Friday, August 19, 2022

Former Ole Miss Band Director, Dr. James S. Ferguson, Dies at 85

Dr. James S. ”Doc” Ferguson, former director of The University of Alabama’s “Million Dollar Band” and the “Pride of the South Marching Band“ at the University of Mississippi, passed away on March 17, 2021. At the time of his death, he resided in Woodstock, Georgia with his wife, Micki, his puppies, Gracie and Lucy, and his beloved backyard full of bluebirds.

Dr. James S. ”Doc” Ferguson served as the director of The University of Alabama’s “Million Dollar Band” and the “Pride of the South Marching Band“ at the University of Mississippi. Photo courtesy of The University of Alabama Bands Facebook page.

Dr. James S. Ferguson was born on Nov. 24, 1935. He was preceded in death by his father, Verell Pennington Ferguson, and his mother Ruth Smith Ferguson in Columbus, Mississippi. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Verell Pennington “VP” Ferguson, Jr. and his sister Betty Ferguson Allen.

He is survived by his wife Micki Ferguson, his son James Smith Ferguson, Jr., and daughter-in-law Victoria Fisher Ferguson. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jack Fisher Ferguson and Max Pennington Ferguson, his son Robert Alexander Ferguson, stepchildren Travis and Shana Childress of California and Robert and Sunshyne Pothier of Colorado, and two step-grandchildren, Lorelei Pothier and Carter James Pothier.  

Ferguson graduated from S.S. Lee High School in 1953. He earned his B.A. degree from the University of Mississippi in 1956. Later, he entered the teaching profession by taking a position as “Director of Bands” at Pontotoc Mississippi High School in 1957, followed by his position as Band Director at Marks Mississippi High School 1958-1960 and H.V. Cooper High School Band in Vicksburg, Mississippi from 1961-1963. 

Ferguson received his Master of Music Degree in 1965 and his Doctor of Music Education in 1966. From 1966 – 1970, he was the Director of Bands and a full professor at The University of Mississippi. He served as the Director of Bands and as a full professor at the University of Alabama from 1971 to 1983. 

Dr. Ferguson as he directs the Million Dollar Band at the University of Alabama. Photo courtesy of The University of Alabama Bands Facebook page.

After retiring from band directing, Ferguson started Datron Software Services in Birmingham, Alabama.  In 1992 he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, with Micki and their blended family and obtained his Master of Social Work degree.  When the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, Jim Worked as an Oracle DBA and Data Analyst before retiring once again in 2011 to enjoy and create musical projects.  Jim remained an ardent student of all subjects during his lifetime.  In the weeks preceding his death, he was determined to learn to play piano like Dr. John.  He was doing very well on the piece, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

In his childhood, Ferguson played daily on the Toby Tubby and the Luxapalila Creeks near Columbus.  He was a pilot and a sailor. Those who knew him describe him as a wonderful father, friend and life companion. 


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