Betty Lou Ferguson passed away peacefully at her home in Atascadero, on Wednesday evening, Dec. 27, 2017. Amongst many things, she was a beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt - and a dear friend to many.
Betty Lou was preceded in death by her best friend and husband of 42 years, Lorne Roy Ferguson. She is survived by her brothers, Harold and Donald, sisters, Nancy and Phyllis, - and her children; Mark, Scott, Dwight, Ross, Lynn and their families – 20 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, and counting.
Betty Lou was born to parents Geneva and Harold Pease on May 7, 1931. She and her brother Allen were raised in the Pacific Northwest by her mother Geneva and step-father Ira Mitcham, whom she loved as a father. She was involved in choir and sports, excelling in tennis. She attended Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., and was a member of their tennis team.
During her freshman year at Cheney, Betty Lou was invited by her aunt Maria Wolff to visit Westmont College in Santa Barbara – where Maria served on faculty. She accepted the invitation, visited that beautiful campus and subsequently transferred to Westmont. Through the love and prayers of her aunt and classmates, she came to a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Westmont held another gift for her – the treasure of a friendship with the man who would become her life-long partner and best friend, Lorne Ferguson. While at Westmont, Betty Lou and Lorne responded to a call to serve in mission work in developing countries, answering a request for help in Northern Rhodesia, Africa. This decision set the course for much of Betty Lou’s adult life.
Upon graduating from Westmont, Betty Lou and Lorne lived in Seaside, while Lorne served a term in the US Army at Fort Ord. They then moved to Lorne’s hometown of Atascadero. In 1958, supported by many family and friends, Betty Lou, Lorne and their two young sons set sail for Northern Rhodesia. Motivated by the desire to serve God in a remote area of the Northwestern Province, they settled at Lukolwe, an isolated mission clinic on the west side of the Zambezi River. Here, with great courage, resourcefulness, patience and love, she served faithfully as a wife, mother, homemaker, counselor, self-taught midwife and true friend. The chaotic and unpredictable course of life there was a challenge to her organized and meticulous personality – yet God’s grace was her constant supply.
In 1964, Northern Rhodesia gained its independence and became known as Zambia. Betty Lou and Lorne lived there for over thirty years, and had two more sons and a daughter. The couple served the Zambian people with a deep love and loyalty and many had their lives changed forever through Betty Lou’s faithfulness – truly a life well lived in service to others.
In the early ‘90s Betty Lou and Lorne returned to Atascadero, to help care for her elderly mother and aunt. Lorne continued to serve on short-term missions, until his death while on a visit to Zambia, in 1996. Betty Lou then settled in Atascadero, and for the next 21 years poured herself into the lives of her friends and family, tirelessly and in countless ways. She served in local political leadership, faithfully attended multiple Bible studies and was a friend to many. She invested many hours to serve her church family at the Atascadero Gospel Chapel, a place she considered “home”.
Betty Lou’s favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” defines her heart and love for her Lord, whom she served courageously. She is fondly remembered and will be sorely missed. She would give all glory to God – “As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”
Viewing is available at the Chapel of the Roses in Atascadero on Friday, Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a memorial service will be held at the Atascadero Gospel Chapel on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. Flowers may be sent to the Chapel of the Roses.