Easton honored the late John Ford, the town’s longtime council president, with a special proclamation Monday night and announced a special election to fill his seat.
Peggy Ford, John’s widow, accepted the proclamation from Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey in front of black bunting draping the council desk at Ford’s central seat.
Reading the proclamation, Willey said Ford served the citizens of the Town of Easton with distinction over the course of three decades as a member and then chairman of the planning commission, as council representative for Ward 1, and as town council president.
The proclamation continued:
“(B)oth in and out of public service roles John Ford treated all people, fellow elected officials, staff members, and members of the public, with dignity and respect, approaching all he did with a combination of sincerity and good humor, compassion and common sense, humility and a strong work ethic.”
“(I)n addition to his leadership in town government, John Ford served his community as a president of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, president of Historic Cemeteries of Easton, founding board member and instructor for Chesapeake Forum, a lifelong learning community, and member of the Easton Affordable Housing Board, in addition to his warm and welcoming presence at community and arts events, his long career at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and his role as a loving husband and family member.”
At the start of the meeting, Councilwoman Megan Cook wept as she asked for a moment of silence for Ford, who died Feb. 4.
Willey later announced that a special election to fill out the remaining year on Ford’s term as council president would be held Tuesday, May 5. Candidates for the special election will need to file nominating petitions by April 6.
If a current council member runs for the seat and wins, then a second special election would need to be held to fill that council seat.
A celebration of life for Ford will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Easton High School.
In an obituary, his family wrote:
A kind, thoughtful, generous spirit left this earth Tuesday morning, February 4, 2020. His life was rich and full, he loved deeply, laughed readily, and did not judge. He accepted people for their interesting blend of flaws and idiosyncrasies. He was a wonderful husband, treasured brother, devoted father, and honest friend. He was a respected member of his community, he worked for fairness and compassion, and handled conflict with integrity. His legacy will live on in the many lives he touched. He was a consistent and treasured town leader, most often settling issues with a wry blend of common sense and compromise.
Born John Francis Ford in Dubuque, Iowa, December 4, 1952, he made a positive impact on many people from his family to his community. He will be long missed.
John was a man of many interests. He was active and loved to play sports. As a young man, he was on basketball, swim, football, and lacrosse teams. For the last 40 years, he swam at the YMCA at least five mornings a week, often done and gone before most Easton folks had their first cup of coffee.
In 1971, he graduated top of his class at SS Peter & Paul, went on to the University of Delaware, then ultimately got his degree from Towson State University, where he studied literature. He was an avid reader, and took many post-grad literature classes at Washington College. He taught literature, poetry, Shakespeare, American history, civil history, and short stories as a founding member of the Academy for Lifelong Learning at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where he worked as operations manager for several decades until his retirement in June 2019.
Most recently he was a key founder and president of the Chesapeake Forum, a newly formed adult education organization in Easton, which completed its first semester this fall. John served on the boards of Historic Cemeteries of Easton and Easton’s Affordable Housing Board, as well as president of the board of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center and president of the Easton Town Council for many years. He volunteered, he spoke at public events, he gave eulogies, he helped clean the cemetery, he showed up. He cared.
But John would dismiss his many accomplishments. Except for one. He felt he was the luckiest man alive, because he was fortunate to have landed the prettiest, nicest, best girl he ever saw. From day one when he brought her home to meet the family to their wedding in 1978 through his last weeks in the hospital, John’s face, especially his eyes, lit up when they came to rest on his dear Peggy. They were a dancing, laughing, ice-cream-eating, dog-walking, hand-holding sight to see. As a fixture in our community, the two of them gladdened hearts, still so infatuated, 42 years in. They were blessed with one son, Benjamin Patrick, and when he married Kate Livie, it was clear their message of love and devotion was passed on.
John will be deeply missed by his dear wife Peggy and son Ben (Kate), sister Mary, brothers Mike (Patricia), Thom (Leslie Passano), Steve (Donna), many nieces and nephews, countless dear friends, numerous colleagues, and a wide world of people he has touched and heartened. Although the family is struck with grief, we are also grateful that we had John in our lives. He was a rare blend of sincerity and humor, smart but humble, intuitive and generous. There was only one John Ford, and we will miss him the rest of our days.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center or the Chesapeake Forum. Or, in the true spirit of John Ford, volunteer your time to give back to his beloved community.