Thursday, August 2, 2012
Joseph Ford’s legacy: education of children
By SUE WATSON
Joseph H. Ford Jr. will be remembered for his love of learning and his dedication to the education of children, said his friend, Mozell Kelley.
Ford, 82, died Tuesday, July 24.
His sister, Carol Jean Moody, said her brother will be remembered for his love of life. He loved to talk and was often invited to speak on special occasions, especially to young people, she said. He loved to travel and also was a voracious reader and a Bible scholar, Moody said. He was active in his church – Anderson Chapel CME – as a Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent, and a trustee and Steward Board member. He was a 33rd degree Mason and member of the American Legion.
Ford made it a Saturday morning ritual to call senior citizens and those who were ill, Moody said. If he was going to be out of town on Saturday, he called before he left town.
Russell Johnson, a friend and associate, said Ford was a role model.
“He trained me to be an administrator and he was an outstanding educator, concerned for both kids and teachers,” Johnson said. “He could call all the kids by their first names.”
Johnson remembered Ford coming to Holly Springs High School in 1968 and purchasing new textbooks.
“He was well-liked and respected by everyone," Johnson said.
State Rep. Kelvin Buck said Ford will be remembered as the “dean” of education.
“He was a shining example of an educator who was absolutely committed to public education and remained committed to education long after he retired,” Buck said.
“His influence and legacy will always be a part of public education in Marshall County and the State of Mississippi.”
Ford also taught GED classes for the literacy council.
Ford graduated high school from MI College, then obtained a bachelor of science and master’s at Tuskegee College in Alabama. He earned a master’s in administration from Michigan State University. He worked initially as a basketball coach and was principal at Water Valley Colored High School and later became the first African American principal at Holly Springs High School, serving from 1970-1990.
Ford served on the Marshall County School District Board of Trustees, she said.
He was the first African American president of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, District 2, serving from 1979-1980, Moody said. He was the first African American president of the Mississippi Association of Secondary School Principals, serving from 1978-1980.
Ford was a lifetime member of the national, state and local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a member of the local Democratic Party and served on the Democratic committee, Moody said.
He was one of five children of the late Rev. J.H. Ford Sr., a Methodist minister, and the late Willie Mae Stewart Ford.
The Ford family lived in Holly Springs during their early years, then moved to Canton and on to Charleston, where he pastored churches before the family returned to live in Holly Springs, Moody said.
Both parents graduated from MI College. Willie Mae Ford taught at the Rosenwald School in Holly Springs, while Rev. Ford was a school inspector (JENE teacher) and taught at Sand Flat, a two-room school (now H.W. Byers).
Ford was the father of two girls and two boys. He had three sisters - Thelma Ford Morris, Carol Moody and Virginia Jones - and one brother, Melvin C. Ford. See Page 2 obituaries for more details.
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