On August 10, 2014, members of Northminster Presbyterian Church paid a special tribute to William (Bill) Ford following our Sunday morning worship. Bill’s lovely wife, Lee and their two sons, David and Doug, generously presented Northminster Church with a beautiful new sign that stands proudly on the corner of 35th Avenue and Sweetwater in Phoenix.
Although, Bill passed away in December of 2008, Lee has always had a vision of donating something special as a memorial to Bill, the man she loved so dearly. Lee had an idea of what she wanted to do and with the help of her friends at church, and approval by the Session, work started on the sign. It took many long months to complete, but it was worth the wait. The sign is lighted in the evening for all to see. Day or night, it welcomes one and all to worship Christ with our church family at Northminster. It is truly a beautiful structure and we thank you so much Ford Family.
Now, to share some highlights of the life of this special man named Bill Ford. Bill came into this world on December 17, 1921 in a small farm house in Madrid, Nebraska. Bill had four siblings, Don, Barbara, Glenn, and Max. The family’s roots were embedded in the soil of the land and farming became their way of life. Days were long and working the farm was very hard in those days and families struggled to make ends meet. But farming was in Bill’s blood.
In 1942, Bill left the farm to defend his country and join the army. He was in the 82nd Airborne Division, Unit 504 of the US Army. It was a dangerous time for a young man with his country at war, but he stayed for almost 5 years. He was a radioman in the paratroopers and on one of his mission flights, as he was parachuting from a plane; Bill was hit by German fire. He was one of the lucky soldiers and for this, he received with honor the Purple Heart. After leaving the army, Bill returned to his home in Nebraska in 1946.
Shortly thereafter, he met and fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful girl named Lee, from Beverly Hills, California. It was a short and exciting courtship, when the two of them decided to run away to Kansas to get married in 1947. Bill was working as a manager of three grain elevators and Lee soon found a job also. Married life was off to a great start.
Then one day, Bill decided to go the Lincoln Nebraska with a friend while Lee was at work. Upon his return home that day, Bill surprised (or maybe “shocked” is the word) Lee with the fact that he had bought a farm there in Madrid, Nebraska. Well, for a California girl coming from exciting Beverly Hills, with running water, telephones, electricity, indoor plumbing, sunshine and swimming pools and going to a 4 room farmhouse in the wide open spaces where there is no one for miles. That had to be quite a surprise. But as most stories go, LOVE always wins out.
Bill and Lee worked endless years raising two boys, David and Doug.Their farm produced wheat, until the government stepped in and told them they had to grow corn instead. As the years passed and the boys were grown, Bill decided it was time to retire and sell the farm. So, in 1975, they moved to Denver, Colorado. Bill retired but Lee continued working at Denver University in the Grad Student Advisor’s office.
Then in 1989, they decided it was time to really retire and they moved to Phoenix, into the home Lee currently resides in. Bill and Lee attended the Moravian Church, followed by Christ Presbyterian, and finally joined Northminster a number of years ago. They both were an important part of our church family, and we are certainly blessed to still have Lee volunteering and just being herself at Northminster.
Northminster Church wishes to thank the Ford Family for donating this beautiful memorial as a means of inviting and welcoming others to share and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.