Jim and Judy Ford

Jim and Judy Ford

Jim and Judy Ford established this scholarship back in 1982 to honor the contributions his parents made to public education and the La Crosse Community.

Charles E. Ford (“Ben”) Born November 9, 1910 at Genoa City, WI. Died April 1 5, 1 982.

Ben ’s education included two years at Lawrence College, Appleton, WI, a period of time at Spencerian Business College and three years at La Crosse State Teachers College. At La Crosse State, he lettered in basketball, participated in the L Club and was president of the Physical Education Club. He graduated in 1935 with a BA in Physical Education. (He later earned his MA in Physical Education at Colorado State.)

His first teaching position was at Wonewoc, WI where he taught History, Physical Education, and Science and he coached all sports. After four years at Wonewoc, he moved to Colfax, WI where he taught History, Physical Education. In 1940 he moved to La Crosse to teach Physical Education, History and coach at Longfellow Elementary School.

Although he had a deferment because of his age and profession, he volunteered in World War II and served as Lt. Commander in USN. He spent two years at sea duty as gunnery officer on a merchant marine ship in both European and Pacific Theaters.

In the SO’s, Ben was instrumental in bringing the Salk Polio vaccine to all La Crosse Schools. He taught at Central High where he was Head Track Coach and JV football coach. He was a strong advocate of inter-mural sports programming and became Supervisor for Physical Education, Health and Safety for La Crosse Public Schools. He retired in 1972.

Ben was an ardent fisherman and golfer and enjoyed traveling. He was well-respected by associates and former students for his fair-mindedness and high expectations.

Marian (Small) Ford Born June 28, 1916 in Wenatchee, WA to Walters. Small and Katie Ida (U lrey) Small. Died October 24, 2014.

Marian graduated from Central High School in La Crosse and attended La Crosse State Teachers College for two years. She transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she completed a BA in Economics in June, 1937.

She married Charles Emmett Ford on August 17, 1937 and moved to Wonewoc where he was teaching. Their son, James, was born shortly after their return to La Crosse in 1940.

In 1956, Marian returned to La Crosse State Teachers College and received an Elementary Education teaching certificate. Later she received her certificate in Library Science from UW-Madison and worked part-time at the South Branch Library in La Crosse for 17 years as librarian.

Marian was an avid bridge player, keen reader and eager gardener. She enjoyed travelling, golfing, sewing, and is an excellent cook. She’s was active in PEO and AAUW. And volunteered many hours with Causeway and the Lutheran Hospital.


Ford Family Happy to Help Students Jim Ford and family

He did it to honor his dad. Jim Ford established a scholarship in 1980 to honor Charles “Ben” Ford, ’35, who Jim called “a wonderful educator” who was ”under appreciated.”

Tim Devine, a physical education and health education major, met Jim Ford’s mother, Marian, the night he was awarded the first $500 scholarship. After the Fords met Devine, ’84, and received a thank-you from him, they doubled the amount.

Three decades later, the Charles E. Ford scholarship also honors Marian who earned a UWL teaching certificate. Most recipients have followed Ben’s teaching path — including Tim Devine who has taught and coached in Colfax for 30-plus years. Because of the scholarship’s impact, Devine didn’t hesitate to give back to his alma mater by reviewing scholarship applications. He was shocked when he received the Ford scholarship to review.

Reviewing apps reconnected Devine with the Fords. Jim says it’s special seeing that Devine “exemplifies what we have envisioned as an outcome from the scholarships.”

Jim and his wife, Judy, recently increased the scholarship so four, $7,000 scholarships are awarded. He’s sure his dad would approve.

“We feel strongly about training the best possible students for careers in education,” says Jim.