John Gilbert “Jack” Ferguson, 92, of Halfway, died June 12, 2008, at his home, surrounded by his family and loving caregivers.
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There will be a military “salute” in Jack’s honor Friday at 11 a.m. at Pine Haven Cemetery in Halfway. Friends are invited to join the family for a potluck reception afterward at the V.F.W. hall in Halfway.
Jack was born on March 11, 1916, at Akeley, Minn., to Benjamin Franklin and Minnie Belle Jenkins Ferguson.
Jack was raised in Akeley until the age of 6, when the family moved to Renton, Calif. His father was in the logging industry when the Great Depression occurred. From the time he was very young, Jack, along with his three brothers, worked for his family to make ends meet. Jack graduated from Renton High School in 1936.
Jack met Eleanor Owen in 1939 and they were married on Feb. 8, 1941, in Carson City, Nev. Eleanor was the daughter of pioneers who developed the State Line Ranch south of Klamath Falls. For some time Jack helped Eleanor’s parents on the ranch and also worked at Weyerhaeuser in Klamath Falls, where he operated a crane. They had three children: John, Ron and Susan.
From 1941 to 1945 Jack served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, now known as the Air Force. He flew 19 missions over Japan. He was stationed at Tinian, in the South Pacific, during the war and was the navigational engineer on a B-29 Super Fortress as a member of the 504th Bomb Group, 313th Bomb Wing Squadron. Jack and all of the members of the 504th and the 505th were instrumental in bringing World War II to a victorious end. Three members of the crew are still living: the commander and chief, James Maxon; the navigator, John Bezpa; and the tail gunner, Al Forbach.
In 1959, Jack and Eleanor, along with his brother, Buck, and his wife Idabelle purchased the Pine Mercantile Inc. from Harry Alexander. They operated the store until 1973 when they retired and sold the store to Jim and Nita Palmer. The store is now known as Old Pine Market.
Jack enjoyed children (Jack shared infinite wisdom and would say – referring to his own children – “when kids are 13 put them in a whiskey barrel and feed them through the hole, at 16 plug the hole.”)
He also enjoyed fishing, golfing, spending his winters down south, pinochle, backgammon and cribbage (always keeping score of who won or lost). He especially loved flying his airplane.
Jack took great pride in his yard, planting a garden and was even splitting his own wood for the winter at the age of 91. Jack did not care for snow, but he knew that he was, without a doubt, “living in God’s country.”
Jack was a wonderful neighbor and friend to so many, his family members said.
“We will miss Jack’s great smile, his laugh, seeing him out walking to town, and especially that twinkle in his eyes,” they said.
Survivors include his wife, Eleanor, a resident of Settler’s Park in Baker City; three children, John Ferguson of Anchorage, Alaska, Ron Ferguson and his wife, Shirley, of Portland, and Susan and her husband, Donald “Bodie” Dugger of Halfway; grandchildren, Amburre Glossen of Belfair, Wash., and Tate Vasey of Yakima, Wash.; two great-grandchildren, Amanda and Courtney; and brother, Donald Ferguson, and his wife, Diane, of Klamath Falls.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Ben and Buck.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7847, through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, June 18, 2008
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor