Chester H. Ferguson
Chester H. Ferguson was a firm believer in the importance of education. In a speech at the Annual Law Reunion he said, “History shows that governments change, decay and fail, but the processes of learning go on forever.”
Before attending the University of Florida College of Law, Ferguson attended the University of Alabama and Mercer University. He was involved in Phi Delta Theta, Phi Delta Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Florida Blue Key and Scabbard and Blade while attending UF.
Ferguson was not only an involved student; he also exhibited excellent legal talents. During the depression, Ferguson began practicing law in Tampa. He became a partner at the law firm that was later known as MacFarlane, Ferguson, Allison & Kelly, where he started out earning just $15 a week.
Ferguson began handling the legal matters for the Lykes family businesses, and then married Louis Lykes in 1939. Under his direction, The Lykes Bros. corporation, with interests in shipping, cattle, packing and processing, banking, real estate and energy, prospered. He eventually became the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the company. He was also the chairman and chief executive officer of First Florida Banks Inc. and was an officer or director for numerous other major corporations.
Ferguson believed a lawyer must always be at the forefront of the action in community life. He did just that by being a leading citizen in Tampa, where he is credited with paving the way for much of the city’s growth that included downtown revitalization and the positioning of Tampa as a major shipping and financial center.
Ferguson was an initial member and principal organizer of the State University System Board of Regents, where he served for 14 years, including three as chairman. He was also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Probate Counsel. He was awarded the UF Law Center Trustees’ Award for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession and to his alma mater in 1982. He also received the Wallace Award from the American Scottish Foundation, recognizing his contributions to the wellbeing of this country.
Along with his leadership to education, Ferguson contributed financially as well. He established the Chester H. Ferguson Scholarship for outstanding entering freshman to the College of Law, and donated to the Law Center Building Campaign.
Ferguson is survived by his wife, Louise; his children, Stella Thayer and Howell Ferguson; four grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.