Ernest John Ferrell
On August 7, 2017 Ernest John Ferrell joined his parents, Austin Neely Ferrell, Jr. and Donna Domergue Ferrell, in Heaven.
Johnny was many things: husband, father, grandfather, brother, fisherman, duck hunter, friend, business owner, gentleman, traveler, porch sitter, music lover, and the deepest voice this side of the Mississippi.
Those who knew Johnny well know that he could just as easily have sat on his back porch, watching the birds, with a pile of books the same as attending a formal dinner event.
He was a man that was happiest in nature with the sounds of such and a few close friends to keep him company. A passion he shared with his older brother Neel. He touted his wonderful “Panga” boat parked in Gautier, MS as being the boat that would “never sink.” The boat that took him on many a fishing adventure. Thankfully Johnny left this legacy intact and the vessel remains seaworthy. Having to be a well-rounded outdoorsman, Johnny was an avid duck hunter earlier in his life and a legend of fowl-fetching he became. “Barbwire” was the superhero name given by his friends, and was rightly earned. Huddled in the blind, Johnny’s crew would stay behind in the crippling cold as he strode out to stalk his prey. He never gave into the cold that would have others in safe harbor. His super-power? Feet that never got cold.
Johnny enjoyed a homegrown tomato sandwich as much as one can enjoy a meal - store bought tomatoes would never do. His sister-in-law Stephanie’s green thumb provided him with a tomato for his last delicious tomato sandwich. There were some more uncommon fares he found delicious as well, notably the banana, peanut butter and mayonnaise snack that he ate directly from the jar. Johnny treated this as a staple. He shared the banana-peanut butter passion with his older sister Lynda. They both would make this a supper. It is also widely known that one would never get between a Ferrell man and his caramel cake. Never.
Johnny’s first love was Brenda Cole Ferrell with whom he had two beautiful daughters, Neely and Kathryn. Before starting a family, they would take annual trips with friends, skiing in Colorado and diving around Little Cayman.
Patricia Stephens was also a love of his life. Johnny and Pat packed more adventures into their years together than most can claim for a lifetime. From Italy to Ireland to an RV around Alaska to the white sands of the Caribbean to the rocky beaches of Greece, they were made to travel together.
Johnny was proud to have called Hattiesburg home for all of his 62 years - less a small escape to Starkville to earn a degree from Mississippi State University. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became President of SouthGroup Insurance. Johnny was a lifetime member of Main Street United Methodist Church, involved in Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp since high school, and an active member of the Sertoma Club. He adored his daughters, Neely Myers & Kathryn Ferrell. He extended his family by his marriage to Pat Stephens. This love brought more love by-way of 4 sons: Isaac, Jared, Eric, & Lucas Bills. He welcomed with open arms his “only and most favorite” (as told by Johnny) son-in-law “from Alaska”, Garrett Myers. His greatest gifts ever received were his grandchildren: John Howard Myers (1), Cali Bills (1) & Eric Bills, Jr (9), Abigail Bills (15), Tyler Bills (18), & Jacob Bills (20). His commitment and love to his siblings, Austin Neely Ferrell, III and Lynda Ferrell Gill, was always felt even as they squabbled over the last deviled egg at the party - as siblings do.
Services will be held at 11:00 AM Thursday at Main Street United Methodist Church. Visitation will be 5:00-7:00 PM Wednesday at Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home. Interment will be in Highland Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp (attn: Office, 50 Fieldstone, Hattiesburg, MS 39402) or Coastal Civitan Camp (P.O. Box 6522 Diamondhead, MS 39525).
As Johnny would say, “Thumbs up.”