William James Ferguson, Fondly known as Bill or Willie, Referred to himself as “Billy the Goat”. Was Born on the 18th April 1913 to William James Ferguson (Senior) and Henrietta Ferguson (nee) Murphy. Bill was the second eldest child of a family of seven children of which his sisters Cath and Elsie are with us today. Dad was born at Forest Hill in the Southern Suburbs of Johannesburg and grew up in his loving parents home in Napier street. He started his schooling at the tender age of four by following his elder brother, Henry to school at Forest Hill Primary School. He later graduated to Turffontein Pre Paratory School and then went on to Johannesburg Technical High School. Bill was an exemplary student. He also loved his sports activities and participated in athletics, cricket, soccer and baseball and was a life member of the Wanderers Club where he enjoyed a number of good sporting years in his youth.
Dad grew up in a Catholic Family and regular Church attendance was instilled in him at a very young age. His earlier experiences must have had a profound influence on his religious life and his relationship with others. After leaving school Bill indentured as an apprentice Brick Layer and later qualified as a top class Bricklayer. He continued his studies through night school and attained an advanced technical certificate 2 in the Civil Engineering Trade. Dad was a perfectionist and he would always work to the minute tolerance on everything he did. I am sure that there are a number of us that have fond memories of encounters with Dad’s building expertise. Dad was renown for being able to relax anywhere and had learnt to take his afternoon nap”:forty winks” as a young man and continued this practice throughout his life.
In 1939 Bill joined the Engineers Corp of the South African Army “Sappers” and spent time in Abasinia on active service during the Second World War. Where he attained the Rank of First Lieutenant. He sustained a back injury and while recuperating in 1942 he was introduced to a beautiful young lady, Peggy White, by his sister Elsie. Peggy and Willie were Married in Saint Patricks Church , La Rochelle on the 1st October 1945 and just recently Celebrated their 54th Wedding Anniversary. Their married life started off with a ready made Family as Peggy was looking after her younger sister and brother. Their first home was 44 Stanford street Forest Hill on the same block where he had grown up. In his loving way, Willie took on this responsibility and assisted as well as he could with Ruth and Ronnie. Peggy and Willie were blessed with Five children Hillary, Billy, Neil, Norma and Trevor.
Dad joined the Johannesburg City Council City Engineers Department as a Building Inspector and on Retirement he had attained the position of Chief Building Inspector. He was Founder Member of the South African Institute of Builders and Drainage Inspectors and served as President of this Association on a number of occasions. Dad loved his job and had many fond memories of all his Associates and Colleagues he worked with over the years. Building and Drains was in his blood. Wherever he went he constantly had new ideas to improve things. Dad was also a very good Draftsman and drew many house plans. The quality of his designs and draughting skills were outstanding. Dad had a special skill of tuning the Cistern of Toilets and many of us have had the privilege of having our toilets “tuned” by Dad. Dad loved 1948 Chevrolet’s Fleetmaster and Fleetliners and we rebuilt and overhauled many a Chev in our Garage at 48 Carter Rd. Dad could Tackle anything from Building work, Carpentry, Plumbing, Drain laying, Gas Installations, Electrical Wiring, Car Repairs and many more. He would say, “We may not be rich, but we sure see life”.
Obtaining a good education was very important to Dad and with Great Sacrifice we were sent to good Catholic Schools, End Street Convent and Marist Brothers Collage Koch Street and Observatory. Dad was proud of his children and got involved with the P.T.A.’s of all the schools we attended. He was a very busy and involved man. In his part time he built the most beautiful Shrine to “Our Lady of Lourdes” at End Street Convent. He would do the “Donkey work” at all the school functions, putting up the stalls for Fetes, putting up the frame work for decorations for dances, making the fires for braai’s etc. In his modest way he helped wherever he could and did not want any recognition.
Being a devout Catholic, Dad ensured that we went to mass every Sunday, Taught us our Prayers, Ensured that we received our First Communion and Confirmation and set a good example. No meal would be eaten without Dad first saying grace. Dad was a great husband and loved Mom very much. He provided a good, warm and peaceful home. Dad was not a romantic and was always very practical. He once bought the most expensive garden hose for Mom on her Birthday. You can imagine the reaction.
Our home was open to everyone, family, friends and strangers. Dad spent many hours at the kitchen table talking to his family and friends. He was loved and respected by all. Dad supported each of his children when we married and extended his fatherly love to Tat, Trina, Fred and Carol and their families. Dad would not say a bad word about anyone and always used to say that “there is a whole lot of good in the worst of us and a whole lot of bad in the best of us”. Dad was a clean living man, Never drank, or smoked and would never blaspheme or use foul language. Dad lived his faith and would go out of his way to help anyone. Whether family, friends or strangers. He always had a word of advice to anyone who asked for help. The Hobo or Begger would not get away with just some money, but would receive a good counseling session and a Catholic Conversion.
Dad Suffered two tragedies in his married life, losing his eldest son “Billy ” in a drowning accident and then the death of Neil who had suffered with a heart defect from birth. Dad has been a good example to all of us and as a Son, Brother, Husband, Father and Grand Father, had been there at all times, good and bad, to support, help and encourage us. He was always positive saying” What a Lovely day to be caught in the rain”. The recent highlight of Bill’s life was his appointment as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist for La Rochelle Parish. This was indeed an Honour and Privilege for him to serve the community in this Special Ministry. He also involved himself in the Society of St. Vincent De Paul in helping the poor and destitute families.
Seven years ago Mom and Dad sold 48 Carter Road and moved to Allan Woodrow Park Retirement Village. This move was very traumatic for Dad, Selling the house he built, The palm tree his Father had planted and the home is family and children had grown up in and loved. Dad settled in well and soon got himself a job as the waste paper collector which was sold to waste company in order to raise funds for the Function Committee. In the last number of years Dad aged gracefully and began to slow down. Dad loved to attend daily mass and would spend many hours praying for all of us, His Dear Wife, His Family, Extended Family, Friends and so on.
A couple of weeks ago Dad told me that he had a Vivid Dream that he was a young man again and was preparing for Ordination into the Priest Hood. Dad your Dream has come true and God has called you home into his Royal Priesthood. ALLELUIAH AMEN.
Writing by his son Trevor.
Well, what can you say after reading that ? I regarded Uncle Will as a second Father and always went to him for advice knowing full well that I would always get the rules and regulations read to me. I can remember my Mother saying that, If ever there was a true Catholic and Living Saint it was Willy, and always advised all of us to seek his advice, if we were prepared to be Lectured to. Uncle Will and Aunt Peg are my God Parents and he never forgot his responsibility to me. Arranging for me to go to Scouts and Catechism at St. Patrick’s Church. I will never forget the Kitchen that Trevor mentioned, the Couch, the Smell of burnt dog food that either Uncle Will or Neil Left to Burn, While They Napped on the couch. The smell of Ginger Beer at Christmas time, The Old Time Dancing we enjoyed together. I often think of Neil. We always played together as children and our friendship continued till his death. I remember the tunnels we spent hours digging in the stand behind their house. Funny enough I can’t remember Uncle Will telling us how dangerous it was. Friday nights when we got our pocket money and went to the corner cafe and bought a tin of condensed milk, a pink bun and what ever we could get for 5 pence, go to my house and spend the night playing one touch soccer under the corner street light and sleep in the tree house with practically all the children in the neighbourhood. I remember his little Mini Minor car. The toilet bowl next to Uncle Will’s bed, he was to install in the house and used it as a bed side table for years. Aunt Peg put it their to remind him it had to be fitted, What Patience.
Fond memories Deryk.
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