Those who knew Robert Ford, who died at 85 on Jan. 8, felt he was moral, gentle and never stopped learning.
“He always was looking to learn, even as he got older,” daughter Nancy Ford Grossman said of her father, who earned a Ph.D. in business administration at 70, and another in administrative engineering at 74.
As a businessman, founding Robert Ford Electric Co. in Bryn Mawr, with a presence in Ardmore, Philadelphia and Longport, N.J., he stressed high standards, morals, integrity and ethics in building his firm in the fields of electrical construction management and collaborative design build, Grossman said.
His company’s clients included NFL Films, the Comcast Center, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Barnes Foundation, QVC, the University of Pennsylvania Health System and PECO.
“My father was really a very humble man,” said son Stuart Ford, who has served as the firm’s vice president and general counsel since 2000. “He taught us how to live and be ethical in our dealings. He spun off Robert Ford Electric Co. from my grandfather’s Henry Ford Electric Co. and always did whatever he could for the customer.”
Robert Ford’s initial employment after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania was with General Electric, where he helped design re-entry systems for such items as the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile and influenced the design of what would become the game Battleship in a
building on Chestnut Street.
“My dad’s first job was with GE, then for the better part of two decades he worked for his father’s company before forming the firm I still work for today,” Stuart Ford said.
Two of the larger projects were with NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J., and the Comcast Center in Philadelphia.
“With NFL Films, when they moved into their building, they needed an electrical expert with production studios, film transfer, complex audio and video and lighting,” Stuart Ford said. “With the Comcast Center, we installed a custom fire-alarm and smoke-evacuation system. … My father was able to design and customize systems with a number of projects that saved the customer a good deal of money.”
Ford was involved with many charitable endeavors including Boys Town Jerusalem, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Golden Slipper Club and Charities and the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. He was Gov. Ed Rendell’s commissioner appointee on the Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors and served on the Pennsylvania Impact Commission under
Gov. Tom Ridge.
A funeral was held Jan. 10 at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, with interment at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd. Contributions in Ford’s memory may be made to Har Zion or the Abramson Center.
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