Remembering Jon

Jon Ferguson

Jon Ronald Ferguson and his twin, James Donald Ferguson were born  May 21, 1934 in rural Zephyrhills, Florida, to Lawrence Sumner and Tennie Velma Barber Ferguson.  They graduated from Zephyhills High School in 1951.  Jon worked at Pasco Packing Company in Dale City for about four years prior to enrolling in Florida Christian College, Temple Terrace (Tampa), Florida on a scholarship and gifts from friends and family “and a broken shoe string”, where he received an AA in 1957. He worked for a short stint at Bank of Zephyrhills prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army as a Conscientious Objector.  He reached the rank of Specialist-4.  He served just short of two years which allowed him to re-enter college. He had taken courses by correspondence and at the University of Tampa, but stopped short of completing another degree.

He had met the love of his life, another twin, Ima Nadine Chambers, while stationed in Ft. Bliss, Texas. Nadine and Jon married on December 24, 1959.

He returned to a cashier’s position at the Bank which was held for him, and was promoted to Loan Officer.

He worked a couple years with Florida Refrigerated Services, Dade City, before obtaining a position with the Federal Government.  They moved to Jacksonville in 1967.  The major portion of his government employment was with the Small Business Administration.  His favorite duties were serving on a Disaster Cadre where he was able to help victims in Florida, Mississippi and California.

Say the word “Cemetery” in his presence and a twinkle would appear in his eyes and his face would light up.  Jon was totally obsessed with preserving the history found in cemeteries spending endless hours transcribing the data in cemeteries.

He transcribed grave markers in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Texas in addition to almost all of the non-commercial cemeteries in Duval County, Florida, as well as several other counties.  He enjoyed sharing his data with genealogy researchers which included on the SGES website and/or in the SGES library.

Jon served on the Blue Ribbon Cemetery Commission and was noted for his knowledge and conditions of local cemeteries.

Several Eagle Scout Badge projects were completed with Jon’s knowledge and willingness to help with community projects.  This included transcriptions, publications of books of transcription, cleaning the cemetery grounds and markers plus building a sign displaying the ownership and listing those interred within the cemetery.

Jon enjoyed writing and producing the SGEQ working with several different editors including his wife Nadine, Ann Johnson and the current editor Elizabeth DuClose.  His research skills and creative mind covered a wide variety of articles for the SGEQ.  One of the last things that Jon worked on was doing the highlighting for the index for the Dec SGEQ from his hospital bed.

In addition to all of the above, he and his “Cemetery Rat Buddy” enjoyed presenting programs related to cemeteries to genealogy societies and lineal groups, thus spreading the word about cemeteries being a valuable source of history.

The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission selected SGES  library (Jon and Mike) to receive the 2014 Preservation Award for 50 years of service to preserving history through the collection, publications and internet resources.

Jon was committed to a mission of helping people from all over the globe learn more about their family story because he cared.  We all will miss his research, writing, teaching, leadership and service to the North Florida genealogical/historical community.