John C. Ferguson, Jr. was a familiar name to Mt. Lebanon residents, even for those who never met him.
For 28 years he served as treasurer for the South Hills municipality, and it was his signature that appeared on the tax bills. He is on the ballot this November, too, running unopposed for another four-year term.
But after attending a church picnic then watching the broadcast of his beloved Pirates on Sunday, Mr. Ferguson, 75, died suddenly at a local hospital shortly after midnight of an apparent heart problem.
"This office was very sad this week," said Mary Abbott, Mt. Lebanon tax office manager who credited Mr. Ferguson with encouraging her professional and personal growth as she moved from clerk to supervisor to office manager.
She and others described Mr. Ferguson as a devoted family man -- he died on the 46th anniversary of his marriage to wife Carol -- who somehow found time to be involved in the activities of their four children, handle his treasurer's responsibilities as well as work full-time as a business technical analyst for Highmark, his employer for 42 years.
"He just always seemed to be there," said daughter Elizabeth Hartman, who recalled that part of the family's daily after-dinner routine included her father reading to them selections such as "Aesop's Fables," "The Jungle Book" and "The Wizard of Oz." She is now a high school English teacher in State College.
"I think he measured his success not in anything more than the love he received from his family and especially his children," said Mrs. Ferguson, who added she met her husband at a meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Young Republicans.
Mr. Ferguson started working at Highmark shortly after his graduation from the University of Virginia. "He was committed to his work and very loyal," said his supervisor, Martha Brahm. "He was always positive and cheerful and quick-witted. We enjoyed working with him."
Mr. Ferguson won the election for Mt. Lebanon's treasurer on his second attempt. "I remember on his first day in office, he told us, 'I know nothing about taxes and I know nothing about computers,' " Mrs. Abbott recalled. "But he came in with a trust in the people who were here to let us do the job we were trained to do. He knew that we knew our jobs."
While the job carried a modest salary, she added, "John has always been involved in his community. He wanted to give back to the community." He was also a member of the Mt. Lebanon Republican Committee and served as state committeeman and was a deacon and elder at Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Ferguson is survived by daughter Courtney Ferguson of Boulder, Colo.; sons John Ferguson of Tracy, Calif., and Andrew Ferguson of Richmond, Va.; sisters Penelope Hunt of Mt. Lebanon and Judy Ferguson of Evanston, Ill.; a brother, David Ferguson of Seattle; and eight grandchildren.
A private burial is planned for Saturday, but friends are invited to a memorial service scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church, 1207 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, is in charge of arrangements.
The family asks that memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association, 444 Liberty Ave., Suite 1300, Pittsburgh 15222-1207 or to the Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church Missions Fund.
Steve Twedt: email@example.com or 412-263-1963. First Published October 10, 2013 8:00 PM