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Obituary for Lydia (Zellmer) Ferguson

Lydia Martha (Zellmer) Ferguson, 98, of West Salem passed away peacefully on Friday, Sept. 1st, 2023 at Azura Memory Care, Monroe, WI. She was born November 4th, 1924 to Frank and Elsie Zellmer in Trego, WI. She spent her youth helping out on her parents sheep Spooner WI and was a graduate of Spooner High School.

She married Marine Sgt. Earl Ferguson on Dec. 29th, 1944 at Camp LeJeune NC, While Earl was deployed in the Pacific during WWII,she worked as a Technical Machinist at Fairbanks Morris in Beloit WI making precision parts for Aircraft Carrier Operational Systems. After Earls discharge they lived in the La Crosse area where she was employed by Doerflingers until they moved to West Salem in 1955 to begin raising a family.

Lydia was a gifted Soprano and was invited to accompany the Waldorf Choir on their European tour in 1956, but had to decline due to family obligations. She was the featured soloist for Our Saviors Lutheran Church in West Salem for many years, singing for weddings and funerals until she tragically lost her voice from Vocal Node surgery in 1960. She was divorced in 1979 and then pursued a Degree in Practical Nursing from WWTC in 1979 and worked at the Onalaska Care Center until her retirement in 1989.

As a child she learned to play the piano by ear and spent many years playing for family functions and volunteer activities. She was awarded Mulder Health Care Facility Volunteer of the year in 1998 for playing piano for the residents. It was a running joke for her to say she was playing " for the old people in the nursing home" well into her mid 80's.

Lydia was an exceptional homemaker. She was an avid gardener and supplied family and friends with the bounty of her garden. Many a fall season was spent canning and freezing veggies, fruits and making pickles. She was also a talented seamstress sewing clothes for special occasions and growing children. She tailor made stage clothes for her daughter. She was a wonderful cook and baker, having made meals and desserts as a young girl on a wood burning kitchen stove and later many cakes and pies for the Church socials and fair food stand in West Salem. She provided home cooked meals everyday for her family, whipping up many varieties of culinary offerings ranging from wild game to gourmet meals.

Lydia was a proficient "Do it Yourself-er" maintaining her home alone including yardwork, painting, roof repairs and even doing bodywork and painting on her car in her 70's.

She was a voracious reader with a thirst for knowledge which she instilled in her children. She loved the Arts and music, making sure that even with a limited income, to provide music instruction and artistic performance attendance on a regular basis for herself and her children. Lydia was defined by her faith being a 50+ year member of Our Saviors Lutheran Church. She was proud of her German heritage and had a deep sense of patriotism. She loved America and proudly displayed the flag everyday.

She was a Renaissance woman and will be deeply missed.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Elsie Zellmer, her ex husband Earl and infant daughter Cynthia. Her siblings, Ruth, Harlow, Mark, Marion, Eva, Louise, August, Frank and Joyce.

She is survived by her children Claire (Micheal) Ferguson Buros, Daniel Ferguson, Charlotte (Richard) Suttner and Martha (Terry) Cornforth. Her Grandchildren, Matthew Heeter, Joshua Heeter, Rodd Powell, Benjamin Cornforth and Sadie Cornforth ( Santi Ferran Galicia) and Great Grandsons William Heeter and Maximus Ferran Cornforth.

A Celebration of life will be held at 12:30 P.M. on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at Fredrickson Funeral Home, Jostad Chapel, 121. N. Youlon Street, West Salem, WI, 54669. A visitation will be held from 11:30 A.M. until the time of service.

A luncheon will follow the service at 2:00 P.M. at the American Legion, 148 Leonard Street So., West Salem. If you plan to attend the lunch, please RSVP to Claire on Facebook or

In lieu of flowers, the family politely requests memorials.