At any given time John Ford sports multiple hats. At once he is father, husband, retired National Guardsman, author, actor, amateur Egyptologist and a history buff. Yet he says, “Of all the careers I have followed in my lifetime, I find I am best qualified for retirement.” Ford abides by one simple truism and that is to just live his life and enjoy every single day. He carries one other motto with him, adopted from his father, “Stay beautiful.”
Ford was born on Feb. 4, 1930, in St. Paul, Minn. He shares few words of his time growing up in Minnesota, other than “cold and poor.” His mother died when he was 4 years old, and his father, a saw maker, raised Ford and his older brother Homer. Ford was raised during the World War II era, and was just 11 when the war started. He remembers at that time, “the way things changed so rapidly, the way people changed. Everybody went to work and everybody was galvanized. The whole country was galvanized, I remember that, to win that war because we had been attacked,” he said.
In 1949, Ford enlisted in the National Guard. A year later the Korean War began, and in January 1951, Ford was called up to active duty. Ford served as a military policeman and an infantryman. He earned the rank of sergeant fairly quickly “because I did my job.” Today, Ford says he’d like to return to South Korea to see how it’s changed. “It was terrible when I was there, just terrible. The country was ravaged, orphans all over the place and a horrible mess. I’m kind of curious to see how they’ve rebuilt it,” he said.
In 1958, Ford went to work for the Minnesota Department of Employment. “The third-worst problem a person can have, a man, is his family’s health, his own health and then being out of a job. That’s the way most men think. Anyway, at that time they did,” he said. Ford recalls one man who he encountered who had lost all but the thumb and pinky finger on his left hand from his work with a punch press. While the man had many years of experience, his injury provided him a challenge in securing a job.
“I asked him if he would ever do that again, punch press. He said sure. He wasn’t afraid. I would have never been able to do it. It would’ve scared me to death to have heard that thing clink. I sent him to a friend of mine who had a thumb missing, who was a supervisor, and he hired him, he helped him. I felt good about that,” Ford said.
In 1973, Ford was asked by a friend to return to the National Guard. Stationed in Minnesota, he continued to work there parttime while working for the Minnesota DOE. After 30 years of service, he retired from the military with the rank of sergeant major. Ford also had a teaching gig while in Minnesota. He taught Great Highland Bagpipes for nearly 60 years, and in 1961 he established the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, which is still active today.
Recently, Ford assumed the title of author when in 2003 he began writing, Be Careful What You Wish For You Might Get It! What started as a screenplay developed into a sci-fi book set in Roswell. The book begins when Joe, who seems loosely based on Ford himself, finds a mysterious meteorite in his backyard, leading to a thrilling read of twists and turns. Ford is hoping to recruit some friends to make a movie out of the book, “just for fun.” He is now in the midst of writing a follow-up about what we might find if we went to outer space, and what might happen there. Ford enjoys the sci-fi genre because “There’s no limit to what you can write about. Your imagination can take off.”
As for his own beliefs of the supernatural, Ford said, “I know we’re not alone. There has to be life out there, when you consider that just in our galaxy there are anywhere from 100 billion to 500 billion stars.”
Ford describes Roswell as “just big enough.” During his time here, he has taken flight via balloon, ridden a glider, published a book and acted in a movie for the Sci-Fi film festival and a Roswell Little Theater play. And he and his second wife Alverda “Betty” Bossell pride themselves on being the first in Roswell to put solar arrays on their house. The couple enjoys traveling and hope to do more of it in the future, Ford said.