MILESTONE: Bob Ford, Port Orange councilman & retired police chief, has succumbed to cancer

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

PORT ORANGE, Fla -- Bob Ford, a feisty political stalwart in municipal government, has lost a longtime battle with cancer. He was 74. 

Ford's passing was announced by Mayor Don Burnette in a joint statement with Council members Scott Stiltner, Chase Tramont, and Drew Bastian.

"Some of you may have heard the sad news, as it is already out in the media," Burnette said. "For those that haven't, I have the difficult duty of informing you of the passing of Councilman Bob Ford. Bob has served Port Orange since the 1980s when he first came here as police Chief. After retirement, he worked as a professor of Criminology at the University of Central Florida. I sat next to him for the past eight years on the Port Orange City Council. Whether we agreed or disagreed on issues, he was always passionate and took his job seriously.

Burnette continued, "Serving with him has been a great honor, and it will not be the same without him. I will miss my friend; Port Orange will miss him even more. His family has asked for privacy at this time."

"Some of you may have heard the sad news, as it is already out in the media," Burnette said. "For those that haven't, I have the difficult duty of informing you of the passing of Councilman Bob Ford

"Bob has served Port Orange since the 1980s when he first came here as police chief. After retirement, he worked as a professor of Criminology at the University of Central Florida. I sat next to him for the past eight years on the Port Orange City Council. Whether we agreed or disagreed on issues, he was always passionate and took his job seriously."

Burnette continued, "Serving with him has been a great honor, and it will not be the same without him. I will miss my friend; Port Orange will miss him even more. His family has asked for privacy at this time.

Shown with Mayor Burnette (middle) in a photo opp earlier this year are from left to right, Councilmen Scott Stiltner, Chase Tramont, Bob Ford and Drew Bastian.

Ford is the third prominent Port Orange official to die this year. State Sen. Dorothy Hukill died Oct. 2 after battling cervical cancer. And Tracey Strott Riehm, the city’s director of finance, died Nov. 16 from complications following a surgical procedure.

Hired in 1986 out of New York City as police chief by then-City Manager Ken Parker, Ford was a 30-year servant, moving seamlessly from top cop to elected politician, serving in that role the latter eight years as a councilman, despite the cancer. A staunch conservative on fiscal matters, Ford often challenged the status quo on the dais.

A special election will be held early in 2019 after. the holiday season, Burnette said, in keeping with the city charter.

“A memorial service will be held at a future date,” Ford’s wife, Marilyn Ford, informed city leaders in a text message, adding, "The family appreciates the support and prayers of friends and requests privacy at this time.”

Volusia County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler was among countless officials expressing sorrow over Ford's passing.

"Bob was a great leader and was respected for his honesty, integrity, and dedication," Wheeler said. "I will miss his wisdom and our great conversations. His support during my campaign and then the loss of my husband will forever be special to me. I am honored to have known him and called him friend. Prayers for Marilyn and their family."

FAST FACTS: Bob Ford
• Port Orange City Councilman, 2010-up until death; ran unopposed in 2018;
• Taught criminal justice at the University of Central Florida for 19 years and 5 months;
• Hired as Port Orange police chief in September 1986 and served as top cop for 13 years, retiring in August 1999;
• Erie (NY) Sheriff's Office for 9 years and 5 months, beginning in May 1977 to September1986, having served as chief of operations;
• Earned BA in Sociology from Niagara College;
• Earned Ph.D in Criminology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 
UPDATE: Funeral Services Set for Jan. 12
Robert Eugene Ford, Feb 11, 1944 to Dec. 22, 2018

A celebration of life for Robert will be held Saturday, Jan.  12, 2019 at 2 pm at Volusia Memorial Funeral Home, 4815 S Clyde Morris Blvd, Port Orange, Florida 32129. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.VolusiaMemorialFuneral.com for the Ford family.

Editor's Note (first person): On behalf of my wife, Serafina, prayers have been made for Bob Ford's wife, Marilyn, and their entire family. Marilyn Ford shown with her husband, Bob, in this image from the Lincoln Day Dinner in Daytona Beach earlier this year.

 
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.