Southeast Alumnus Jerry Ford to be Honored with Distinguished Service Award


Jerry Ford will be honored with a Distinguished Service Award presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association during Homecoming festivities Oct. 12.

Distinguished Service Awards are presented to individuals and organizations that have made lasting contributions to their communities and to the University.

Ford will be recognized at the Copper Dome Society/Merit Recognition Dinner during the University’s Homecoming celebration. The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Show Me Center.

Ford is the director of the Jerry Ford Orchestra and former consultant for people with disabilities in the Missouri Capitol for over 40 years.

He served two terms as Missouri state representative of the 156th District from 1979-1982. During his service, he assisted the University in receiving $4.4 million from the legislature for capital improvements, including for the renovation of Magill Hall. He also served two terms as president of the Cape Girardeau Board of Education, during which time as president, he was instrumental in saving 173 acres at North Sprigg Street and Bertling, where the University’s tennis courts are located as well as an apartment complex and Blanchard Elementary School.

Ford has given more than 50 years of service to the University as a student and alumnus. He graduated from Southeast in 1964 with Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in music.  He distinguished himself with many activities during his undergraduate years, including having served as a charter member of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity, where he produced the first three “All Campus Reviews,” and a four-year member of the Southeast Marching Band (known then as the Golden Eagles Marching Band) and University Choir. He was inducted into “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and a recipient of the prestigious “Balfour Award” as the outstanding Sigma Chi of Missouri in 1964.

He is a member of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation’s Copper Dome Society and President’s Council, and a former member of the Foundation’s Executive Committee. He and his wife, Margaret, are Foundation benefactor level donors.

In addition to his service to the University Foundation, he served on the Athletic Booster Board, now known as the Redhawks Club Board, for 28 years, where he raised more than $150,000. He has been a season ticket holder for Southeast’s basketball program since 1964.

Ford represented the city on the River Campus Board of Managers for 15 years. During his tenure, he authored “Honor to St. Vincent’s: A History of St. Vincent’s College and the River Campus,” and “A Building Not Forgotten,” which have been distributed to several thousand people at no charge.

He has raised more than $50,000 in his 10-year tenure on the Southeast Missouri Music Academy Board. During famed jazz pianist Peter Nero’s visit to the campus, Ford raised more than $6,000 for the Southeast Jazz Program, which he started as an undergraduate while at Southeast. His music groups have raised funds for various causes, including a $6,000 concert for Southeast’s theatre program when performances previously were held in Rose Theatre, and three for the University’s public radio station, KRCU. He continues to provide part-time employment for University faculty and students in his various musical groups.

Additionally, Ford coordinated the 10-year celebration of the opening of the River Campus honoring the Vincentians, raising more than $15,000 to secure the world premiere of “Timeless Banks and Shoals,” a symphony for orchestra and chorus by Dr. Gordon “Dick” Goodwin, professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina and childhood friend of Ford. The event brought many people and church officials from around the country and from Rome, Italy, to the campus.

His latest project was producing and performing his “An American Hero: USO Show” in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall, which raised approximately $14,000 to help send Southeast students, faculty and staff to perform “An American Hero” at the New York Musical Festival in July.