James E. Ferguson

Age 74, of Lansing, MI, passed away April 21, 2023. He was born August 22, 1948, in Chicago, IL, to the late James II and Marie (Osburn) Ferguson.

After being raised in Chicago, Jim moved to Lansing to attend MSU. He worked for the State of Michigan and taught art at LCC. He was an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and attended and supported the Dhammasala Forest Monastery in Perry, MI. Jim enjoyed cooking, traveling, entertaining guests, studying, teaching, and creating art, especially watercolor. He will be deeply missed.

He is survived by his daughter, Dana (Chris Phelps) Ferguson of Jacksonville, FL, and his brother, Roy Ferguson and partner Mike Winkfield of Chicago, IL. He was preceded in death by his partner Hugh Jones.

A memorial visitation will be held from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lansing Community College Foundation, the Salus Center in Lansing, or the Dhammasala Forest Monastery, in loving memory of Jim.

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11 Messages to “James E. Ferguson

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Vicki bauer
April 24, 2023 at 11:39 pm

Jim, I will miss you forever. You were the best boss ever,

Bob Amman
May 8, 2023 at 8:31 pm

Jim was a notable figure in our offices, for many years. He was a lot of help for a lot of people. I and many others benefited from his support and friendship.

He also knew quite a few notable and distinguished people outside our office, and outside our jobs.

His contributions stand out in my memory, among the many people I’ve gotten to know, in over 3/4 of a century of being observant.

Anne Dunne
May 25, 2023 at 4:26 pm

My husband and I have been friends with your Dad all the way back to our High School days. We met your Mom when they got married. They had a beautiful wedding in your grandparents yard in Baroda. We have lots of fond memories of both of them. We are so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I would be more than happy to share memrories with you or answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact me.

Michelle Detering
June 2, 2023 at 10:28 pm

My condolences to Jim’s friends and family. Jim was such a special person. He was the most important teacher I have ever had. He taught me not only about watercolor but also about art history, travel and being a good human being. I will miss him as will countless others.
I will never forget you Jim. Thank you for everything.

Judi Bogart
June 3, 2023 at 2:01 pm

My condolences to Jim’s family and friends. Jim was an outstanding art instructor. I learned so much about art history and watercolor in particular. He was always encouraging us to display our art.
I will miss him dearly. He was a thoughtful and caring friend who was always generous to others.

My sympathies, Judi Bogart

Denise Downing
June 4, 2023 at 5:41 pm

Jim was our neighbor for the past 19 yrs. I will never forget, when he and Hugh were looking for a condo, they came thru our condo, as this was the layout they liked and there was no model. So thus the Friendship began. It is hard to sum up everything Jim brought to our neighborhood. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone. He was kind, personable, knowledgeable and always had a smile on his face. Each year we had a Fall Picnic for all the neighbors and yes we held it at Jim’s.

On a personal note, he was a Very Special Friend, a Lifelong Friend. We think of him everyday. It is hard to believe we can’t walk across the street and visit. He always reached out with a helping hand. We loved him.

Our condolences to his Family and all who knew him. So Special, So Loved and So Missed.

Wally and Denise

Sherry Trezise
June 9, 2023 at 2:43 pm

Jim was the person who was central to important times in my life as a part of the Disability Determination Service. With much to learn as newly hired Examiner Trainees, our group was taught by Jim, who served as our trainer. He worked to make sure we developed the knowledge and skills to do the work we would be assigned. He also took care to have us understand the workings of the agency. He did all this, while making time to get to know us, as individuals. Several years later, Jim was the District Manager to whom I was assigned in my first placement as a Case Specialist in our agency. He took time to help me make this transition, and together we worked out a productive, mutually supportive working relationship. An agency “re-organization” sent me into another district eventually, but I took with me lessons learned from Jim about managing colleagues with humanity. I treasure those lessons.

I have always been in awe of Jim’s creativity as an artist. Years ago, I purchased a small piece of Jim’s art, which hangs in our den. It has always made me smile, in part, because of the underlying humorous “contrarian” message it sends, and because it reminds me of Jim. It will always remind me of Jim.

Condolences to Jim’s family, and to all whose lives he touched.

Sherry Trezise

Travis Black
June 9, 2023 at 6:10 pm

Jim was a devoted teacher that helped me create a really good life. He pushed me and his students to not just make art but to take the risk to show it. Part of his curriculum was to set up group shows of which we would each have to participate. He would arrange to take all his students to Chicago and to exhibits around the area. He taught us the ability to “ see”: observing the shapes, textures and patterns, as they are. But Seeing also got us in trouble… we were in Ohio for a big Van Gogh show, Jim was pointing out the details an inch or two away from the work with a group of students all huddled around like scientists and a security guard yelled at us, he was chewing gum and my response was “do you have more gum”, I always felt bad about that response but Jim and I would laugh about it for years later, sorry Mr. security Guard! Jim also had the ability to nudge us along and help us realize the next step in our paintings and lives. I love his paintings and when I urged him to paint his response was something to the effect of “my students are my art”.

Jim could cook! One of his favorite things to do was to get people together around a table and serve them some amazing spoetzel or something delicious you may have never heard of. I grew up in a village in mid Michigan and he introduced me to my first Indian food experience which hooked me to try new foods. I’ll still parrot him today, he’d say “if you can’t cook, you can’t paint.”
Indeed, painting is following a recipe, or winging it, getting messy, watching the physics of the ingredients , balancing the flavors, experimenting or using whatever’s available in the cupboard.
In 2002 he approached Kalli at Trillium gallery in East Lansing and got me my first solo show. Little did he realize he was also introducing me to my future wife Molly and years later mother of our twins, who was working there at the time. He has been so giving to me and the people around him, I’m moved to keep his generosity going.

Mary Lowe
June 12, 2023 at 10:27 am

My condolences to Jim’s family and friends. I also knew Jim thru our work at DDS. Jim was what some of us referred to as “one of the good guys”. He was just as nice and friendly to the lowest person on the totem pole as he was to the top dog. Always had a smile for you and a kind word. It has been many years since I saw Jim but he will always be remembered by many.

Kalli Halpern
June 15, 2023 at 10:35 pm



Thank you Jim


June 18, 2023 at 3:35 pm

I am feeling so bad about this terrible news. My heart is broken and tears roll down of my eyes. I spent a wonderfull time with Jim and Sue, they were my GREAT host family in 1.979/1.980 at Springport, Michigan, when I was a Colombian Exchange Student. My last phone call with My Daddy Jim was at March/2023. Many times we talked at the phone every years after 1.980. He also came to visit me an my family at Cúcuta, Colombia. The first time he came to visit us was an 1.989 when I was just ready to get my Phissycian Diploma, Danna as a littel beautiful girl came with him.
Wonderfull time I had with Jim, he was the best for me. He teached me a lot of things to be better person, he also gave me a lot of tips of cooking and toll me a few things of how play a piano. Nice things we spend toguether. I remember the 1o. of January 1.980, just new year mornig when we had to run to the hospital with Mom Sue, in a real hurry with early morning snowing because Danna was coming to this Great Family.
I just know today my Daddy Jim past away, because I called him this afternoon to say HELLO in the Father’s Day and his phone number was changed.
My wife and me were planing to go to Lansing next January in winter time, to visit Jim as I promise him. Sorry Daddy.


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