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James W. Ford Jr.

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James W. Ford Jr. Obituary
James W. Ford Jr.
(Retired Chief of Fire of the Wilmington Fire Department)

Age 66, of Wilmington, Delaware, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2012, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Wilmington, he was the son of the late Marie (Ackerman) and James W. Ford Sr. Jim attended Christ Our King Grade School and was a 1963 graduate of Salesianum School. Jim received an Honorary Degree from Delaware Technical and Community College, of which he was most proud.

In 1963, Jim joined the Sheet Metal Workers International Union and on May 31, 1977, withdrew from the Sheet Metal Workers Union to begin his career with the Wilmington Fire Department. During this distinguished career Jim received numerous awards including the Life Saving Award, five Arson Task Force Commendations, City Council Proclamation, and one Unit Citation. Jim completed over 5,000 hours of courses and training at both the Delaware State Fire School and the National Fire Academy at Emmitsburg, Maryland. Jim was an active member of the Delaware State Fire Chiefs' Association; Delaware Volunteer Firefighters' Association; New Castle County Volunteer Fire Chiefs' Association; New Castle County Volunteer Firefighters' Association; Past Director Delaware Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators; Past Director Delaware Chapter of the Fire Marshal's Association of North America; Delaware Task Force Youthful Firesetters Program; and Past Chairman of the New Castle County Firefighters' Association Fire Awareness Weekend Committee.

On January 4, 2002, Jim was appointed Chief of Fire. Jim supervised 180 members and oversaw a budget of 15 million dollars. Jim led the City's negotiating team culminating with a new contract for IAFF Local l590 which included the first shift change in over 35 years. Jim was instrumental with modernizing the Department with purchasing eight new fire apparatus which at the time was unprecedented. Jim and his staff applied and received grants totaling over one million dollars. In July of 2007, Jim retired from the fire department and became the Safety and Security Manager for the Riverfront Development Corporation.

One of Jim's passions included his involvement as a basketball official for 18 years which included numerous State championship games both male and female. In 2011, Jim was inducted into the Delaware Basketball Hall of Fame. Jim was also instrumental in running the Diamond State Classic. Jim was the Past Director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IABO); State of Delaware Basketball Rule Interpreter; and Past Member of the Editorial Board of Referee Magazine.

Jim's community involvement included Special Olympics; he was Past President/Board of Directors for the Wilmington Police and Fire Federal Credit Union; Vice President/Board of Directors for the Graham Senior Center; member of Padua Academy's Board of Directors; and the St. Patrick's Day Society where on March 15, 2012, Jim received the Daniel S. Frawley Community Leadership Award.

Jim enjoyed summers at the Elks Swim Club, vacationing in Wildwood, New Jersey and the Delaware beaches; playing golf; and enjoying many nights with his wife and friends at the Del Rose Café and many other local bars and restaurants.

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Vera; son Tom; daughter Jaime (Chris); daughter Jessica (Kevin); brother Paul (Ann); sister Ellie (Janice) and most dear to his heart his grandchildren, Kieran; Ava; and Madilyn.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, May 31, at 1 pm at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Clayton and Cedar Streets, where friends may call on Wednesday evening from 5 to 9 pm. Burial will be in Cathedral Cemetery, Wilmington.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jim's memory to Fox Chase Cancer Center, attention Development Office, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111.

Published in The News Journal from May 27 to May 29, 2012
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