"He wasn't an observer -- he was an active thinker," said Jim Matthews, a family friend who will be one of the ministers at Ferrell's funeral service. "Whether it was business or community, spiritually or nationally, Frank always had an idea."
John Franklin "Frank" Ferrell died Sunday. He was 87.
"He was always a hard-worker for his community," said friend Dennis Ziegenhorn. "He was definitely a community leader, and he thought a lot of Sikeston."
Ferrell belonged to the Sikeston Lions Club, the Sikeston Jaycees, the American Legion Post 114, Sikeston Masonic Lodge 310 and the Sikeston Elks Lodge. He was a Shriner, a member of the SEMO Shrine Mounted Patrol and the Moolah Shrine Temple in St. Louis. A former volunteer fireman for the Sikeston Volunteer Fire Department, Ferrell was a member and former president of the Sikeston Chamber of Commerce.
He was a former city councilman and mayor of Sikeston in the 1970s. Ferrell operated a Missouri license fee office from 1953 through 1973. He served as chairman of the Sikeston Industrial Development Corporation, as a deputy sheriff in Scott County, and was the first director of civil defense for Scott County. He was owner and operator of Ferrell Excavating Company and Ferrell Oil Company.
And this list is not comprehensive. "He did a lot of things behind the scenes," said the Rev. Rick Ramsey, pastor of First Baptist Church, where Ferrell worshiped.
In recognition of his efforts, Ferrell was named "Man of the Year" in 1985; he also received the Sikeston Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ferrell was politically active as well. Former State Rep. Betty Hearnes of Charleston, wife of former Gov. Warren Hearnes, called Ferrell "a good Democrat." He was active in her husband's campaigns, helping with dinners, passing out materials and other tasks, she said.
"The first thing you think about when you think of Frank Ferrell is that he was interested in improving Sikeston, building it and bringing industry in," she said.
At Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Mike Marshall noted Ferrell's death. "He did a lot of things for this town," Marshall said. "He will be greatly missed."
Marshall described Ferrell as "chairman of the board of the Greatest Generation."
Ferrell was quite committed to First Baptist Church. "He was very humble and yet very involved at the same time," Ramsey said. "He would lead, he would serve, he would do whatever was necessary to help."
In all projects Ferrell participated in, he was involved and helpful in terms of providing advice, finances and equipment, Ramsey said.
Matthews agreed. "He was always willing to contribute with his time and money - that was Frank," he said.
Ferrell also had a great amount of energy. "He was always enthusiastic about moving on to some other project," said Jim Robison, a lawyer and family friend of Ferrell's. "Somehow he always seemed to be about 20 years younger than his actual age."
He helped organized the Sheriff's Posse when it formed over 30 years ago, and actually taught the riders most of the drills, based on experience with the Shriner's Palomino horse drills, Robison said.
Robison related Ferrell's term as mayor with the development of the Sikeston Sports Complex. "He probably had more to do with putting that together than anyone in town," he said. "It was one of his pet projects."
Blair Moran of the Sikeston Veterans Park Committee, of which Ferrell was historian, told of Ferrell's work in the group. "He was a great asset to our committee and without his hard work and dedication, that park would have never have become a reality," Moran said. "Frank donated material and labor to help us with the tank, the jet and the helicopter."
Ferrell's death is a huge loss for Sikeston. "Anytime you lose a citizen like Frank Ferrell who was interested in everything and there when you needed someone to be energetic and work at any project that would improve the area, it is a tremendous loss to that area," Hearnes said.
"He was famous for big hugs -- a lot of people are going to miss his hugs," Ramsey said. He will remember Ferrell for "his smile, his wit, his firm handshake and genuine concern."
Ferrell's visitation will be from 5 to 8 o'clock tonight at the First Baptist Church, 1101 N. Main in Sikeston. Services are scheduled there at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, with burial in Memorial Park Cemetery.