Toledo City Councilman Jack Ford, 67, was a former mayor, five-term city councilman, school board member, and state representative.
Jack Ford, Toledo City Councilman and former mayor, died today.
Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said Mr. Ford, 67, died this morning at Toledo Hospital. She said he was taken there from his home by a life squad.
Mr. Ford’s death comes just six weeks after Mayor D. Michael Collins, who died Feb. 6 after suffering a cardiac arrest Feb. 1 while driving.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for photos from the Hicks-Hudson campaign event
The news of Mr. Ford’s death was announced this morning at fundraising event at Local 500 hall on Ashland Avenue for Mayor Hicks-Hudson, who was sworn in as mayor after Mr. Collins’ death. The morning’s event was intended to launch her campaign to retain her post.
"We're hit again with another great loss to the city," Mayor Hicks-Hudson said.
Rev. Otis J. Gordon of Warren A.M.E. Church made the startling announcement to a room packed with about 300 of Mayor Hicks-Hudson’s supporters, many of whom knew Mr. Ford. He announced the death at the beginning of the breakfast fundraiser, which had been delayed a few minutes by officials citing an emergency.
“It is my sad responsibility to report to you that our city has lost a great, great individual. Former Mayor Ford has just passed,” he said, as several in the crowd gasped. “We would ask that you pray for his family, and we know that you appreciate the contributions that he has made.”
Mr. Ford suffered a cardiac arrest at his home, said the mayor's chief of staff Robert Reinbolt.
He had been hospitalized before because of complications from kidney disease. Mr. Ford had Type 2 diabetes, a history of high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
Mr. Ford’s family released a statement calling him “a pillar in the Toledo community and throughout the state of Ohio.”
“He was a true public servant who served with distinction for nearly 50 years,” the statement said.
"It's obviously a shock. It's a passing of a great leader," said council president Steve Steel, among those who attended Mayor Hicks-Hudson’s event.
Mr. Steel said Mr. Ford was readmitted to a Toledo hospital today after being released earlier this week.
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson speaks with Ray Wood, president of the Toledo branch of the NAACP, upon learning of Jack Ford's death.
Mayor Hicks-Hudson called Mr. Ford a “consummate politician” and a “fine man.” She left her fundraiser before it started when she learned Mr. Ford had been taken to the hospital, but didn’t get to see him while he was hospitalized. She later returned to the union hall and addressed her supporters.
She described her relationship with Mr. Ford as a love-hate relationship like a big brother to a little sister.
“He was planning to be here,” she said, adding that he even talked about having people carry him up the steps so he could attend.
“It was supposed to be the kick-off of District 4, kick-off for mayor. It’s really a kick off in honor to continue his legacy,” she said.
She then read a speech Mr. Ford wrote for her recently.
Mr. Ford was a former mayor, five-term city councilman, school board member, and state representative. He worked more than 40 years in state and local government and nonprofit agencies, giving him a deep knowledge of policy issues. A progressive Democrat, Mr. Ford once said he would rather work with Republicans and independents than marginalize them.
Mr. Ford, who had degrees in law and public administration, was Toledo's first African-American mayor from 2002 to 2006. He also served on the Toledo school board and City Council, including a stint as council president. In 1998, he became minority leader of the Ohio House of Representatives.
His family said funeral service arrangements are pending and information will be announced Monday.
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