Michelle P. Ferguson
Wed, 08/30/2017 - 9:13am admin
Michelle Ferguson, age 53, Winner, S.D., passed away on August 26, 2017 at the Winner Regional Long Term Care Facility.
Michelle Paige Ferguson was born August 24, 1964 to Bill and Joan (Sieler) Ferguson in Rapid City, S.D., where Bill was attending SDSM&T. Michelle was baptized Sept 20, 1964 at Zion Lutheran in Rapid City and confirmed May 21, 1987 at Christ Lutheran in Winner, S.D.
Upon Bill’s graduation as an Electrical Engineer the family moved east, first to Kokomo, Ind., where brother, Michael and sister, Heather were born, and then to the Boston, Mass., area. Michelle loved school and the east coast. In 1976 the family moved back to South Dakota to the family farm in Witten and Michelle joined Eden School in Lone Tree Township. It was a tremendous change from life in Harvard, Mass, to a country school.
In 1982 Michelle graduated from Winner High School and began college at SDSU in Brookings, S.D. Michelle remembered only the good things about the east coast and left college to work as a nanny for the McCarthy family in New York. Michelle enrolled in Long Island University where she finished her accounting degree in 1988 but continued to work as a nanny.
Upon graduation, Michelle enrolled in Pace University Law School. There she met fellow student, Rochelle Weisburg, with whom she developed a life-long friendship. They received their Juris Doctorates in 1991. Michelle passed the New York bar exam on the first try and began work at IBEW Local 1430 Union. Michelle continued her close relationship with the four McCarthy children, attending their sporting events, driving them to school events and being their go-to-auntie. Michelle loved the excitement and energy of New York City.
In 2003, Michelle experienced a sudden change in vision as she was driving to work. She was diagnosed with a frontal lobe oligodendroglioma brain tumor and immediately underwent surgery in Bethlehem, Pa. The surgery was partially successful but her prognosis was shortened to only a few years. A stage two clinical trial for brain tumors was beginning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital (MSKH) in New York City and Michelle became one of 65 participants. The cutting-edge treatment was an adult stem cell transplant where her immune system was reduced to nothing. Michael, who worked in New Jersey, was allowed to visit during this treatment, but Dr. Kaley of MSKH declared South Dakota germs were not allowed, so the rest of the family could not visit. Michelle continued to work during her long battle with the recurring tumor, undergoing periodic chemo treatments at MSKH and an MRI every three months. She holds the record for the most MRI’s given to one patient at Sloan.
Eventually, the tumor forced Michelle to quit her job and take disability. She continued living on her own in Danbury, Conn., for three years and could still drive and explore New York City. While in Danbury, she was an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and enjoyed the quilting group and working with the Comfort Dog Program.
Finally, in October of 2016, Michelle had to move back to Winner because she needed extra care. She lived in a private residence for five months and spent four more months at Winner Long Term Care until her death August 26, 2017, surrounded by her family.
Michelle is survived by her parents, Bill and Joan Ferguson of Witten, S.D.; sister, Heather (Rev. David) Otten and nieces Anna, Dorothy, Esther, Irene, Marlys and nephew, Gerhard of Gettysburg, S.D.; aunt, Kathy (Harley) Furrey of Clearfield and Quinn; aunt, Janice Falen of Lacey, Wa.; uncle, Al Trevino of Salt Lake City, Utah; and great-aunt, Gae Brock of Winner. Also surviving Michelle are the McCarthy children (Dana McCarthy of New York City; Ryan and Joanna McCarthy and their two sons of Salem, N.Y.; Sheri and Lee Preece and their two sons of Brewster, N.Y.; and Sean McCarthy of Los Angeles, Calif.) and her dear friend, Rochelle Weisburg and her two sons of Bronx, N.Y. Also, many relatives and friends especially Deb and Tim Moeller of Winner.
Preceding Michelle in death were her grandparents, Emil and Ann Sieler and Donna and Vern Ferguson; her aunt, Karen Trevino; her uncle, Bill Clark; and her brother, Michael.
Michelle loved life and people and never complained during the 14 years she fought the tumor. Her response was always, “It could be so much worse.” Michelle also had a great sense of humor, and her favorite quip to family and friends was, “What is WRONG with you?”
Visitation will be from 6:00-7:00 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at Christ Lutheran Church with a Prayer Service starting at 7:00 p.m.
Memorial Service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 at Christ Lutheran Church in Winner. Burial will follow at the Winner City Cemetery.
An additional Memorial Service for Michelle will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Danbury Connecticut at a later date.