It seems like Almost Yesterday that I first heard the song “On the Wings of a Dove.” This haunting melody was written by Robert Ferguson of Willow Springs, Missouri. In 1958 Ferguson was the manager of another Missourian, country singer Ferlin Husky.
Husky was born and raised on a farm near Flat River, Missouri. Every Saturday night in the 1930s, the Husky family radio was tuned to the Grand Old Opry. Young Ferlin loved to sing and a family story is that his father traded a hen to a neighbor for a guitar for the youngster.
Husky served in the Merchant Marines and after World War II returned home and worked at radio station KXLW in St. Louis with one of the great characters of country music and western movies – Smiley Burnette.
Husky then made his way to Bakersfield, California where he worked as a disc jockey and sang under the name of Terry Preston. In Bakersfield, Husky teamed with female vocalist Jean Shepherd to record a song about a soldier jilted by his girlfriend. “A Dear John Letter” became a surprise hit and brought new opportunities.
He acquired a role in a television drama, played in two movies, and moved to Nashville and signed an agreement with Bob Ferguson to be his manager. Ferguson had just written the song “On the Wings of a Dove” and gave it to Husky to record. It was an instant success and was later featured in the 1983 movie Tender Mercies.
It seems like almost yesterday.