Willard Ferguson

HAVILAND—Willard Clair Ferguson, 83, of Haviland, Kansas, passed away at home on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Born August 23, 1937 in Liberal, Kansas to Charles and Stella (Warner) Ferguson, Willard was the last of nine children: Wendell, Charles, Ivol, Bulah, Drula, Delmar, Floyd and Robert. He lived a life of service to Christ as a missionary teacher, preacher and church planter in Burundi and Rwanda, Africa.

After his parents moved to Haviland, Willard attended and graduated from Haviland Friends Academy and Friends Bible College before receiving a Master of Science degree and teaching certificate from Fort Hays State University. While at Friends Bible College, Willard enjoyed playing basketball and baseball and traveling with the King’s Kords’ trio. In 1959 Willard married Doris, daughter of Lowell and Josephine Thornburg, with whom he shared a full and rich life as a husband and partner together in pursuit of God’s will in their lives.

In 1963, the two, with an infant son, Dean, went to the mission field as Evangelical Friends missionaries to work in Burundi, Africa where Willard taught at Kibimba Normal School and Mweya Bible School. During their first five years as missionaries, Willard and Doris learned Kirundi and spent a year in Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium acquiring French language and tropical medicine training and adding three more children—Dawnita, Sue, and Scott, to the family.  In 1976, the family grew again with the addition of Sam. From 1963 to 1985, then, Willard worked as a church leader and teacher in Burundi.

On their return to the United States in 1985, Willard was recorded as a Friends pastor and ministered briefly in Ramona, Oklahoma, before he and Doris returned to a new African mission field, helping to establish the Evangelical Friends Church of Rwanda. From 1986 until 2003, Willard mentored and trained Friends pastors and served as the legal representative of the Rwandan Friends Church, preaching, teaching, and living the gospel in this central African country. During and after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Willard worked diligently to seek peace and reconciliation and to bring healing to the country.

In retirement after 2003, Willard taught at the Great Lakes School of Theology in Bujumbura, Burundi; served as chaplain for the residents at Link Care Counseling Center facility in Fresno, California, and then moved to Haviland, Kansas where he has lived since 2005. While in Haviland, Willard also taught courses in physical science, biology, and the doctrine of holiness, as well as classes on missions at Barclay College and enjoyed sharing his time and his faith in his hometown. 

Willard Clair Ferguson is survived by Doris Jeannine, his wife of 62 years, three sons and their wives: Dean (Joanne), Scott (Tammie), Sam (Dawn); two daughters and their husbands—Dawnita (Todd) Stephens and Sue (Robert) Hays; and sixteen grandchildren and their spouses. His grandchildren include Keegan (Whitney) Ferguson and Kelsey (William) Simmerson; Sarah, Samuel, Lauren, Leigh, and Tam Stephens; Cameron (Jillian), Brianna and Cedric Hays; Luke, Esther, and Bethany Ferguson; and Willard’s namesake, Claire Ferguson.  Willard also has two great grandchildren (Finley and Teddy Ferguson) and a third on the way. He is also survived by his brother, Delmar, and his sister Bulah McKinney.  He was preceded in death by his father and mother, four brothers: Wendell, Charles, Floyd, and Robert; and two sisters: Ivol and Drula. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in Willard’s memory to the Evangelical Friends Mission at P.O. Box 771139, Wichita, KS 67277 or to Barclay College at 607 N. Kingman, Haviland KS, 67059, or in care of Fleener Funeral Home, PO Box 41, Greensburg, KS 67054.

A brief graveside memorial service was held Friday, January 29, 2021 at Haviland Cemetery. A more fulsome memorial service in Willard’s honor will take place at a later time when safety permits and when those who loved him can gather to celebrate a loving and joyful life spent in the service of Jesus.

Published on February 04, 2021