'Scott Ford was a hero in this community'

LynAnne Vucovich • Oct 23, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Scott Ford was a beloved member of the community and everyone had something to say about the late baseball commissioner. 

Ford was remembered at Norwalk Middle School with a remembrance event held in his honor on Monday.

A candlelight vigil occurred outside of the school afterward. The crowd was made up of young and old, elderly with walkers and children who hardly sat still. All came out to remember Ford.

“There’s no crying in baseball,” said Vicki Williams, the main speaker and friend of Ford. “He wouldn’t want you crying over him, so we’ll try to keep this upbeat.”

A phrase that was heavily used throughout the memorial was Ford is an “example of how to live life the right way.” Scott Meyer, the emcee for the event, introduced everyone who came up to speak about Ford.

“He wanted the spotlight on everybody else,” said Kevin Lewis, one of the many people who attended in Ford’s memory. “There are so many stories that you could tell a story every day (about Ford) and never run out.”

Remember him

Ford first worked at Bronson Elementary teaching fourth grade in 1977. He began teaching English at the middle school in 1982, where he helped begin the Norwalk Middle School newspaper and intramural sports. He also directed the eighth-grade plays before retiring in 2007.

“We taught side-by-side,” said Mary Kay Cillo, who taught with Ford for 26 years. “We were literally shoulder to shoulder between class exchange every day.”

Cillo read a letter she wrote for Ford, as she received many from him over the years. Ford taught “The Diary of Anne Frank” for many years. Cillo said Ford showed that one person could make a difference.

“(He) used her story to teach them about injustice, intolerance, indoctrination and discrimination,” she said. “(Ford) opened their eyes to reality.”

Ford was a committee member of the Huron County Democratic Party and volunteered at voting polls. He was also a member of the Norwalk Board of Zoning and Appeals.

Two students, Kaiden Schmidt and Tristan Stoner, told jokes during the memorial in honor of Ford’s sense of humor.

He cared about everyone

“I can hear his voice ringing in my ear, ‘How are you doing, you handsome devil?’” said Ken Leber, a friend of Ford’s. “Scott was a hero in this community.”

Leber said Ford was selfless and connected with children in a unique way that others couldn’t.

“He was a mentor, friend and motivator for 35 years with the Norwalk school system,” Williams said.

Williams and Ford worked together for the Lefty Grove Baseball League for many years.

Ford began volunteering for Lefty Grove Baseball in 1977 and served as the league commissioner for 33 years. He also had roles as secretary, treasurer, umpire and team manager.

Ford always insisted on doing things for the children, Williams said. He always encouraged every player to do their best, whether they were on his team or not.

“He insisted that we try to squeeze in as many kids as we could (on to Lefty Grove) because he did not want to leave anybody out,” Williams said. “Every player participated.”

This past summer, at 71, Ford was taking part in the home run derby and was a “big kid at heart.”

Rick Perry was taught by Ford in fourth grade at Bronson and the two reconnected when Perry’s children became involved in Lefty Groove Baseball and the two helped created the Lefty Legends.

“If I learned anything from him in negotiations, he said remain patient and remain firm,” Perry said. “Scott was so dear to me.”

Perry said he hoped to spend more time with Ford, now that his children are on their own, and wished he could have given more back to Ford. Perry then acknowledged everyone in the crowd, whether that was being involved in the schools or simply coming to support Ford’s memory. He felt that is what Ford would have wanted.

“(Ford) inspired people to push themselves harder,” Williams said. “You would rarely see Scott in a bad mood.”

Williams read a eulogy from Jamie Starcher, who was unable to attend.

“A jolly, simple man with a plain blue hat and a smile that made every major league hopeful feel important and excited,” Williams said, reading Starcher’s words. “I realized that baseball was more than just a game; it was the way he connected with new lives.”

The middle school choir then sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in Ford’s honor before the crowd made their way outside.

Standing outside of the school, the crowd began to light candles and had a moment of silence. Someone began to sing “Amazing Grace” and many joined in before final thank-yous were said.

“Scott’s impact on the Norwalk community has never been matched by another and probably never will be,” Williams said. “Scott was an extraordinary man, but he would never acknowledge that himself, he was way too humble.”

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