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DR. THOMAS FERGUSON Jr.


1932 - 2013 | Obituary | Condolences
DR.  THOMAS FERGUSON Jr. Obituary
DR. THOMAS FERGUSON JR. Dr. Thomas C. "Tom" Ferguson Jr., of Las Vegas, passed away Aug. 29, 2013. Tom was born June 22, 1932, in Smiths Grove, Ky. He received his bachelor of music education in June 1954. In January 1956, he received his master of music in theory from the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music. He served two years in the U.S. Army, where he taught theory, conducting and arranging in the Army Band Master program on the faculty of the U.S. Naval School of Music. After his discharge, he played professionally with big bands as pianist and arranger until he accepted the position of director of bands at Memphis State University (University of Memphis) in August 1960. He was promoted to full professor in 1971 after receiving his doctor of philosophy in music theory from the Eastman School of Music. Tom left Memphis in 1978 and became professor of music and director of jazz studies at Arizona State University, where he remained until May 1981. He left teaching and moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career as a professional musician. He was the pianist at several strip hotels, including Caesar's Palace, Bally's and the Las Vegas Hilton. He has played in Europe, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Australia, and Japan. He appeared on Jazz at the Four Queens Hotel for a number of years with numerous artists including Lou Tabakin, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Carl Fontana, Joe Henderson, Louis Bellson, and dozens of others. In September 1988, Tom returned to teaching at the College of Southern Nevada, serving as coordinator of music, chair of the Fine Arts Department, and chair of the Performing Arts Department until his retirement in June 2008. During this period, he also spent seven years as pianist/conductor at the Las Vegas Hilton. Tom served as president of the International Association of Jazz Educators (1976-1978) and was appointed to the Jazz Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976, serving a four year term. He continued to perform and tour until he suffered a stroke in January 2010. He was lovingly cared for by Terry Cepeda during the two years prior to his death. One of his greatest joys was travel, and he visited every continent except Antarctica. He is survived by his wife, Trude McMahan; daughters, Shari Paris and Terry Shade; sons-in-law, Dean Paris and Scott Shade; grandchildren, Lauren, Christine and Brad Paris and Daniel and Molly Shade; sister and brother-in-law, Carolyn and John Seltzer; nephews, Jeff and Kevin Seltzer; and his dog, Evan. A celebration of Tom's life will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at University United Methodist Church, 4412 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas. A scholarship is being established in Tom's name for music students at the College of Southern Nevada and donations are welcome in lieu of flowers.
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