Many have shared the image accompanying this story as a tribute and memorial to Deputy Ferguson.

Benton County Chief Deputy Mike Ferguson, who has also served as a part-time pastor in area churches, passed away suddenly, of natural causes, on Monday.

Ferguson first joined the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in 1980.

For the past several years, he has also served a variety of area churches as a pastor, preaching Sunday sermons as well as funerals for church members.

“He was a pastor, mentor and friend,” said Belinda James. Ferguson had officiated the funeral of Belinda’s husband, Ron (RAJJ) James.

Several others who knew him from his work in churches in Vinton, Shellsburg, Brandon and other communities had words of praise for Ferguson.

“I am not a church going guy, but Mike was a very inspirational man and a pleasure to know. He never pushed it down your throat, just led by example and that’s what I respected the most,” said Michael Clair.

Joan Beatty agreed, although she felt Ferguson’s impact from inside the church.

“He was such a great pastor and a very good friend,” Beatty said. “He always called me ‘Trouble’ and I called him ‘Trouble with a big T!’ He helped me through a lot and was so down to earth. I loved his inspirational preaching and stories. He truly will be missed by me and many others.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.