Giving and sharing a rich life
Colleen Ferguson is a home-grown Prineville girl with Crook County blood running through her veins.
For those who have interacted or known Ferguson for any time, it is apparent that she is gracious and kind to everyone she encounters.
She has lived in Prineville for 72 years. Her maiden name is Halsey, and when she was growing up, her father had a shop called Halsey's Glass and Upholstery, which was where Prepper Up is now located.
"Our house was right next to it, so we grew up right there on the street," Ferguson said of her childhood home.
She grew up with four siblings, Ron, Archie, Mary Lou, and John. She has fond memories of her childhood, where she and her siblings felt safe and spent a great deal of time playing in an empty lot next to their house — which is now occupied by Prineville Coffee Company.
"We are very close and we are lucky. We absolutely grew up at the right time and we were in the right years," she said. "We were very safe, and we could ride our bikes anywhere. We thought our childhood was very normal — until you get to talking to other people. We had a wonderful childhood."
Her family was a VFW (Veteran's of Foreign Wars) family.
"That was the only people we knew, but there was a lot at that time — a lot of families. So, the kids we grew up were VFW kids — that was who we associated with. Everything we did was through the military end of it."
Her father was a World War II veteran but, like so many others, would not talk about his war experiences. Her husband, John, served in the Vietnam era.
Their social life revolved around the VFW. Their family is still involved in the VFW, although she noted its quite different now and people are not as involved socially in the VFW as they used to be.
She married the love of her life, John, in 1964. Their daughter, Elizabeth, lives in Prineville and has her master's degree in psychology. She has four children and Ferguson now has seven great-grandchildren. Their son, Mark, lives in Santa Rosa, California. He is the chair of the math department for Santa Rosa Junior College.
Ferguson has always enjoyed working and started working when she was 18 years of age.
"I have never been without a job," she stated.
For 27 years, Ferguson worked with Sears, with nine of those owning her own store. She came to work for Crook County in 2000.
Her passion is working with the Humane Society of the Ochocos. She has fostered many kittens over the years — and kept many of the kittens she fostered. She is on the Board of Directors with the local Humane Society. She has also been secretary for the VFW for many years and has served as chaplain for the district (VFW) as well.
Ferguson serves as a private notary, which allows her to work with individuals in their homes for hospice to assist with notary papers. She served in the capacity of respite for several years.
Ferguson has worked for Crook County for 20 years, starting upstairs in the Crook County Clerk's Office. After three years, she came down to work with Judge Scott Cooper. She currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Crook County Court and Administration for Crook County.
"I have worked with some wonderful people and I have learned so much from each one of them — each one is different and all have a talent. I have learned so much from them," said Ferguson of the county court staff.
Ferguson's coworkers all have great things to say about her and her work ethic.
"I have worked with Colleen and she has also become a good friend. She is someone who takes care of her friends, her family, her office workers and her bosses and makes everything look super easy," commented county co-worker Jennifer Orozco.
"Great ladies who have done a great job and we couldn't get along without them," said Crook County Commissioner Jerry Brummer.
Prior to working for the county, she also worked for mental health in Madras and Crook County for Lutheran Community Services. Ferguson learned how to fill out the assessment papers, so when the new clients came in for their appointments, they would have all their information.
She also managed assisted living at the prior Carriage House and she helped to open Aspen Ridge in Bend.
"We had retirement, assisted living and Alzheimer's (clients). I did the assessments and then I managed the Alzheimer's side. It was a great, fulfilling job," she said of her time at Aspen Ridge and Carriage House. "In those jobs, I had a lot of opportunities to visit with hospice; they took care of a lot of people in our facilities."
Her sister later had cancer and hospice came to help them, and then again when her brother-in-law had leukemia.
"I got to know about it, and thought, "if there is something I can do to pay back, (I will)."'
At the end of the year, Ferguson is retiring from the county. She is looking forward to spending time with hospice, the Humane Society and spending more time with family. She is also looking forward to spending time with friends who have a bed and breakfast on the Island of Roatan, Honduras. The island is approximately 45 miles off of Honduras.
"It is beautiful and the water is unbelievable."
She explained that she was last there in March, and they were getting ready to close the Island due to COVID-19. She was on the last plane off from the Island on the 16th of March.
"We were taxying about 5:15, and they closed the island at 6 p.m.," she recalled.
She added that if she had not left on that flight, she might still have been there.
"I was going through all those airports, and you had to run to catch everything and it was just crazy!"
Ferguson also loves to cruise and she is hoping to resume that passion when the COVID-19 allows. When asked about how she announced her retirement, she lightheartedly indicated that she just had an end-of-year evaluation.
"When asked about my goals, I said I didn't have any goals," she laughed.
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