Jean McDermott Ferguson, pictured with four of her children, recently celebrated her 101st birthday. | Credit: Wood Glen Hall

With an impressive list of accomplishments including raising six children, traveling the country as a military wife, riding in the 1937 Rose Bowl Parade, and dedicating countless hours volunteering for Santa Barbara nonprofit organizations, Wood Glen Hall resident Jean McDermott Ferguson recently added another significant milestone to her long list: celebrating her 101st birthday.

McDermott Ferguson was born in 1922 and moved to Santa Barbara as a child. She spent her early years on the Campbell Ranch (now the site of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health in Goleta), where her father, Francis McDermott, was manager of the ranch. Along with her brothers, James and Frank, McDermott Ferguson lived an idyllic farm life.

During World War II, McDermott Ferguson met and married  U.S. Army Officer Jack Ferguson, who was from Kentucky. After the war, they settled in Santa Barbara enjoying the company of their many friends. Jack Ferguson was recalled to the Army for the Korean War, returning in 1951 and remaining in the military for 20 years. 

The couple had six children and McDermott Ferguson still enjoys telling stories about her adventures as a military wife and mother, including when she drove across the United States in a giant Buick with four kids — long before the days of cell phones and ATMs.  

The couple retired to Santa Barbara in the early 1970s and became involved in Republican politics, Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara County, and San Roque Catholic Church, and they were avid bridge players. Passionate about Santa Barbara history, McDermott Ferguson was a volunteer docent with Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum for many years. 

Sadly, she outlived her beloved husband and two of her six children, but she enjoys time with her family, including: eight grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, a great-great granddaughter, and many friends.

Jean McDermott Ferguson answered a few questions for the Independent as part of her birthday celebration.

How does it feel to be turning 101 years old?

I’m very excited with the love of my family.

What do you credit your longevity to?

Health food, tons of vegetables, and family.

What is your favorite memory of growing up in Goleta?

The Christmas shows in school.

What is your favorite memory of traveling the country as a military wife?

It is very rough!!!

What brought you back to Santa Barbara to retire in the early 1970s?

My family.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Lots of reading.

What is the best piece of wisdom you can impart to others?

Be kind to everyone — relatives, friends and strangers. Family health is the key!

As a centenarian, the staff at Wood Glen Hall say that McDermott Ferguson remains full of energy and with a zest for life, evidenced by her storytelling to family and friends, and quick pace around the halls with her walker.  


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