Chuck Ford, the first and still only African American elected to the Tucson City Council, has died at age 83.
Ford, who served eight years on the council, mostly in the 1980s, died Nov. 1 of complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in North Las Vegas, Nevada, said Doris Ford, his wife of 43 years.
Ford, a Democrat, was also a vice mayor of the city at times during his tenure on the council. He sat on the council from late 1979 through 1987, representing Ward 4 on the southeast side.
He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic mayoral nomination in 1991, losing in the primary to another council member, the late George Miller.
Ford was an important force in developing parks on Tucson’s east side, obtaining substantial money for them, recalled Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild on Friday.
Lakeside Park at 8300 E. Stella Road was renamed Chuck Ford Lakeside Park in his honor after his retirement from the council in 1987.
That happened because Ford worked hard to save the park after its main feature — a dam — collapsed, Arizona Daily Star archives show.
“He was always a gentleman, always willing to help. He was never one to impose” his views on others, Rothschild said. “He always represented the city and his ward with dignity. He set an example for all of us as to how you should behave.”
A school principal, Ford retired from the Tucson Unified School District 21 years ago after working at that job at Richey, Reynolds, Duffy and Collier elementary schools, Doris Ford said.
“He loved children and school communities. That was his life,” said Doris Ford, who herself worked at various times as a juvenile court psychologist, an assistant University of Arizona vice president for academic affairs and affirmative action, and an assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at Pima Community College.
Besides his wife, Ford is survived by three children and six grandchildren.
A musical tribute to Ford will be held in Tucson from 2 to 4 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2020, at Dunbar Pavillion, 325 W. Second Street.