Obituary: Robert “Bob” Ford |

Obituary: Robert “Bob” Ford

Robert "Bob" Ford
Robert "Bob" Ford
Provided Photo

February 29, 1948 – August 21, 2022

Robert Enright Ford was born on Leap Day, February 29, 1948, in Englewood, New Jersey, to two wonderful parents, Warren Ford, a World War Two veteran and an executive with Ford Motor Company [no relation to THE Fords] and Margaret Enright Ford, a nurse and educator. He loved his unique birthdate, often telling his orthodontic patients that he had had fewer birthdays than they had. He grew up in a loving home in Maywood, New Jersey. He attended St. Francis Xavier High School in Manhattan.
Bob earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was in the NROTC program where he met and married the Colonel’s daughter.

As a kid Bob had watched the old black and white tv show, Victory at Sea, and been enthralled with submarines. He applied for the nuclear submarine service. One of the highlights of his life was interviewing for the program with Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of our nuclear navy, and being accepted. He attended the Navy nuclear power school and then sub school. Bob was assigned to the nuclear submarine USS Tautog out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Before leaving the Navy after his six year commitment he accomplished one more major feat by passing the Engineers exam, thereby being a qualified engineer for nuclear powered naval vessels, and running into Admiral Rickover one more time. By this time Bob was a Lt Comdr.

Bob worked for Florida Power and Light as a nuclear engineer for two years before applying to and being accepted to the University of Florida’s Dental School [Go Gators]. Well you put a mechanical engineer (his major in college) with a dentist, you have a wire bender – an orthodontist. So he tacked on two more years of school at the University of California San Francisco for Orthodontics. While there he re-joined the Navy as a dental reservist. At his first inspection he is standing at attention proudly wearing the combat ribbons and gold dolphins earned while on the sub. The commanding officer walked up to him and asked him where he got those and without batting an eye he told her that there had been a sale at the uniform shop and he thought they looked cool. Before the CO fainted he said, seriously that he had earned them. As far as we know at the time only one other nuclear officer had gone to dental school and returned to the Navy.

After graduation Bob established his orthodontic practice in Gainesville and Ocala, Florida. Bob was involved with the local dental societies, the Boys and Girls Club of Alachua and Marion Counties and he was a proud Bull Gator attending all home football games and hosting a tailgator before each one.

In the mean time we had discovered the mountains of Colorado, skiing, and this beautiful valley eventually buying a second home first in Avon and then in Cordillera. Bob retired 6 years ago so we have been spending our summers and ski holidays there. He joined the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and was able to march in the Vail Colorado 4th of July parade, saying that was the parade he didn’t get when he returned from Viet Nam. He didn’t start skiing until he was 40 and by 42 he was a part time ski instructor at Beaver Creek Children’s Ski School. He taught 10 days a year. It didn’t pay well but it got the family free ski passes, and if he didn’t tell parents he was an orthodontist he’d get a big tip. He was also the first to volunteer not to ski if there were too many instructors for the day. One day he came home so excited. He had given a private lesson to three siblings. The father was so pleased at their progress he gave Bob a hundred dollar tip. Bob wanted to frame it. He took the family out for Blue Moose Pizza and ice cream instead.

Bob loved his family, his friends, his occupation, the Vail Valley, and life in general. He is preceded in death by his sister, Deborah, his parents, and his nephew Matthew. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Kay, his beloved sons and their family’s – Rob, Amber, Noah, and Erik, and Tim, Becky, Kason, Emma, and Adelyn – the loves of his life – best buddies ever! And his brothers, Michael and Gary and their wives, Roz and Carol, nieces, nephews, and a great niece and nephew.

Because of his service to his country during the Viet Nam War and the Cold War, Bob’s ashes will be placed at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Minturn VFW scholarship fund (VFW Post 10721 c/o Parker, 1553 Matterhorn Circle #9, Vail, CO 81657) honoring all veterans and helping our local Vail Valley kids.

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