She was born February 18, 1928 in Blackwell, Oklahoma where she attended secondary schools and later in San Antonio, Texas. She was a civic volunteer all her life, starting in San Antonio as a USO volunteer. The family moved to Tennessee in 1945, graduating from Tyner High School in 1946. She graduated from the University of Chattanooga with an BA degree in music. She was a member of Collegium Musicum, honorary music majors, and Quadrangle for honorary academics. She played flute with the Chattanooga Symphony and was vocalist in local opera. Moving to Tullahoma in 1953 with family, she instrumental in obtaining government funding for the federally impacted area (AEDC) for Tullahoma School System.
She was a member of the First United Methodist Church, active in the Methodist Women, served on a volunteer in Mission team to Honduras, and was a soloist and member of the sanctuary choir, handbell choir, flutist, and Strangely Warmed church school class. As coloratura, she also enjoyed singing for area churches and the Tullahoma Civic Chorus for many years.
She was honored as Outstanding Citizen by the Tullahoma Jaycees in 1962 and as Volunteer of the year in 1981 by the Tullahoma Kiwanis Club for volunteer work with the American Red Cross blood mobile and founding Contact Lifeline in Tullahoma where she also was a phone volunteer and statistician.
She loved horseback trail riding at the family Double J Ranch and facilities throughout the state. From a friend in Chattanooga, she became interested in therapeutic horseback riding programs for handicapped children. With her husband they built the first enclosed riding arena locally and founded Horse Play, the first local program of this type in 1996. To accommodate adults as well as children, the founded a second handicapped rider program, Freedom Friends, in 2001. Jean served as start up Instructor for both programs. Initial funding for the start up of the programs was provided by the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association where she worked as a volunteer during their horse shows.
She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Joseph L. Fergus Jr., daughters, Dr. Victoria Fergus of Morgantown, WV, Catherine Fergus Watson (Don) of Paducah, KY, son, J. Gary Fergus of Tullahoma, TN, granddaughter, Zannie Brewer, Nashville, TN, grandson, Zachary Thacker, Paducah, KY, first cousins, Robinell Oldham, Blackwell, OK and Wilbur Rust, of Sheffield, IA.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggest memorial donations be made to the music ministry of the First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma.
Tullahoma Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Mrs. Jean Fergus.