We here at the Florida Keys Audubon Society are very sad to hear of the loss of our great friend Fran Ford. Quite simply, there would be no Florida Keys Audubon Society if it wasn’t for Fran. Most of us who have been involved with the group in the long term are here because she recruited us. Most of those who are new are here because Fran taught us who to recruit.
Fran and her husband Bill retired to Key West in 1963. Retired is probably the wrong word. They moved to Key West in 1963 after Bill retired from the Navy. (You can read more about Fran and Bill here.) The Fords quickly integrated themselves into the community, becoming stalwarts not only of the Audubon Society, but of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Key West Garden Club, the Florida Keys Land & Seas Trust, and a bevy of other groups. (Bill passed away in 2007.)
Fran became a birdwatcher as child, she said, while earning her Girl Scout merit badge. She later travelled the world to see every bird she possibly could, visiting Africa, Belize, and a long list of other countries. (We imagine many borders guards endlessly flipping through the pages of her passport, trying to find a blank space to stamp.)
One of Fran’s great legacy’s is bringing about an awareness of the unique Florida Keys environment, not just to the people who joined the Audubon Society but to anyone who sat still for five minutes. Often she knew who was interested in birds and wildlife before they knew it themselves.
One of the things we are most thankful for is that Keys Audubon had a chance to throw a party for her this winter, thanking her and her family for all she has done. (Scroll down for pictures.)
The thing Fran said most often when she saw a good bird – a rarity, a frigate bird, a woodpecker – was, “Isn’t it wonderful?”
She was always right.
We will not see her like again. Rest In Peace, Fran. And thank you.
You can read her obituary here.