Cover photo for James L. Ford, Jr.'s Obituary
James L. Ford, Jr. Profile Photo
1936 Jay 2023

James L. Ford, Jr.

December 9, 1936 — December 4, 2023







ames "Louis" Lewis Ford Jr., a native of Smithfield, Virginia, was born Dec. 9, 1936 to the late James L. Ford Sr. and Marie Hardy Ford (Johnson). He married the former Thelma Rozelle Spratley July 27, 1957, and to this union were born Karen Yolanda, James Ronald and Reginald Andre. Notably, he competed his earthly journey on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 just five days before his 87th birthday. "Danny," as his siblings called him, attended the Isle of Wight Training School, where he was the president and valedictorian of his 1955 graduating senior class. During his period of training at this institution, he played a major role in the sports of football and basketball. He sang bass in the school choir, and also in the New Farmers of America Quartet, who won first place in the organization's competition in Petersburg, Va. The quartet placed 2nd in the National Region held in Atlanta, Ga., with Mrs. Marie C. Day conducting. All of his family from parents to siblings had an affinity and appreciation for music. We remember his frequently going to the piano to belt out his voice parts or play "a little diddy" of something he knew or had heard.

"Jay," his other nickname, in September of 1955 entered Virginian State College, where he majored in Industrial Management, with a focus and specialization in electrical systems and circuitry, along with a minor in business. Virginia State was also where he joined the fraternal brothers of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, the Alpha Phi Chapter. He served as a lighting technician and also as the campus electrical maintenance serviceman. He completed his course curriculum studies at Norfolk State College, "Little State," to satisfy degree requisites to be awarded the bachelor of science degree from Virginia State. He sojourned back to Big State in 1994 to participate in commencement activities and officially be presented his degree among former high school educators, his mother, his wife and kids, and other family.

James obtained his in-service training from the Gwaltney Incorporated meatpacking plant, within the Maintenance Department, where he strived through hard work to excel. As a result, he was called back to work there permanently after completing his studies. He worked as the 2nd shift evening supervisor, eventually becoming the superintendent of maintenance by night, and as an independent electrician and contractor by day. His electrical prowess and handiwork spoke for themself, for he has placed "many a persons" back into proper daily operation regarding electricity, lights, operational appliances, as well as enabling the completion of construction and renovation electrical infrastructure for new housing and rewired housing. Just ask anyone in the community —churches, businesses and residential owners and renters, and they will all agree. As his friend Joe Spratley remarked —he was all things electric!

He has served Little Zion Baptist Church commendably well as a trustee for 58 years, without any questionable minds, especially during his tenure as church treasurer. He was also a staunch participant and supporter of the  its music ministry in Little Zion — specifically the Youth and Junior Choir, 2nd Senior Choir, the Mass and Church choirs, and the J.A. Taylor Male Chorus. He participated in the Kingdom Men's Ministry. He was faithfully involved in the oversight, upkeep and building expansion of the church's physical plant, attending to any of the mechanical needs of the property, to include the Little Zion Baptist Church portion of the Baptist Memorial Cemetery, the site of his interring. He was especially fond of the annual themebased Mother's Day Breakfast, sponsored by the Men's Ministry.

Not one to belong to numerous public and private, civic, and fraternal organizations, he was diligent in exercising his democratic citizenship —voting— and being aware of the issues, initiatives and actions of the global, national, state and local impact to our community. Locally, he was a citizen-servant appointee to the Isle of Wight County Tradesmen Certification Board from June 1983 — August 1995, representing the former Hardy District (now District 3). He was recognized with a Resolution of Recognition and Congratulation by the IOW County Board of Supervisors in 2016 during his 80th birthday celebration, honoring his significant contributions. He has always been actively involved in the community professionally as an electrician and as a volunteer supporting the efforts of families to have an improved quality of life through safe and secure housing.  James was an integral player in advising and conducting electrical projects — designing and installing planned electrical and lighting solutions for numerous churches in the community and beyond — establishing a rapport with other contractors and building trades and suppliers, businesses, journeymen and professionals, throughout Hampton Roads. An avid lover of news, entertainment and sports programming, his TV was on 24-7, tuned to the sports channels, professional or college football or basketball, or other sporting events. His pro sports teams were the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Yankees and the Boston Celtics. He would analyze each game every step of the way. If not watching sports, he could be seen taking in the day's top news events on the local affiliate, national news networks prime time shows or evening commentaries. Politically astute and apprised, he loved engaging individuals in dialogue and deliberation regarding the country's political state of affairs — often analyzing and connecting it with historical and contemporary biblical inferences.

We shall remember his entrepreneurial efforts to assist and encourage his daughter Karen in her dream of restaurant ownership in that of "Sista's Café," his love for his church home, Little Zion, and his pastor —Pastor Blackwell, and the ministries that he brought forth to the life and fabric of community and members as enrichment. He was an avid participant and listener of "First Hour".

James was predeceased by his parents, his wife Rozelle, two sisters —Ida F. Shivers and Jean F. Uzzle, — and an Uncle Clinton Hardy, who was raised with them and grew up more like a brother. His two brothers-in-love— Richard Uzzle, Sr., and John M. Shivers, also were equally avid church and community participants, were rooted in this same fabric of faith and family intentions.

All because two people fell in love...James and Rozelle cherished 55 1/2 years of marriage, and the Godly joy of their lives was rooted in their abiding faith and family. In addition to James' three adult offsprings, he cherished the sight and visits by his grandchildren, continually encouraging them to prepare themselves through getting a college education. He followed up with them consistently about the progression and state of the career paths and professional undertaking. His grandchildren are: Jameson D'Michele Gibbs, James Lewis Ford, Ill, JaQuisha Andria Ford, Jarad Anwar-Delk Ford, JzCole Evian-Vicarre Ford, and JaHeaven Armani Ford; his two daughters-in-law are Tawana W. Ford and Pacquita D. Ford. The two great-grandsons are Landon Gabin Gibbs and Lyon Grayson Gibbs. His one granddaughter-in love is Bridney Martin Gibbs. Additionally, he is cherished by two close and loving brothers, Oscar D. Ford and Charles R. Ford; along with three doting sisters—Lena T. Holmes, Jocelyn J. Morant, and Paula L. Johnson; four sisters-in-love—Anita L. Spratley, Emily T. Ford, Darlene G. Spratley, Jerrine H. Ford; one godson, Mr. Alonzo C. Taylor, and a close and loyal son-like family member, Terrence Green.

His loving and supportive circle of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and colleagues rounds out his community of affluence and network, all impacted by God's allowing him to come this way.

Gone but not forgotten are two grandchildren who preceded him in death- Reginald Andre Ford, Jr. and Baby Girl Ford. Taking a page from his wife Rozelle's 2013 obituary... the family can truly say that "throughout his personal challenges, disappointments, triumphs, and victories he was a man of great fortitude, determination, ethics, integrity, common sense, dedication, intuition, knowledge, wisdom and skill. The love he exhibited and shared among family and friends will always be an inspiration to us and trademark of his memory through the years: Achievement personified and embodied in this earthly vessel. A life of service. a life well- lived. a life well- loved. a life well-given  to others"

                                     TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY


On Monday, December 11, 2023 a viewing will take place from 3-6pm at Shivers Funeral Chapel. The Kappa Burial Ceremony will commence at 6pm. On Tuesday, December 12, 2023 A Celebration of Life will take place 10am at Little Zion Baptist Church Smithfield, VA. Please keep the Hardy-Ford family in your thoughts and prayers.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James L. Ford, Jr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, December 11, 2023

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Kappa Burial Ceremony

Monday, December 11, 2023

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

12:00 - 12:15 pm (Eastern time)

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