James Richard Ford,
James Richard Ford,
  • December 1, 1925 - October 11, 2017
  • Tallahassee, Florida

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Former Mayor James R. Ford, Sr. became the City of Tallahassee's first African American elected to the City Commission in 1971 and in 1972 he served as the city's first African-American Mayor. Nationally, Mayor Ford was the first African-American Mayor of a capital city. He is a descendant of William Henry Ford who served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1877-79. Ford served fourteen consecutive years as a Tallahassee City Commissioner.

During his tenure in city government, Ford played a pivotal role in eliminating segregated practices and securing employment for African Americans. He is credited with establishment of the City of Tallahassee's Minority Business Department, Frenchtown Area Development Authority (FADA) and was instrumental in the acquisition and preservation of the Riley House as a historical marker and establishment of the Walker-Ford Community Center.

James R. Ford, Sr. also made his mark in the local school system as the first African-American administrator (assistant principal) at Leon High School. He served simultaneously as Principal of Concord and Barrow Hill Elementary Schools. Ford also served as Migrant Program Director at Lively Vocational Technical Center. Lastly he served as assistant principal of Griffin Middle School where he retired from the Leon County Schools system after 37 years of pioneering service.

Locally, James R. Ford, Sr. built WANM radio station and was its first manager, thereby serving as Tallahassee's first African-American manager of a radio station. Aside from his ownership and management of seven local businesses, Ford served locally as President of: the Tallahassee Urban League, Gamma Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Zeta Chapter of Sigma Phi Pi Fraternity and 100 Black Men of America. He also served as Commander of the Tallahassee Sail and Power Squadron and Sneed-Franklin American Legion Post.
Ford sat on numerous local boards including: the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Florida League of Cities, Tallahassee Parks Foundation and Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center.
He leaves his legacy to his loving and devoted wife, Dr. Clinita A. Ford; daughters, Janita Maria Ford Patrick and JaKathryn Ellouise Ford Ross; son, James Richard Ford, Jr. (Lisa); grandchildren Carlanita M. Hollis, Ari Q. Patrick, James R. Ford, III, Tanner R. Ford, Michael C. Ford, Raven L. Ford, Kristin M. Ross and Carrington E. Ross; great grandchildren, Chauncey M. Hollis and Jarray J. Hollis; brother, Greeley Ford (Candace) and a host of loved and adored relatives and friends.

Mayor James R. Ford, Sr. will be funeralized on Monday, October 16th, 11:00 am at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Memorial services will be held on Sunday, October 15th, from 5:00 pm to 8:00PM at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home located at 700 Timberlane Road. Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home is in charge of services.