Joe Edwin Ford stepped into heaven on Sunday night, July 12, 2020, following a tough battle with dementia. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held on Friday, July 17th at 10:00am at First Baptist Church of Hamlin. Visitation will be held at Adams Foster Ray Funeral Home in Hamlin from 5:30pm to 7:00pm on Thursday, July 16th.
Joe was the son of Joe and Lottie Hix Ford, born in Avoca, Texas, on February 8, 1932 – one of 11 children. He attended grammar school in the Fairview community east of Hamlin, then transferred to Hamlin High School, where he developed a love for Piper football and was named team co-captain and All District Halfback his senior year. He graduated with the class of 1949.
Joe and his future wife, JoAnn Johnson, both started working at Farmers & Merchants National Bank in January, 1950, following high school graduation. They both started as bookkeepers when the bank was located in the current City Hall building. Joe also joined the Texas National Guard, rising to the rank of Captain. At the bank, he soon worked his way up to Vice President and Cashier before putting together a plan for ten local businessmen to buy out the existing bank owner. In 1995, he became president, CEO, and board chairman, growing the bank to over $100 million in assets. He continued to serve in the role of board chairman and CEO until June, 2017, when he retired.
Joe was also a successful farmer and cattleman, but his true love was community service. With the Hamlin Jaycees, he helped construct and operate a miniature golf course in the city park and helped demolish unsightly downtown buildings in the 1960’s. He led fundraising drives to pave the Park Road between SW 5th Street and the Golf Course Road and the private road behind the current high school building in the 1970’s. An avid member of Hamlin Country Club, he spent many hours lengthening tee boxes, installing brick cart paths, creating a driving range, planting trees, and building cart sheds. He was proud to be a member of the Hamlin Rotary Club and spent countless hours on the club’s Adopt-A-Highway section and cooking at Rotary meals prior to football games. He received the Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Award. Joe invested in his community in other ways, developing many residential blocks for housing in the southwest and northwest sections of the city.
Joe served several terms as a city councilman for Hamlin before serving as Hamlin’s mayor for four years. He also served as a director of Hendricks Hospital Foundation, the major fundraising arm of Hendricks Hospital in Abilene.
Perhaps his greatest service was for his church – First Baptist Church of Hamlin – where he at various times taught high school boys’ Sunday School classes, served as a deacon, chaired the finance committee, constructed and installed parking lot lighting, and helped organize the fundraising drive to build the fellowship hall addition. When the church decided to add a playground and pavilion, Joe put his welding skills to use helping to construct the iron fence around the new playground and playground lighting. He also donated an office building he owned that became The Mix for the church’s youth ministry.
Joe is survived by his wife, JoAnn, his son, Gary, of Hamlin, his daughter, Jan, of Abilene, cherished caregiver Janelle Rangel, grandchildren Amber Collins of Abilene, Ryan Bailey (Alyson) of Abilene, Josh Ford of Broomfield, CO, and Joseph Ford (Allison) of Stillwater, OK, and great-grandchildren Alexia Martin, Tatum McFarland, Riley Griffin, and Ryder Griffin of Abilene; Austyn Bailey, Patton Bailey, and Tyler Bailey of Abilene; and Avia Ford of Stillwater, OK; one brother, Doug Ford (Ann) of Clyde; three sisters-in-law – Maurine, Sarah, and Patty -- and many nieces and nephews. The family suggests that memorial donations can be made to First Baptist Church of Hamlin, Hendricks Hospice, or the new Hamlin Community Wellness Center under construction at Hamlin Collegiate High school.