Cover photo for Joe Levi Ferguson's Obituary
1928 Joe Ferguson 2023

Joe Levi Ferguson

June 10, 1928 — October 3, 2023

Niles, Michigan



Joe Levi Ferguson, age 95 years of Niles, Michigan; father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, neighbor, golfer, Freemason, animal lover, and friend died peacefully on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at his home while taking a nap in his recliner, having represented the Shriners in the parade on Saturday, and played a round of golf on Monday.  His family and friends are grateful and comforted by his gentle, if unexpected, manner of passing.

He was born on June 10, 1928 to Thomas Jefferson and Virginia Inez (Gearhart) Ferguson of Lepanto, Arkansas, but Lepanto had no doctor, so he was born in the town of Peach Orchard.  He attended Lepanto schools, but left in the ninth grade to help with the family farm.  Joe became Chief of the Lepanto Fire Department and Jailer, and his daily route passed-by the Lepanto Beauty Salon in which he noticed a new stylist, Mara Lou Elliott of Walcott, Arkansas.  They were married on August 12, 1950 in Harrisburg, Arkansas by a Justice of the Peace.  Soon after that, they came to Niles, renting a second-floor apartment at 13th & Eagle, Joe taking a job at National-Standard, and Mara at Simplicity Pattern.

In 1952, Joe answered the call to action, and was inducted into the United States Army.  The Army allowed him to complete his education, and he was honorably discharged as a Veteran of the Korean Conflict.  He returned to Niles, and his family, and National-Standard where he worked as a control chemist, retiring after 38 years of service.

Joe was a longtime member of the Bethel Baptist Church in Niles, and has more recently been a member of Hope Community Church.  He was a member of the Amvets Post #1978 in Niles.  He was a longtime member of the Saint Joseph Valley Lodge #4 F&AM in Niles where he served as Chaplain for many years, reciting from memory the entire Masonic Funeral Rite “From time immemorial, it has been the custom . . .” on the request of deceased Masons or their families.  He was also active in the Shrine Club, raising funds to support the Shriners Hospitals for Children.  Joe made hundreds of trips with the Shriners transporting children from Michigan to the Shriners hospital for critical surgeries, free of charge to the families.

He enjoyed sports, playing in both the National-Standard Softball League and the church softball league as a pitcher.  He golfed in the National-Standard league, and was competitive in the Niles City Golf Tournament.  He played pool at the Masonic Lodge, rotating amongst other lodge members twice a week for many years, and has more recently played at the Amvets.  He was a regular attender at Niles High School football games, and tried to attend every sporting event of his grandchildren through high school and college.  At home he had a practice putting green on his deck, and enjoyed watching University of Michigan football, and feeding the wildlife around his property.

All of these activities involved other people, and Joe loved to visit with people, had a great sense of humor, and always had a story or a joke to tell.  Going out to restaurants for meals was just another opportunity to visit.  Even at home, he was always visiting the neighbors, mowing the lawn for many of them, and several friends and family visited his home or called on the telephone every day including the neighbor and longtime friend, Mike Kachur who sadly discovered Joe’s passing.

Sadly, Mara preceded Joe in death, almost exactly a year ago, on September 29. 2022; and a year before that, on October 4, 2021 they were preceded in death by their son, Joseph Elliott Ferguson.  Joe was also preceded in death by his parents and by his siblings, Wilbur, Eula, Jenelda, Kathryn, and Wanda.

Surviving family includes his daughter, Melissa J. “Joanie” Ferguson of Atlanta, Georgia; grandchildren Jacob (& Kayla) Ferguson and Sarah (& Jerrico) Lamberton; great-grandchildren Elliott Ferguson, Judah Levi Ferguson, and Tatum Grace Lamberton; and by several nieces and nephews.

Services for Joe Ferguson will be at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 7, 2023 at Hope Community Church, 2390 Lake Street in Niles, and will begin with the Masonic Funeral Rite by the Saint Joseph Valley Lodge #4, F&AM, followed by Rev. Nathanael Lyon, Lead Pastor of Hope Church.  The services will conclude with the Veteran’s Flag Presentation and “Taps” by the United States Army Honor Guard.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Saturday at church beginning at 3:00 p.m.  Contributions in memory of Joe may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 North Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, Florida 33607,  Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.  Online memories may be left at:

Joe clearly enjoyed life, and packed a lot of life into every day of his 95 years, 3 months, and 20 days.  Most of the minutes of those days were spent with other people, and Joe fulfilled the command to Love God and love people.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joe Levi Ferguson, please visit our flower store.


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