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Gene Ford, 77, wine writer, dies
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Gene Ford's viewpoint was simple: A sense of humor, an optimistic outlook, some duct tape and a glass of wine would fix anything.
The noted wine writer and educator always gave the same toast, whether in person as he lifted his glass or at the end of his many written works: "To Your Health."
In 2001, Mr. Ford was named Wine Writer of the Year by the Wine Appreciation Guild. His book "The Science of Healthy Drinking" received an international award as Best Wine Literature of 2003.
Mr. Ford, 77, died June 10 of complications from heart surgery at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle.
In the magazines he published, Mr. Ford advocated moderate drinking. He was one of first experts to write about the benefits of wine or spirits in the diet.
He also taught classes on serving alcoholic beverages safely and how to understand wine.
"Now, computer systems are sophisticated, but 10 years ago when Dad started publishing his magazines, he used duct tape to hold everything together because there were so many cables," said his daughter, Susy Warden. "Duct tape was always big with Dad."
Several daughters and his wife worked on the magazines and wine videos with Mr. Ford. Despite deadline pressure, he was always optimistic, said daughter Gretchen Covey.
"We're all type A, anxious people, and Dad was a man of peace," Covey said. "He lived every moment to the fullest. When I worried about my kids, he would remind me how good they were. He was always positive."
Mr. Ford was also known for his expertise in the kitchen. With garnishes, a fresh salad and a glass of wine, he turned macaroni and cheese into an elegant meal, Warden said.
As an undergraduate at Catholic University, Mr. Ford worked a deal with the head of the drama department, Father Gilbert Hartke. When Hartke flew to Chicago for school breaks, Mr. Ford would drive Hartke's car to and from Illinois, ferrying other Iowa students.
Then one summer, Patricia Gorman caught a ride with him to D.C. for summer school and romance blossomed.
Although their families knew one another and his mother had been Gorman's Camp Fire leader, Mr. Ford hadn't paid attention to her until they rode together.
"Gene didn't realize I was around until we were at Catholic University together," she said. "It was an exciting time. Gene was very energetic and idealistic. Those were the days when Washington, D.C., was being desegregated.
"McCarthyism was rampant, and Gene and all his buddies were fighting that."
The couple married on Oct. 20, 1951.
After they married, Mr. Ford attended graduate school at Columbia. His interest in politics never waned, despite waging an unsuccessful campaign for an Iowa Congressional seat in the 1950s. Locally, he frequently served as a Democratic precinct committee chair.
His early career in public relations, campaigning and fundraising led to a career in the development office at Seattle University.
In the mid-1960s, he was recruited to be the Washington and Montana sales manager for Christian Brothers Wine.
"It was the beginning of the popularity of wine," Patty Ford said. "Coming from Iowa, our idea of wine was Mogen David at Christmas. But after he got interested in wine, we always had it with dinner."
Mr. Ford became a self-educated expert. In retirement, he followed his passion and became a renowned wine writer who authored eight books.
In addition to his wife and two brothers, Donald and Robert, he is survived by son Matthew Ford and daughter Lisa Marie Ford; daughters and sons-in-law Susy and Curt Warden and Gretchen and Brad Covey, all of Seattle; Teresa and Eric Opsvig of North Bend; Judy and Gary Taylor of Auburn; and his 14 grandchildren, Elizabeth, Gretchen, Neil, Gwendolyn, Bryce, Sonja, Colleen, Erica, Ford, Josie, Natalie, Joy, Teresa, and April. One son, Mark, died in 1970.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. today at St. Bridget Catholic Church, 4900 N.E. 50th, Seattle. Memorials or volunteer service may be made to Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, P.O. Box 5371, Seattle, WA 98105-0371.
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company