John McWilliams Ford

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John McWilliams Ford
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana (Caddo Parish), Louisiana, USA
In office
1918–1922
Preceded by Robert Hodges Ward
Succeeded by Lee Emmett Thomas
Shreveport Finance Commissioner
In office
1930–1965
Succeeded by Tom Tanner
Shreveport City Council member
In office
1908–1912
Caddo Parish Police Jury member
In office
1912–1916
State Representative from Caddo Parish (at-large)
In office
1916–1917
Preceded by Lee Emmett Thomas

David B. Samuel
Perry P. Keith
Joseph E. Johnston, Jr.

Succeeded by E. Wayles Brown
Personal details
Born (1880-02-18)February 18, 1880
Shreveport, Louisiana
Died July 1, 1965(1965-07-01) (aged 85)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Mary Pierce Ford
Children No children
Occupation Public official
Religion Methodist
(1) Ford was Shreveport’s longest serving public official, having been in office from 1908 to 1965, except for 1922 to 1930.

(2) Ford was an unassuming man who answered his own telephone and always kept his office door open to the general public.
(3) Ford is honored by the naming of the recreational center, Ford Park on Cross Lake.

John McWilliams Ford (February 18, 1880 – July 1, 1965) was the longest-serving elected public official in Shreveport, Louisiana. Though he served as mayor only from 1918 to 1922, it was his tenure as finance commissioner that is most remembered for longevity -- from 1930 until his death thirty-five years later. The finance commissioner was established under the previous city commission government, which was replaced with the 1978 elections by the mayor-council form of municipal government.

Ford's first elective office was as city alderman in 1908. He was also a member of the Caddo Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body now known as the Caddo Parish Commission.[1] A Democrat, he served in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1916, until he stepped down in 1918 to become mayor after the death of S. A. Dickson, MD Robert Hodges Ward had followed Dickson, and then Ford was elected to a single four-year term from 1918–1922. Ford then spent eight years in the private sector before returning to City Hall as finance commissioner, a position which he handily retained in the elections of 1930, 1934, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1958, and 1962.[2] Dwight L. Saur, a Certified Public Accountant succeeded Ford as finance commissioner in 1966. Saur himself died in office in 1971, and the position then went to its last occupant and only Republican, George A. Burton, Jr. The new city charter superseded the finance commissioner’s post.

Among Ford's many council colleagues over the years were later Governor Jimmie Davis, who was from 1938 to 1942 the commissioner of public safety, a post later held by James Earl Downs and George W. D'Artois, who stepped down amid a scandal in 1976.[3] H. Lane Mitchell, the public works commissioner from 1934 to 1968, left office enveloped in what developed as a scandal of his own.[4] Ford served too with Mayor Clyde Fant from 1946 to 1954 and again from 1958 to 1965. For his last three years as commissioner, another Ford colleague was later Mayor Calhoun Allen, then the public utilities commissioner.


Gardner and McKeithen laud Ford[edit]

Former Shreveport Mayor James C. Gardner, who served with Ford during the 1954-1958 term, said that the commissioner, forty-four years his senior, was his mentor in city government. Writing in his memoirs entitled Jim Gardner and Shreveport, Vol. 1, Gardner recalled how Ford had helped Gardner’s father get his first job after having returned from the United States Navy at the end of World War I. Gardner continued:

“Despite the age difference, he was always extremely respectful of me, always referring to me as 'The Mayor.' In city council sessions, I could always count on [his] saying, 'I think that we ought to go along with the Mayor on this.' We became good friends, and I would visit with him every morning that I was Mayor. At this stage our unofficial visits involved his preparation of the 1955 city budget. He was very cooperative in some budget requests that I made. . . . John Ford was perhaps the most totally accessible public official that I ever knew. He answered his own telephone and always insisted on an office opening directly into a public corridor, and his door was always open. . . . "[5]

Governor John McKeithen sent a message of condolence to the Ford family and the citizens of Shreveport: "Commissioner Ford’s contributions, not only to Shreveport but to all of Louisiana, leave a mark to which all public servants might well aspire. Commissioner Ford was truly a dedicated man, and we all will miss him."[2]

Services for Ford were held at the Osborn Funeral Home Chapel in Shreveport, with the Reverend George Pearce, Jr., superintendent of the Shreveport district of the Methodist Church officiating, joined by the Reverend Robert Park, assistant rector of St. Marks’s Episcopal Church. Interment was at Greenwood Cemetery.[2]

Ford is remembered through the naming of Ford Park on Cross Lake.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Veta Samuels, History of the Caddo Parish Commission
  2. ^ a b c Ford obituary, Shreveport Times, July 1965, retrieved by librarian Sandra Davis
  3. ^ Brad Kozak (October 19, 2011). "When Cops Go Bad I: The Tale of George D’Artois". thetruthaboutguns.com. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ "State v. Mitchell". leagle.com. May 3, 1971. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ James C. Gardner, Jim Gardner and Shreveport, Vol. 1, Ritz Publications, Shreveport, Louisiana, pp. 289-290
Preceded by
At-large members:

Lee Emmett Thomas
David B. Samuel
Perry P. Keith
Joseph E. Johnston, Jr.

Louisiana State Representative from Caddo Parish (at-large)

John McWilliams Ford
1916–1917

Succeeded by
E. Wayles Brown
Preceded by
Robert Hodges Ward
Mayor of Shreveport, LouisianaJohn McWilliams Ford
1918–1922
Succeeded by
Lee Emmett Thomas