Celebrating the life of Ruth Ford
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Ruth Harting Ford
Ruth Ford, 88, passed away peacefully on November 24, 2022. Ruth was born on November 12, 1934, in Berea, Ohio, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from high school there and moved to Florida with her parents in the 1950s. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from Stetson University, where she was a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and then her Master’s Degree from the University of Florida. UF is where she met the love of her life, her future husband, Robert Ford, who remembers, “I liked the many things Ruth and I did together. We both were educators. We raised our son together. We traveled together. We volunteered together. And we made a good life together.”
Ruth and Robert were married in 1960 and lived in Orlando before moving to Maitland with their son, Lou, in the late 1960s. Fondly, Lou remembers many happy summers as a child traveling with his mother and father to places such as Underground Atlanta and Stone Mountain in Georgia, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, and Broadway in New York City to see Godspell. Ruth wanted her son to love learning through travel, and he did.
Ruth taught at Evans High School, then was a guidance counselor at Winter Park High School, Maitland Middle School, and Discovery Middle School, where she was named “Teacher of the Year.” Ruth was well known as a compassionate counselor, an outstanding teacher, and a member of various committees. At Winter Park High, she and her husband had great fun serving as chaperones at Homecoming, Prom, Senior, and Christmas dances. She was an active member of the Maitland Women’s Club, Orange County Retired Educators’ Association, and Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church. Fellow church member Helen Daly said, “Ruth was an example of Christ’s unconditional love.”
During her retirement years, Ruth and Robert travelled with friends to many places around the world including Ireland, Scotland, England, Africa, and Norway. When she was 82, she and Robert took their grandsons on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas.
When her grandsons were in elementary and middle school, she enjoyed picking them up one day each week and taking them shopping at Target. Shopping and going out for lunch with “Nana” and “Papa” are her grandson Jonathan’s fondest memories of her. Ruth embraced becoming a grandmother through adoption. Both of her grandchildren were adopted as babies, and the fact that they didn’t look exactly like her did not hinder her love. She was more interested in helping to raise loving, well-rounded citizens. Part of her legacy has continued through her grandson Joshua, a Stetson student, who will carry her Stetson sorority pin back to the university where they both studied, over half a century apart.
Her beliefs in education, acceptance, service, and love guided her life. Many people from Central Florida and from around the world have been guests at her home throughout the years, all treated as family. For example, one student she counselled from ninth grade through graduation, Miranda Huang, became a part of holiday and Mother’s Day celebrations for the rest of Ruth’s life.
Ruth was preceded in death by her mother, Elvira, and by her father, Louis. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Robert, and by her son, Lou, and his family, Joy, Josh, and Jonathan of Oviedo FL.
A reception to celebrate Ruth’s life will be held December 11, 2022, at 3:30 p.m. in the memory garden of Tuskawilla Presbyterian Church, 3600 Aloma Ave., Oviedo, FL.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Ruth’s name can be made to the Tuskawilla Memorial Garden fund.
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