and never let on that he was so gravely ill. The world is a sadder place without him. I will miss his smile, his laughter, reassurances and his optimism. Farewell my friend, fare the well.

Posted by Alan G.Vaughan (not verified) | 06/11/2013 @ 09:31 AM
Charles was a good friend and colleague. He faced his illness with bravery; I will miss him.


Posted by Dr. Chriss Warren Foster (not verified) | 06/11/2013 @ 08:38 PM
I want to thank charles for his gentle friendly invitation each time I peaked in to his sand tray demonstration at an RC. Mostly I want to thank him for his dedication working to help one of our students with her essays and dissertation dealing with origins and practices of the Afro-American church. His knowledge was great and his willingness to keep working between treatments and surgeries, until his last weeks to help this student illustrates his commitment to helping others. This gentle caring man will be missed.

Posted by Marc Pilisuk (not verified) | 06/11/2013 @ 11:16 PM
Dr. Cannady was my first introduction to Saybrook. Having
bee out of school for many years & traveling from out of State
I was nervous to say the least. He was so warm and Hillarious
Via his “sand tray therapy” I felt encouraged to reach my full potential
& in part because of him I went on to earning both my MA & PhD via Saybrook.
May u rest in peace until we meet again.

Posted by Janice (not verified) | 06/13/2013 @ 02:53 PM
The words you whispered to me that day have offered me years of comfort and self assurance on those days we all have when we doubt our abilities to serve. All the schlepping of all the sand play stuff….good grief Charles I just love how exuberant, classy, generous and and wonderful your energy is/was. I’m so grateful for your beautiful presence on this planet.
The world is better for having you in it. I’m talking my walk and whatever heaven is; I’m guessing you’re there in it. Thank you.

Posted by Debbie Devine (not verified) | 06/13/2013 @ 03:14 PM
Dr.Cannady I will always love you and the Sandtray course. It in 2004 I took the Sandtray course it was there I learned my mother had passed away. My mom presence was heavily felt that day.
Your love and compassion I will never forget.
In 2008 you reached out to me when you learned I had had stroke.
Dr.Cannady you will never be erase from my heart

Posted by phyllis jackson (not verified) | 06/17/2013 @ 05:34 PM
My motivation for learning….Dr. Cannady

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) | 06/29/2013 @ 02:57 AM
dear dear charles…
i have been having the feeling that you have made your death transition…
i have been feeling you so much the past few months…as i wrote to you from
vienna with no response from you…i have been feeling you …feeling your smile and
very gentle presence…
i wanted so much to see you when i come to berkeley in nov to sing in berkeley…

i remember that you told me how you wanted me to come to play your piano
and how you wanted a voice session…

dear charles..,
i know that you were not afraid…to die…
and some how i feel so proud of you…
i have the feeling that we will be communicating soon…

i will never forget when i met you at the sf conservatory when i was 17…
and how you played the piano for me…
i might have played flute with you as well…

yes …im seeing your face now…
you look good dear friend…
thank you for showing me your office when i was in calif three years ago…
and thanks for the little statues of mary and joseph and the baby jesus that
you gave to me from your collection….

i am sure that you are still doing what you did when you were with us here on this
side of the veil…

thanks for the inspiration…
and thanks for being a friend…
love and blessings on your journey …
hannibal means..

Posted by hannibal means (not verified) | 09/09/2013 @ 01:31 PM