WØUYJ - November 22, 2009

WØUYJ - Gregory M. Ferrey Gregory M. Ferrey
St Paul, MN

Gregory Ferrey made headlines in the late 1960s when a midair mechanical failure forced him to crash-land his helicopter on athletic fields at Macalester College in St. Paul. The incident didn't stop him from enjoying his favorite avocation, which led to a second career after he discontinued the family printing business he had operated for more than 20 years.

Ferrey's penchant for flying started in the 1950s, when he bought his single-engine plane and with the aid of maps, compasses and landmarks, made his way across the United States. He once flew from Florida to Cuba, said his son, Mark, of White Bear Lake.

He took a liking to helicopters in the 1960s and built a heliport on the roof of his printing business, E.S. Ferrey & Son, so he could make the commute from Shoreview to St. Paul. Parade magazine caught wind of his innovation and featured him in a cover story in 1966.

"He didn't let the moss grow" under his feet, Mark Ferrey said.

Greg Ferrey died of dementia Nov. 22 in his Shoreview home. He was 85.

After he stepped away from his printing business, Ferrey continued his career as a pilot with the Hughes Tool Co., for which he sold helicopters across the country. One of his first sales came when he was demonstrating an aircraft to the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department. While he was in the air with the police chief, a call came in about a police chase. Ferrey spotted the suspect and hovered over him until officers on the ground arrived, his son said.

A 40-year resident of Shoreview, Ferrey served on the City Council from 1966 to 1968, a time when the suburb was experiencing tremendous growth and new ordinances were being developed.

"He was a fastidious guy whose concern was to be above board and to do the right thing," said his friend Harlan Stoehr, who was involved in city politics at the time.

He was known for his common-sense approach and optimism, and one of his favorite sayings was "the best things are ahead," his son said.

Ferrey was born in St. Paul and graduated from the former Marshall High School. He was drafted into the Army at age 18 and served during World War II as a communications sergeant in the 839th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion.

He laid communication wiring before troops pushed through Germany, and was involved in liberating concentration camps, his son said.

He took over the family printing business when he returned from the war and ran it from 1948 until the late 1960s.

In his youth, Ferrey built his own ham radio and spoke with operators across the globe. In later years, he loved flying, building electronics and had a fascination with computers. He also enjoyed sailing on Turtle Lake, his son said.

In addition to his son, Ferrey is survived by his wife of 51 years, Audrey; two daughters, Maria Corcoran, of St. Paul, and Michele Kiefer, of Bloomington, Ind.; a sister, Alice Hart, of Bloomington, and five grandchildren.

Services will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Bradshaw Funeral Home, 4600 Greenhaven Dr., White Bear Lake