In the Holiday Spirit, This from California’s State Treasurer


Dennis R. Ferguson, a 74-year-old retiree, has done his part to close California’s budget gap, sending the state a $10,000 check to pay back — with “interest” –unemployment benefits he received 46 years ago.

On the November 23, 2010 check, Ferguson wrote:


Since the check does not designate a specific recipient, state law requires that the money go to schools. The $10,000 has been deposited into the State fund that provides money to public schools.

“It’s appropriate this money will go to educate our kids, because there’s a lesson to be learned here about what it means to have a sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to the common good,” said Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

“On behalf of Californians, I want to express our deepest appreciation to Mr. Ferguson.  I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity and the spirit it embodies.”

Ferguson said he collected unemployment benefits for about four months in 1964 after being laid off by Douglas Aircraft, where he worked as an engineer. He was 26 at the time and living in a rundown hotel for $25 a week in West Los Angeles.  Ferguson’s benefits for the roughly 20-week period he received aid would have totaled about $1,100, according to information provided by the State Employment Development Department.



mailFerguson said he was grateful for the assistance and wanted to show his appreciation by adding “interest” to his repayment.  He said he figured $10,000 was a “nice round figure,” and added:

“Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems.”

The jobless benefits helped Ferguson go back to school.  He studied computer programming at the now-defunct International Tabulating Institute in Los Angeles.  The school had one 4K-IBM 1440 computer shared by 10 students.  Ferguson learned to create 21 programs and received an “A” grade and a certificate of completion in three months.

After school, Ferguson landed a job at Belmont Savings and Loan in Seal Beach.  He said it was the ideal job for a young man because it was like playing computer games and it allowed him to go to the beach in the afternoons.

About a year later, he got a better paying job as a programmer at Honeywell in Los Angeles.  Belmont Savings and Loan has since changed hands and is now part of JP Morgan Chase Bank.

In a note Ferguson sent to the State Treasurer’s Office along with the check, he wrote:Fergie's check

“In 1964, the State of California allowed me to collect unemployment while I attended a storefront school to learn how to program a computer. This allowed me to have a great career and I’ve been ever thankful.  Please find enclosed a check for $10,000 as a repayment.  Happy Thanksgiving!”

Ferguson now lives in South Carolina.


Filed under: Budget and Economy

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment