Dr. Ralph Ford

Dr. Ralph Ford lived life to the fullest. He invested liberally in the lives and ministries of countless family members, friends and opportunities. His influence was widely felt by those he empowered to pursue God's path for them. He embraced "terreauty" (a phrase coined by C. S. Lewis to describe the simultaneous experience of terror and beauty) in that he never shied away from a risk, conflict, or the unknown, but rather he threw himself into every person, place and experience with joy, hope, wisdom, courage and determination. Life took many twists and turns for Ralph, but he embraced the confidence of the child of God expressed in Psalm 30:5-
"Sing praises to the LORD, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Born December 6, 1923 in Waco, Texas, the youngest of J.M. and Nora Ford's five children, Ralph felt called to medicine at the young age of 12. He graduated from Rice University in two years, then completed his studies at Baylor Medical School at age 22, ultimately specializing in Internal Medicine. He was a member of the AO Medical Honor Society. In addition, he was accepted as a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. He loved his vocation, especially the challenge of a difficult diagnosis; and he saw medicine as his ministry. His professional practice spanned 55 years. Even into retirement, he maintained diligent studies and passed the continuing education medical exams until just a few short months before going Home to be with the Lord following a stroke and related complications. Ralph spent a sweet evening surrounded by his family, he went to sleep next to his cherished wife and awoke in the arms of Jesus on December 11, 2013.
His bride of 69 years is Minnie Grace. After their December 26, 1944 wedding, Dr. Ford shipped out to serve in the Persian Gulf as Lieutenant J. G. in the U.S. Navy just after World War II. While Minnie and baby Adrienne supported him through residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boson, Minnie Grace became "Mickie" -an identification bestowed on her by northeastern neighbors who couldn't tolerate such a Southern name.
He spent his life in service to the Lord Jesus Christ by means of his professional skill, Sunday school teaching, supporting a wide range of ministries, and personally discipling countless young adults over a span of decades. Highlights include dinners with the "Pork Chop Gang" and breakfast walks with local pastors, business professionals and anyone who was willing to brave the intellectual challenge of Ralph's Socratic questioning.
Members of River Oaks Country Club will remember Ralph as an avid tennis player and lover of the rarest hamburger legally permitted. He also loved to go bird hunting, ski, and spend time outside at his farm. He was a frequent flyer at the Fondren Library, always eager to discover new intellectual stimulation. He was a faithful attendee at Bethel Church and supported its leaders with his gift of exhortation.
He is survived by his wife, Minnie Grace Stone Ford and his two daughters, Adrienne Fry and Dana Stewart, along with two sons in law, Bill Fry and Craig Stewart. His five grandchildren and their families include: Rebecca Fry Whitney, her husband Jimmy, and their five children Isaac, Lucy, Hannah, Samuel and John; Ford Fry, his wife Stacy, and their sons Austin and Anders; Jennifer Fry VanLoh, her husband Wil, and their daughters Grace, Sarah and Mary; Zoe Stewart Reyes, her husband Manuel and their daughter Sofia; and the youngest granddaughter, Lauren Stewart. In addition, Ralph's older sister, Thelma Hamm still resides in Waco.
A memorial service honoring Dr. Ford will be held at Bethel Church (825 Bering Drive, Houston, 77057) on Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 p.m. with reception to follow at the home of Wil and Jennifer VanLoh. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that memorial remembrances may be made to Bethel Church (online giving possible through: www.bethelofhouston.com)
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights."
Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 12, 2013