Phil Ferguson


Ferguson Photo for Newspaper

John Philip “Phil” Ferguson, a witty and charming man, and the much beloved partner of Paul Ferreri, died May 20 at Cleveland Clinic Hospice. Phil was born on October 8, 1942, at Mercy Hospital in Canton, Ohio, to the late Robert Aloysius and the late Mary Elizabeth (Lippert) Ferguson. Phil spent his early years growing up in a rambling Civil War-era house in the small community of Robertsville, in Paris Township, Stark County, Ohio. His first job was mowing the lawn in the cemetery next to the family home. After graduating from Minerva High School in 1960, Phil earned a B.A. in English and Latin from Walsh College (1964), followed by an M.A. in English from Kent State University (1966).

Phil’s first professional job was as a teacher at his old high school, where he taught English from 1967 to 1971. When Phil later decided that he wanted to become a librarian, the principal at Minerva High School tried to convince the energetic and dedicated teacher to stay, but Phil had his sights set on working in a library in “the big city.” After earning a Master of Library Science degree from Kent State University in 1972, Phil headed off to Cleveland and submitted an application to the Cleveland Public Library. The Library’s interviewer commented, “he seems to be the type of staff member we need,” and Phil started work a short time later, on February 16, 1973.  Phil was a valued and beloved employee of the Library for 25 years, ever eager to be helpful and always with a twinkle in his eye. Phil was the head of Main Library’s Popular Library for 21 years, retiring in 1998.

Home and garden projects filled Phil’s retirement years. It was a common sight for Phil’s W. 103rd Street neighbors to see him out working in his beautiful yard, with classical music softly playing on a radio nearby–always tuned to WCLV. Phil enjoyed reading, collecting antiques, watching The Golden Girls, traveling, and visiting with his family and friends.

Phil was the dear brother of Robert (Kathleen) Ferguson, Marguerite “Peggy” Ferguson, and Elizabeth “Betty” (Peter) Pubaince, all of whom are deceased. He was the loving uncle of Robert Ferguson, Kelly (Pat) Harding, Tracey Sabala, Karen (Mike) Adam, Stacy (Frank) Berendt, and the late Kevin Ferguson. Phil was the loving partner of the late R. Andrew “Andy” Coburn (died 1995) and the late Scott Howland (died 2006). In addition to his extended family and his partner, Paul, Phil is survived by many cherished friends, neighbors and former colleagues, and by his fellow parishioners at St. Augustine Church in Tremont.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Those who wish to make memorial contributions are asked to consider the Cleveland APL (Phil loved his late canine friends: Butchie the Beagle, Buddy, and Spike) or WCLV classical radio.

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  1. Cheryl Sanko says:

    Dear family and friends of Phil, especially Paul. You have my deepest sympathy at this most difficult time. You are in my thoughts and prayers!!

    I always enjoyed meeting Phil at the House of Loreto so we could visit his sister, Peg. As Peg began failing, Phil and I would talk and try to bring Peg into the conversation as much as possible. After Peg passed away, Phil and I would meet once a month for lunch during good weather. We always had a great time chatting with each other.
    I will miss you Phil, my friend!!
    Rest In Peace!

  2. Helen Azusenis says:

    Phil was not only a coworker but my dearest and beloved friend for more than 48 years. In all those years we shsred family, friends and good times and memories both in Cleveland and Florida. As our friendship grew we agreed that we eould bury one another. I always thought I’d be the first to go. Phil was like a brother to me, we laughed and cried together. In the summer, we often sat on my front porch reminiscing about “the good old days”. One of his last messages to me was that he looking forward to sitting on my front porch. Rest in peacec my friend.

  3. Reba F. Clardy says:

    I was so blessed to love & work with Phil. We really became family. Working for CPL was like that back then. I came to Popular Library in ‘91. Phil was the best supervisor stealing my heart. He loved his job and coworkers with all his heart. Popular Library was the best because of Phil. I have visited his home often. We would sit & enjoy his babies his dogs. I’m a dog lover as well!! Buddy was my favorite. I’m so grateful to seeing him in the hospital & when he realized it was me, He beamed with joy!! Reba he said, I just melted & rubbed his hand. Paul I thank you for being in Phil’s life. I am so sad to lose him, for I just got back in touch with him recently. I have so many precious memories of Phil. He is in my heart forever. Michael has always too been a great friend & help mate to Phil. We adopted him!!! We had some awesome great times together. Rest easy my dear precious friend. Love you so!

  4. Deborah M Nunez says:

    Phil was one of the best librarians. He always seemed to be cheerful and in a good mood. He did care about his patrons.

  5. Lynne Johngrass says:

    I remember Phil from our early days of working in the B&S building at CPL. He was assistant head in Audio Visual Dept and me working for Ruth Hadlow. I enjoyed his laughter and quick talking. It was a joy to hear him answer his phone “Phil Ferguson”. I knew it would always be a fun conversation. Rest In Peace, Phil.

  6. Jane Lusch says:

    We will miss you Phil. God Bless!

  7. Mary Ellen Kollar says:

    Phil was a delightful person to work with. I’m glad to have known him.

  8. Amy Pease says:

    Phil really cared about his Patrons This was never forgotten! One in a Million

  9. Devon Patterson says:

    One on the best boss I ever had. My Condolences to you and the family.

  10. Michael Sparrow says:

    He was a fine gentleman–and a great boss. He will be missed!

  11. Judy Manzeo says:

    Phil was a wonderful person and long time neighbor. Condolences to Paul and his family.

  12. Marybeth Rayl says:

    My prayers and thoughts to his family and Paul.

  13. Ann Mullin says:

    Our best wishes to Phil’s family and to our neighbor, Paul.

  14. Maureen Mullin says:

    Phil was such a dedicated librarian and fun colleague. Everyone missed him when he retired.
    Rest in peace Phil.

  15. Bob says:

    Phil was one of the kindest men I ever met. Always a smile and friendly chat. I’ll miss seeing you at St. Augustine. You have fought the good fight, you have ran the race and kept the faith- rest well my friend.

  16. Arnold Mcclain says:

    Goodbye old friend.

    • Thelma Morris says:

      Phil was a valued colleague when I was at CPL – and I am grateful to have known him. Sympathy to his good partner and family.