on May 15, 2014 - 6:39 PM
, updated May 16, 2014 at 12:05 AM
March 13, 1923 – April 11, 2014
Bernard E. Fergus, who held numerous top newsroom positions at the Buffalo Courier-Express until it closed in 1982, died April 11 in his Town of Tonawanda home after a short illness. He was 91.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, he earned money during the Depression selling newspapers on the street and even delivering the mail.
“The regular mailman would pay him 25 cents to deliver mail to homes while he stopped at a tavern,” said Patricia Mianowany, Mr. Fergus’ older daughter.
“As a youngster, he made a habit of escorting men who had drunk too much home to their worried loved ones,” Mianowany said.
After graduating from Youngstown’s East High School, Mr. Fergus hitchhiked out West in search of work in the U.S. National Park Service before returning home to register for the draft for World War II.
He served stateside in the Army Air Forces with the 2nd Photograph and Recon Group in Oklahoma City. During a visit home, the young soldier, attired in his neatly pressed uniform, stopped in at Brown’s Drug Store where he witnessed what turned out to be a fortuitous mishap. Irene Corrigan was stocking shelves when a bottle fell and hit her in the head.
“Dad tended her wound, and his life was never the same,” Mianowany said. They were married in 1950.
On the GI Bill, Mr. Fergus headed to Hollywood to study writing. But not feeling at home, he returned to Ohio and began his journalism career, working at the Warren Tribune Chronicle and later at the Niles Daily Times, where he rose to managing editor.
In 1952, he moved to Buffalo, where he joined the Courier-Express, serving first as a copy editor and later as a makeup editor, wire editor, editorial page editor and editor of the Courier’s high school section.
As president of the Buffalo Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, he took a special interest in young staffers and aspiring reporters, and spoke at events, including journalism workshops at Buffalo State College.
After the Courier closed, Mr. Fergus’ entrepreneurial spirit led him to supplement his pension by designing and selling a series of brass Christmas ornaments featuring landmarks in Buffalo and Washington, D.C.
He also dabbled in other small-business ventures.
He and his wife enjoyed traveling and often vacationed in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“There were few things he loved more than hopping in the car, and one of the things he loved best about mom from the time they met was her willingness to go anywhere with him at the drop of a hat,” said Mianowany, who followed in her father’s footsteps and became an Associated Press broadcast editor.
In addition to Mianowany, Mr. Fergus is survived by another daughter, Carol; a son, Michael; two brothers, Vincent and Robert; and a sister, Eleanor Young.
The family has invited friends to a gathering to celebrate Mr. Fergus’s life and that of his wife, who died in 2012, from 3 to 6 p.m. June 15 at the pavilion in Niawanda Park, City of Tonawanda.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. June 16 in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.