Milton E. Ford
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FORD, MILTON E., 72, professor of liberal studies at Grand Valley and founding director of the university's LGBT Resource Center, died March 19, 2014 after a long battle with cancer.

Ford joined Grand Valley's faculty in 1973 and celebrated receiving his 40-year service award in December. A compassionate teacher and lifelong researcher, Ford will best be remembered for leading efforts to integrate the LGBT community with university academics and its student life.

Ford served as faculty advisor to Out N About, Grand Valley's gay/straight student alliance, and as a trainer for Allies and Advocates. He earned a doctoral degree in English from Oklahoma State University, and a master's of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ford, author of three books, recently helped write a chapter for a book, "Expanding the Circle: Creating an Inclusive Environment in Higher Education for LGBTQ Students and Studies," which will be published this fall by SUNY Press.

Ford is survived by his partner, Gary Van Harn; a son, David Ford; daughter-in-law, Lisa; grandsons, Miles and Louis; sister, Ruth Bowman; and brother, Bob Ford.


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Published in Courier-Journal on Mar. 23, 2014.
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March 25, 2014
Golden Gate Park, Summer 2013
I first met Milt Ford while participating in a LGBT panel forum at Grand Valley in the 1990s. And since that day, the bond of our friendship – sometimes separated by great distance – never faltered or wavered; Forth of July at the cottage up North, introduction to house guests on Ethel Street like Sophie Freud – they all seemed so natural - and even commonplace in the world that surrounded him. When I was asked to speak to Out and About or on the occasion of Transgender Day of Remembrance at GVSU, I never hesitated to comply. He was there for me - when I graduated from Kendall College of Art & Design and again at Christmas in 2004 - after my facial surgery in Chicago – dropping by several times on the Holiday just to “check in.”

When I moved westward in 2006, I asked him and his neighbors from the cottage up North to come by and collect various bits and pieces of my furniture - what I couldn't fit into the tiny truck that I drove to my new life in California. He often mentioned the antique writing desk that came to be his and how grateful he was for such a gift. And when I returned to visit my native State of Michigan – this time as an actor in an independent film at the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck - I was honored as he and Gary came to the screening in celebration of my film debut.

I was surprised to hear from him last summer here in San Francisco. He came to be a part of the festivities surrounding the repeal of Prop 8. We had lunch in The Castro and took a walk in Golden Gate Park, stopping to rest in the serenity Aids Memorial Grove. Unbeknownst to me, on that beautiful afternoon, it would be our final meeting.

I'll remember him as sophisticated and playful; brilliant and compassionate. He seemed to se the world as if it – and he himself - were newborn; with curiosity and without judgment. What I admired most about him was his constancy – steadfast and true – Milt was always Milt. He loved his work as a professor and leader – academia was his element - and his mentoring helped me tremendously during my brief tenure as an associate professor at Kendall College of Art & Design.

He was a dear friend and, unequivocally, the finest man I've ever known. My sincerest condolences to his partner Gary and family.
Delia Wolfe
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