Respected volunteer dies at 78

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

SOUTH POINT — Arthur S. Ferguson Jr. wore many figurative hats during his 78 years: Journalist, educator, volunteer.

But, it is the literal headwear that causes friends to chuckle as they reflect fondly on the long-time South Point resident and Boy Scout leader who died today.

“Art never put on airs. He had this old hat that he always wore when he was out in the woods,” said Grayson Thornton, friend and chairman of the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee group that Ferguson helped create. “That thing must have been 50 years old but he always wore it. Some people just have a charisma. Art was one of them.”

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Little stories like that flow from friends and peers who reflect on what Ferguson meant to the community. And he created lots of stories by being involved in a little of everything over the years including serving as South Point’s mayor.

After working at Allied Chemical in South Point for 22 years, Ferguson put his Marshall University journalism degree to use by working at The Ironton Tribune.

Ferguson started his journalism career in 1953 as a part-time reporter and climbed the ranks to become the managing editor in 1971. Nine years later, Ferguson left to focus on one of his passions — education — by working at Ohio University Southern. He always worked closely with developing Briggs Lawrence County Public Library.

Even as his health faded, Ferguson continued to be active in the restoration committee and the Boy Scouts, always working to teach youth and promote the outdoors.

“Art did great things for the youth,” Grayson said. “People would come to him even now and tell them how much he meant to them and their lives. He was always community oriented.”

Long-time friend Don Edwards visited Ferguson last week, and though Ferguson’s physical health was poor, his mind was as sharp as always, Edwards said.

“We recalled old times. He even quoted ‘Gunga Din’ to me,” Edwards said. “… He was just Art.”

Him being “just Art,” was what people loved about him most.

“He was very community minded and unselfish with his time,” Edwards said. “He would do everything he could for somebody else.

“We stood there in his room last Friday and you could see the boats go by. He loved that river.”

And in a way, the Ohio River and its tributary of Symmes Creek, will always pay honor to Ferguson because the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee has named a canoe trail that is in works in Ferguson’s honor.

“That is how much we think about him,” Thornton said.