Chem Professor Succumbs to Cancer

Florida A&M professor and coordinator for the chemistry labs Richard A. Ford succumbed to prostate cancer and passed away Feb. 23 at 2 a.m.

Professor and Chairperson of the department of chemistry Ngozi Ugochukwu said only a handful of people knew of Ford’s condition.

“Mostly faculty and staff knew,” said Ugochukwu.

A moment of silence was offered the same day at noon during chemistry lab.

Ford was known for his commitment and concern for all of his students.

Marrissa Walker, a Tallahassee native and Florida State alumna is currently taking prerequisite classes at FAMU in order to apply for the pharmacy program.

Walker mentioned how organized Ford’s classes were.

“In class, he would go around and make sure we were wearing our goggles and lab coats,” said Walker.

Students not only looked to Ford as a professor, but as a mentor.

Brandon Hepburn, 21, a junior chemistry student with a concentration in biochemistry from Brooklyn, N.Y. worked closely with Ford.

“He was a mentor to me,” said Hepburn.

Hepburn mentioned how Ford imitated what FAMU’s slogan means.

“He was the definition and demonstrated Excellence with care,” Hepburn said.

Ford was also a mentor to Thomas White, a chemistry adjunct instructor.

“He was very wise and knowledgeable in the subject,” said White.

Students in the department said that many of them have taken a course taught by Ford or have met him.

Nwamaka Onyeozili, 21, a senior chemistry student from East Lansing, Mich., said she never had Ford as a professor but he would always say hello when she saw him around.

“He would come into my general and organic labs making conversation with students and to see if we were okay,” said Onyeozili.

Former students of Ford have called in concern of what the chemistry department will be doing to honor Ford.

Ugochukwu mentioned the chemistry department will honor Ford during the annual Chemistry Banquet on April 14.

“Usually this banquet is to honor the students who are graduating and wish them well,” said Ugochukwu.

Ugochukwu and Ford began to work closely when Ugochukwu became chairperson over the department.

“At the end of the semester we would have to enter grades together and he never made mistakes,” said Ugochukwu. “He mastered putting in grades.”

Ugochukwu, who called Ford “Ritchie,” said Ford will be remembered for his passion and commitment for teaching.

Office manager of the Chemistry Department Virginia Dupree Gray, said she remembers the day Ford told her the news about his illness and said that student were not taking the news well.

“He would not want us to mourn,” said Gray, a friend of Ford for 10 years.

Ugochukwu feels the suddenness of his death did not give students enough time to prepare themselves.

To promote awareness and in honor of Ford, a prostate cancer awareness campaign will kick off after spring break hosted by the Rattler Association of Chemists.

Just a week ago a benefit was held for Ford and Gray sung a song.

“He always wanted me to sing,” said Gray.

For more information and details about funeral arrangements please call FAMU College of Arts and Science at 599-3430. Ford’s smile and commitment will greatly be missed around the Halls of Jones Hall.