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Laura FERGUSON Obituary
(nee Telander) Died July 29, 2012 in High Shoals, Georgia, of complications from a stroke. She was 91. Laura was preceded in death by her mother Anna Anderson (nee Haese), her father Helmer Telander (who died when she was about four years old), her stepfather, John Anderson, her brother, David Telander, and her stepsister, Eleanor Anderson. Laura was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 3, 1921. She was raised on the East Side of St. Paul and graduated from Johnson High School. She attended the University of Minnesota for one year. She is survived by her older sister Ruth Johnson Ryder of Eagan, Minnesota, her seven children - Sandra (John) Harrigan of Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Pamela (Walt Zimmerman) Ferguson of State College, Pennyslvania, Barbara (Doug) Eza of Watkinsville, Georgia, Lori (Rich) Pirog, David Ferguson of Naples, Florida, Jane (Ralph Holmes) Ferguson of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and Kate (Fraser) Burns of Fayetteville, Georgia. She is also survived by six grandchildren, three stepgrandchildren, two great grandchildren, eleven step great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and stepcousins. Laura married our father, Russell Ferguson, on March 20, 1942. After World War II began, Russell enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served two years as a lieutenant in the Pacific Theater. He then returned to St. Paul, and our parents had their first child in May 1947. Sometime later that year, the family of three moved to New Jersey where they had six more children who were all born in Plainfield, New Jersey. Our father had degrees in Chemical Engineering and Economics from the University of Minnesota. He worked in Manhattan for Esso (Exxon Mobil) for about eighteen years. The family lived in North Plainfield, New Jersey, during that time. In the early 1960s we used to sit around the dining room table talking about... "Someday we will live in another country." We did (though I the oldest was already in college). Our father worked for the United Nations Development program next, and our family lived in Bolivia, Thailand, and Guatemala. He ended his career working for the Inter-American Deveolpment Bank in Washington, D.C. Our parents finished raising their children in Reston, Virginia. They retired to Naples, Florida, in 1991. Our father died there in 2006. Our mother moved to a nursing home in High Shoals, Gerogia, about four and a half years ago after suffering a major stroke. Laura loved current events and, although we weren't allowed to watch much TV (at least when the older children were growing up), she had the TV on all day during major events including the Civil Rights marches and all political conventions. She also stayed informed of international affairs by watching the BBC regularly, including in the last few years of her life. She was an avid reader, and there were Book of the Month club books all over the house. She sometimes stayed up late at night reading (after all the children were in bed) and then drank a lot of coffee the next day to stay awake. She loved nature, hiking, swimming, camping, and ice skating. She also loved music and dancing. Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra were her favorite singers. She loved to laugh and would often have all of us laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our faces. Sometimes we even fell off of our chairs. Our mother (and our father) tried to encourage all of their children to lead lives of creativity, compassion, courage, service, and achievement. I believe we have all succeeded, some of us despite hardships. Their children and grandchildren include an elementary teacher, a college teacher, two social workers, a food bank director, a physicist, an industrial engineer, a nutritionist, several artists, several small business owners, an investor/philanthropist, a hobby farmer, three former Americorps /VISTA volunteers, and a decorated combat medic/paramedic who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although Laura was raised in the Episcopal Church and raised her older children in the Episcopal Church, neither of our parents was an active churchgoer for most of their lives. However, our mother was a deeply spiritual person, and one of her favorite books was "Are You Running with me, Jesus?" by the activist Episcopal priest Malcolm Boyd. A private memorial service will be held in December.

Published in Pioneer Press on Nov. 11, 2012
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