Dr. James Paul Ferguson is a native of Waycross Georgia. He received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Emory University in Atlanta. He is a veteran of the United States Army and served as a Special Forces physician in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968.
After his service as a member of the elite Green Berets in Vietnam, Dr. Ferguson returned to the states and served as an assistant professor in neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina. During his professional career, Ferguson served as President of the Neurosurgical Society of America and the Georgia Neurosurgical Society.
Dr. Ferguson is a retired neurosurgeon. He moved to Rome in 1976 and served the medical needs of residents of Northwest Georgia for 26 years. The last 12 years, prior to retirement in 2002, Paul was President of the Harbin Clinic, the largest physician-owned multi-specialty physician practice in Georgia. His service to the community stretched far beyond his medical offices and local hospital. He was named Floyd County’s Doctor of the Year in 1979.
Dr. Ferguson was a member of the Rome Rotary Club for more than 40 years. He served as President of the Rome Rotary for the 1997-98 term and has also served as a GRSP Trustee. Even before becoming a trustee, Dr. Ferguson hosted a GRSP student from one of the Scandinavian nations. “I just remember my boys fell in love with her,” Dr. Ferguson recalled.
He is a Paul Harris Fellow, Hue Thomas Fellow and Will Watt Fellow. Whenever the Rome Rotary is involved in a community project, Paul is always one of the first to sign up to participate, whether it’s ringing the bell for the Salvation Army or collecting canned food during the Scouting for Food Drive.
Paul truly lived out the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” “I think it’s important from an individual standpoint, and this is something that I emphasized the medical students, that they are going to earn their living, that it’s important that you give back to the community,” Ferguson said. “I think that’s probably something that I learned from my mother years ago.”
Dr. Ferguson’s passion for his community extended from the very youngest residents, exemplified by years of service to the Northwest Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America; across the spectrum of education as a member of the special advisory committee to the Rome City Schools, to service on the Board of Directors of Georgia Northwestern Technical College and state Technical College System Board of Trustees; to general community vitality as an original member of the South Rome Redevelopment Corporation and a co-founder of the Future Industries Initiative for the Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce.
Pete McDonald, retired president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College said that Ferguson was one of the primary leaders in the effort to consolidate Coosa Valley Technical College and Northwestern Technical College in 2008. “He has always been committed to our community and the state of Georgia, particularly with respect to enhancing the medical world,” McDonald said.
Dr. Ferguson was instrumental in the effort to bring a satellite campus of the Medical College of Georgia to Rome. The University System Board of Regents was seeking to increase the number of medical school graduates to deal with a shortage of physicians across the state and originally thought about bringing a third and fourth year student campus to Carrollton in conjunction with the University of West Georgia. Dr. Ferguson took the lead in persuading MCG to bring that campus to Rome and Georgia Highlands College.
“If it had not been for him, we would not have a medical campus,” said Dr. Leonard Reeves, retired Associate Dean for the campus. That has proven to be a very successful program and beneficial to the community in that a large number of the young physicians have returned to establish a practice in the Rome area after completing their residency programs elsewhere.
The effort to bring the MCG campus to Rome was a part of the Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce Future Industries Initiative and subsequently, the board room at the Chamber was named to honor Ferguson and fellow Rotarian Frank Barron.
Al Hodge, retired President of the Rome Floyd Chamber called Ferguson “a visionary” for his efforts to better utilize Rome’s assets in healthcare and education “I don’t know if it was the chicken or the egg but the Future Industries initiative was a key component of the Rome-Floyd 20/20 program, an ambitious program to develop 20 goals over 20 years to improve economic and community development,” said Hodge.
Education has long been a priority for Dr. Ferguson. During his service on the Board of Directors of the South Rome Redevelopment Corporation, he worked tirelessly along with staff at Berry College and Rome Rotary to develop a three-year old pre-school program in a low-income section of the community and that program is still thriving today and helping transform an economically challenged section of the community.
Statewide he was recognized with the 2014 Leadership Georgia Dale Threadgill Award for community service. He has received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts, and a Distinguished Service Award from the Rome-Floyd YMCA.
Dr. Ferguson was a recipient of a Heart of the Community Award in Rome in 2000 and was the Heart of the Community Board of Governors Award recipient in 2015.
Paul took advantage of just about every moment of life. When he wasn’t serving his patients or the community, Paul enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his sons and their families. He welcomed any chance to attend the sporting events of his five grandchildren and could be found on the sidelines cheering during their soccer, baseball, lacrosse, football and basketball games. Also, Paul loved to fly fish, from the streams of North Georgia to the rolling rivers of Montana and as far away as New Zealand. Spending time with dear friends during annual fishing trips to Montana and New Zealand meant so much to him.
He was the hit of formal events from Rome to Atlanta, displaying his heritage by showing out in his dress kilt and fashionable kilt hose.
Rome and Floyd County is a much better place to live and raise a family today thanks to the devoted efforts of Dr. Paul Ferguson.
Paul was predeceased by his parents, James Alexander Ferguson and Laura Milton Ferguson. He is survived by his loving sons Jay Ferguson (and his wife Missy) and Drew Ferguson (and his wife Jennifer) and his five beloved grandchildren, Jack, Eliza, Blair, Hadley and Blair. He also is survived by his former spouse (Catherine Ferguson, with whom he raised their two sons in a joyful family for many years), loving cousins and many friends.
A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 1:00 PM at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rome, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for any donations to be made to Berry College - https://berry.givingfuel.com/gift.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.Daniels-FuneralHome.com for the Ferguson family.