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Alfred F. 'Al' Ferguson, 76, longtime government official

He was a learned and excitable Philadelphia sports fan.

Alfred 'Al' Ferguson
Alfred 'Al' FergusonRead more

AL FERGUSON was an exuberant and excitable sports fan.

During one of the Flyers' runs for the Stanley Cup in the 1970s, he got so excited watching a game on TV that he leaped up and knocked a tile out of the ceiling.

It's not recorded what his wife thought of that mishap, but Al treated it with his usual good humor.

"That didn't stop the excitement of the game," his family said. "Instead, it was something to laugh about."

Alfred F. Ferguson, who overcame polio as a child; a lifelong civil servant, holding important positions in state and federal agencies; a devotee of the Jersey Shore and all its delights; and a loyal family man, died Dec. 13 after a long battle with cancer. He was 76 and lived in Havertown.

It wasn't only hockey that could stir Al's blood. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of records and statistics of all Philadelphia teams, including college squads.

He enjoyed watching Big 5 basketball, but when it came to professional baseball, Al had a somewhat old-fashioned notion of which team represented Philadelphia.

As far as Al Ferguson was concerned, there was only one professional baseball team in the city, and that was the Athletics.

He would reminisce about taking the trolley to old Shibe Park to watch the A's, managed by the legendary Connie Mack. You can imagine his reaction when his beloved team moved to Kansas City in 1954.

Al had a reputation as a friendly, outgoing man who loved his family, friends and neighbors.

"Anyone who knew him knew a witty, affable, genuine person," his family said in a tribute. "A weekend of yard work meant talking to everyone in the neighborhood, not just trimming the lawn. That was his gift. Those conversations will be eternal in the memories of all who knew him."

Al was born in Philadelphia to Charles and Elizabeth Ferguson, and grew up in Southwest Philadelphia in a large family.

"Being around extended family growing up helped shape his personality," his family said. "He would say there was always someone in a good mood, which taught him to have a lighthearted, humorous outlook on life."

As a child, Al contracted polio, which he overcame largely through the ministrations of his aunt Ruth Maull. "He didn't talk about this much, but when he did, it always was about how grateful he was to be nursed back to health by his aunt," his family said.

"This shaped his attitude during any health battles. Regardless of the circumstances, his comment would be, 'I'm going to get better.' He truly believed that, which kept him going during even the most difficult times."

Al graduated from John Bartram High School and went on to Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he won a graduate fellowship to attend the Wharton School for Government Administration.

He began his career in government with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, where he worked with governmental and community groups to provide training and opportunities for the unemployed.

He later went to work for the U.S. Community Services Administration as chief of the administrative division. He became the congressional liaison officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, in which he worked with Congress, state legislatures and local officials to secure funding for such projects as water resources, flood control, shore protection and beach restoration.

Al loved going to the Jersey Shore with his family. He visited North Wildwood as a child, then went to Atlantic City for many years before finally settling on Ocean City.

He enjoyed the boardwalks, the roller coasters, swimming, boating and fishing in the ocean.

Al was married to Adeline DiGiallorenzo for 52 years. Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Lisa A. Ferguson-Sexton and Linda Ferguson; a son, Alfred C. Ferguson, and four grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2400 N. Providence Road, Media. Friends may call at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the D'Anjolell Memorial Home, 2811 West Chester Pike, Broomall. Burial will be at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple.