From being a founder of the original United Way campaign, to chartering the first Rotary Club on the Peninsula, to community-minded volunteer activities including insulating the first Women's Resource and Crisis Center to moving historical log buildings at Ft. Kenai, or ringing bells for the Salvation Army, to the Caring for the Kenai environmental awareness contest, it's unlikely you'll find a community service organization, program or project that hasn't benefited from the physical and financial support of George and Mary Ford. George celebrated 90 years of life last week surrounded by fellow Rotarians in Kenai who officially inducted Mary into their club as an honorary Rotarian. "Honorary membership is given only by election of a Rotary Club to individuals who have distinguished themselves by meritorious service to their community in the furtherance of Rotary ideals and who symbolize our motto of "Service Above Self". It was an honor for me to welcome Mary Ford into our club as an honorary member," said Kenai Club president Jeanette Desimone during the celebration.
The Fords originally moved to Alaska in 1979. "One of our desires had been to come to Alaska, and we had visited here a couple of times, but we never really thought we'd get the opportunity to live here. Finally I was transferred up here to manage the Collier's Plant for fours years, and that was some 35 years ago. So that four years has lasted quite a long time!" laughed Ford. When many of George's colleagues, who came to Alaska following work in the oil and gas industry, later retired and moved to warmer climates south, the Fords stayed and kept contributing to the community with their time and talents. "We just fell in love with the community and the people, and strangely enough, we even enjoy the winters here. But we didn't retire to just sit at home. It's been nice to stay active in the community," said Ford. When asked to recall some of his favorite projects, George quickly replied, "Helping to form the United Way, getting Rotary started here helping to charter clubs in Soldotna and Kenai, working with the Historical Society and most recently moving the Ft. Kenai cabins, are a few of the good things that have happened here." Ford then shared the spotlight and cake with his life partner, Mary, as he ushered in his Roaring Nineties surrounded by friends, and lots of plans for the future.
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