Kathleen Ford (1934-2021): Woman who served food for the soul
A humanitarian who opened her home to offer meals and friendship to people in need was to be as a mother to the community.
The family of Kathleen Ford, who died in June, said she was known as “Ma”.
Ms Ford, from a humble childhood in Southampton, the sixth of 11 children, acquired a lifelong devotion to helping others.
She spoke to The Royal Gazette in 2014 after she received a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for her decades of service.
Ms Ford said: “I’ve been doing this for 50-odd years, although it has grown over the years with the recession.
“I am just carrying on with my mother’s legacy. She taught all of us children to do good for others, and that’s what we are doing.”
Ms Ford added: “I live how the Lord has asked me to live.
“Give, and it shall be given to you.”
The death of her mother meant Ms Ford had to leave her Adventist School, Sandringham at Jew’s Bay in Southampton, to work at the hospital aged just14.
The Carlton Beach Hotel, which later became the Sonesta, opened close to home in 1962 and Ms Ford got a job as a chambermaid.
She also helped support her family by baking and working as a seamstress.
Ms Ford married Patro Ford in 1960 and the couple had six children – Gaynell, Russ, John, Patrice, Patro and Melony.
She was devoted to her children’s education and religious values and took her family to sing and read Bible verses to senior citizens.
Ms Ford also brought distant nieces and nephews, friends and others in need of help into her home.
Saturday, the Sabbath in the Seventh-Day Adventist faith, was a time to serve meals for up to 60 people at “Welcome Place”, her home.
Seniors from the Lorraine Rest Home were in later years brought each month to join in.
Ms Ford also served meals to exhausted firefighters when a massive fire swept through the old Pembroke dump in 2012.
She was a regular in the Happy Valley area and gave soup to anyone in need from the back of her car.
She and her husband ran the Ford’s New World Bakery on The Glebe Road in Pembroke for 16 years and her farine and cassava pies were famed.
She was a stalwart of the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where her roles included the community service ministry, Sabbath school superintendent, the choir and the music ministry.
She serenaded church members and radio listeners with her singing and harmonica playing.
Her family said she was a vivid storyteller with a love of laughter.
Ms Ford told her family: “If you haven’t gone out of your way to help somebody else, you haven’t done anything.”
A statement submitted this week by her family said she “lived a full life that served as a blueprint for raising loving families while embracing a spirit of kindness and humility”.
• Kathleen Ester Ford, dedicated to providing meals to the needy, was born on June 30, 1935. She died on June 23, 2021, aged 85.