Josh Ferguson’s fiancé, family and friends spent Friday observing the fallen volunteer firefighter’s death. His funeral was held at Northcutt and Son Home for Funerals on Fraley Drive in Morehead.
Newspaper and television reporters stood outside before and during the ceremony. Fire trucks from all Rowan County fire departments were lined up on Fraley Drive while crews waited for the procession. The funeral home parking lot was full.
Ronnie Day, executive director of the Kentucky Fire Commission, helped organize the ceremony for the 30-year-old he watched grow into a man.
“He was a little fellow of about 10 years old, running around the fire department with his stepdad, Bill Tackitt, and he just always wanted to be a firefighter,” Day recalled. “Of course, in Kentucky you can be a junior firefighter but you have to be 18 to be a firefighter. Once he turned 18, he had enough hours that he was already certified that day.”
Day, who also is Rowan County’s emergency management director, said he can’t say enough about Ferguson, who he still refers to as a “tremendous kid.”
“He’s the son that I think every dad would want to be able to call him their own,” Day said. “That means a lot.”
While firefighters were waiting to load Ferguson’s casket onto an Elliottville Fire Department fire truck, some noticed a man who appeared to be a firefighter standing in the emergency lane on Flemingsburg Road, across the road from the funeral home.
The man was Dave Castner. He stood, saluting, from 11 a.m. until the service was over at about 1:30 p.m. He said he planned to salute Ferguson and his family until the last car pulled out of the funeral home parking lot.
“I was a volunteer firefighter in Ohio,” Castner said. “I worked the World Trade Center disaster and I’ve been down here helping my dad since April. I was a candidate for Farmers Volunteer Fire (Department but I got to get back out to LA. I’m an actor out there. I leave in September. I heard about the fallen brother so I give the perpetual salute of honor to the fallen hero.”
Castner attended the graveside service on Conn Road, as well.
Firefighters placed an American flag on Ferguson’s casket before loading it onto a fire truck. More than 30 fire trucks led the procession to Conn Road in Elliottville, where Ferguson was buried.
The gravesite is just down the road from Ferguson’s parents’home, as well as the nearby home he left behind.
There is a path from Lois Tackitt’s home to her son’s, where the two would either walk or ride a four-wheeler to visit each other.
“I’m going to miss those walks,” Tackitt said.
After Ferguson’s helmet passed through the hands of members of the Elliottville VFD, Chief Jackie Thomas presented it to Ferguson’s mother.
Capt. Mike Thomas gave Ferguson’s fiancé, Tiphanie Bowling, the carefully-folded flag from atop his casket.
Members of the Kentucky Fire Commission presented Tackitt and Ferguson’s father, Eugene Ferguson, each with a Bible.
Taps and bagpipes were played and there was the traditional “last call” for Ferguson, Unit 722, to respond to an emergency.
“He was always there,” Day said. “He was the first one there.”
Nicole Sturgill can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.