Gordon Ford Obit

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

Dean of Gordon Ford College of Business, Robert Jefferson, says: "He was such a spirit of adventure, also looking ahead, optimistic about the future, and he was just a joy to be around in many different ways."

Gordon Ford was 91 years old when he died and was still very active.

WKU Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Tom Hiles, says: "We were taken aback because I just saw him a month ago he played 18 holes of golf with Lee Robinson, one of his good friends, and then Gary Ransdell and I had dinner with him."

Hiles remembers when they named the College of Business after Ford.

Hiles says: "It was right before homecoming and I got a handwritten note from him, he didn't do email, he did a handwritten note laying out his $10.6 million gift. Needless to say that was one of the best homecoming presentations I've ever seen."

At the time the gift was the third largest ever made to a Kentucky college.

Jefferson says: "Well, Gordon Ford was very entrepreneurial. He valued education greatly. He wanted to make a difference in the future of students as they get an education and he believed that education is one of the things that enable the world to move forward."

Gordon Ford Biography

Gordon B. Ford graduated from the Bowling Green College of Commerce in 1934, a time of uncertainty and depression. However, the young accountant used his skills, training and determination to become a founding partner in the Louisville accounting firm of Yeager, Ford &Warren.

That firm merged with Coopers & Lybrand, which later merged with Price Waterhouse to become PricewaterhouseCoopers--one of the largest firms in the country. Ford retired as a partner and lived in Louisville and Village of Golf, FL.

Ford was a native of Greenville, Ky., and came to be, the forerunner of Westerns business college, through the hard work and determination of his mother, Mattie Newman Ford. He said she worked his way through college as a school teacher, underscoring the importance the Ford family placed on education and the long history the family has had with Western. Mrs. Ford received a teaching certificate from Western in 1909.

In December 1998, Ford honored both his mother and Western when he announced a $10.6 million gift commitment to the University, the largest single gift in the schools history. The gift created the Gordon Ford Deans Fund for Excellence and the Mattie Newman Ford Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies. In a show of appreciation, Western renamed the college the Gordon Ford College of Business. Ford also gave 10 or more scholarships a year for worthy students at Western since 1992 and was an active member of the WKU Board of Advisors and a director of the WKU Foundation. In 1999, he was inducted into Westerns Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Ford was active in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and had served as the groups vice president and director.

He was also active in the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants, where he had served as president and received the groups Distinguished Service Award. He was the author of several articles, including one for the Journal of Accountancy titled Long Range Plan for Development and Growth of a CPA Firm and co-author of History of the Professional Practice of Accounting in Kentucky.

He was a director of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and Louisville Central Area, Inc.; a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; a trustee of Bellarmine College; director of several corporations, including the Gordon Ford Foundation; and a member of the American Seniors Golf Association and the Southern Seniors Golf Association.

He was a member of Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville and First Presbyterian Church in Delray Beach, FL.

He was married to Glenda Ford and had three children: Dr. Gordon B. Ford Jr. and Gayle Ford Whittenberg, both of Louisville, and Gregory N. Ford of Melbourne, Fla.


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