Charles was born on June 29, 1916 at a home up the Lewis River at a house now on Bryant Road across
the highway from Frank Abel Cemetery. Charles was the third son born to James and Edith Ferguson.
His brothers Wayne, Byron, Albert and Donald have all since past away. Life back at that time would
be considered primitive to today’s standard. Charles grew up on a farm next to the house. They raised
cattle, horses, pigs, chickens and strawberries. His dad provided meat to some of the local logging
camps. The children would help with chores around the farm. Dad would get up and milk 9 cows
before going to school. They all came down with the Spanish Flu in the 1918-1920 time-frame and all
the family survived. In 1929 the family moved to the current farm at the end of South Pekin Road next
to the Lewis River.
Charles attended Clover Valley Grade School, near the current Lewis River Golf Course, prior to the
move. After the move he attended and
graduated from Woodland High School in
1934 but due to the depression he had an extra
year of “enrichment”. He then attended
Lower Columbia College in its second year of
existence and then transferred to Washington
State College (now University) where he
graduated in February of 1940. He paid for
college and room and board by working
numerous jobs. He and his friend Melvin
Robertson were very enterprising. They made
spending money by buying boxes of candy
bars and selling them to housemates at Pine
Manor. They would place a box of candy bars
out with a payment container. Their
housemates enjoyed this and were very honest
with no or little theft. While at WSC (WSU
now) he was Cattle Club president and was on
the cattle judging team that won 2 nd best in the Northwest.
To save money he hitch hiked and / or hopped freight trains to get to higher paying jobs, to college, and
also for fun. He and Melvin Robertson made two long trips. One to San Diego and Tijuana by freight
trains and hitch hiking where needed. Later they took a semester off from college and made a trip to
New York City by freight trains and hitch hiking. They had planned to go to England. They didn’t have
enough money after England increased the requirements. So instead, they bought a used Model A and
toured the south and made it to Mexico City. They returned to Texas and across the U.S. southwest and
then back to Pullman for the next semester of college. What a trip for those days especially with the
limited number of improved roads.
After graduating he started working as a milk tester in King County. On December 2, 1940 he married
his college sweetheart, Ellen Christensen, from Wilbur, Washington. They settled in Duvall,
Washington while he milk tested for three years. Their first child, Margaret, was born September 2,
1941 exactly 9 months after they got married. After moving to Woodland, they had 4 boys: Howard,
Jim, Robert, and Douglas.
In 1943 the family moved back to Woodland and purchased his dad’s dairy farm with his brother Byron.
Byron and Charles successfully ran the dairy farm for over 70 years until Byron died in 2013. His sons
Doug and Jim took over operation of the dairy farm in 2014.
He has been very active in community and agriculture organizations. He was a board member of the
Mayflower Dairy Cooperative (now Darigold) for 13 years. He was a board member of the Lower
Columbia College Foundation, Woodland School District, and Woodland Port District. He was also fire
district commissioner, Cowlitz County Boundary Review member, Woodland Chamber of Commerce
president, Woodland Presbyterian Church Elder, Lions Club member, and active in many other ag
groups. He was challenged by a comment by a Chamber of Commerce member that farmers don’t do
anything for the community. Finding the city couldn’t afford to completely develop Horseshoe Park, he
and his brother Byron got farmers to help clear the wooded area of current Woodland Horseshoe Lake
Park. Farmers donated equipment and labor to clear bush, unneeded trees, level the ground, fertilize, and
seed grass. Ben Thomas donated a large cat to remove stumps and help level ground. Prior to this, that
area of the park was unusable. The park became a popular place to picnic and swim.
Amazingly after all the hours on the farm, community and dairy organization, he had time for fishing,
hunting, boating, travel, rock hounding, card playing and of course storytelling and talking to others. He
would love to talk to you about what is going on or the good old days. Charles also enjoyed going up to
the coffee shops to relax and get the latest town news after a long day working on the farm.
His wife, Ellen died in 1998 after being married 58 years. He enjoyed wintering in Yuma, Arizona area
until the spring of 2015 where his health had decline to the point where he needed some assistance.
After Ellen died he looked up an old school friend, Flo Loy, and spent quite a bit of time with her Flo
Loy who died in 2010. After that he found a new girlfriend, Fran Hamilton of Phoenix, AZ. She was the
widow of his childhood friend Robert Hamilton.
Charles is survived by his daughter Margaret Beck (Jim) of Centralia and his sons, Howard of Lacey,
James of Woodland, Robert of Seattle, and Doug of Woodland. He also has 7 grandchildren – Jennifer
Beck of Oakland, CA/Centralia, Jon Beck (Heidi) of Clinton, David Beck of Centralia, Christopher
Ferguson of Seattle, Joshua Ferguson of Woodland, Rosemary Ferguson (died 2001), and Joanna
Ferguson of Federal Way. He also has 2 great grandchildren – Cameron Beck and Moira Beck both on
Graveside services were held at Frank Abel Cemetery and were followed by a small celebration of life
service at the Woodland Presbyterian Church on March 30.
Funeral arrangements were provided by Woodland Funeral Home. Memorials maybe given to
Woodland Presbyterian Church PO Box 297 or Woodland Historical Museum PO Box 255 Woodland, WA 98674