Charles Ferguson was born June 29, 1916, at a home up the Lewis River Valley at home by Dr Hoffmann. He was the third son born to James and Edith Ferguson. Life back at that time would be considered primitive to today’s standard. The family raised cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, and strawberries. Dad would get up and milk nine cows before going to school. They all came down with the Spanish Flu in the 1918 to 1920 time frame, and all the family survived. In 1929, the family moved to the current farm at the end of South Pekin Road next to the Lewis River.
Charles attended Clover Valley Grade School, prior to the move. After the move, he attended and graduated from Woodland High School in 1934, but due to the depression he had an extra year of “enrichment”. He then attended Lower Columbia College in its second year of existence and then transferred to Washington State College, where he graduated in February of 1940. He paid for college and room and board by working numerous jobs. While at WSC (WSU now) he was Cattle Club president and was on the cattle judging team that won second best in the Northwest.
To save money, he hitch hiked and/or hopped freight trains to get to higher paying jobs, to college, and also for fun. He and Melvin Robertson made two long trips. One to San Diego and Tijuana by freight trains and hitch hiking where needed. Later they took a semester off from college and made a trip to New York City by freight trains and hitch hiking. They had planned to go to England. They didn’t have enough money after England increased the requirements. So instead, they bought a used Model A and toured the south and made it to Mexico City. They returned to Texas and across the U.S. Southwest and then back to Pullman for the next semester of college. What a trip for those days, especially with the limited number of improved roads.
After graduating, he started working as a milk tester in King County. On Dec. 2, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Ellen Christensen, from Wilbur, Wash. They settled in Duvall, Wash., while he milk tested for three years. Their first child, Margaret, was born Sept. 2, 1941, exactly nine months after they got married. After moving to Woodland, they had four boys, Howard, Jim, Robert, and Douglas. In 1943, the family moved back to Woodland and purchased his dad’s dairy farm with his brother, Byron. Byron and Charles successfully ran the dairy farm for over 70 years until Byron died in 2013. His sons, Doug and Jim, took over operation of the dairy farm in 2014.
He has been very active in community and agriculture organizations. He was a board member of the Mayflower Dairy Cooperative (now Darigold) for 13 years. He was a board member of the Lower Columbia College Foundation, Woodland School District, and Woodland Port District. He was also fire district commissioner, Cowlitz County Boundary Review member, Woodland Chamber of Commerce president, Woodland Presbyterian Church Elder, Lions Club member, and active in many other ag groups. He was proud to help lead a group of farmers clear brush and seed the now open space of Horseshoe Lake Park. Amazingly after all the hours on the farm, community and dairy organization, he had time for fishing, hunting, boating, travel, rock hounding, card playing, and of course storytelling and talking to others. He would love to talk to you about what is going on or the good old days. He enjoyed wintering in Yuma, Ariz., area until the spring of 2015, where his health had declined to the point where he needed some assistance. After Ellen died, he looked up an old school friend, Flo Loy, and spent quite a bit of time with her. Flo died in 2010. After that, he found a new girlfriend, Fran Hamilton of Phoenix, Ariz. She was the widow of his childhood friend, Robert Hamilton.
Charles is survived by his daughter, Margaret Beck (Jim) of Centralia; and his sons, Howard of Lacey, James of Woodland, Robert of Seattle, and Doug of Woodland. He also has seven grandchildren, Jennifer Beck of Oakland, Calif./Centralia, Jon Beck (Heidi) of Clinton, David Beck of Centralia, Christopher Ferguson of Seattle, Joshua Ferguson of Woodland, and Joanna Ferguson of Federal Way. He also has two great-grandchildren, Cameron Beck and Moira Beck, both on Whidbey Island.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ellen in 1998; brothers, Wayne, Byron, Albert, and Donald; and granddaughter, Rosemary Ferguson in 2001.
The family held a graveside service March 30, 2021, and a small celebration of life service at Woodland Presbyterian Church. Woodland Funeral Home, woodlandfh.com, handled the arrangements. Memorial gifts may be made to Woodland Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 297, Woodland, WA 98674, or Woodland Historical Museum, P.O. Box 255, Woodland, WA 98674.