Multiple sources have confirmed that Owensboro native, U.S. Senator Wendell Ford, died early this morning.
Wendell Hampton Ford was born September 8, 1924 near Owensboro in Daviess County, KY. He served for twenty-four years in the U.S. Senate and was the 53rd Governor of Kentucky. Senator Ford was the first person to be successively elected lieutenant governor, governor, and U.S. senator in Kentucky history. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving senator in Kentucky’s history.
The City of Owensboro has released the following statement:
Today, the City of Owensboro is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Senator Wendell H. Ford, who was truly a great American. All city flags will be lowered to half-staff today and will remain so until after his funeral. Senator Ford served our nation, our commonwealth and this city with distinction and honor.
Mayor Ron Payne commented, “My earliest memory of the Senator was the day I graduated from Brescia College in May of 1972. This was the same day that Senator Ford, then Governor Ford, received an honorary doctorate from Brescia College. I admired him then and admire him now. He contributed much to our community, especially in the area of transportation, our airport, education, veterans’ benefits and much more. I, for one, will miss his wit and wisdom, as I sought his advice on many occasions. He had a way of making his point using wit and humor in a manner similar to Will Rodgers and Abraham Lincoln. I will never forget his comment to me in the early years of our downtown renovation project, ‘Mayor, when they take your hide off for the first time, it grows back much thicker.’ I suppose this was his way of encouraging me to stay the course. Sister Joan Marie Lechner, president of Brescia College, said it best in a speech honoring the Senator, ‘Today, it is a privilege to honor Wendell Ford – a man who has dedicated himself to the social, cultural and physical welfare of his fellow man.’ He spent the rest of his life doing just that. I thank God for his gift of Wendell Ford. On behalf of everyone at the City of Owensboro, we send our most sincere condolences to his family and thank them for sharing him with us and the nation.”