SIDNEY — Family members of Murray C. Ferguson, who in the 1940s originated the idea of a civic park in Sidney, gathered Wednesday afternoon in Tawawa Park to honor him and other members of the Ferguson family.
Cathy Schmidt and Linda Steenrod, granddaughters of Murray C. Ferguson, and Barbara Lorton, Murray C. Ferguson’s youngest daughter, donated a red oak tree and a bench to Tawawa Park in honor of their family.
“I am just so proud to be a part of what my grandfather started,” Schmidt said. “But he didn’t get to see it, darn it. That’s the thing that bothers me. And when this only says Ferguson Circle in the center, nobody knows that was Murray Ferguson. So I’m really trying to commemorate Murray a lot, give him credit for all of this.”
Murray C. Ferguson, the founder of Ferguson Construction, had the idea for Sidney’s park and was a charter member of the Tawawa Civic Park Board when it was established in 1948. However, he died in 1949 and thus wasn’t around when Tawawa Park was deeded to the City of Sidney in 1956.
“What my grandfather came up with is amazing, and he died the year after he thought of it,” Schmidt said. “The view he had was from back there of this entire area. And when he saw that, he envisioned a park. You already had the pond. You already had the railway came through here. It was gorgeous. But what he envisioned, he was able to express before his passing to a brand new civic group.”
Along with Murray C. Ferguson, other charter members of the Tawawa Civic Park Board included Cecil Watkins, William Milligan, W.E. Whipp, J. Oliver Amos, Wayne Bertsch and Jerome Wagner.
Tawawa Park originated when the Kah family put the land up for sale for $15,000, and Milligan made a list of people he thought would contribute $1,000 each toward purchasing it for a park. Milligan first approached Whipp, president of Monarch Machine Tool Co., who wrote a check for $15,000 to get the project started while funding was secured.
This year the descendants of Murray C. Ferguson contributed $2,000 for the bench and tree plus plaques for each in Ferguson Circle.
The bench in Ferguson Circle is dedicated to Murray C. Ferguson and his son Thomas M. Ferguson, the father of Schmidt and Steenrod.
“May this memorial sitting bench offer a relaxed but powerful reminder of the immeasurable contribution made through the vision and contribution of the Ferguson men and others,” Phil Chilcote, senior pastor at Sidney First Christian Church, said during the dedication.
The red oak tree is dedicated to Thomas M. Ferguson Jr. and Murray C. Ferguson II, sons of Thomas M. Ferguson.
“May this tree memorialized as the Ferguson tree be a place of shade, strength, beauty, life and indeed a wonderful creation of you, God, the creator of all that is nature’s blessings,” Chilcote said.
Tawawa Park, which includes 220 wooded acres, features a creek, lakes, playgrounds, shelters, softball diamonds, soccer fields, a basketball court, a walkway/bikeway, the Sidney Water Park, open green space, natural areas and more.
“Of all the parks I’ve ever seen, I can’t say for a city park I have ever in my life seen a prettier park,” Schmidt said. “It’s gorgeous.”
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