Amy Talley Ferguson died Tuesday, September 10, 2013, at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Hospital. She was 72 years old.
A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. Monday, September 16, 2013, at Galveston’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church. Officiating will be Trinity’s rector, The Rev. Susan Kennard, The Rev. Jeremiah Griffin, Deacon, and Rabbi Jimmy Kessler of Galveston’s Temple B’nai Israel.
Amy was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1941, the daughter of Gilbert Arthur and Bessie Day Talley. In 1959, she graduated from Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the family had moved when her father, a geologist with Lion Oil Company, was transferred.
She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University in 1963, and a master of social social work degree from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1965. During her studies at Smith, she chose a year’s field placement with Jewish Family Services in New York City. Her entire professional career was with the Social Services Department of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. In 1966, she began her practice as an individual and group psychotherapist with teenagers. She worked closely with Dr. Grace Jameson, her friend and mentor. Her abilities as a manager were soon recognized, and she was regularly promoted to leadership positions within the department. At the the time of her retirement, in 1996, she was assistant director of Social Services at UTMB. In the 50th Anniversary Harvard University College Class Report, Amy wrote, "Upon reflection, I found the clinical work I did with teens the most rewarding part of my career. Knowing you helped turn a troubled teen’s life around is a very special feeling. There are other rewards as well. There are two adult women, daughters of former patients, and one racehorse who bear my name!" Amy embraced retirement with enthusiasm. It was in retirement that she was introduced to the world of mah-jongg and the circle of deep friendship that it fostered. She had a unbridled passion for cats, for needlepoint, for all things English, and for entertaining her friends. She was a devoted Harvard alumna, and welcomed every opportunity to return to its campus in Boston. Amy enjoyed reading recipes and was an accomplished cook, which prompted intense weekly shopping visits to Houston’s Central Market. She was an inveterate traveler, and over a period of 40 years, she and her husband visited many places around the world. Their abiding love, however, was for England, where they returned often. They also made an annual October pilgrimage to Woodstock, Vermont, an 18th century village at the edge of the Green Mountains. Amy’s travel, however remote the destination, was never spartan. She once explained, "So far as I am concerned, roughing it is slow room service!" Her primary focus in the Galveston community was a lifelong interest in historic preservation. She was an active member of Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF). Through the years, she worked in many volunteer positions with the organization. She served on GHF’s board of directors and steering committee. At the time of her death, she was president of GHF. Amy was diagnosed with advanced cancer in October of 2012. In typical fashion for her, she viewed the diagnosis as a problem to be overcome while continuing with life and pursuing personal and community goals. When it came to politics, Amy readily admitted that she was a fire-breathing East Coast liberal, supporting causes that aided the underdog, that fostered women’s issues, or that fought discrimination in its many forms. She adhered to concepts she saw to be right, and never backed down from a political confrontation. She greatly enjoyed living in Galveston where, as she put it, "politics is a blood sport." When it came to her dealings with others, the qualities she valued most highly were fierce loyalty to family, friends and ideals, and above all else, the maintenance of absolute integrity.
Amy is survived by John, her husband of 40 years; her brother, Joel Talley, and his wife, Melinda, of Houston; niece Laura Dobbs and her husband, Walt, of Denver; nephew Austin Talley and his wife, Kim, of New Braunfels; great-nephews Grady, Neil and Callum Dobbs; and great-niece Genevieve Talley.
In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests that donations be made to the continuing work of Galveston Historical Foundation, 502 20th Street, Galveston, TX 77550, or to a favorite charity.