John Joseph "Jody" Ferguson, a longtime computer programmer and talented athlete who regularly ran marathons and enjoyed swimming, died Friday at Baltimore-Washington Medical Center from complications of a seizure suffered last month.
The Parkville resident was 39.
Mr. Ferguson had suffered a seizure Sept. 15 while swimming at North Arundel Aquatic Center and was unconscious when removed from the pool by lifeguards. He had been in a coma since that time, said his brother, Terence T. Ferguson of Boston.
Mr. Ferguson, the son of a businessman and an educator, was born in Hartford, Conn., and raised in Simsbury, Conn. He was a 1990 graduate of Simsbury High School and earned a bachelor's degree in 1994 in mathematics from Loyola College.
Mr. Ferguson taught math and coached basketball and the chess team at Overlea High School before going to work in 1999 as a computer programmer at ProObject Inc. in Hanover, which provides cybersecurity for intelligence community clients, including the U.S. Defense Department.
"Jody started off as a software web developer. Today, he maintains the company's website and teaches new employees," said Chris Young, founder of ProObject Inc.
"He was smart and well-liked and in his current role got to work with everyone in the company," Mr. Young said.
"From our receptionist to the company president, he had an impact on everyone," he said. "Jody was a guy who was engaged and always had a smile on his face."
Athletics and competitive sports had played a major role in Mr. Ferguson's life.
When he was in college, he was a member of Loyola's dive team and continued to lead an active lifestyle. He swam and played basketball, golf and tennis on a regular basis.
"We'd play tennis every weekend, and he greatly improved. I used to beat him, and now he was beating me," Bill Cooper, a friend of 18 years, said with a laugh.
Among the many races he had participated in over the years, Mr. Ferguson had completed the Baltimore, Philadelphia and San Diego marathons.
He was a member of ProObject's Proobject Iii relay team, which had recently completed the swimming portion of the Nation's Triathlon.
"His last triathlon event for us was with our relay team three days before the accident, and he had his best swimming time ever," Mr. Young said.
"When we had a triathlon event, the participants get out of the pool and ride bikes. The last event is a race, and Jody would be there rooting for the first person to cross the finish line and the last. That tells you what kind of guy he was," he said.
Robert O. Paul, who owns a janitorial cleaning business, has been a friend of Mr. Ferguson's for 15 years and his roommate.
"I played both golf and tennis with him, and when he was on the basketball court, he was very aggressive and competitive," Mr. Paul said.
He said that upon first meeting Mr. Ferguson, the perception could be that he was "shy and quiet."
"Actually, he was very personable and outgoing," Mr. Paul said. "He was the kind of person who would do anything to help someone who needed something and he was glad to do it."
"He was very outgoing, but quiet about his accomplishments," Mr. Cooper said.
He was a parishioner and communicant of St. Isaac Jogues Roman Catholic Church in Northeast Baltimore, where he was a volunteer.
"He was a quiet, unassuming and engaging young man, and I thought the world of him," said the Rev. H. Martin "Marty" Hammond, pastor of St. Isaac Jogues, who celebrated the Mass of Christian burial that was offered for Mr. Ferguson on Tuesday.
"He was a part of our young adult group and a regular at Sunday Mass. He also did a lot of charity work," Father Hammond said.
"He had a pony tail and I thought he was just another young man with a pony tail, but then I found out he was growing it for cancer patients," Father Hammond said. "He took the kidding but that gives you the idea of his character."
He recalled Mr. Ferguson's "wicked sense of humor," and "even though he had struggles in his life, he didn't let them stop him from achieving his goals. He was not a materialistic person."
Father Hammond also added that Mr. Ferguson had "done an awful lot of things that people, not even his parents, brother and sister, knew about. He was just a fine young man."
"Soft-spoken and big-hearted, Jody had a love for life, sports, family and his friends," his brother said. "He always had a smile and could be counted on to lend a hand. His friendships were widespread and his impact long lasting,"
Also surviving are his parents, John and Mary Jeannie Ferguson of Simsbury; a sister, Holly McGrath of Stamford, Conn.; and a nephew.