Fannin, Ferguson, Baker retire from city jobs

Published 10:44 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

This week wasn’t an easy one for the city of Troy as it lost three long-time employees to retirement.

Capt. Lewis Fannin, Diane Ferguson and Lewie Baker all hung up their hats this week, but they didn’t go out unnoticed.

For Baker, an employee of the utility department for 39 years, the celebration was a steak dinner. For Fannin, 35-year employee of the Troy Police Department, his service was honored as he was roasted by co-workers and friends in the municipal courtroom. And Ferguson, 21-year administrative assistant to the mayor, had her time celebrated with a reception in the council chambers.

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All were different, but each were special in their own ways.

Many co-workers and former co-workers shed some tears as they honored Fannin Friday morning. But most of those tears were just from laughing so hard as story after story was told at the captain’s expense.

“I had always heard Lewis was a devious fellow,” said Rod Anderson, now chief of the Troy University Police Department. “But I didn’t learn just how devious he was until one day I came to work and my phone was gone, and the next day my desk was gone.”

“Lewis and a couple of his counterparts introduced something to this police department, and that was humor,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “Lewis, it’s hard to get real serious about you. We’re going to miss you a heck of a lot.”

Police Chief Anthony Everage agreed.

“Lewis has always been a breath of fresh air,” said Everage, who used to work under Fannin when he first started at the department. “It was a pleasure to work with him. I had the greatest respect for him. Whether it was the public or employees, he treated everybody fairly.”

For some, saying goodbye to Fannin as a co-worker was something that marked the end of an era.

“Me and Lewis go beyond the Troy Police Department. We were the best of friends,” said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough. “My momma told me I don’t need to be friends with everybody. I just needed to have a few friends I could really count on. This is one of those right here.”

Scarbrough said Fannin was the first person he called the day his daughter was born, and that’s just how special his friendship was.

“You’re better than my two brothers,” he said, smiling.

For others, Fannin more or less has been a part of their whole lives.

“He had to see about me quite a bit growing up,” said Councilman Jason Reeves, son of former Police Chief Grady Reeves. “One time in high school my dad was out of town, so me and my buddy decided we’d slip out one night. My mom figured that out, so she called Lewis and he and Benny came and took me into custody. I grew up with these people, and I grew up with Lewis.”

For Fannin, leaving behind his work at the police department wasn’t something easy to do.

“I read an article…that said, ‘The hardest thing about retirement will be when I go back to this clubhouse I’m not a part of,’” Fannin said. “That will be the same for me because this is a very special place and very special people. Police are a very close-knit group. You go through divorce, death, you name it. I’ll miss that knowing I’m no longer a part of this thing.”

Some shed tears at Ferguson’s retirement reception, as well. But this time, it wasn’t necessarily from laughter.

“Diane has been one of those people that works for you in that short instance. I never would’ve made it without you,” said Councilwoman Wanda Moultry, holding back tears.

Ferguson asked to not have a big production, but Lunsford wouldn’t really stand for that.

“She didn’t want a big production. But I was thinking about it, and I realized I have executive authority in the city. I do what I want,” Lunsford said.

That’s why Lunsford declared the day officially “Diane Ferguson day” in the city.

“You are special to all of us here, and you are particularly special to me.”

It didn’t stop there.

Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, worked this week to pass a bill in the House, and Gov. Bob Riley sent down a certificate honoring Ferguson’s years of service.

“I told Diane a few minutes ago that looking at all these pictures of councils through the years on the wall the city keeps going,” Reeves said, as he presented the certificate from the governor. “It’ll keep going when she leaves, but it’ll never be the same.”

Parting was bitter-sweet for Ferguson Friday.

“It’s just overwhelming. I’ve enjoyed working with the city. I have a great job and have made some really, really good friends,” she said.

Baker retired Thursday after serving as service crew foreman for the utility department.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting the public and the friends I’ve made here,” Baker said. “I’ve done a lot of things.”

“We’ve gone through a tough week at the city of Troy,” Lunsford said.