Yvonne Ferguson-Watkins, fondly known as “Bonnie” was the first daughter born to Todd Elliott Ferguson, Sr. and Maggie (Terry) Ferguson in Cedar Hill, Tennessee on October 17. 1946.
In 1950, the family moved to Kokomo, Indiana where she attended Kokomo Public Schools. Yvonne accepted Christ (as did all the Ferguson children) and was an active member of Second Baptist Church in Kokomo, Indiana. Yvonne loved school and was dedicated to her education, attending summer school for extra credits to graduate early. While Yvonne enjoyed learning, she also enjoyed spending time with her friends. Yvonne was a member of the “Fantastic Six Social Club” along with Billie Joyce Brown, Evelyn Berry, Judy (Curry) Bernard, Jackie Bowling, and Emogene Curry. They would ride in the Big Green (1955 Chevy) to the Seashore to swim and go to Scotty’s for shakes! Yvonne participated with the cheerleading team the Kokomo Ko-Kats and attended the Debutante Ball, escorted by Dr. David Whitfield. Her Big brother, Todd, lovingly calls her “Monk” because he says when she was a child she climbed on everything.
Yvonne graduated from Kokomo High School in 1963, two years before the Fantastic Six, due to her summer school credits. The Fantastic Six lovingly named Yvonne the “Brainiac” of their group. As the oldest daughter of the Ferguson clan, Yvonne strived to be a great example for her younger siblings. She inspired her siblings, took pride in their accomplishments, and like most big sisters, Yvonne could also be a handful with her direct opinions, and of course she was always right. Her family affection was shared with the entire family supporting the dreams and desires of her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. She encouraged her entire family and friends. We (ALL) have many loving, crazy and admiring “Bonnie stories” to share and cherish.
After high school graduation Yvonne enrolled in Indiana University Kokomo, because at sixteen, her father would not allow her to leave home for school. In 1965, she transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, there she pledged Delta Sigma Theta and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. Yvonne went on to the Indiana University McKinney School of Law and received her Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1972. Following law school, Yvonne worked as a student teacher, and later at the Legal Services Organization along with Rod Bohannon, assisting those in need. She worked at the law practices of Brooks, Schwartz, Bishop, Holloway & Bolden and with Theodore Wilson, Attorney at Law. Yvonne was one of only 3 women of color in the city, practicing criminal law, at that time, in Indianapolis. She later formed her own law firms, Ferguson-Watkins and Harold, Ferguson-Watkins and Lee, and Ferguson-Watkins and Associates.
Yvonne was appointed to 10th District Chairperson for the Democratic Party in 1980. In May 1983, Yvonne threw her hat into the political ring and became a candidate for Marion County Superior Judge. With the assistance of her brother, William W. Ferguson, she filed to hyphenate her name, so she could be moved to the top 8 of the 11 Democratic candidates for the Superior Court nominations. The Indiana State Election board stated this was the first filing by a candidate seeking to use the first initial of a combined maiden name and a married name as a determining factor on an alphabetized ballot.
Yvonne’s thirst for justice and disdain for the injustices in this city made her a highly sought attorney, where she eventually argued in front of the Indiana Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit on several occasions. She was also a member of the Mike Tyson defense team. Yvonne had a kind heart. She donated her time and talents to those who had no voice. She along with Congresswomen Julia Carson, then Center Township Trustee had the Annual Shop for a Child Christmas Campaign, Operation Big Vote, Indiana Black Expo, Circle City Classic, Jack and Jill Incorporated and her favorite, The Mozell Sanders Foundation. She donated to a wide variety of causes and individuals.
Attorney Watkins was the past President of Indianapolis Professional Association, a lifetime member of the Marion County Bar Association, Indiana Trial Lawyers, Indiana State Bar Association. Yvonne was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1977, for President Jimmy Carter, and 1993, for President William Jefferson Clinton, she also visited the White House. Yvonne was a member of Operation Push with Jesse Jackson, worked on all campaigns for former Governor and Senator Evan Bayh and Congressman Andre Carson. One of her proudest political moments was her involvement with the Ohio campaign and election of President Barack Obama.
Yvonne was featured in a 1980’s Indianapolis Star article called “LAW SUITS” referencing the new age of women wearing pantsuits in the court room. Yvonne shared her knowledge of the law to all her fellow lawyers, always willing to help others. Yvonne was the original host of WTLC’s Legally Speaking on its sister station 1310 Radio.
Yvonne Ferguson Watkins made her transition on October 11, 2018, at the age of 72. She leaves to cherish her memory two sons, Kip Lamont Watkins and Moishe DuBois Watkins both of Indianapolis. IN; Four grandchildren Autumn (Harry) Ellis, Aryelle Watkins, Chaise Watkins of Indianapolis, IN and Victoria Watkins of Kokomo, IN; Three sisters, Betty L. Scott of Kokomo, IN, Donna M. Hayes of Indianapolis, IN and Mattie M. Ferguson of Brownsburg, IN; Two brothers, Todd E. (Lee) Ferguson Jr. of Columbia, TN, and John W. Ferguson of Kokomo, IN;
Three Aunts Doris M. Terry of Warren, Michigan, Ruby Terry of Inkster, Michigan and Jeanie Terry of Peru, Indiana.
Awaiting Yvonne in heaven are her parents, Todd Sr. and Maggie Mae Ferguson, her two brothers William W. Ferguson, George W. Ferguson, and her two sisters, Barbara M. Ferguson and Christina M. Ferguson. Yvonne also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and great – great nieces and nephews that loved their “Auntie B” tremendously.
The visitation is Saturday, October 20, 2018, 10am - 12pm, with the Homegoing Celebration commencing promptly at 12pm at New Era Church, 517 W. 30th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46208. The interment will immediately follow at Crown Hill Cemetery.
All Floral Deliveries should be made to the Church on Saturday, October 20, 2018 after 8:30am.