Richard Edwin Ford

Wabash, Indiana


April 16, 2014
Wabash, Indiana


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Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service - Manchester Avenue Chapel Obituary

Richard Edwin Ford, who devoted much of his life to volunteerism and philanthropic endeavors, died at 9:10 AM, Wednesday, in Naples, Florida, where he was visiting friends. The fourth-generation of a pioneer Wabash family, Mr. Ford was born on February 27, 1939, to Wilbur and Florence (Jeup) Ford.

He lived most of his life in the family home at 540 North Wabash.
Mr. Ford graduated from Wabash High School with the Class of 1956 and attended Indiana University where he was a member of Acacia fraternity. Upon graduation with a BS degree in business, he joined the family firm, The Ford Meter Box, Inc., as a salesman in the East.
He was living then in Washington, D.C. where he eventually worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and for a not-for-profit organization until he returned to Wabash in 1980. It was at that time that he took up a number of civic causes involving the arts, historic preservation and the humanities. His efforts in these fields were local, national, and international in scope.

After his return home, he chaired the Ford Meter Box Foundation and was for many years a member of the board of directors of the Ford Meter Box Company.

In Wabash, he established the Charley Creek Foundation, an organization which created the Charley Creek Gardens on North Miami Street and sponsors the Charley Creek Artsfest, an annual event featuring art exhibits, art sales and music performances. The Foundation is home to the Wabass Institute, the world?s first workshop devoted to players of the double bass string instrument. Instructors and students gather each year in Wabash to study and to perform.

Mr. Ford?s growing interest in historic preservation took him to various towns and cities in the United States and Europe where he saw preservation efforts at work. He became involved in projects to save the city of Venice, Italy, from flooding and he was on the board of directors of the American Museum in Britain. In America, he served as president of the Council of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He was a life member of the Honeywell Foundation, where his father, Wilbur Ford, was president for many years. The Olivette Room and the Tower Room were among his projects at the Honeywell Center.

Mr. Ford was a major force behind the creation of The Wabash County Historical Museum at 36 East Market. At the same time the new museum project was underway, he was also developing the Dr. James Ford Historic Home on West Hill Street. Dr. Ford, Richard?s great-grandfather, lived and practiced medicine in the home that is now a small museum.

He was a past member of the Honeywell House board where he took an interest in programming and in maintain the house to the late Eugenia Honeywell?s strict standards.

The major project of Mr. Ford?s later years was the restoration of the Hotel Indiana, which he renamed the Charley Creek Inn. He created a charming small hotel with a dining room and lounge in downtown Wabash. He was pleased with the role that Charley Creek Inn has played in the revitalization of the downtown area.
His interest in history and historic preservation was matched only by his interest in music. Over the years, he was quietly responsible for bringing talented musicians to Wabash. He was on the board of directors of the Wabash Valley Music Association, and had served as its president. He was a board member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and of the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera. For several years he served as director of the Metropolitan?s Indiana regional auditions.

It was his interest in music that provided him with strong ties to Indiana University after he graduated. He supported many causes at the Jacobs School of Music on the Bloomington campus.
He developed an interest in cabaret music and in the popular music segment known as The Great American Songbook, and he was particularly fond of the music of Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael.

Mr. Ford was the recipient of awards from many organizations, but none pleased him more than those from Indiana groups. Among those were the 1998 Distinguished Citizen award from the Wabash Chamber of Commerce, the 2004 Indiana Living Legends award from the Indiana Historical Society, and the 2009 ?Spirit of the Prairie ? award from Conner Prairie. Indiana Landmarks honored him with the Cook Cup for his preservation efforts in restoring what is now Charley Creek Inn. Manchester College (now Manchester University) granted him the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters in 2005.

Mr. Ford was past president of the American Pianists Association. He was on the board of Heartland Film Festival, Dance Kaleidoscope and the Indianapolis Opera Company. He sat on the boards of the Hoosier Salon, the Indiana State Historical Society, and the Indianapolis International Violin Competition. Two governors named him a Sagamore of the Wabash.

Mr. Ford?s club and organization affiliations were numerous. In Wabash,he belonged to the Kiwanis Club, the Wabash Chamber of Commerce, and more than three dozen other local organizations. He was a member of the First Methodist Church.

He is survived by nephews Steven (Lisa) Ford, Daniel (Tammy) Ford, and Mark (Amy) Ford, and by Marilyn Ford, a sister-in-law, all of Wabash. His parents, two brothers and a sister preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm at the Honeywell Center Ford Theater in Wabash. Family will receive friends from 3-8 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service, 1241 Manchester Avenue, Wabash.

The preferred memorials are the Charley Creek Foundation or the Animal Shelter of Wabash County.

Arrangements are being handled by Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service, Wabash, Indiana.

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Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

In particularly fond remembrance of a friend of long standing.

I come back to this site to once again a year later toexpress my gratitude to Richard for his friendship and for all he did for his hometown. Still thinking fondly of him as I continue to be blessed to live near Charley Creek Gardens, which now offers me a comforting place to walk in this stressful year of COVID-19. I thank you, Richard, every time I walk there.

Still missing my neighbor and thinking of him kindly every time I walk through Charly Creek Gardens, thanking him for all that he gifted to his beloved hometown, Wabash, Indiana.

In fond remembrance of a true gentleman and treasured friend.

Richard was a generous supporter of the restoration of President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, DC, and remained a loyal annual donor for years. In doing so, he helped thousands of visitors appreciate American history and explore Lincoln's thoughts on freedom and equality. We are grateful to have had Richard's support and encouragement, and are deeply saddened to learn of his passing. Reading this guestbook, it is clear that Richard had a profound impact not just here, but in Wabash and...

Here it is the middle of July 2014 and I have just learned of Dick Ford's death
through the Acacia Fraternity Indiana website the creators and maintainers of which I thank sincerely because I would not have known of it otherwise.
Dick came to my wedding and I visited
his lake cottage and rode in his boat.
At Indiana university I remember having
a lot of meals with him at Acacia Fraternity and how he loved baked potatoes and sour cream!
Also, he liked...

Having just learned of Mr. Ford's passing, I could not be more sad. I have known Mr. Ford from my days at The Columbia Club in Indianapolis and was so surprised to see him here in Washington DC at The University Club, where I worked. Always the gentleman, Mr. Ford made me feel more of a friend than a staff member of his club. Such a wonderful philanthropist, human being and all around down to earth guy, I will miss you. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. God Bless

Richard was a friend, a lover of music and supporter of the arts in so many ways. He hosted me and my husband in recitals in Indiana and we tried to get together when he was in Washington. I have just heard of his death and am speechless, and very sad. Yes, my friend, rest in peace!

When Richard joined me on the Board of the American Museum in Britain he invited me to lunch in New York in order to get to know me better and learn more about our institution. When I walked into Cipriani at the Sherry-Netherland Richard was sitting at their finest table. Throughout lunch a steady stream of Richard's friends and admirers stopped by our table to say hello or pay their respects. I was in awe that a man from Wabash knew so many people who clearly respected and admired him. We...