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FERGUSON, Mephan James William (1922-2008)

FERGUSON, Mephan James William (1922-2008)

'Jim' Ferguson (Ad Astra July, 1995).

'Jim' Ferguson (Ad Astra July, 1995).

‘Jim’ Ferguson, engineer and author of the only published history of College rowing, 'No Passengers and the Will to Win: The Spirit of The Geelong College Boat Club, in 1999 was the son of College Council Member, Mephan John Ferguson and his wife Mary Raeburn nee Palmer.

Born in Prahran, ‘Jim’ briefly attended Scotch College, Melbourne for the first few months of 1930 before commencing as a boarder at the Geelong College at the end of March, 1930 where he continued his education until 1941. Despite his own admission that he was a poor speller he distinguished himself at School becoming a School Prefect, House Captain of Warrinn House and a Lieutenant of the College Cadet Corps. At various times in his School career he was a member of the Music, Debating, House of Guilds and Glee Club Committees and an avid performer. He continued performing in Glee Club reunion concerts for many years and was a notable talent in the 2006 fund raising concert for the Keith Humble Centre for Music and Performing Arts. His sporting prowess led to him becoming Captain of the 3rd Football XVIII in 1941 but it was rowing that most attracted him and after commencing in the 3rd VIII in 1937 his proficiency rose to the extent that he became a valuable member of both the 1940 and 1941 Rowing 1st VIIIs.

He went straight from School into the army in 1942 joining the 2nd/9th Armoured Regiment, the successor of the famous 1st/9th Light Horse of World War I in which many former collegians served. He served in the south-west Pacific region. On his return he enrolled at Melbourne University completing an engineering degree. He then worked in the chemical and mining industries, most notably for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and the British Phosphate Commission, Nauru before becoming Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Gordon Institute of Technology, Geelong in 1956. His professional associations were diverse. He was a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, served on the Engineering Heritage Sub-committee, published papers on Engineering History and assisted the Industrial History Committee of the National Trust. While at University he continued rowing for Ormond College and Inter-Varsity Crews as well as the Mercantile Rowing Club. In a long career of dedication to rowing he coached university, school and club crews. In his later years, he continued to be a keen historian, a member of several historical groups, the Torquay RSL, and author of several articles on Charles Kernot and a biography of his grandfather Mephan Ferguson.

His brother, John Boyd Ferguson (1915-1943), who was educated at Geelong College from 1924 to 1934 died on active service during World War II.

Sources: 'No Passengers and the Will to Win: The Spirit of the Geelong College Boat Club'. Ferguson, J. M. Geelong: The College, 1999; Echo 27 November 2008 p 5; The Age (Melb) 26 January 2009 p13.
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