Michelle Ferguson, age 53, of Winner, passed away on Aug. 26, 2017 at the Winner Regional Long Term Care Facility. Memorial Service was held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 at Christ Lutheran Church in Winner. Burial followed at the Winner City Cemetery. Visitation was held Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at Christ Lutheran Church with a Prayer Service starting at 7 p.m. An additional Memorial Service for Michelle will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Danbury Connecticut at a later date.
Michelle Paige Ferguson was born Aug. 24, 1964 to Bill and Joan (Sieler) Ferguson in Rapid City SD, where Bill was attending SDSM&T. Michelle was baptized Sept 20, 1964 at Zion Lutheran in Rapid City and confirmed May 21, 1987 at Christ Lutheran in Winner SD. Upon Bill’s graduation as an Electrical Engineer the family moved east, first to Kokomo, Indiana, where brother, Michael and sister, Heather were born, and then to the Boston, Massachusetts area. Michelle loved school and the east coast. In 1976 the family moved back to SD to the family farm in Witten and Michelle joined Eden School in Lone Tree Township. It was a tremendous change from life in Harvard MA, to a country school.
In 1982 Michelle graduated from Winner High School and began college at SDSU in Brookings SD. Michelle remembered only the good things about the east coast and left college to work as a nanny for the McCarthy family in New York. Michelle enrolled in Long Island University where she finished her accounting degree in 1988 but continued to work as a nanny. Upon graduation Michelle enrolled in Pace University Law School. There she met fellow student, Rochelle Weisburg, with whom she developed a life-long friendship. They received their Juris Doctorates in 1991. Michelle passed the New York bar exam on the first try and began work at IBEW Local 1430 Union. Michelle continued her close relationship with the four McCarthy children, attending their sporting events, driving them to school events and being their go-to-auntie. Michelle loved the excitement and energy of New York City.
In 2003 Michelle experienced a sudden change in vision as she was driving to work. She was diagnosed with a frontal lobe oligodendroglioma brain tumor and immediately underwent surgery in Bethlehem, PA. The surgery was partially successful but her prognosis was shortened to only a few years. A stage two clinical trial for brain tumors was beginning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital (MSKH) in New York City and Michelle became one of 65 participants. The cutting-edge treatment was an adult stem cell transplant where her immune system was reduced to nothing. Michael, who worked in New Jersey, was allowed to visit during this treatment, but Dr. Kaley of MSKH declared SD germs were not allowed, so the rest of the family could not visit. Michelle continued to work during her long battle with the recurring tumor, undergoing periodic chemo treatments at MSKH and an MRI every three months. She holds the record for the most MRI’s given to one patient at Sloan.
Eventually, the tumor forced Michelle to quit her job and take disability. She continued living on her own in Danbury, Connecticut, for 3 years and could still drive and explore New York City. While in Danbury, she was an active member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and enjoyed the quilting group and working with the Comfort Dog Program. Finally, in October of 2016, Michelle had to move back to Winner because she needed extra care. She lived in a private residence for 5 months and spent 4 more months at Winner Long Term Care until her death August 26, 2017, surrounded by her family.
Michelle is survived by her parents, Bill and Joan Ferguson of Witten SD; sister, Heather (Rev David) Otten and nieces Anna, Dorothy, Esther, Irene, Marlys and nephew, Gerhard of Gettysburg SD; aunt, Kathy (Harley) Furrey of Clearfield and Quinn SD; aunt, Janice Falen of Lacey WA; uncle, Al Trevino of Salt Lake City UT; and Great Aunt Gae Brock of Winner SD. Also surviving Michelle are the McCarthy children (Dana McCarthy of New York City; Ryan and Joanna McCarthy and their two sons of Salem NY; Sheri and Lee Preece and their two sons of Brewster NY; and Sean McCarthy of Los Angeles CA) and her dear friend Rochelle Weisburg and her two sons of Bronx NY. Also, many relatives and friends especially Deb and Tim Moeller of Winner SD.
Preceding Michelle in death were her grandparents, Emil and Ann Sieler and Donna and Vern Ferguson; her aunt, Karen Trevino; her uncle, Bill Clark; and her brother, Michael.
Michelle loved life and people and never complained during the 14 years she fought the tumor. Her response was always, “It could be so much worse.” Michelle also had a great sense of humor, and her favorite quip to family and friends was, “What is WRONG with you?”