Local man dies at age 106

October 28, 1997


Staff Writer

The children of Samuel Ralph Ford want to pass on a message from their father, who died Sunday at the age of 106.

Don't worry.

John Ford, 69, of Martinsburg, W.Va., one of Samuel Ford's six surviving children, said his father used to tell him, "Never worry about anything, because 99 percent of what you worry about never happens."

Charles Ford, 71, of Hagerstown, said he never saw his father worry and remembers him as being cheerful and whistling.

"These people lived through some pretty rough times," including a 1918 flu epidemic and the Great Depression, Ford said. The family wasn't wealthy, but seemed to always do well, he said.


Ford was the oldest resident of any retirement community in Washington County, according to the Williamsport Nursing Home, which hosts an annual party on National Centenarians' Day.

His twin brother, Cyrus Ford, died at the age of 99 in 1990.

Samuel Ford was never sick and never had a wrinkle before he had a stroke about three weeks ago, Charles Ford said. His health deteriorated afterward, he said.

Jane Diffenderfer, of Hagerstown, said her father exercised regularly and never ate between meals.

He worked out with dumbbells into his 90s, even when he was living at Avalon Manor, Diffenderfer said.

She said she is amused by reports about some foods being unhealthful. Her father ate ham, eggs and home fries for breakfast every morning when he was young, she said.

Not only would Samuel Ford not worry, but he never held a grudge, she said. "Pop never had a temper," said Diffenderfer.

Ford was born in Middleburg, Pa., on July 14, 1891, the son of the late Harvey Elmore and Amelia Jane Gerhardt Ford.

He married Sara Zeluska Zemora Palmer on Feb. 16, 1914. She died in 1973.

While working for Wells Fargo, which would later become American Express Co. and Railway Express Co., Ford saw the transition from horse and buggy deliveries to trucks, according to Charles Ford.

Ford worked for the delivery company for about 44 years until he retired in 1958.

"He was the only guy to beat the Social Security system," joked Charles Ford.

Samuel Ford celebrated National Centenarians' Day on July 15, one day after his 106th birthday.

The oldest resident in a county retirement community is now Celia Staley, said Meg Cliber, Williamsport Nursing Home spokeswoman. Staley, 101, was born on Feb. 15, 1896, and is a resident at Williamsport Nursing Home.

During the July party, Ford said he remembered his first job with the Western Maryland Railroad in 1912.

"I painted cars and engines," he said. Ford also said he liked to read Reader's Digest and the Bible.

"I read the entire Scripture, oh, about eight or 10 times," he said.

Ford, who had eight children, is survived by daughters Diffenderfer and Mary Boehmer, of Kansas; and sons Webster Ford, of Florida; Edward Ford of Hagerstown, and Charles Ford and John Ford.

He also is survived by 17 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, 19 great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great grandson.

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