Ferguson, then 26, enrolled in a computer programming class at a "storefront" Los Angeles training school. The unemployment benefits he received during that time -- an estimated $1,100 over four months -- helped pay for his $25-a-week hotel room and expenses as he learned the skills he says helped him secure a job at a Seal Beach bank.
Ferguson, who is now retired and lives in South Carolina, was recently inspired to return the favor. He sent the state a $10,000 check to repay -- with interest, he says -- the assistance the state provided to him 46 years ago.
"Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems," he said in a statement provided by the state treasurer's office.
Ferguson wrote "REPAYMENT FOR WHAT CALIF. DID FOR ME!" in the memo section of the Nov. 23 check, pictured below, adding in a note that the opportunity to collect unemployment benefits "allowed me to have a great career and I've been ever thankful."
State law dictates that because the check does not specify a recipient, the cash is deposited into a fund that provides money to public schools. Treasurer Bill Lockyer applauded Ferguson's "act of generosity, and the spirit it embodies."
"It's appropriate this money will go to educate our kids, because there's a lesson to be learned here about what it means to have a sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to the common good," he said in a statement.
Photo and check image provided by the state Treasurer's office.