BRUNSWICK — Barbara Ferguson Beegel, 89, a resident of Auburn and Brunswick, died on Wednesday, 19 Sept., at Midcoast Hospital, from the consequences of a massive stroke.

Barbara was born on 12 March, 1923, in Hornell, N.Y., the second child of Russell M. Ferguson, M.D. and Miriam Miller Ferguson, M.D. After graduating from Canisteo High School, she attended Barnard College in New York City, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1944. Following in the footsteps of her mother, a pediatrician who became a doctor before women won the vote, Barbara went on to the New York University School of Medicine, earning her M.D. in 1949. A specialist in pathology, she did her residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, where she met her future husband, Dr. Paul M. Beegel, an orthopedic surgeon.  Barbara and Paul were married in 1953 and settled in Auburn to practice medicine. Their only child, Susan, was born in 1954.

Barbara, known as “Fergie” to her school friends and as Dr. Ferguson to her patients, spent most of her long career working for the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Her professional passion was serving as a physician advocate for low-income children with serious health problems, organizing top-quality medical care for them, supporting and educating their families, and helping to craft prevention programs in public health.

An active woman, Barbara enjoyed swimming and boating at the family’s cottage on Sabbathday Lake in the summer and figure skating and downhill skiing in the winter. In the 1960s, together with her husband and daughter, she canoed Maine’s Allagash River in its entirety. An enthusiastic traveler, Barbara visited many countries around the world — highlights were big game hunting with her husband, Paul, in New Zealand and South Africa, as well as trips to China with her daughter, Susan, to see China’s first national park, in Yunnan Province, and the Yangtze River before it was dammed. Her last trip, at age 87, was to Alaska, where she went dogsledding with two special teenagers in her life, Emeline Ferguson and Kierra Hall.

Barbara’s indoor pleasures were reading, needlepoint, crewel work, and tournament bridge. She prepared challenging recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as well as fish and game provided by her husband’s forays, sometimes served with edible wild mushrooms and plants that she gathered herself. She enjoyed gardening and tending an array of houseplants and loved all animals, both wildlife and the dogs and cats who shared her home. Her Shih Tzu, Chester, and Bengal leopard cat, Acacia, were her final animal companions.           

Barbara is survived by her daughter, Susan Beegel, of Phippsburg; a brother, Jeremiah Ferguson, of Penn Yann, N.Y.; a nephew, Jeremiah L. Ferguson, of Lenox, Iowa; a great-nephew, Moses Ferguson, of Maryville, Mo.; and a great-niece, Emeline Ferguson, of Phippsburg. 

She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Dr. Paul M. Beegel; and her sister, “Mimi,” Cora Miriam Woodruff, both of Auburn. 

Online condolences and messages may be sent in Barbara’s memory at

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