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Bobby Joe Ford


1931 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Bobby Joe Ford Obituary
FORD Bobby Joe Ford, 83, of Neptune Beach, FL died Saturday May 31 2014 due to complications from multiple cancer surgeries. Bobby Joe passed quietly at home in hospice care surrounded by family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. Bobby Joe was the youngest of Norman and Martha Ford's ten children. He was born on July 10, 1931 in Earle, AR, in the heart of both the Arkansas Delta and the Great Depression. To say that the place, timing, and economic conditions of his birth shaped his life would be a gross understatement. His first twenty years were spent working as the son of a share-cropper, with more time in the field than in the classroom. Bobby Joe learned that one could overcome deep poverty with faith, family, and dedication to hard work! These three core convictions served him well on the farm, and he used them as guides throughout his long, influential life as a husband, father, educator, coach, and church leader. At the age of 20, Bobby Joe-or Knot as he was called by all his family and friends in and around Marked Tree, AR because of his hardheaded resilience-received his HS Diploma. As the Korean Conflict escaladed, he enlisted in the U.S Navy and was selected to receive advanced electrical training to become one of first sailors to service the Navy's newest jet aircraft. He served primarily at NAS Jacksonville, with stints all over Texas and overseas in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was an excellent electrician, but he primarily left his mark as a top Navy Boxer, by going undefeated in over 50 fights. Bobby Joe mustered out after his four year commitment, and used the G.I. Bill, to immediately enrolled at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. While stationed at NAS Jacksonville, he met his first wife, Barbara Cline Farmer. Shortly after starting college, Bobby Joe and Barbara were married and she joined him in Fayetteville. He graduated in 1959 with a Master's Degree in Education and moved to Jacksonville Beach, FL with his young bride and first child Pamela Ann. Upon graduation, Bobby Joe was hired by the Superintendent of Duval County Schools as a science teacher at Duncan U. Fletcher High School and as an assistant football coach under Jack Taylor. He coached and taught until 1966, when he was promoted to Dean of Boys at Fletcher. He served as Dean until 1971, and was then promoted to Vice-Principal at the newly built Ed White High School. Throughout his 12 years at the Beach, as a Coach, summer swimming instructor at BAC Pool, Dean of Boys, and Elder at the Jacksonville Beach Church of Christ, Bobby Joe became a very powerful and positive influence in thousands of young lives. He knew where he came from, and he passed on those share-cropper lessons by encouraging and inspiring all those he came in contact with to use their potential and their opportunities to succeed. Bobby Joe and Barbara were significantly blessed during this period and added five additional children to their family - Sherry Lee, Kelly Jo, Matthew Page, Benjamin Martin Ben, and Lisa Kay. In 1977, Bobby Joe received his Doctorate in Education from Nova University. From then until his final retirement in 1993, he was the Principal at various schools in Jacksonville and spent several years as a Programs Administrator for Duval County Schools, and finally returned to where he started, in the classroom and football field at Duncan U. Fletcher High School. Bobby Joe lost his first wife in the fall of 1990 after a six year battle with breast cancer. He again leaned on his farm lessons and began travelling the country to spend time with children and family, who were now spread from coast to coast. One blessed marriage was not enough in God's plan; Bobby Joe was doubly blessed to meet Catherine White of Neptune Beach, FL. Catherine brought two children of her own (Mary C. and Randy), but took on the herculean task of embracing six more kids, all with spouses and growing families. They were married in September of 1991 and for more than 23 years Bobby Joe and Catherine lived together in Neptune Beach as active members of Oceanside Church of Christ, sharing their lives with friends and watching over their large posse of children, grands and great-grands! Bobby Joe is survived by his wife Catherine, and 8 children: Pamela Ford Copeland - Pantego, NC; Sherry Ford Powell - Searcy, AR; Kelly Ford Landolt - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL; Matthew Ford - Searcy, AR; Ben Ford - Jacksonville, FL; Mary C. White Dake - Jacksonville Beach, FL; Lisa Ford Miller - Charleston, SC; and Randy White - Jacksonville, FL; and too many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to list. The last count (including two on the way) numbered 25 Grandchildren, 12 Great-Grandchildren, and 13 spouses, for an immediate family total of 60. Legacy can be measured both in quality and quantity of life, and Bobby Joe was blessed with both. His family is large and have all thrived from his leadership, love, and devotion to God and family. Though his family is sizable, he touched thousands and thousands of lives through his work of more than 34 years as a Coach and Educator, and many more years as a Christian Leader! His main hope for all is that we follow his steps as he followed Joshua of old: But as for me and my household we will serve the LORD, (Joshua 24:15). Bobby Joe has gone to the ultimate homecoming and urgently awaits us to join him: Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, (John 14:1-3). We ask you to join us in the celebration of Bobby Joe's life, his legacy, and his ultimate reward with God. Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, June 5th at HARDAGE-GIDDENS FUNERAL HOME, 1701 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville Beach, FL. Funeral Services will be held 1 p.m. Friday, June 6th at OceanSide Church of Christ, 1025 Snug Harbor Ct., Atlantic Beach, FL. Interment will follow in Beaches Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, please make charitable gifts to one of the following non-profit organizations that is close to our family's heart: The Sophie's Voice Foundation for Spina-Bifida, Susan B. Komen Foundation for Brest Cancer, and the Autism Society of America. *** FAITH - FAMILY - DEDICATION *** Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com
Published in the Florida Times-Union on June 4, 2014
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