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. www.northfieldfuneral.com