Margaret Ellen (Sullivan) Ford was born August 3, 1920 on a farm south of Afton to Charles and Sarah (Scherer) Sullivan. As the oldest of four children, she had many chores both inside and outside the house. She much preferred being outdoors, working as a “tomboy” alongside her father. During one of those outside jobs she found her father had died in the hayfield after being stung by bees.
Margaret graduated from Arispe High School in 1938. While her mother & siblings moved to Des Moines, Margaret went to Creston & began working in the office of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. Over 70 years later, she could still recall many of the farmers who came into the office, the number of acres they owned, and the township where they lived.
She grew up attending St Edwards Catholic Church in Afton. She fondly recalled going to mass one Sunday when she was 13 years old and noticing that a new family had joined the parish. That new family - the Fords - had a handsome son named Ed who would soon become the love of Margaret’s life.
Ed and Margaret dated throughout high school and during the time she worked in Creston. They loved to dance and enjoyed the all-night dances at the Chicken Inn west of Creston. When Ed was drafted into the Army in July 1942, their time together became very limited. Margaret took the train to his Army base at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and they were united in marriage on April 13, 1944.
After a brief honeymoon to New York City, Ed was deployed to Germany; so, Margaret returned to her job with the AAA in Creston. After Ed’s discharge in December 1945, they bought a farm south of Tingley near his brother Carl. Ed and Margaret loved the home place, and it became a true family farm as they welcomed four children into their lives. Margaret was the quintessential farm wife, and she spent her days running the household, helping with livestock, tending a large garden and a huge strawberry bed, being a 4H leader, taking the kids to religious education classes, and being available whenever Ed needed help.
Ed and Margaret farmed together for 31 years, until one day in 1977 when Ed told her that he had bought a house in Mount Ayr and they were moving to town. Ed probably experienced her Irish temper that day, but Margaret (reluctantly!) left the farm and set about making a new home in town. She returned to the work force, taking a job at the Ringgold County Hospital business office. She enjoyed her 8 years at the hospital and her coworkers quickly became her good friends. Ed and Margaret joined St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mount Ayr and immersed themselves into a new parish family.
Margaret’s life took yet another unexpected turn when Ed passed away suddenly in 1985. Her resiliency, strength, and independence helped her to adjust and start another chapter of life. She enjoyed traveling with the VIC Club, she helped with the grandchildren and attended many of their activities, and she was a longtime volunteer with the Red Cross Bloodmobile. She loved to read and subscribed to many magazines. She also maintained a partnership on the farm with Mike; keeping a close tab on the operation, scrutinizing every bill, and never missing an episode of Market to Market.
Margaret faithfully served as the St Joseph’s church treasurer from 1985-2015. She took great pride in balancing the books down to the last penny each week; and she knew where every dollar was spent. She was also instrumental in the construction of the new church building in 1992.
She was a member of the Tingley T Club for over 60 years, building friendships with other young farm wives and mothers as they made time in their busy schedules to gather every month. These relationships lasted a lifetime, and this group of women really enjoyed growing old together!
Margaret was fiercely independent and remained in her own home until the age of 98. She moved to Mount Ayr Healthcare Center in August of 2018 and quickly made many new friends. She was proud of her “apartment” and enjoyed sitting in the day area where she could be in the middle of all the action!
Those left to cherish her memory include three children: Charles Ford of Mount Ayr, Michael (Nancy) Ford of Tingley, and Marcia (Delwyn) Showalter of Mount Ayr; five grandchildren: Kyle Ford of Norwalk, Kristyn Ford of Tingley , Kirk Ford of Indianola, Daniel (Jessica) Showalter of Mount Ayr, and David (fiancé Taryn Fisher) Showalter of Ackley; great grandson Gus Showalter of Mount Ayr; sister Mary Gamerman of Chicago, Ill.; as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Ed, son Craig, sister Catherine, and brother Martin.
Memorials may be directed to the St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mount Ayr Health Care Center or Every Step Hospice.