John Henry Ford “Papa” was born on December 19, 1929 to Lola Irene and John David Ford. John Henry was born in a box car east of Ft. Gibson around the small community of Perkins. He was the second of five children. John Henry attended school until his 5th grade when he left school and begin working to help support his mother and his siblings after his father passed away.
John continued working manual and odd jobs until he enlisted in the United States Army on August 31, 1948 and served as a heavy machine gunner. It was during his military career that he met the love of his life, Lola “Gigi” Bennett. They married March 4, 1948. It was also then that he took the role of being a father to Jesse “Guy” Brown. On November 18 of the same year Lola gave birth to their only daughter, Judy Henryetta Taylor.
John and Lola raised their two children primarily in the Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma area until 1982 when he moved to his farm in Braggs. John Henry was an avid farmer, rancher and gardener. He was well known for his gardens in fact, often raising and giving vegetables to those less fortunate, community centers, and churches in and around the community. A neighbor once said “If John raises 2 tomatoes, he will give you 1 of them!” John Ford was a very active member in the church community as well. He attended several churches in the Ft. Gibson and Braggs areas throughout the years. The Braggs Emmanuel Pentecostal Church was his home church for the past 10 years.
After his military career, John worked several different jobs. One that he was particularly proud of was his time at Swift’s Packing House as he helped lead the movement for them to become unionized in or around 1953. He worked and drove a road grader and was a supervisor for Cherokee County in the early 1970’s. In 1976 he worked and served for Muskogee County Community Action Foundation as their executive director until his retirement in 1996. He was prideful of this job as it allowed him to give back to the community in the way of selling discounted vegetables, a “U Pick Them” garden, discounted firewood, the U.S. commodity program, Head-start program for preschoolers, W.I.S.H., and a home weatherization program for poverty people. After retiring from his career, he continued raising cattle, hay, and vegetables in Braggs until the fall of 2019.
John Henry Ford “Papa” was married to Lola “Gigi” Ford until her passing on October 19, 2008. They were proud of their strong bond and family they built in their over 60 years together. John later married Patricia Neale on May 5, 2009. She comforted John and stayed by his side until her passing on January 5, 2019.
John will be dearly missed by his family, church, neighbors and countless others he has touched in his 90 years. John Henry Ford was truly “Built Ford Tough”. Rest in peace Papa.
Surviving are one daughter, Judy Taylor of Braggs; one son, Jessie Brown of Fort Gibson; three grandchildren Tammy Brassfield and husband Chris of Fort Gibson, Shane Dause and wife Brooke of Braggs and Rusty Dause and wife Mindy Miller-Dause of Braggs; great grandchildren, Levi Dause of Norman, Jett Brassfield of Fort Gibson, Canyon Miller of Braggs, Chase Dause of Braggs, Grant Dause-Carter of Sapulpa, Carter Miller of Braggs, Gavin Dause of Braggs, John Brassfield of Fort Gibson, Conner Miller-Dause of Braggs and Hope Aldridge Dause of Braggs and one brother, David Ford of Okay. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of sixty years Lola “Gigi” Ford and his second wife Patricia; two sisters Margie Holland Kidder and Barbara Kearns and one brother Louie Ford.
Funerals services will be 10:00 am Tuesday January 28 at the Emmanuel Pentecostal Holiness Church in Braggs with Rev. Wayne Conger officiating. Interment will follow in the Starnes Cemetery under the care and direction of Lescher-Millsap Funeral Home of Fort Gibson. Viewing will be Sunday from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Monday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The family will greet friends at the funeral home on Sunday beginning at 4:00 pm.