Former House Speaker Tim Ford, a Democrat was first elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1979. House Republican Bill Denny of Jackson said, when Ford was elected speaker in 1988, he worked to build a coalition that included both parties. Denny was one of 11 members Ford tapped for help.
"He selected these members in order to try and feel his way in between one session and the next. What the important items would be, and just how we might want to handle it and so on. I always teased him and called it his 'kitchen cabinet'." said Denny.
Robert Clark, the first African American elected to the legislature since reconstruction, served alongside Ford as House Speaker Pro Tempore for 12 years. Clark said, Ford was not a politician, but a statesman, who was instrumental in helping African Americans gain more of a voice in the House. He said Ford's door was always open
"If you had an idea that was good for the state of Mississippi. He was willing to work with you on it. He didn't ostracize you and you could not come to his office because you weren't a member of this party, or that group or what have you." said Clark.
Ford, a Baldwyn native, left the legislature in 2004, and became a partner in the Balch and Bingham Law Firm. A memorial service will be held today at Ole Miss.