In Memory of Elizabeth Ford

March 7, 2022
Betty Ford

The history of the Jane Coffin Childs Fund is inextricably linked with the life of Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Ford, who served the Fund in a variety of capacities for 55 years. Mrs. Ford, renowned for remembering the names of every JCC fellow and viewed as a member of the family, died on February 17, 2022 at the age of 94.

Mrs. Ford’s association with the JCC began in 1946, shortly after its launch as a cancer research foundation. By the time she retired in 2001, her formal title was that of Administrative Director, but her role was larger than that. She was a confidante, historian, meeting wrangler and organizer, money manager, and friend. Indeed, one observer described her as a “den mother” for many a struggling young scientist supported by the JCC.

Mrs. Ford worked for each successive generation of the Childs family: the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Jane Coffin Childs who comprised the Board of Managers, the Fund’s fiscal governing board. She also worked closely with the eminent scientists who served on the Board of Scientific Advisors and who were responsible for selecting JCC fellows. She managed all the administrative duties of the office, from processing the applications, to establishing and maintaining contact with fellowship recipients, dispersing the funds, and monitoring their progress.

For the fellows, administrators, scientific advisors, and all those who worked with her, Betty was practically synonymous with the Fund. She created a warm, loving home for that extended family and they are fortunate in having memories of her to share. Betty’s myriad contributions have burnished the work and impact of the Jane Coffin Childs Fund.

Mary Elizabeth Ford