M. Jay Ferguson

M. Jay Ferguson stands in front of his general store in the late 1930s.

M. Jay Ferguson was born Dec. 27, 1898, in Keaton, Ky., to James Foster Ferguson and Mary Verlina Evans Ferguson. He grew up there and taught school in the area for several years before heading to Arizona due to health reasons in 1920.

After working for a year for his Uncle Link Ferguson on the Crazy Horse Canyon Ranch, M. Jay purchased the Glenbar Store, running it until 1941. He also farmed a large acreage in the lower Gila Valley and was affiliated with the Firestone Store in Safford for several years.

Rose Emily was born to Edward Adams Snyder and Nancy Kimes Snyder on Feb. 12, 1892, near Grand Island, Neb. Rose came to Pima in 1922 to teach and serve as the superintendent, accompanied by her artistic talents and cultural skills, which she willingly shared, especially with the youth of the Glenbar-Pima area. She and M. Jay were married in 1923.

Their union was blessed with three sons: Jay Edward, Ray Kent and Donald Carl. Jay and Donald both played instruments, and Donald performed in a barbershop quartet.

Ray Kent gave in to peer pressure and played football, later pursuing his love of art.

During their years at the Glenbar Store, Rose would check out books from the Safford Library, take them to the store for her sons and check them out to other local children. She also taught piano lessons, influencing many toward music.

M. Jay was very active in various endeavors that brought improvements to the Valley. He was president of the Safford Valley Cotton Co-op from its organization in 1958 until his death in 1971. He was a member of the Safford branch of the Federal Land Bank of Berkley, serving as president from 1944 until 1964. He was a member of the Gila Valley Irrigation District from 1942 to 1970, serving as president much of that time. And he was president of the Dodge Canal Co. He also held membership in the Safford Masonic Lodge, the Mt. Graham Golf Club and the Central Arizona Project.

About 1945, M. Jay got the “flying bug,” purchasing a two-seat plane, later owning a four-seater, both of which gave him several close calls. In 1948, he, Rose, Ray Kent and Donald headed to Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention, where he was an alternate. Ray Kent spent the time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They went on to Washington, D.C., and toured the National Museum of Art, the Corcoran Art Gallery and the Smithsonian.

Ray Kent subsequently became an accomplished artist, with many paintings to his credit. The historic murals in the W.M. Carter Farm Museum in Pima are a testament to his artistic talents. He was a charter member of the Little Art Gallery in Thatcher, where he volunteers weekly. It is a venue for his work, as well as many other talented artists of our Valley.

This energetic, refined couple brought up their sons in the Methodist faith. All three chose to serve their country. Jay E. served during WWII as a chemical warfare instructor in Hobbs, N.M., and a pilot in Texas. Ray Kent joined the Air Force in 1950, becoming a pilot in 1952, flying 36 missions in a fighter-bomber in Korea. Donald joined the Navy, was commissioned in 1952 and served on a destroyer during the Korean War.

Jay married Virgie Vest, and they reside in Glendale. Ray Kent married Roslyn Brown, and they make their home in Pima. Donald married Juanita Morris, and they live in Scottsdale. These three couples have given M. Jay and Rose nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Both M. Jay and Rose are at rest in the Gila Valley Memorial Gardens. Rose passed away Oct. 8, 1965, and M. Jay followed on June 23, 1971.

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