Cover photo for Marie Carol Richardson Ford's Obituary
Marie Carol Richardson Ford Profile Photo
1935 Marie 2023

Marie Carol Richardson Ford

December 4, 1935 — June 20, 2023

Mrs. Marie Carol Richardson Ford resided on Bainbridge Island in Washington State with her husband, Retired Master Sergeant Gilmore Ford, Sr. when she passed away at the age of 87. She died on June 20, 2023, at St. Michael's Medical Center in Silverdale, Washington.


Marie was born in 1935 on December 4th in Red Bank, New Jersey. She was the youngest of nine children born to Ella Serena Taylor Richardson and George A. Richardson, a coal deliveryman, school bus driver and Special Red Bank Police Officer.


Marie’s favorite saying was to “always wear a smile” which she did, bringing joy to everyone she met. Her gentle nature, genuine concern for the well-being of others, and commitment to personal growth made her a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sibling, and community volunteer.


Marie lost her mother when she was just twelve years old but was blessed with a close-knit family. During the years that followed, Marie helped her widowed father care for her older brothers who still lived at home. She even baked apple pies with her best friend for the family the way her mother taught her. Her favorite brother, Alfred, whenever possible made surprise visits home during his active-duty years in the Army giving Marie and her best friend spending money for treats and school supplies.


Marie was known as “Little Bits” in high school and loved listening to music and collecting records. You can imagine her surprise when “Count” Basie played at her high school prom in their shared hometown. Marie also loved the ocean and could often be found in Pinebrook enjoying the carnival, visiting the  boardwalks in Asbury Park or Long Branch, or simply relaxing with friends.


Marie had her sights set on beauty school, but her plans changed when her sister Estelle’s military boyfriend, Dennis Hall, introduced her to a dashing soldier in his company named Gilmore Ford from Tennessee. During their more than 65 years of marriage, Marie expanded her skills to include sewing, knitting, crocheting, and canning. Marie also kept a sparkling clean home, growing their family and garden.


Marie and Gilmore traveled the world living in California, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Maryland. She crossed the Atlantic by ship to join Gilmore in Karlsruhe, Germany, and traveled solo with three children on Pan Am to set up house in Sagamihara, Japan. They drove across the country several times and introduced their family to the wonders of the world during countless Sunday drives to historical sites.


Living on the Army base in Karlsruhe, Germany was a difficult but special time in the early 1960s for the young couple and their two daughters. The military required soldiers and their dependents to practice evacuations drills to France because of unrest in East Germany and Russia. Marie and Gilmore weathered the challenges with ease, making sure they were always prepared. Marie was as feisty and independent as much as she was kind. She surprised Gilmore by purchasing a piano in 1964 when he was on TDY (Temporary Duty) in Ecuador and taught herself to play that piano. Marie loved gospel, jazz, big band, soul, and blues passing her lifelong love of music on to their children.


One of their most frightening and challenging times together occurred in 1968 when Gilmore was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and their almost daily exchange of letters ceased to flow. Mustering her courage and focusing on the kids, Marie never complained about the stress or her fears. Her prayer were answered when Gilmore returned safely home to them. This was not the first or the last time Marie faced the struggles and fear of remaining at home while her soldier went off to war.


Marie and Gilmore settled in Tennessee just prior to Gilmore’s 3rd tour in Viet Nam and built a beautiful home on hilltop acreage overlooking the rolling landscape. Their desire to live near their children eventually led them to Poulsbo, Washington where they made new friends and enjoyed time with their grandchildren. But the “travel bug” was not so easily dismissed. The couple relocated to Florida and then Massachusetts, ultimately returning to Washington State.


First recognized for teaching Sunday School in Japan, Marie also earned awards for serving as the choir director and gospel pianist for the A.M.E. church. She founded the first Girl Scout troop open to girls of all ethnic backgrounds in her community. She volunteered in the schools working tirelessly with the Band Boosters and became an accomplished rock mason. Marie achieved all of this while raising four children, often when Gilmore was stationed in war zones. She took a position as a retail store cashier before applying her skills to designing, constructing, and selling clothes for American Girl Dolls.


Marie is survived by her husband, Gilmore Ford Sr., daughters Barbara Ford de Normandie (Pete de Normandie) of Washington State and Carol Ford of Massachusetts, son Gilmore Ford Jr. of Florida, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and her brother Silas Richardson. Marie was predeceased by her son, Michael Ford who was born in Japan in 1964 and passed away in Houston, Texas in 1982. Her siblings who predeceased Marie are Alfred, Clyde, Isabelle, Estelle, Johnnie, George Jr., and Lucille.


A celebration of life and viewing for Marie will be held at Cook Family Funeral Home located at 163 Wyatt Way NE on Bainbridge Island, Washington (206-842-2642) on July 11th , 2023, from 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM. Marie 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) on July 11th , 2023 at 1:30 PM. Visitors will be permitted at the gravesite after 4:30 PM on July 11th .


The family of Marie Ford extends special thanks to friends and family for supporting us during this difficult time. Special thanks are given to the team and her new-found friends at Wyatt House. Marie regained her voice and experienced true joy living in this amazing community. Cook Family Funeral Home is to be commended for assisting us in arranging a special celebration of Marie’s life. And it is with great pleasure and appreciation to the U.S. Armed Forces that Marie will be laid to rest in such a beautiful space under the glorious majesty of Mount Rainier.


Marie’s gracious smile, love of the open road, appreciation for the simple things in life, and commitment to family will be cherished forever. May you soar with the birds you so enjoyed watching.


We love you, Mom, and you did indeed “drink the whole thing”!



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

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

9:30 - 10:30 am (Pacific time)

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Graveside

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Starts at 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

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