The Life of Harold F. Ford Jr.

Shared on 4th May 2014

HAROLD FRANK FORD, JR, 89, loving husband, father and grandfather, Army veteran and former WWII POW, passed away peacefully on April 29, 2014, in Auburn, AL, reuniting with his beloved wife of 61 years, Agnes Leona “Lee” Van Bremen Ford.

Born November 6, 1924, in Ocmulgee, OK to parents, Harold Frank Ford, Sr. and Hattie Omega Duree Ford, he had two younger sisters, Ann Gertrude Ford Weldon and Patricia Jane Ford Arrington.  He lived in Atlanta from ages 2-11, until his family moved to Jacksonville, FL, where his father worked for Western Union. An Eagle Scout, Harold graduated as the Salutatorian from Robert E. Lee High School in June 1943.

When WWII began, a young Ford was attending the University of Florida as part of the Army Specialized Training Course, known as ASTP, believing he and other young men would attend college before receiving a commission as an engineer. The ASTP program was however canceled in 1943 as the need for soldiers for the front line became urgent.  Ford then completed his infantry training in Fort McClellanand was transferred to North Dakota A&M at Fargo for schooling then assigned to weapons platoon Company E of the 232nd Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division.

 

In November 1944, 20-year-old Ford and his company arrived Gambsheim, France, on the Rhine River as part of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army.  Within a month of his arrival, Ford was part of a counterattack against weakened German troops after Battle of the Bulge. On Jan. 5, 1945, German tanks broke through Allied lines retaking Gambsheim, where Ford and 25 others were captured as Prisoners of War, the only survivors out of 165 men in his Company.  His family was notified that he was ’Missing in Action’ and a possible ‘Casualty of War.’

 

After capture, he was taken to a German POW Hospital in Ludwigsburg, where his frozen feet were spared a double amputation.  He was transported by train to the German POW camp, Hammelburg Stalag XIII, where he was held for three months until freed April 29, 1945. At war’s end, he had lost 60 pounds, weighing 110 at 6’2”.  General Patton rode into the camp on his Jeep on May 8 celebrating liberation. Medals received include: the Purple Heart Medal, American Theater Service Ribbon, European African Middle Eastern Service Ribbon, World War II Victory Ribbon and Good Conduct Medal and Crossed Rifles Badge,  however he was most proud of his Combat Infantry Badge.  In 2011, US Congressman Dennis A. Ross presented him with a WWII Ex-POW Medal in Brandon, FL

 

While a student at Georgia Tech on the GI Bill, he married Agnes Leona “Lee” Van Bremen Ford in 1947 and had two of their four children before receiving his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering degree in 1949.

 From 1950-1954, he served as an Officer in the National Guard and worked for the Crane Company, selling engineering products. From 1955-1983, he worked for L.B. Foster Co., steel supplier of infrastructure products out of Pittsburgh, PA, and after almost 30 years retired as Executive Vice President of the Eastern Region.

After raising four children in Atlanta, avid golfers Harold and Lee became Florida Snow Birds from 1986 to 2008. As members of East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta Athletic Club and Naples Imperial Country Club and the Georgia State Golf Association, they had many great trips with dear friends and multiple hole-in-ones. Harold’s other interests included genealogy, historical road trips, family dinners and reading.  He was a regular contributor to the Naples Daily News  Letter to the Editor as well.

Following his wife Lee’s passing in 2008 in Florida, he moved back to Georgia briefly to be near his sons and other family and then moved to Alabama to be near his daughter, where he made many friends at Monarch Estates and squeezed in one last road trip. Harold was a generous, humble soul whose curiosity kept him young and humor kept others happy.  He will be dearly missed.

Survived by: Four children: son, Clinton Harold Ford; daughter, Linda Lee Ford; son, Patrick Martin Ford; daughter, Margaret “Meg” Ford Alexander.  Sixteen grandchildren:  Alicia Ford Munoz, Peren Ford, Joshua Ford; Teska Lemoine, Maxie Lemoine, Sheila Corbin, James Corbin; Michael Ford, Melanie Ford Etheridge, Mary Beth Ford Peffer, David Ford, Maxwell Ford, Abigail Ford; Nikolas Anthony and Joseph Alexander; Six great-grandchildren: Joshua Lemoine, Joseph Lemoine,  Daniel Munoz, Juan Munoz, Leethan Toy and Julie Ford.

Harold’s Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, May 18, 2014 from 4-6 p.m. at the Atlanta Athletic Club, 1930 Bobby Jones Drive, Johns Creek, GA 30097. Friends and family welcomed. His ashes will be interned next to his wife, Lee’s, at Naples Memorial Cemetery in Naples, FL at a future date.  Please visit www.harold-frank-ford-jr.forevermissed.com to sign his registry.  In lieu, of flowers, donations can be made to the American Red Cross www.redcross.org/donate or to the Wounded Warrior Foundation www.woundedwarriorproject.org