Nita Mae Ferguson
Nita Mae Ferguson passed away with her family at her side on Oct. 27, 2016, at Cedar Wood Healthcare Community in Red Lodge. She was born to William and Juanita (Stone) Hebbert on July 3, 1938, in Sheridan, Wyo., joining an older sister, Ilene.
The Hebbert family moved often due to Bill working as a large machinery operator building roads and bridges throughout Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. They lived in a camper that Bill had built by hand.
When Nita was 7 years old, her mother passed away leaving Bill to care for the two young girls. Over the next 9 years, Bill would find women to marry, but the marriages wouldn’t last. Ilene and Nita survived those years together.
When Nita was 16, she decided to stay in Red Lodge, where her father was currently working, and live with a foster family, James and Virginia Brophy, who were very good to her.
Nita entered high school and she flourished. She was a very popular girl; drum majorette for the school band, editor of the Red Lodge Annual and was invited to join Rainbow, a Masonic youth service organization for girls. She was also elected May Queen by the whole student body. Nita and her sister Ilene sang beautifully together and entertained at weddings and other functions. The girls also were able to record a few songs on “78” records that are still in the family. She was also picked to draw a beautiful picture of the school’s mascot, a Red Lodge Redskin, for the school newspaper.
After graduating high school, Nita went to the U of M in Missoula where she joined the Kappa Kappa gamma sorority. She continued with her singing, and with a trio of friends, formed a group known as the “Kappa Keyes”. They sang at weddings, parties and many social events. Nita had also decided her field of study would be psychology.
Unfortunately, after just a year in college, Nita realized she couldn’t afford to go on, so she moved back to Red Lodge. There she met a telephone repairman named Roger Ferguson, whom she married on Nov. 29, 1958.
A year later, they welcomed a baby girl, Brenda Sue. Two years later, a son, Michael Paul, arrived. Then, eight years down the road, a surprise, son Jeffery Max appeared.
Over the years, Nita’s family thrived because of her. She was a wonderful cook, kept a neat and tidy home and was a very warm and loving wife and mother who had an awesome sense of humor! She was always humming a tune or singing a little ditty that her mother had taught her years before. And she was active outside the home as well, making and selling homemade candles with a family friend, beautifully refinishing antique furniture that she collected, canning chokecherry jelly, running her own second hand clothing store called “Sophisticated Seconds” and making the best original Halloween costumes. She was also very active in P.E.O., the Carbon County Hospital Board and the Red Lodge School Board, where she was very instrumental in helping make major changes for the school. Nita and her family loved to go camping, and with three or four other families, would spend one week every summer for 16 years at Sawtooth Lake in a teepee camped next to the lake. She was also a published author; writing a book about her life and titling it “Almost Invisible.”
In 1989, Nita and Roger bought a neglected little cabin up the West Fork of Rock Creek in an area known as Camp Senia, which was a dude ranch back in the 1920’s. Together, family and friends transformed this place into a warm, comfortable home away from home using it for many family gatherings and also letting others us it for a relaxing retreat.
Nita and Roger were foster parents to three children, and also opened their home to other children in Red Lodge who needed a stable place to stay for a time.
Nita sis survived by her loving husband, Roger of Red Lodge; daughter, Brenda and husband Bryon Whittington of Shepherd, and their kids, Bradley and Cody of Rosemount, Minn.; son, Mike and wife Kimberly (Brammer) of Red Lodge, and their kids Zachary and wife Trinity (Stark) of Missoula, Christopher, Samantha, Alex and girlfriend Elexa Van Ornum, all of Red Lodge, and son, Jeff of Boise, Idaho.
She is preceded in death by her parents and sister.
Special thanks from Nita’s family goes out to the entire staff of Cedar Wood in Red Lodge, who made her short stay both comfortable and happy. They were very caring and professional in every way and it is deeply appreciated.
A service will be held at 11 a.m., Nov. 4 at the Red Lodge Community Church, 308 S. Broadway, with a lunch reception following at the Church. Cremation has taken place and spreading of her ashes will take place at a later date. Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel of Red Lodge has assisted with the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Yellowstone Wildlife Center, 615 2nd Street East, Red Lodge, MT 59068; or a charity of your choice.