Times West Virginian
Pastor Donald F. Ford, 87, of the Oak Grove Community, Grafton, passed away peacefully at his home on the evening of Wednesday (Feb. 6, 2013).
He was born on June 25, 1925, to the late Bayard Francis Ford and the late Icie Mabel (Weaver) Ford.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara Ann (Withers) Ford; three children, Donald G. Ford, Linda A. Edwards and husband Ralph, and Kevin Ford, all of Grafton; six grandchildren, Kelly Mayle and husband Gary of Louisville, Ohio, Jason R. Edwards of Grafton, Jill S. Edwards and husband Donald “Bub” Funk of Fellowsville, Holly A. Paul and husband Billy of Canton, Ohio, Brittney D. Pyles and husband Paul of Grafton, and Donald G. “Bub” Ford Jr. and wife Brittany, also of Grafton; 10 great-grandchildren, Brandon, Evan, Adrian, Marah, Joshua, Trey, Hayden, Paul, Trenton and Trevor; one nephew, Francis Musgrove and wife Alia of Sheffield, Ohio; and one sister-in-law, Opal Ford, of Grafton.
He is preceded in death by two brothers, Glenn Ford and Henry Ford; and one sister, Crystal Allene Musgrove Amos; as well as one nephew, Howard Ford, all of Grafton.
Donald lived a full and exciting life, including serving as a bombardier in England during WWII, flying in the youngest bomber crew to fly during that war (average age 19 years, 3 months). Because of the publicity they received, he and the rest of the crew of his B-17 Flying Fortress were recreated in wax in the Royal Eighth Air Force Museum in London, U.K.
After the war, he helped transport displaced people and even some victims of Nazi concentration camps back to their homes. He was part of “Operation Manna,” during which they would fly their bombers in at treetop level — sometimes taking close-range fire from Nazi holdouts — dropping food to the Dutch people who were being starved out by Hitler’s forces. He was appointed fire chief of Furth, Germany and while working there, attended part of the historic Nuremberg Trials.
Upon returning home, he opened a popular local hangout called Don’s Den. This was later converted into Don’s General Store, which he operated with his wife Barbara for many years. During this same time, he started working for the B&O Railroad, where he worked until his retirement, 36 years later.
In 1997, he accepted what he considered to be his biggest challenge and his most important job, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, in Grafton, and he continued to be their pastor until literally the day he died.
Before becoming pastor of Calvary Baptist, he served there in many different capacities. He was a deacon, head of the Trustee Board, and personally had a hand in every phase of the construction all while still working full-time on the railroad during the day. He served on a state and national level of the Southern Baptist Convention as well; he was a representative on the Disaster Relief Team and was West Virginia’s representative on The Brotherhood Commission, later named the North American Board of Missions.
Growing up and living his entire life in the Oak Grove Community, his first church was the Oak Grove Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and trustee. He spent countless hours and logged thousands of miles hauling children to church every Sunday, and especially to Bible School, in his 1950s-era pickup with a homemade camper top. He eventually felt led to help start what later became Calvary Baptist Church with Rev. Jon Caudle as the pastor.
He took two months off from working at the B&O, leaving his family behind, so he could to travel to the Philippines to volunteer his excellent masonry skills to lay the block for a Missionary Bible School to be run by his longtime friend and missionary Pastor Harold McDougal.
After Hurricane Andrew hit, he packed up his tools into his van and headed to Homestead, Fla., to help as he could. He started a soup ministry during the economic downturn of the 1980s, at times standing in the snow outside the Mother’s Day Shrine handing out food to the needy of the area.
This grew into a full soup kitchen, which then eventually evolved into what is now The Bread of Life Mission. In 2010, Don was honored by being asked to serve as the parade marshal for the 143rd annual Memorial Day Parade.
He ran a food bank at Calvary Baptist Church and until he left this world was constantly helping those in need. He would visit the Taylor County Jail nearly every week, sharing God’s word with those that society tried to forget and lived his life in a way that genuinely and consistently reflected his love of God and his love of those around him.
He was a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a compassionate and giving man, a tireless minister, and a devoted servant of God Almighty. To say that Pastor Don Ford will be missed may be the understatement of the century.
The family will receive friends at the Donald G. Ford Funeral Home in Grafton on Sunday from 1-4 and 5-8 p.m., then on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until the funeral hour. Funeral services will be held at the Calvary Baptist Church on Monday at 10:30 a.m. with Pastor Ronald G. Ford and Pastor Steven A. Edwards officiating.
Interment will follow at the West Virginia National Cemetery in Pruntytown.
Military graveside services will be conducted by the VFW Memorial City Post 3081, Taylor County Post 12 American Legion, D.A.V. Chapter 24, and the Kingwood Army National Guard Honor Guard.
Online condolences: www. donaldgfordfuneralhome.com.