Ruth Ferguson

Ruth Ferguson

  • Funeral Date: 4/05/14
  • Funeral Time: 11:00 AM
  • Date of Birth: 2/23/43
  • Date of Death: 3/23/14
  • Funeral Location: St. John's Lutheran Church - Northfield

Ruth Ann Hofstad Ferguson – February 23, 1943 – March 23, 2014

Ruth Ann Hofstad Ferguson died peacefully in the morning of March 23, 2014, at the Three Links nursing home in Northfield, MN, after a prolonged struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ruth and her brother and sister were raised on a dairy farm close to the town of Eagle Bend, MN. She attended Concordia College, Moorhead, MN majoring in music education, with a minor in religion. While at Concordia she discovered the pipe organ, took lessons, and soon was serving churches as a substitute organist. Upon graduation she taught elementary music in Hawley, MN and in summers continued her organ studies with the legendary Arthur Poister at Syracuse University. Poister encouraged her evolving dream to become a full time church musician and she was accepted for graduate study in organ at the Eastman School of Music, where she obtained a Masters in organ performance, studying with another legend in the field, Russell Saunders.
During her first summer at Eastman she met her husband to be, John Ferguson. Ruth and John married in August 1971, moving to Kent, OH, where she worked as an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University and served as associate organist at the Kent United Church of Christ. In 1976 they welcomed with great delight their son, Christopher. In 1978, the family moved to Minneapolis, where John was appointed organist and director of music at Central Lutheran Church and Ruth as assistant organist. The family then moved to Northfield in 1983. In Northfield, Ruth served as organist at St. John’s Lutheran Church for 25 years, and later was their music coordinator. She also taught organ for fifteen years at St. Olaf College as an adjunct faculty member.
Ruth was a superb cook and hostess, who will be remembered for her laughter, quick wit, cheerful smile, gracious, gentle, and caring nature, and her “Cantorei Brownies” and Swedish Cream Wafers. She loved socializing with family and friends, hosting annual Thanksgiving dinners and yearly reunions with her brother and sister and their families in Bemidji and Grand Forks. Ruth also made her home a welcoming environment for thousands of St. Olaf students, hosting annual events for both choir and organ students. At St. John’s she served for many years as a Stephen Minister and also was active in her WELCA circle, treasuring the monthly meetings and Bible studies.
She is survived by her husband, John; her son Christopher (Sarah) of Auburn, Alabama; granddaughter, Lucy; her sister Ardis Braaton (David) of Grand Forks; and her brother, Philip Hofstad (Carole) of Bemidji; several nieces and nephews, and other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Lillian Hofstad.
Funeral services will be at 11:00AM, Saturday, April 5 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield. A reception will follow and visitation will be at the church on Saturday one hour prior to the service.

Memorials are preferred to St. John’s Lutheran Church Music Fund.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home.


  1. John and Barbara Walters

    We came to know her at St. Johns while she was organist there and it was our good fortune that this happened. We knew her as a kind, gentle, loving woman who enjoyed humor. We enjoyed exercising with her later in her life. Her patience, intellect, and quick wit were an inspiration. She was a lovely person. We will miss her.

  2. Larry & Carol Sanders

    Well John…

    Our outstanding remembrance of Ruth (amongst many) is her lovely laugh… especially when I’d call the house and ask for the “Perfesser”, and I’d get this hearty “HA!”.
    A lovely person gone too soon.

    Larry & Carol

  3. Kate Walter

    Condolences from the Walter family–Kate, Joe, Jolene and Jeanine. God’s blessing on you, John, for your devotion and wisdom in caring for Ruth. May you know God’s peace as you embark on this new chapter He has planned for you.

  4. Kathryn U Moen

    To Leo and Carol Bjorlie–
    I am saddened to hear of your loss ,Leo , and want to send my sympathies to you both. It is hard to lose a parent, but now it is up to you to carry on the name, Leo!! Keep playing your string bass , and singing happy tunes to your lovely cellist wife, Carol, whom I miss…(.Haven’t kept up on my cello playing and I miss it !!) But, my message today is to bring you sympathy and love for all you both have meant to me!!! Your father would be proud of you, Leo..

  5. Kathryn U Moen

    To John Ferguson,
    My heart goes out to you with deep sympathy on your loss, John. I never met your lovely Ruth, but have known of her loveliness through others . Life as a single person is not easy, when you have been accustomed to such a wonderful relationship, but memories sustain you, and you have many friends to support you as well, John. Not only that, we both know what a source of comfort is our music. Keep playing the organ and remember your many performances that have given pleasure to so many !! “Vom Gott will ich nicht lassen” can be your motto !!! Sincerely, Kathryn Ulvilden Moen

  6. Mary Ellen North

    John I am so sorry for your loss. I was not going to St John’s when Ruth was the organist. I remember her sitting in front of me in church. I will continue to pray for you and her family.

  7. Nick Klemetson

    Dr. Ferguson and Family,

    I was deeply saddened to hear this news. May God bless you and be with you during this time.

    Nick Klemetson

  8. John Currie, the Red Bull

    I am so sorry to hear of your great loss, John. My bride and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary this week, so I can only dream of the wonderful lifetime that you share with your dear Ruth. It might seem funny to bring up such envy at a time like this, yet it is so simply true. I pray that the sadness you feel now and the tears you shed over her death will gradually be replaced with quiet joy and heartfelt smiles as sweet memories push them aside. May you seek comfort in our Lord and find His embrace in these days and know that the prayers and best wishes of many surround you.

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