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Shelby Ferris

1918 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Shelby F. Ferris


Shelby Flowers Ferris died peacefully at her home on Sunday, August 3, surrounded by loving family, after a long and wonderful life. Born on July 7, 1918 at the home of her parents, Uriah Grey Flowers and Hester Craig Flowers, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, she attended public schools before going to All Saints Episcopal High School and later receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University.

Shelby married William Reynolds Ferris in 1941 and began living on his farm, "Broadacres," south of Vicksburg. She embraced and loved this life and soon developed a lifelong passion for gardening, planting extensive flowerbeds around her hilltop home, which she lovingly tended for almost 75 years. Shelby and Mr. Ferris raised five children, William, Shelby, Hester, Grey, and Martha at Broadacres; with their devotion and energy, they created a far-reaching world there. Relatives from Boston and Chicago brought friends who talked about their lives, so different from daily life on the farm. The wide web of visitors increased over the years. Shelby's children's friends spent weekends riding horses, swimming in the lake, driving the Jeep, and paddling down the Big Black River. Many learned to drive on the farm, across the wide pastures. These rich experiences nurtured the adventurous spirits of those who visited and left memories for generations of people. All enjoyed Shelby's hospitality and generosity, as well as her humor, the freewheeling conversations, and delicious meals she served at her dining table. Throughout the years, Shelby continued to welcome old friends and make new ones, always with great hospitality and grace.

Her young children attended Jeff Davis School, where Shelby volunteered and promoted public health projects. Shelby and her husband Bill became involved with the Warren County Community Development Program, whose mission was to revitalize the social and intellectual life of the Jeff Davis community through the participation of men and women competent in various trades and activities. They helped build the Jeff Davis community center, a needed resource for rural families without phones or adequate transportation. Shelby was also an active member of the Hester Flowers Garden Club, founded by her mother in 1931 and still thriving today. She served as president of the Vicksburg Council of Garden Clubs.

Shelby organized the Vicksburg/Port Gibson Art Study Group, which has met regularly for over 45 years. She enjoyed traveling and writing short stories, all the while tending her beautiful garden, making sure fresh picked flowers greeted visitors to her home. Throughout her life she remained in close contact with family and friends around the world, and she was renowned for her beautiful and thoughtful letters.

Shelby was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and served on the Warren County Mental Health Board and the Vicksburg-Warren Library Board. This latter interest was continued by her son Grey, who as a state senator developed the Magnolia Project, which provides Mississippians with access to electronic databases through libraries across the state.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband William Reynolds Ferris; sister Hester Faser; brother Grey Flowers; son Grey Flowers Ferris and his wife Jann Terral Ferris; and granddaughter Jessica Shelby Ferris.

Survivors include her son, Dr. William Reynolds Ferris, Jr. (Marcie); daughters Shelby Ferris Fitzpatrick (Peter); Hester Ferris Magnuson (James); and Martha Ferris Kostmayer (Kos); grandchildren Tesher Fitzpatrick, Vagi Fitzpatrick, Dr. Lylen Ferris, Rev. Jason Ferris, Martha Magnuson Headley, William Magnuson, and Virginia Ferris, and eight great grandchildren. Shelby is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews in whose sweet company she delighted until the day she died.

The family would like to thank Shelby's devoted nephew, Dr. Eugene Ferris, and his wife Joyce, along with Dr. Susan Chiarito, for their constant and compassionate attention to her wellbeing. Guardian angels also include Minor, Kim, and Mac Ferris who helped make possible her comfort and security in the beautiful surroundings which sustained her later years. The family would also like to express their deep gratitude to Mary Elizabeth Martin, John Henry Wright, and William Appleton, whose efforts on her behalf have made it possible for her to enjoy her life on the farm she loved until the very end.

Her funeral will be at 11:00 on Saturday, August 9, at the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Cherry and South Streets. Her grandson, Rev. Jason Ferris, and Rev. Tim Brown will lead the service. There will be a visitation with the family from 9:00 until the hour of the service in Ward Hall of the church.

Honorary pallbearers include Dr. Eugene Ferris, Peter Fitzpatrick, Vagi Fitzpatrick, Grey Flowers, Kos Kostmayer, James Magnuson, Landman Teller, Dr. Terrel Williams, and John Henry Wright. Active pallbearers are Minor Ferris Buchanan, Justin Ferris, Mac Ferris, Minor Ferris, Dr. Craig Flowers, Mott Roland Headley, Billy Magnuson, and Michael Swiericzuk.

Instead of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Palmer Home for Children, the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, the Jessica Shelby Ferris Art Therapy Endowment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, or the .

Published in Clarion Ledger on Aug. 7, 2014
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