Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson of Manhattan and Gloversville, New York, died at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan on December 31, 2018. She was born in Gloversville in 1940, the daughter of Richard and Neale Parkhurst.
After graduating from the Emma Willard School and Mount Holyoke College, cum laude, she earned a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in French from Columbia University. Dr. Ferguson retired a few years ago as Professor Emerita of Sociology at Columbia University after a long and accomplished career. According to her university biography, her work ranged from analysis of the literary field in France to studies of the post-revolutionary French novel through explorations of an emerging national culture in France over the 19th century. Her most current research involved the sociology of food and cuisine.
Dr. Ferguson taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1966 to 1989, rising to the level of Professor and Chair of the Department of French. While there her first two books were published, both in America and Belgium.
In 1989 she began teaching at Columbia University as Professor of Sociology and French. She published three more books during her tenure there and held positions for various periods as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies.
During her academic and teaching career, Dr. Ferguson was invited to be a Visiting Lecturer or a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Le Institut d’ẽtudes Francaises d’Avignon, and Harvard University. In addition to her five books, she edited two books, published at least twenty-two journal and magazine articles and at least five book reviews during her long career.
Dr. Ferguson was married for almost 30 years to the late Robert A. Ferguson who, like Priscilla, was a distinguished and nationally recognized professor at Columbia University.
PRISCILLA PARKHURST FERGUSON, Obituary 1-9-19 Page 1
The Fergusons were generous benefactors to Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Gloversville, N.Y. In 2012, they established the Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson and Robert A. Ferguson Fund for Education. This fund annually provides scholarships to employees to enhance their careers. The Fergusons also donated funds to construct The Parkhurst-Ferguson Pavilion which houses the Gloversville Dialysis Center on the Littauer Campus. In 2015, Dr. Ferguson stated, “We are great supporters of Gloversville, and of Nathan Littauer as a key institution in Fulton County. We hope that by giving back to this community, others will recognize the importance and do the same.”
Dr. Ferguson was a member of the Board of Directors of the Nathan Littauer Foundation as well as various professional organizations.
From her childhood days as a lifeguard at Gloversville’s Littauer Pool to the more recent years of nurturing the roses at her Gloversville home during summer breaks, taking long evening walks with Robert, and having lively conversations with local friends, Priscilla Ferguson enjoyed the benefits of life in Gloversville.
Dr. Ferguson is predeceased by her parents, Richard and Neale Parkhurst and her brothers Peter and Michael. She is survived by nephews David, Richard B. III, Cameron and Alexander Parkhurst and niece Amanda Parkhurst.
A memorial service will be held at the family’s convenience.