CENTER — Long-time resident of the Center, Colorado farming community, James M. Ford, left this world from his home on the morning of Wednesday, May 13, 2020, after a courageous battle with COPD and pulmonary fibrosis.
He was born on July 29, 1929, in Hooper, Colorado to Herbert W. Ford and Evelyn Marie Rogers Ford and grew up on the family farm in the Center area. After graduating from Center High School, Jim farmed on his own before enlisting in the United States Navy serving as a Navy Corpsman attached to the 1st Marine Division in Korea. While on furlough in between training schools, he came back to the Valley to marry his fiancée, Nellie Susanna Beiriger on April 30, 1952. After the wedding, they went to South Carolina and then San Diego.
From San Diego, he was deployed to Korea where he served combat duty. After serving in the military, he attended Adams State College obtaining an MA in education utilizing his GI Bill as well as working several jobs. His first teaching position was in Cope, Colorado where he also coached 6-man football, which was a learning experience for someone who played 11-man football. He went on to teach in La Veta, Colorado which brought them closer to their families.
After teaching for seven more years and several summer odd jobs later, Jim moved the family back to the Center area where he was able to resume his first love, farming. While raising four daughters, Judi, Jean, Joanne and Jolene and one son, James, the five J’s (totally his idea), Jim and Nellie still found time to enjoy belonging to several local clubs, bowing leagues and the SansSouci Dance Club. They also belonged to the High Country 4-Wheelers Club enjoying the Colorado backcountry mountain passes driving the original Ford Bronco loaded up with kids, coolers and fuel eliciting smiles and laughter from other club members at the pit stops when everyone exited the vehicle.
Jim and family also spent many summer weekends camping and fishing, eventually owning a trailer at Santa Maria which meant no more sleeping in an Army surplus tent that would leak in rainstorms causing the family to be all crammed into the family station wagon for the remainder of the night. After son-in-law, Danny, joined the family farm, Jim and Nellie were able to take a couple of extensive summer and fall trips to Europe, Scandinavia and Russia which provided many treasured memories for Jim which he most recently shared with his Visiting Angels.
After the kids were grown, Jim and Nellie loved spending their winters in Yuma, Arizona where they became friends with other retired farmers. Summer weekends were often spent in the gambling towns of Colorado and New Mexico, and even after Nellie passed away, Jim would go gambling by himself or with his son, James. Jim also enjoyed spending time with friends and family known as the “Lunch Bunch”. Since he did not like to cook, his photo is on Calvillos Hall of Fame and at KFC they know his name.
Jim is survived by his daughter Judi Neufeld, son-in-law Danny, son James, daughter Joanne, grandson Brian Neufeld (Nicole), his favorite (and only) granddaughter Kristina Neufeld and her partner Christopher Graf, and great-granddaughters Landry and Kendall Neufeld.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Nellie, as well as daughters Jean and Jolene. Having lived 90 years Jim had many stories, homilies, and memories that he loved sharing with any and all who were willing to sit down and spend a few moments with him. He was also a very generous and giving man often helping family, friends and neighbors. One of his favorite organizations that he always donated time and money to was the American Legion Center Post #131.
For those wishing to honor Jim’s memory donations may be made to the American Legion Center Post #131 in care of Tom Garcia, 564 Hurt St., Center, CO 81125. To express condolences, please visit www.rogersfunerals.com Rogers Family Mortuary in Monte Vista is in care of the arrangements.