Louis ‘Louie’ J. Ferris

April 03, 1930 - December 09, 2021

Louis “Louie” J. Ferris, 91, passed away peacefully at home on Dec. 9, 2021, after an amazingly full life, surrounded by his devoted family and friends. A life-long resident of La Crosse’s North Side, Louie was proud that he lived and died in the same house he was born in.

Louie Young 2A son of Christian Lebanese immigrants, Louis and Alice (Monsoor) Ferris, Louie was from a large family of nine children. A graduate of Logan High School, Louie served for a year in the National Guard, and a year in the Army before serving an additional eight years active duty as an Air Force staff sergeant. He also served in the Korean War. After his service, he graduated from UW-La Crosse with a teaching degree. For many years, he was a beloved art and Spanish teacher in Whitehall, Wis. He also taught language arts at St. James Catholic School.

With his brother Roger, Louis was the co-owner of Ferris Boot King for many years. He later owned a restaurant in downtown La Crosse specializing in Middle Eastern food.

A prolific student of language and dialect, Louie spoke seven languages fluently, including Arabic, Portuguese, French, Spanish and German. He wrote two books: the first, an instructional art book and the second, a history of the Ferris and Monsoor families. His passions included cooking Middle Eastern food, painting, writing and gardening.

Louie loved to figure skate, and his appearance on any ice rink quickly cleared the ice as he performed advanced spins and jumps well into his 60s. Once known as “the toughest kid on the North Side, Louie loved to box, teach judo and self-defense and continued to make daily use of the “heavy bag” into his 90s. He loved to travel and made frequent trips to Brazil over his lifetime where many of his Lebanese relatives had settled.

Louie was an accomplished ballroom dancer. He taught countless others to dance, as well as passed his passion for dancing onto great nephews, nieces and countless others. Louie loved to sing and was involved in a barbershop quartet, and choir. In fact, he sang so often and with such great gusto that he was often asked by his nieces and nephews to sing solo “…so low that you cannot be heard, Uncle Louie!” they would add with a smile. As you can guess, Louie had a great sense of humor and had a joke for every hour of the day.

In 2016, Louie was honored to be named the Oktoberfest Torchlight Parade marshal. He thoroughly enjoyed becoming part of the Oktoberfest family and representing the festival, the North Side and the city of La Crosse throughout the Midwest.

Louie devoted his senior years to honoring and promoting veterans causes. He spent many years as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Leader and Commander. He was the driving force in the naming and erection of The Veterans Monument at the Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex at the UW-La Crosse. The Veterans Hall of Honor is the La Crosse area’s first monument paying tribute to all La Crosse veterans who have served our country honorably in war and peace.

Louie approached the city about having a park established upon which to erect war memorials in honor of those local residents who had served in the various military branches. Located on French Island, the park is named La Crosse Veterans Freedom Park.

As a one-man fund-raising team, Louie sought out and procured all the needed funds. He worked diligently with local craftsman, many who donated their time and efforts to the cause. After the first statue was erected, Louie was approached by other military groups and spouses to erect a statue in memory of their loved ones who had served. In all, Louie oversaw five memorial statues, plus the establishment of the park itself. The Korean War Memorial, the World War I Memorial, the Hmong-Lao Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Nurse Cadet Corps Memorial, who served in World War II and a World War II Memorial. He was assisting others on two other memorials.

It was not unusual on any given day to find Louie volunteering for the New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers, working a fundraiser cookout for veterans, collecting signatures to keep Hmong veterans in America, or mentoring young adults to join the military, which included two great-nephews, David Mendez and William Bischel, who followed in his footsteps of military service.

Louie was held in the very highest esteem by his many nieces and nephews including Toni Campbell, Cathy Wisland (deceased) Mark Wisland, Lysa Wisland Newman, Michael Ferris, Patty Ferris Emery, Barbara Ferris, Mary Ferris Conrad, Sophia Ferris Gundersen, Thomas Ferris, Joan Ferris, Jimmy Ferris, Jon Ferris, Jennifer Ferris, Sarah Ferris Jebb, David Ferris, Donald Ferris, Ramona Ferris Mendez, Fred Howard, Alice Howard, Joseph Howard, Roger Howard, Victoria Bischel, Roxanne Jakupcak, William Howard and MaryAnn Howard, close friends Kathryn Johnson II and her daughter Kathryn Johnson III, as well as dozens of grand nieces and nephews. He is survived by his sister, Edith Ferris Howard.

Louie Ferris lived a wonderful life and he taught and lived by the following creed: “Be thankful. Thank God. Live simply. Be kind. Believe in yourself. Never give up on people. Use please and thank you. Help others always. Cherish family and friends. Listen with your heart open. Laugh often and love a lot.”

He was a man of prayer. He loved and served God faithfully. He was excited to see Jesus and looked forward to seeing loved ones who went before him, especially his mom, dad and siblings.