Highlight: William E. Ford

This entry has been published on May 4, 2022 and may be out of date.

Each month, we will highlight the different namesakes of the rooms within the library. These individuals have contributed greatly to make our institution what it is today, and we are deeply grateful for their commitment.

William E. Ford, Jr. “Bill” was born in Brooklyn, New York and served in the Korean War with the United States Navy. After the war, Bill finished his studies at St. John’s University and was in the first class to graduate from the Queen’s campus in 1957. Bill married Lenore Calabrese. They were married for 33 years, had four children and resided in Summit for 25 years.

Bill worked in insurance, finance, and estate planning with great success. Bill was a manager of financial services for Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Company and then founded the Ford Financial Group in 1966, where he served as president.

As committed as Bill was to his career, he was equally devoted to his family and his local community. Never working more than 20 minutes from home, Bill was a solid presence in his children’s lives. Bill and Lenore were active residents of Summit over the years, volunteering both in their children’s activities, such as the Summit Lacrosse Club, and in the greater community. They were dedicated parishioners and volunteers at St. Teresa of Avila. Lenore was a science teacher at the Summit Middle School and also served on the Summit Board of Education. Bill served on the Summit Board of Recreation for four years and was the chairman of United Way of Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights. Bill also volunteered as a member of the Pension Board of the Archdiocese of Newark for 10 years. He was a member of Canoe Brook Country Club and later Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield.

Sadly, Bill passed away in January of 1994 at the age of 63. Inspired by his life and wanting to honor his legacy, Lenore established the Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Committee that same year. “Something good came out of sadness”, Lenore has said of her mission. She also volunteered for many years at Overlook Hospital and the NJ Sharing Network for the cause of organ donation.

Lenore recalls the Summit Library being very “near and dear to her heart”. She and Bill were voracious readers and she has great memories of taking her children and grandchildren to story times. She also remembers the Library hosting her organization each April to do a program on organ donation. Lenore served on the Library Board of Trustees. Bill and Lenore were generous financial contributors to the Library for the renovation of 1998. Quiet Study Room 2 is a gift from the Ford family and friends in memory of Bill. Bill’s smiling photograph hangs in the room and the dedication plaque is mounted on the door.

Many thanks to Adult Services librarians Karen Venturella and Elizabeth Hathway for researching the contributions of Bill and Lenore Ford to the Summit Free Public Library and the Summit community.