Crisscross Connections

Eisler-Ferguson Family Receives Legacy Family Award

Within the Eisler-Ferguson family, there are more than a dozen Roos spanning three generations. William “Bill” O’Neill Eisler graduated from the University of Kansas City (now UMKC) in 1958 and went on to receive his law degree. Bill practiced law for 45 years, with 20 years spent as a partner at the Whipple, Eisler & Kraft Law Firm and another 25 years in independent labor arbitration.

Bill’s sons, Patrick and Sean, both attended UMKC and graduated with degrees in history and mechanical engineering, respectively. Patrick went on to earn his M.P.A. and worked for Apria Healthcare for 20 years before moving to his current position at Netsmart Technologies. His wife, Heather R. Beaird-Eisler, received her B.B.A. from UMKC.

Sean began his career at Henderson Engineers, where he is currently a vice president. His wife Haley Ferguson-Eisler also attended UMKC, where she earned her B.B.A.

Haley’s parents, Marvin and Sandra Lynn Ferguson, attended the School of Law and have practiced together in North Kansas City for more than 50 years. Haley’s brother, Mark, and his wife, Margaret Costanzo-Ferguson, also attended the UMKC School of Law. Mark has his own practice and has worked in the same building as his parents for over 25 years. Haley’s great uncle, H. Elwin Ferguson, also attended UMKC and graduated with a degree in pharmacy in 1950.

The UMKC Alumni Association will present the Eisler-Ferguson family with the 2018 Legacy Family Award. Sandra Lynn, Sean and Heather sat down to discuss their familial influences throughout college and, now, their respective careers.

What influence, if any, did having other family members attend UMKC have on you?

Heather Beaird-Eisler (m. Patrick Eisler):

The largest influence by family members occurred before we became legally related. Marvin and Sandra Ferguson have been incredible mentors to me since my high school years. Haley Ferguson-Eisler and I were best friends since high school. She and her parents encouraged me to return to Kansas City when my college and life plans changed, and I was fortunate to live with them while I attended UMKC.

Sean O. Eisler (m. Haley Ferguson-Eisler):

UMKC was a commuter university during Haley’s and my tenure, as well as both of our Dads and our siblings. Having a Kansas City university from the 1950s until now is a huge draw for those of us who don’t have the means to go away to college.

What is one of the most memorable lessons you’ve learned from your family?

Sean O. Eisler (m. Haley Ferguson-Eisler):

One thing my dad taught me is that you don’t need to have all the right answers, you just need to know where to look for them. College teaches you that skill.

Heather Beaird-Eisler (m. Patrick Eisler):

Through their actions, the Fergusons showed me that we all have a responsibility to use our time and talents to improve our community to the best of our ability.

In addition to their professional careers, the Eisler-Ferguson family also has a knack for giving back to the community. According to Mark Ferguson’s website, his community involvement includes “serving on the Board of Directors for various non-profit organizations. He is the president of Alliance Fútbol Club and has coached soccer for 12 years… A true local sports fan who desires to make a positive impact, Mark is also a player-mentor to the Missouri Comets.”

Heather’s passion for social services helps drive her support for survivors of domestic violence as a bridge ambassador at Rose Brooks Center.

Sandra Lynn served on the board of directors at the North Kansas City Hospital. She also helped bring mental health services to the Northland as Chair of the Clay, Platte, Ray Mental Health Board.

Sean often promotes School of Computing and Engineering events within his company and was instrumental in securing a multi-year scholarship from Henderson Engineers for SCE students.

How did UMKC contribute to your career success?

Sean O. Eisler (m. Haley Ferguson-Eisler):

Scrappiness is a big deal in both the Eisler and Ferguson families. One thing I learned in college was how important it is to create order out of chaos, or using your skill set to improve various situations.

In that same spirit of scrappiness, the relatives also shared their experiences working and going to go school full-time. Heather said working to support herself while attending UMKC taught her to persevere. She also said her professional career has helped her contributions to her family.

Sandra Lynn said her Law School education permeates every day of her life as the big issue, in any situation, is to know what the question at hand really is.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Sean O. Eisler (m. Haley Ferguson-Eisler):

My family, and my engineering firm, in that order. When I started at Henderson I was employee number 45. We are now a 700 person firm. I had a role in that, and I’m pretty proud of our collective accomplishments. My two kids are awesome sauce and I am humbled by their collective accomplishments, too.

Heather Beaird-Eisler (m. Patrick Eisler):

In life, my proudest accomplishment is the relationships I have with my circle of friends and family.

Sandra Lynn Ferguson (m. Marvin J. Ferguson)

My proudest accomplishment is my family. My son Mark is a successful attorney and judge and my daughter Haley is a wonderful mother and accountant—both are well respected in their careers.

Professionally, I am proud that I served as a judge in Parkville for 25 years. I was usually the only woman in that field north of the river, and I was the first woman president of the Clay County Bar Association.

What advice do you have for students following in your footsteps?

Sean O. Eisler (m. Haley Ferguson-Eisler)

All college does is teach you how to learn. What is in your head the day you graduate is a foundation. It’s not everything you will need to know to pursue the career you have in front of you.  In fact, you will discover how much more you don’t know about your career once you are out of school.

Sandra Lynn Ferguson (m. Marvin J. Ferguson)

Do something you find you like. I found that I liked law by accident and that I had an aptitude for it. Do not be afraid to expand your horizons and make changes. Marvin and I bought the building for our private practice with no backing of any kind and had two children in college. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Heather Beaird-Eisler (m. Patrick Eisler):

Be present! The people you are in class with, or spending time with, at UMKC may develop into lifelong friends and/or professional contacts.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor the Eisler-Ferguson family and other outstanding alumni at the 2018 Alumni Awards event Friday, June 15, on campus. The reception is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Click here for tickets or sponsorship information for the June 15, 2018, Alumni Awards event.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.

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