Bob Ford, who served in Baptist Campus Ministries at several Alabama universities, died March 11 after an extended illness. He was 88.
Ford’s nephew, David, announced his death in an early morning Facebook post March 12: “Bob went to his new heavenly home about 11:30 p.m. last night. We know he’s healthy and whole today! He will be missed.”
Ford served as Baptist campus minister at Jacksonville State University from 1982 until 1999. Prior to that, he served at the University of Montevallo and Livingston University (now the University of West Alabama).
“Giving thanks this morning for the life and legacy of retired campus minister Bob Ford,” Mike Nuss, director of the office of collegiate and student ministries for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, wrote on Facebook. “Well done good and faithful servant!”
Former students also paid tribute to Ford and his influence as they learned of his death.
Chris Roberts, a journalism at the University of Alabama and secretary of the TAB Media board of directors, said Ford was a mentor to thousands, including him.
“He was the man who guided me from the faith required by my parents (“Stay out as late as you want on prom night. We’ll see you at Sunday School.”) to the faith that is my own,” Roberts said.
“He followed 1 Corinthians 7:32 – ‘An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.’ His delight was the hundreds of young people he encouraged.”
‘Dear friend and mentor’
“Generations of JSU, Livingston and Montevallo students lost a dear friend and mentor last night as Rev. Bob Ford slipped out of this life,” wrote Eric Mackey, Alabama State Superintendent of Education and a graduate of JSU.
Ford officiated Mackey’s wedding to his wife, Robin. “Robin and I enjoyed visiting with him one last time just a few weeks ago,” Mackey wrote. “So many stories. So many fun memories. Glad he is now at peace.”
Scott Barkley, a JSU alum who is now a national correspondent for Baptist Press, said of Ford: “College students were his life, and that’s exactly what he gave for them.”
Former JSU BCM member Amanda Owens House also noted Ford’s commitment to the students he served: “This man NEVER locked the door to his house. … He would go on vacation and his house would be unlocked because he knew some poor, broke college kid might need a place to sleep, something to eat, a place to wash clothes, take a shower or to use his computer/printer to finish an assignment!
“I praise God for you, Bob! You were the hands and feet of Jesus, and I know you are enjoying His presence right now.”
A native of Gadsden, Ford was a graduate of Howard College (now Samford University) and earned master of theology and doctor of ministry degrees at Southern Seminary.
His ministerial career included service at Ensley Baptist Church in Birmingham and Calvary Baptist Church in Vincent, Alabama. He spent the majority of his ministry years in campus ministry.
Ford is survived by his brother, George, and three nephews.
Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church Jacksonville. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center, 206 Francis Street West Jacksonville, AL 36265 or the Bob Ford Mission Fund of the Baptist Campus Ministries, P.O. Box 151, Jacksonville AL 36265-0151 or www.jsubcm.org/give.
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