James Homer Ferguson, 85, Ahsahka, ID
It is with great sadness that the family of James Homer Ferguson announces his passing at his home in Ahsahka, Idaho on April 24, 2022. Homer was born July 26, 1936, in San Antonio, Texas to Haynes Morgan and Mary Alice (Henson) Ferguson. His sister, Agnes Rebecca (Becky) was added to the family before they moved to Pearsall, Texas. While growing up, Homer was surrounded by extended family members who had a profound influence on him. When Homer was young, his uncle Mike Roach was there to fix him an early morning cup of coffee to ease his breathing and then tell him family stories as they sat on the front porch waiting for the asthma attacks to subside. Those family stories stuck with Homer and he passed them on to his children
When Homer was in his early teens, his grandmother Eliza (Duncan) Ferguson gave him his uncle Homer’s fiddle. It began young Homer’s longstanding love of music which included playing with the Idaho Old-time Fiddlers. He was self-taught on both the fiddle and guitar. He would often serenade his family and friends. His favorite pieces were old western songs like “The Strawberry Roan” and “Old Red.” He even wrote a song about his favorite horse, Stonewall.
Speaking of horses, animals were a focal point of his life starting with a dog named Ring and ending with a dog named Kymber. If he didn’t have cattle or horses around him, he had to have dogs and even a cat or two. They loved him unconditionally.
Upon graduation from high school, Homer continued his education with encouragement and financial help from his aunt Agnes Bynum. He was always so grateful to her for her undying support. His studies culminated with a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona and postdoctoral work at the University of Iowa.
In 1959, he married Sheila Cone and they had two children, John Scott and Jennifer Lynne. After completing his postdoctoral work, the family moved to Moscow where Homer taught in the Department of Biological Sciences and the WWAMI Program at the University of Idaho. He was heavily involved in research and especially enjoyed his work with the animals and Inuit people of Barrow, Alaska where he worked at the Naval Arctic Research Lab (NARL). He went on to publish much of his research and even authored the textbook, Mammalian Physiology. Homer also enjoyed mentoring his graduate and undergraduate students.
In the early 70s, he took a break from teaching and research to become head of the new Earth and Life Sciences Department at the University of Texas, San Antonio before returning to the U of I to resume teaching and research. In 1976, Homer married Carolyn Hawley and they had two children, Eliza Jeanne and Will Morgan.
Homer changed professions in 1983, received his Associate's degree in Criminal Justice, and took a position as Patrolman with the Lewiston Police Department. He later worked for Idaho State Police and Orofino Police Department. This fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a law enforcement officer which he continued doing until his retirement in 1995.
Homer married Gloria McDougall in 2015. He spent his final years fighting his heart condition with the loving support of Gloria.
Homer loved family history, music, horses, and his dogs. Homer was a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and could often be heard telling stories about history and family. Homer had an interest in a great many subjects and if you spent any time with him, you would come away knowing most of his opinions. He was a member of the American Physiological Society. He was made a Master Mason in a Lodge of Masons and was a member of Frio Lodge No.399, Free and Accepted Masons.
Homer is survived by his widow Gloria Ferguson, sister Becky (Joe) Danchak, children Dr. J. Scott (Dr. Lisa Kaufman) Ferguson, Jennifer (Michael) Hill, Dr. Eliza (Dasul) Jeong, and Will (Casey) Ferguson, grandchildren Emma Ferguson, Maggie Ferguson, John Ferguson, Jessie Hill, and Logan Jeong.
Homer’s family would like to give a special thank you to the care given by the members of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elite Home Health and Hospice of Clarkston, WA, and especially the pastoral care by Pastor Hank Heschle. Thank you for doing God’s work in the community.
A memorial service will be held Monday, June 27, 2022, at 10:00 am at the Hurley Funeral Home Chapel in Pearsall with interment to follow in the Pearsall Cemetery.
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