Winnie Jean Flanegan Ferguson died at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC on June 16, 2012 surrounded by her family.
Although she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, she was a life-long non-smoker. She had been responding well to treatment and her family was surprised by her sudden decline and death.
She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Joseph M. Ferguson, Sr., her son and daughter-in-law, Warren D. Ferguson and Nancy Francis of Cary, NC, and her daughter and son-in-law, Sheridan J. Ferguson Edmondson and W. Robert Edmondson, of Sewickley, PA. She is also survived by seven grandchildren, Renee, Nathan, Sharlene, Sean, and Julia Ferguson, Alexander and Tyler Edmondson, and three step-grandchildren, Kelani and Adam Edmondson, and Nonie Gandhi. Her brother John Flanegan and sister Mary Finch of Sigourney, Iowa also mourn her loss, as do numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her son J. Martin Ferguson, Jr.
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Winnie was born in Sigourney, Iowa on May 19, 1933, the daughter of Samuel Dwight Flanegan and Flora Mae Kleinschmidt. Winnie graduated from Sigourney High School in 1952 and attended Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She later earned a Bachelor’s in Art Education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where she also earned a Master’s in Art Education and a Master’s in Art Therapy. She served as the first executive director of Very Special Arts Ohio, using the arts to enrich the lives of developmentally challenged people. In 1991, she earned a Ph.D. from Union Institute in Art Therapy and then joined the faculty at Wright State University. Through the course of her career she taught art at Spinning Hills Jr. High School and Stebbins High School in Dayton, Ohio. She also taught both art education classes and art therapy classes at Wright State University.
Winnie had a passion for art and was driven to instill that same love in her students. She continued teaching art even after her retirement from Wright State, mentoring many artists in group classes in the open studio program at the Cary Senior Center, and teaching several private students in her home studio. She was especially proud when students would find their own strength and style. Winnie was a founding member of the Cary Gallery of Artists where she served as president, and where her work will be on exhibit through August. She served as both president and board member for the Fine Arts League of Cary, and as a board member for Friends of Page Walker. Winnie also loved the performing arts and was a strong supporter of live musical and theater performances, particularly those including her family members.
Her first loves were fiber art, jewelery and pottery, and she later worked extensively in acrylics and oils. In honor of Winnie's love of color and texture, she requested that those attending her memorial service wear bright colors.
She loved to teach, paint, cook, garden, and spend time with the people she loved. She applied herself in a masterful manner to all she did. She was a woman full of life and plans and energy, and leaves behind an enormous hole in the lives of those who love her.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh (www.uufr.org) at 3:00 PM with a reception following. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Fellowship in her honor.