- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 17, 88, 94, 95.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 30 Jan 2010.
Dr. Nathan Ford named Education Foundation honoree
Author: Duay O'Neil
Retired Cocke County optometrist Dr. Nathan Ford will be the sixth recipient of the Cocke County Education Foundation's prestigious Celebrate Our Successes award.
The Foundation honors an alumna of the Cocke County school system each year for his/her exceptional successes.
Ford's will accept this honor at the Foundation's banquet on Thursday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center.
A native of Del Rio, Dr. Ford is the son of the late John and Anna (Davis) Ford, tenth of their twelve children.
His own educational career began in the one-room Timber Ridge School where Margaret "Mag" Leach was his teacher.
The next year he transferred to the larger Harmony Grove School where his older brother Jack Ford was one of his teachers.
During his years at Harmony Grove, Ford credits the late Robert Seay and the late Nathan Jones for instilling in him a strong desire to learn and succeed.
"They were the kind of teachers who made you want to excel," he said. "If they assigned eight math problems, you wanted to do ten."
A Cocke County High School senior in 1945, he missed his Class Night ceremony to be sworn into the United States Navy. "I was supposed to dance the minuet with Rozelle West," he laughed.
Following his discharge from the service, Ford took advantage of the GI Bill to further his education, eventually graduating from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.
He returned to Cocke County and became Newport's first full-time optometrist.
In 1952, he followed in his family's political tradition, running for and being elected to the Cocke County Board of Education. He was 27.
For the next four years (1952-1956), he served through an era of consolidation of many of Cocke County's one- and two-room schools. Eventually the number of schools in Cocke County dropped from 56 to 28 with the construction of Del Rio, Smoky Mountain, and Centerview Elementary Schools.
More political service included four terms in Tennessee's General Assembly as a state representative.
While in Nashville, Ford saw great strides in Tennessee's vocational education programs and the adoption of the Career Ladder program. He also testified before the Education Committee in a successful plea to leave Newport Grammar School as a one-school system.
Ford's contributions to Cocke County are not limited to the medical and educational fields. He has served as Cocke County Economic Development Commission chairman, Chamber of Commerce Director, and bank director.
He is also a sixty-year member of Del Rio Masonic Lodge and Newport Lions Club and once served as Cocke County Baptist Hospital board chair.
In 1980, he was named Tennessee's Optometrist of the Year.
He and his wife, the former Mary Barger, were married in 1954. They are the parents of three children, Beth, Mark, and John. They have three grandchildren.
The Fords are longtime members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Judge Kenneth Porter was the Foundation's first honoree. He was followed by Dr. Kenneth Olden, Rev. Benny Proffitt, Dr. Cliff Shults (posthumously), and last year's recipient Dr. Kathy Dykes Sims.
Tickets to this year's banquet will be available the first week of February from any Foundation board member. They are $30 each.
Proceeds from the banquet go to the Foundation's Scholarship Fund.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 13 Mar 2010.
Dr. Nathan Ford celebrated by Education Foundation
Dr. Nathan Ford, center, is shown with the Celebrating Our Success award presented to him Thursday by the Cocke County Education Foundation. At left is Ford's daughter, Beth, and at right is his wife, Mary.
Author: Duay O'Neil
NEWPORT-Hundreds of family and friends crowded the banquet hall of Carson-Springs Baptist Conference Center on Thursday evening to join the Cocke County Education Foundation in honoring Dr. Nathan Ford.
Ford, who resides in Parrottsville, became the sixth honoree of the Foundation's Celebrating Our Success award, now given annually to a product of Cocke County Schools who achieved outstanding recognition in his/her chosen field.
In announcing Ford's selection, Foundation Chair Dr. Rich Lloyd said, "Dr. Ford began his education in a one-room log schoolhouse in Del Rio. Since then he served in the US Navy during World War II, returned home to enter college, and eventually became Cocke County's first fulltime optometrist. At age 27, he was elected to the Cocke County School Board, and many years later served four terms in the Tennessee State Legislature. It is with great joy and great honor that I present to you the 2010 recipient of our Celebrating Our Success award, Dr. Nathan Ford."
Also lauding Ford's achievements were John Abe Teague, Jr., representing U. S. Rep. Dr. Phil Roe, and State Rep. Eddie Yokley.
Teague recalled his family's personal friendship with Ford. "In 1981, our family returned to Cocke County," said Teague, "and I became part of a group which gathered at I. J. Smith's Hardware to watch ballgames. Dr. Ford, you have had a huge impact on my life."
Teague then announced that Congressman Roe had recently read a recognition of Ford's achievements into the Congressional Record.
Yokley emphasized Ford's contributions to education. "Education is the basis upon which we will continue to succeed as a nation," Yokley said. "We will not succeed in the 21st century without it."
Yokley then announced that he and State Sen. Steve Southerland had co-sponsored a Joint Resolution honoring Dr. Ford in the state legislature and then presented the honoree with a framed copy of it.
As he stepped to the podium, Ford received a standing ovation.
"Thank you," he began. "It is certainly an honor to be recognized by this foundation and to be in the company of those recognized before."
In his remarks, Ford recalled his first days as a student at Timber Ridge School in Del Rio. "There was one room and one teacher," he said, "with all eight grades. A stove stood in the middle of the room. We got our water from a nearby spring and all the students shared a dipper. There was a toilet which was built over the creek."
Ford remembered, "I liked going to school better than I did hoeing corn!"
According to Ford, Timber Ridge closed at the end of that year and he transferred to Harmony Grove.
"They had a magnificent building," said Ford, "especially for the time. It had a large auditorium which could easily seat over 100 people."
"They also had a brand new three-holer WPA toilet!"
Ford's older brother Jack was one of his teachers at Harmony Grove. "He was a strict disciplinarian," said Ford. "I always had to do more and better work to avoid any charges of favoritism."
Ford continued, "I believe good teachers are ones who made you want to excel," and then related an anecdote about a superintendent's visit to Harmony Grove.
"We had to show out for the superintendent," said Ford. "Someone might sing a song. I had memorized a poem from 'The Pathfinder,' a right-wing publication my dad subscribed to. I can still remember the opening lines."
In recalling his days at Cocke County High School, Ford said, "I not only had good teachers there, but they were teachers who were also good people. Love Gray Shults, Perle McNabb, and Marjorie McMahan were just three such teachers."
Ford recounted entering high school just as World War II opened and the rationing of many items. "There was no high school annual," said Ford. "Our senior trip was to Gatlinburg."
Ford, who missed his Class Night program in order to be sworn into the service, was only 17 when he joined the Navy.
Upon his election to the Cocke County Board of Education in 1952, Ford said Cocke County had 56 schools.
"We had a new superintendent, W. O. Bryant, from out at Bogard, who had big ideas for consolidation. In order to do this, he had to line up 13 county court members to support his plan and appropriate the money for new schools. It was like herding cats."
Eventually, however, approximately half of the 56 schools were consolidated into three new elementary schools, Centerview, Del Rio, and Smoky Mountain.
"I can't help but think that such a new and modern learning environment enhanced the educations of those students," said Ford.
In closing, Ford paid tribute to his wife of 55 years, the former Mary Barger, and the couple's three children: Beth, John, and Mark. "We're all products of Cocke County schools," said Ford. "Cocke County is a good place to grow up in and a wonderful place in which to live."
Among those attending the banquet was Judge J. Kenneth Porter, the first recipient of the honor. Others have been Dr. Kenneth Olden, Dr. Cliff Shults (posthumously), Benny Proffitt, and Dr. Kathy Dykes-Sims.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 19 Oct 2012.
Dr. Nathan Ford receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Nathan Ford, right, receives his Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Richard Phillips, left, president of Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.
MEMPHIS-Dr. Nathan Ford, long-time Cocke County optometrist and civic leader, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in Memphis, Tenn.
The highest award bestowed by the college, the award is presented to SCO graduates who have made a lasting impact on the profession of optometry and the lives of their patients. Dr. Richard Phillips, president of SCO, presented Dr. Ford's award during the college's 27th annual convocation ceremony honoring alumni and student achievement.
"It's very humbling," said Ford. "I'm not even sure I was aware they had such an award. said Ford. "But, I was pleased to receive the honor."
Ford was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife, Mary, and Dr. Jeff Foster. They were also joined by Nora Cothran, who attends the Southern College of Optometry and recently spoke to the Newport Lions Club.
An East Tennessee native who joined the Navy at age 17 during World War II, Dr. Ford became Cocke County's first full-time optometrist following his graduation from SCO in 1950. A devoted advocate for education, he was elected to his local school board at age 27 and later served four terms in the Tennessee state legislature. Locally, he served as director of the Chamber of Commerce, a bank director and was named Tennessee's optometrist of the year in 1980.
After starting his practice in 1950, Dr. Ford later recruited SCO graduates from the classes of 1961, 1981, 1995 and 2010. Although Dr. Ford retired in 1990, his practice continues through Drs. Jeff Foster, Kurt Steele and Joy Stone as Drs. Foster, Steele and Stone Family Optometry in Newport. Bill Henry also started with Fordís practice.
Dr. Ford and his wife, Mary, have been married for 58 years and have three children and three grandchildren.
Ford said his community and civic af? liations, in addition to his professional achievements, are a big reason he received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Southern College of Optometry was established in Memphis in 1932. SCO is an independent, not-for-pro? t institution of higher education with nearly 500 students from 40 states. The clinical programs at SCO serve nearly 80,000 patients annually, helping make the college one of the top in the nation for clinical optometric education. SCOís Community Outreach Program reaches more than 12,000 children through vision screenings provided annually to Shelby County students in public, private and charter schools. For more information on SCO or to donate, please visit www.sco.edu.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 16 Aug 2013.
Ford honored at Chamber of Commerce breakfast
(C)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DUAY O'NEIL
Dr. Nathan Ford, center, was honored at the quarterly Newport/Cocke County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday morning. With Ford are Dr. Jeff Foster, left, and State Rep. Jeremy Faison, right.
Author: Duay O'Neil
NEWPORT-Dr. Nathan Ford, long-time Newport optometrist and former state legislator, was honored Thursday morning at the Newport/Cocke County Chamber of Commerce's quarterly breakfast.
State Rep. Jeremy Faison, holder of the office once occupied by Ford, presented him with a copy of a resolution passed by the 108th General Assembly in recognition of Ford's selection as the Southern College of Optometry's Lifetime Achievement Award alumnus earlier this year.
Dr. Jeff Foster introduced Ford and told the audience, "This is a yearly honor and one that is very prestigious." He also noted that Ford was a founding member of the Cocke County Economic Board.
According to Foster, Ford was honored by for his achievements both in his field and in his work in the community and state.
"He's just a cool guy," said Faison. "He has the respect of everyone in the community and is known for his devotion to excellence."