Former MBA Senior VP John Ferber Passes Away at 87

(Image courtesy of University of San Diego)

John Ferber, a long-time presence in the industry and former Mortgage Bankers Association Senior Vice President, passed away Oct. 26. He was 87.

A Korean War Veteran, Ferber was born in Minnesota and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

Ferber had spent the past two decades residing in San Diego. Early in his career, he spent 33 years with U.S. Bank in the commercial real estate space. Ferber then was with MBA as a Senior Vice President from 1990-2000.

Ferber retired from the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego in December 2020 after spending 20 years in multiple roles.

Ferber began at the university when the real estate program was in its very early stages. Among other accomplishments, he was chiefly responsible for the creation of the Real Estate Finance, Investments and Development Certificate, a co-partnership between the Burnham-Moores Center and the Professional and Continuing Education department.

His colleagues at MBA remember his time with the organization fondly. Shirlene Datcher, Associate Director of Meetings at MBA, recalled working with Ferber during his tenure.

“He was the best boss, because he cared so much about his staff, first and foremost,” Datcher said, noting he was also a devoted family man.  

Datcher recalled that Ferber was instrumental in the development of what eventually became the MBA Commercial/Multifamily Finance Convention & Expo.

“He was always pleasant to work with, always really friendly, always happy, and always had a nice thing to say,” Teresa Betz, MBA Vice President of Operations, remembered, adding he also had a great sense of humor.

“[He] was well-respected in the industry,” Betz said. “He really helped expand the commercial participation in the association.”

Former MBA Senior Vice President Gail Cardwell, who retired from the organization in 2015, called him a beloved friend for life and a perfect boss. “He left me alone to do my job, and he always had my back,” she said. “Over time, he would regale me with his stories of growing up on a farm in Minnesota, his early years of working two jobs to support his family and the joy of being a father and a grandfather.”

“John saw me through the death of my father and the birth of our two sons,” Cardwell said. “He and Jean kept in touch with my husband Dave and me over the years. He possessed a rare combination of talents–he was both the consummate gentleman and the funniest guy in the room. He was one of a kind.”

Ferber is survived by his loving wife Jean of 59 years, his three daughters Lynn Duncan (Wally), Julie Ferber, and Karen Leininger (Chris) and his five grandchildren Nick, Jon, Avery, Jack and Kate, great-grandson Nicholas, sister Mary Lord, and nephew Richard Lord.