Family, Memoirs.

Burt Ferguson Remembered: passions

-Family, W. Burt Ferguson

Attrib: W. Burt Ferguson, Family.

My father-in-law Burt died recently, and before he died, we, Cindy, Scot and I, had some conversations with him about his passions.  Cindy and Scot sat up through the night during Burt’s last days, and reminisced about their Dad’s many pastimes and loves.  Aside from words and reading, Burt had many other passions. When he became interested in a pastime, he became “obsessed” with it.

His greatest sporting passions were probably tennis, chess, and bicycling. Burt was especially drawn to individual sports.  His interest in tennis never waned; he spent some time teaching his grandchildren, Jon and Ben, and he last played tennis at age 80, when a shoulder injury prevented his further play; as he said to Scot at the time, “Getting old is a bitch!” Burt had an early and long-term devotion to chess, collecting a formidable library of chess books; in the late ‘40s, he frequented the Los Angeles Chess Club.

In his 30’s, he played on a volleyball team, but the sport that came to dominate his interests in this period was cycling. He began to watch track races at the Alpenrose velodrome, and gradually started participating in local criterium races. As was his wont, he would spend hours building up and tuning his own bicycle, saying to his children, “I’m going out to make a few minor adjustments to my bike”; he rode in local races for many years. Burt last rode his bike at age 79, and then gave his bike to his grandson Jon. For many years, Burt frequented the Loprinzi’s gym in Portland, a  place where local weightlifters trained.  Greg remembers going with his Dad when he as nine, and being banned for chalking Z-for-Zorro marks on the benches.  Burt loved watching boxing and football on TV, and was a great fan of the champion Green Bay Packers.

-Family, W. Burt Ferguson

Attrib: W. Burt Ferguson, Family.

Burt carefully studied, collected, and drank, wine; he bought wine in lots, and stored them for years in his “wine cellar” before consuming it. He held to the sentiment of Mondavi: “Wine to me is passion. It is family and friends.”  He liked big red wines, particularly Cabernets and Merlots. Burt favored whiskey sours and gin & tonics for cocktails, and collected and drank port.  He loved bold coffee, dark chocolate, Italian food, and salmon.  Burt never learned to cook, even rudimentarily, so that when he was alone, he either ate out or bought packaged food, particularly Stouffers, a source of amusement for Cindy.  He and Evelyn travelled a great deal during his retirement, most often to Kona, Hawaii and Prescott, Arizona.  He loved listening to music, and one of his favorites was Spanish guitar compositions. He loved cars, particularly red ones, and subscribed to Car and Driver for all of his adult life; he favored fast, sporty, but comfortable cars, and always leased his car, so he could have a new one every three years.

He was a very tidy man.  For Burt, everything had its place, and nothing was out of order. He dressed well, bought good clothes, loved hats, and Converse tennis shoes; he always bought those shoes in the basement of Kaplan’s Sporting Goods store in downtown Portland, where you could get blems for half-price (I remember it well).  He wore leather gloves and sunglasses while driving, was always clean and clean-shaven, and kept his hair well-combed. He had a tool for every task, including opening his mail, unwrapping gifts, etc.

-Family, W. Burt Ferguson

Attrib: W. Burt Ferguson, Family.

Burt was fond of the family pet growing up, Cindy, a black cocka-poo, and enjoyed his daughter Cindy’s rambunctious English sheep dog Lily Belle during his last days.

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