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1933 Gilmore 2023

Gilmore Ford, Sr.

March 20, 1933 — August 26, 2023

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Master Sargeant Gilmore Ford, Sr. recently made his dream come true by returning to live in Washington State with his wife, Marie Richardson Ford. Shortly upon their relocation, Gilmore lost Marie after 65 years of marriage to a sudden and catastrophic stroke. He passed away six weeks later at the age of 90 on August 26th, 2023, at his home on Bainbridge Island.

Gilmore was born in 1933 on March 20th in rural Madison County in northern Alabama, the youngest son of Millie Sledge Ford and Henry Clay Ford. Gilmore had five older brothers, two older sisters, and two younger sisters. His father was a sharecropper, and his mother was a homemaker.

Gilmore lost his mother, whom he cherished, in February 1949 just before his 16th birthday. Determined to make his way in the world, he finished high school and even went on to Howard University to play football. Unfortunately, circumstances required Gilmore to leave college only to be drafted into the US Army in 1955, beginning an illustrious career. And every good story has a romantic twist.

While stationed in Maryland, a fellow soldier named Dennis Hall mentioned that his girlfriend Estelle had a sister. Dennis made the introduction and love blossomed. Marie and Gilmore married in 1957 dashing off almost immediately for their first tour of duty in the Mojave Desert at Camp Irwin (now Fort Irwin National Training Center) near Barstow, California.

Gilmore was a devoted husband, a consummate provider for his family, an extraordinary rib grill master, and a practical jokester. Seldom would you ever see Gilmore just relaxing. There was always a lawn or garden that needed tending, a workspace that needed tidying, or a project around the house that needed to be completed. He even managed to find projects to do when visiting family. He especially enjoyed picking blackberries… and helping eat a good blackberry pie. Gilmore also gave the sage advice that he followed throughout his life to never be late.

Their tours of duty took the young couple and their growing family to Heidelberg (Germany), twice to Oklahoma, Sagamihara (Japan – the second time for Gilmore), Kentucky, and Maryland in addition to his early special assignment in Ecuador. He also served in Korea and 3 tours in Vietnam.

Along the way, Gilmore qualified for the Noncommissioned Officer Logistics Program and was appointed to attend Quarter Master School which focuses on developing "Logistics Warriors who are soldiers first, technicians second to none; battle focused; reliable professionals assuring victory by sustaining America's Army in peace and war". Gilmore retired in 1972 with the rank of Master Sargeant E-8 having earned the following honors of distinction:

Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Silver Stars (awarded for direct support of military operations in Vietnam between July 1965 and March 1973; Silver Stars are awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force)

2 Bronze Star Medals & 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster (awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or meritorious service while serving against a foreign adversary)

National Defense Service Medal & 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (awarded for honorable active service as a member of the Armed Forces during the war; the Oak Leaf cluster represents valor or distinguished service)

Korean Service Medal (awarded during service in operations in the Korean theater of operation between June 1950 and July 1954)

United Nations Service Medal (awarded to military personnel for their participation in joint international military/police operations in the defense of South Korea from North Korea between June 1950 and July 1953; Gilmore was among the first recipients to receive this recognition)

Good Conduct Medal 5th Award (attesting to exemplary behavior, efficiency, honor, and fidelity through military training and knowledge)

Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device (awarded for service in 1960 in the Republic of Vietnam;

Gilmore served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive)

5 Oversea Service Bars (represents the cumulative amount of each 6-month tour of duty spent overseas in a theater of war)

Expert Badge w/ Rifle Bar (the highest level of recognition for marksmanship when firing for record during basic training)

During his 3rd tour in Vietnam, Gilmore and Marie built their dream home on a hilltop acreage overlooking the rolling hills of central Tennessee. Gilmore returned safely to complete his military service at Fort Benning near Atlanta. Family loomed big in his heart during this time, and he religiously drove home every couple of weeks for two years until he retired. Gilmore seldom spoke about his military experiences but was above all a soldier who served his country with honor and distinction.

Years later, the desire to live near their children led Gilmore and Marie to relocate to Washington State where Gilmore settled nicely into a job at Rohlinger Enterprises. Gilmore was embraced by an extended family at Rohlinger’s where he repaired utility tools and electrical line equipment. Setting a stellar example with his immaculate workstation and providing sage elderly advice earned him the title of “Grandpa Gil” which followed him for the remainder of his days. Always on the move, Gilmore and Marie made a few more moves over the years to spend time with family. They resettled in Florida, Massachusetts, back to Florida, and finally returned to Washington where the towering trees brought Gilmore so much joy.

Gilmore is survived by his daughter Barbara de Normandie (Pete) of Washington State, son Gilmore Ford Jr. of Florida, seven grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and Carol Ford. He was predeceased by his son, Michael who was born in Japan in 1964 and passed away in Houston, Texas in 1982. He was predeceased by his siblings Archie, O.C., Lucy, Robert, Jimmie Lee, Mary, Winston, Gladys, and Mae Francis.

Gilmore will be interned on the beautiful grounds reserved for military veterans, their spouses, and dependent children at the Tahoma National Cemetery located at 18600 SE 230th St. in Kent, Washington (425-413-9614) at 11:00 AM on October 2nd, 2023. Visitors will be permitted at the joint gravesite of Gilmore and Marie after 4:30 PM on October 2nd. In lieu of flowers, family and friends are invited to share memories and photos as well as plant a tree or light a candle in Gilmore’s memory available here on the Cook Family Funeral Home website.

The family of Gilmore Ford, Sr. extends special thanks to friends and family for supporting us during this difficult time. Special thanks is given to the staff and community at Wyatt House and the amazing team from MultiCare Home Health and Hospice – Dana, Chaplain Pierre, and Nurse Mary. Cook Family Funeral Home is also to be commended for their kindness and respect. And it is with great pleasure and appreciation to the U.S. Armed Forces that Gilmore will be laid to rest with his life partner in such a beautiful space under the glorious majesty of Mount Rainier.

Dad, you met the challenge with gusto to “be all you can be”. Now you can rest at ease knowing that we will never forget and ever honor.

Arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, WA.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gilmore Ford, Sr. , please visit our flower store.

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Monday, October 2, 2023

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