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ISSUE 116 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/2/2003

Ferguson’s life celebrated

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, May 2, 2003

Sarah Ferguson ’05 was remembered for her eyes of ocean blue and a golden smile that could light up any room she was in at a memorial service in Boe Chapel on Apr. 22 that celebrated the 20-year-old’s life.

Ferguson, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this month, was known to family and friends as a compassionate listener, talented writer, and devoted friend.

At the service Ferguson’s friends Leah Hakkola ’05 and Kim Pham ’05 read a poem that they had written for their friend.

The girls shared memories of times they had spent with Ferguson, recalling winter nights that they had gone sledding, venting sessions that they had held in each others rooms about their love lives and laughs that they shared over meals in the cafeteria.

"Sarah," Hakkola and Pham concluded, "your friendship was sweeter then honey. We’ll miss you."

Johanna Savage ’05, who was first introduced to Ferguson when she received a rooming card in the mail the summer before the girls arrived at St. Olaf, spoke about her friend’s enthusiasm for life.

"She had a vibrant personality," Savage said. "She had the ability to see the positive in everything."

During her time at St. Olaf, Ferguson was a member of the Manitou Messenger and Viking Yearbook staffs.

"Her goal was to be a writer and an editor," Savage said. "Sarah knew that writing allowed her to taste life twice."

Friends Kirsten Griffin ’05 and Kristen Highum ’05 also added their memories of Ferguson during the service.

Griffin told a story detailing what a devoted listener Ferguson was. One time Griffin remembered playing the piano for a group of friends, but stopping when the group became uninterested and stopped paying attention.

"I heard a voice from beneath me, saying ‘no, don’t stop,’" Griffin said. "Sarah and a friend had crawled beneath the piano and were listening. That is how deep a listener Sarah was. Listening to the keys wasn’t enough, she had to get closer."

Highum also expressed the void that Ferguson’s death has created in many people’s lives.

"There will always be an empty spot in our circle of friends that we will fill with your memory," Highum said.

Ferguson an English and American studies major, participated in the Literature Alive! Writing for Social Change Interim in 2002. Associate English Professor Mary Titus, who led the Interim that spent two weeks in St. Paul and Minneapolis, said that few first-years were willing to participate in the course.

"Only the brave applied, and Sarah Ferguson was one of them," Titus said.

The Interim course, which focused on social change through literature, spent two weeks in poverty-stricken parts of the Twin Cities visiting soup kitchens.

"She would be sending out that warm welcome," Titus said. "She was always eager to listen but not to judge."

Ferguson’s father Gregg Ferguson assured those gathered at the memorial service that she was smiling down at them right now.

"I want you to know that Sarah did everything that she could to do to come back to St. Olaf and be with you all," Gregg Ferguson said. "She wasn’t going to let the disease beat her."

Sarah was Gregg and Laura Ferguson’s only child, but she did leave her parents with encouragement.

"She told us that she was content with her life," Gregg Ferguson said. "She said her life was a fairytale."

President Christopher Thomforde expressed his grief over the loss of Ferguson.

"The death of a young person is an insult to life," Thomforde said. "Especially in this time when life is brimming all around us. It is by the grace of God that we can look forward to her new life. In the meantime we must sustain each other."

The Limestones performed two songs at the memorial. The group sang "Someday," which was originally written for the five members of the class of ’03 that have passed away over the last four years.

Campus Pastors Bruce Benson and Jennifer Anderson Koening presided over the service. After the memorial Ferguson’s family held a reception in the Trollhaugen Room in Buntrock Commons.

Ferguson’s funeral was held on Apr. 13 at the First United Methodist Church in Lindstrom, Minn.

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