Sophomore Emily Ferguson remembered for her humor, compassion

Emily Ferguson, a 2011 graduate of Kirkwood High School and member of the varsity volleyball team, is remembered for her humorous personality.

Courtesy of Kriewall Photography

A funeral service was held Sunday, Dec. 16 for sophomore Emily Nicole Ferguson, 19, of Kirkwood, Mo., at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in St. Louis, Mo. The private internment was for friends and family only.

Ferguson died Friday, Dec. 7 after driving westbound in the eastbound lane of Missouri highway I-70 and colliding with another motorist near Kingdom City.

She is survived by her father Roy Ferguson, mother Susan Fauser, brother Samuel Ferguson, stepsister Kathryn and stepbrother Alexander Fauser, and grandmother Alberta Opel, according to Bopp Chapel.

Kathryn Fauser, Ferguson’s stepsister, was also one of her best friends. Before they were friends, however, they didn’t like each other, Fauser said.

“We almost hated each other when we first met,” Fauser said. “We had to share a locker in gym class when our other friends had been paired together. It wasn’t until a few weeks passed that we became friends. Ever since then we were pretty much inseparable.”

Fauser and Ferguson joked one day about Ferguson’s mother and Fauser’s father, both of whom were divorced, getting together.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool,’” Fauser said. “Then Emily’s mom and my dad played tennis together and started dating.”

Fauser’s father proposed by coloring the box that carried the engagement ring yellow, and putting the box in the tennis ball basket for Emily’s mother to find.

Ferguson and Fauser were in downtown Kirkwood when they heard the news.

“We were at St. Peter’s fest, and my dad called us,” Fauser said. “He said, ‘What do you think about going to a wedding in August?’ We freaked out and ran around telling everyone we were going to be sisters.”

Fauser, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, said Ferguson sent her funny texts and pictures daily.

“She was just the funniest person anyone ever met,” Fauser said. “She said the goofiest things. If you were upset she could brighten your mood in an instant. She never showed much emotion herself, but always knew what to say to cheer you up.”

Ferguson liked to come up with nicknames for her friends, Fauser said.

“Her nickname for me was 'Catscan,' I never really understood why,” Fauser said with a laugh. “She called her mom 'Monk.' She had all these nicknames — she made people feel special in that way.”

Ferguson never showed interest in being far from family and friends, Fauser said. She liked being at MU and being close enough to visit her family, friends and three dogs. She always knew she wanted to go to MU to study accounting, a major that surprised Fauser, she said.

“I always thought Emily would be good at marketing,” Fauser said. “She came up with slogans all the time and was always very creative and witty.”

Ferguson, a 2011 graduate of Kirkwood High School, played volleyball for the varsity team and brought her love of the sport to a club team at MU.

“Emily was one of the sweetest girls,” Hesse said. “She was such a good person, and nice to everybody. Everyone who knew Emily fell in love with her within two seconds of meeting her.”

Julia Goodmann, who coached Ferguson in volleyball at Kirkwood High School for four years, said she is remembering the good times she had with Ferguson.

“We (Ferguson’s senior class) were extremely close,” Goodmann said. “Her smile and quirky jokes will not be forgotten.”

Goodmann said she first met Ferguson at volleyball camp the summer before her Ferguson’s freshman year. She said Ferguson was excited to be at the first day of camp and stood out as a potential varsity player.

“She was one of three girls who stood out at the time,” Goodmann said. “She really pushed herself at practice, in the weight room and during the offseason. Her smile and her energy really made her stand out.”

Ferguson would get serious for games, but always tried to make things fun, Goodmann said.

“Emily had these quirky jokes and sayings, like her own language,” Goodmann said. “She was hilarious and was joking around all the time.”

Goodmann said Ferguson’s senior volleyball class of six was a strong group, and that Ferguson’s friends have been recounting memories of her together.

“I’ve been looking back at pictures, and she’s always the one looking away from the camera, making a goofy face or pose, Goodmann said. “There’s one picture with the team, Emily is wrapped up in the net while her teammates hold her up. She was always the center of attention.”

A sign Ferguson made two years ago while fundraising for a local philanthropy for Breast Cancer Awareness Month hangs in Goodmann’s office to this day.

“The sign said, ‘Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Attend KHS girls varsity volleyball game at 5 p.m. in the varsity gym. To help-Save ze TA TA’s,’” Goodmann said. “I told her the sign was not appropriate for the hallways, but I put it up in my office.”

Sophomore Ellie Nothstine said the sign hanging in Goodman’s office is a perfect example of Ferguson’s humor.

“I know people always talk about how someone else is one of a kind, but she really was,” said MU sophomore Ellie Nothstine. “She would do really random, sometimes weird, things to make you laugh. She made up nicknames for everyone and was always there to talk. She was a great friend with amazing wit.”

Nothstine first met Ferguson in fourth grade, when they spent their free time jumping on a trampoline at friend’s house.

“I have so many valuable memories with her,” Nothstine said. “Far too many funny, random stories to pick one favorite.”

Nothstine and Ferguson played on the same volleyball team at Kirkwood High School and warmed up together before every game. They would pick the same spot on the court and the same ball, Ferguson’s favorite. Nothstine said Ferguson was a lot of fun to play volleyball with.

“Even if our team wasn’t playing well, Emily would lighten the mood and turn the team around,” she said.

Ferguson was the person to break the ice with witty remarks and make new friends, Nothstine said. At MU, Ferguson was quick to make new friends from other states.

“Emily liked meeting new people and making them feel at home,” Nothstine said. “She introduced her new friends to her friends from Kirkwood and brought people together.”

Ferguson was even friends with her friends’ parents, like friend and former teammate Suzanne Hesse’s mother.

Hesse said that when she was away at the University of Arkansas, Ferguson would go to her mother’s hair salon to get her hair done. She would send pictures of her with Hesse’s mother to Hesse’s phone.

“She was one of three girls who stood out at the time,” Goodmann said. “Her smile and her energy really made her stand out.”

Hesse was with Ferguson and Fauser the day their parents announced their engagement. She said the three went to Johnny Rockets afterward for milkshakes.

“It was like a movie,” Hesse said. “We couldn’t stop talking about how crazy it was that they were going to be sisters.”

Hesse said she was looking through photos when she found one of her first day at Nipher Middle School, in which both she and Ferguson had worn the same shirt.

“We had the same shirt on the first day of school, and we thought it was tragic” Hesse said. “It had a teal color with ‘American Eagle’ written on it swirly handwriting. It was hideous. Now I look back on it and laugh.”

When they were in middle school, the friends would play volleyball out in Hesse’s neighborhood street in the middle of the night — even in winter, Hesse said.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “Even when we grew older Emily would talk about bundling up and going out to play volleyball in the middle of the night. We never did it again but we never forgot how fun it was.”

Hesse said Ferguson was one of the best players on the volleyball team in high school.

“She was never bossy but she knew the game, and you could tell,” Hesse said. “But she was also never the one to roll her eyes when we were down a point or weren’t playing well. She was always the one to pick us up.”

While Ferguson’s sense of humor was an important part of her personality, she was also kind and understanding, Hesse said.

“Emily was one of the sweetest girls,” Hesse said. “She was such a good person, and nice to everybody. Everyone who knew Emily fell in love with her within two seconds of meeting her.”

Hesse said that the church service for Ferguson was packed with people she forgot Ferguson had known.

“There were people there who didn’t know Ferguson as well her best friends did,” Hesse said. “It was clear she had an impact on them, and that they cared about her enough to come out to honor her.

In October, Ferguson took four of her friends to visit her stepsister at Alabama in October.

“She said the weekend she visited was the best weekend of her life,” Fauser said. “Even two months later she was still talking about it. I’m glad we got to spend that time together.”

Fauser said it is unknown where Ferguson was going the day of the accident but that she may have been going home to Kirkwood.

“I assume she was going home to visit family and our new puppy which she was excited to see,” Fauser said. “She loved to be around her family and friends, and I was lucky enough to be a part of both."

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