Longtime State Historian Dies

MARCH 27, 2006 - Posted at 4:24 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - John L. Ferguson, who served as Arkansas state historian for nearly 45 years before retiring last year, has died at the age of 80.

He was recovering from pneumonia and had had a heart defibrillator implanted this month, according to his daughter, Ora Lee Gatewood.  She said he died suddenly at home on Saturday and family members aren't sure of the exact cause.

Family members said Ferguson had a burning, life-long interest in history.  His daughter says he had an uncanny ability to remember exact dates, names and sequences of events.

Ferguson was born in Nashville, Arkansas, and grew up on a farm.  He studied at the University of Arkansas and other institutions before earning a doctorate in history from Tulane University.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)