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July 14, 2014

Helen Lenore Lyon Ferguson

Helen Lenore Lyon Ferguson was born on April 12, 1922, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, to Mildred and Ray Lyon. She spent her childhood years with her three brothers, Glenn, Clare and Frank in Clinton, Nebraska, where her father operated the Lyon Curio Store.

In 1935, the family moved to Pawnee, where Ray Lyon was invited to be a partner with “Pawnee Bill” Gordon Lillie and his “OLD Town.” After Pawnee Bill’s death and a fire ruining Old Town, the business was transformed into Pawnee Bill’s Indian Trading Post, which still operates today.

Helen finished high school in Pawnee, graduating in 1939 with her sweetheart, D. Jo Ferguson. She attended Oklahoma A&M while D. Jo attended the University of Oklahoma. When World War II broke out, D. Jo enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in San Diego. Helen soon joined him and they were married in Glendale, California in 1943. Helen moved back to Pawnee to deliver her first child, Cheryl.

After the war, D. Jo, Helen and Cheryl moved to Norman, Okla., so D. Jo could continue his schooling. When Jo’s father ran for governor, it was time to move back to Pawnee to run the family newspaper.

Four more children followed. Helen raised the children at home until the youngest was controllable, then she went to work full time at the newspaper, The Pawnee Chief. She retired in 1985 while D. Jo continued to run the paper until his death in 2010.

The couple moved into the home of his parents, acreage once part of the Pawnee Bill ranch. In that home, the couple enjoyed gardening and hosting countless family gatherings. Helen was also a very gifted musician. She could play piano and organ by ear, and there were numerous family sing-alongs in the Ferguson household. She played the organ at her church until she was in her nineties. Her favorite church memories were when she and Doc Henry played duets before Sunday services. They sometimes sneaked in a few non-liturgical numbers just for the fun of it. Helen also played the calliope at the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show for many years, until the calliope fell into disrepair.

She was an active member of Chapter H, PEO for 63 years, and was on the board of directors of the Pawnee Historical Society. She was a dedicated member of the First Christian Church of Pawnee.

Helen had many friends throughout the state with her affiliation to the Oklahoma Press Association. Her newspaper “Family” lured her and D Jo to many exciting destinations, including the New York World’s Fair and Hawaii. Of course, they always had a sing-along with Helen at the piano doing requests.

Her children remember her fancy desserts for bridge parties and for her decorated heart cookies sent with all of her kids for Valentine’s Day at school. She instilled in her children a love of music, cooking and gardening (mostly flowers).

Helen passed peacefully at home July 12th, surrounded by family after a short illness.

She was preceded in death by her husband, D Jo Ferguson, her parents and brothers, daughter Cheryl, grandson Frank Murie, and son-in-law John Munding.

She is survived by her children; Janelle Munding (Cleveland), Jo and Pam Ferguson (Pawnee), Scott and Barbara Ferguson (Tulsa), Dave and Debbie Ferguson and son-in-Law Junior Bryant (Pawnee) 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

The family would like to thank all her friends who came by to check on her, and to Judith Karman Hospice of Stillwater.

Memorial donations may be directed to the Pawnee Historical Society or P.E.O. International.

A memorial service will be held at 1p.m., Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at the First Christian Church, Pawnee, Okla., under the direction of Poteet Funeral Home, Pawnee, Okla.

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