Willie Edgar Ferguson, 68, of Syracuse, NY, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Born November 12, 1947, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he was a son of the late Willie Zanders, Sr. and Josie Ferguson Holden. Willie married his high school sweetheart, the former Susie Ellen Golden, in 1970, and they have called Syracuse home for the past 46 years.
Following his graduation from W.A. Higgins High School in Clarksdale, MS, Willie joined the U.S. Marine Corps in Memphis, TN, on July 27, 1966. He was honorably discharged at Camp Lejeune, NC, on August 29, 1969, with a rank of Sargent. A proud Vietnam War Veteran, Willie earned numerous military awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and Rifle Sharpshooter Badge.
After studying at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, Willie pursued a career in Professional Restaurant Management. In his 30 years in the profession, Willie managed Carrols, Ponderosa, Waffle House, Western Sizzling, Cracker Barrel, Churches Chicken, and Kirby’s of Syracuse. He was also a proud owner of his own restaurant, Bar-B-Cue DeeLite, and automotive shop, Ferguson Automotive, both on S. Salina Street in Syracuse.
Willie had many passions in life. His first passion was Jesus, the Christ, and he held on to his faith throughout his illness. His hobbies included collecting unique cars, long-distance driving, putting together puzzles, and landscaping. He also was an avid reader and enjoyed spending time drawing. Willie gave regularly to numerous local and national organizations. His favorite charity was St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis Tn. He was truly an honorable, caring and compassionate man who will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved him.
In addition to his loving wife, Susie Ellen Ferguson, Willie is survived by his siblings, Virginia Smith-Sister of Markham, IL, Mary (Arthur) Young of Clarksdale, MS, Sherry (Donald) Harris of Jackson, MS, Susie (Fred) Hawkins of Franklin, MA, Marguerite (Ralph) Sanders of Shoreview, MN, Pastor Faye (Willie) Scott of Palo, IA, Tewana (Maurice) Jones of Waterloo, IA, Sharon (Michael) Zanders-Ackiss of Des Moines, IA, Charles (Margaret) Zanders of Urbandale, IA, Harrison Zanders of Waterloo, IA, Willie Jr. (Mary) Zanders of Des Moines, IA, David (Vicki) Zanders of Waterloo, IA, and Kelvin Zanders of Des Moines, IA; step-mother, Janie Oliver Zanders; sister-in-law, Linda Holden of Clarksdale, MS; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
In addition to his parents, Willie was predeceased by three siblings, James Holden, Jr. and Larry Holden of Clarksdale, MS, and Eddie Holden of Memphis, TN; and his step-father, James Holden, Sr. of Clarksdale, MS.
Funeral services will be Friday, November 18, 2016, at 11 a.m. at Central Baptist Church. A Viewing will take place from 10 a.m. until the start of the service at the church, 124 Alden Street, Syracuse, NY 13210. Burial with military honors will be in Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse.