Steve ’68 and Mary Ford P’05

Steve and Mary Ford
Steve and Mary Ford established the Ford Family Scholarship in 1995 and have been making outright gifts to it ever since, but in 2006 they decided to think about themselves as well and established a flexible charitable gift annuity. The annuity pays them an income for the rest of their lives, and after their deaths the residual reverts to Colby to support the Ford Family Scholarship.

"I was a scholarship recipient at Colby, and I worked in the Roberts dining hall and at other jobs throughout college," said Steve. "If I hadn't had the scholarship aid, I wouldn't have been able to attend Colby. Because of that and because of the whole Colby experience, I think it's important that we help other students in the same situation to the extent we can."

The Fords are proponents of liberal arts educational institutions because they allow students the flexibility to experience a broad selection of subjects and opportunities, and they give students a good foundation for pursuing their interests later in life. "Colby allowed me to meet a lot of good and talented people, and the classwork was interesting and challenging. I got involved in several activities (Zeta Psi, dorm staff, Woodsmen's Team, Catholic Newman Club, Interfraternity Council, and sports), and I was well prepared for law school," said Steve, who later specialized in corporate law. It was the overall Colby experience rather than one class, professor, or activity that made his education satisfying, he said.

The Fords are particularly appreciative of Colby's internationalism and the opportunities students have to study abroad, experience a different culture, and learn another language. "The opportunities for students today are terrific," said Steve. "Very few students went abroad when I was in school, but nowadays Colby has a huge percentage of students studying abroad. Living in a different culture and learning another language are very important. When I worked for Coty, which is a global company, only about thirty-five percent of our operations were in the U.S. It confirmed for me how many people are better at languages than I and many other Americans, who only speak English. Many Europeans and Asians speak one or two languages in addition to their native tongues, and I think it's important that we do so as well if we're going to be successful in the global community. By offering students the opportunity to have the experience of a different culture and language, Colby is doing just the right thing."

Steve thinks Colby's presidents during his connection with the College—Strider, Cotter, and Adams—all have done great work in keeping the College on a straight course financially while expanding the opportunities that a Colby education offers. "I certainly can't find any fault with what they're doing. Obviously we were all disappointed with the financial meltdown at the end of 2008, but the College did as fine a job steering through that period as any nonprofit institution I've seen.

"I hope that once people have the opportunity to experience Colby they will also feel the importance of giving back. Colby regularly holds luncheons for scholarship donors and recipients; those events are fantastic opportunities to sit down with these young people and see what they are accomplishing. They are really amazing, and I always use that opportunity to put in a plug that I hope they, too, will give back to Colby when they're able. It's important to keep the tradition going."

About charitable gift annuities, Steve said, "Colby has a product that can be very helpful to the donor as well as the College. One of these annuities can play an important role in a retirement financial strategy. And when the residual goes to the College, that's all for the better."

Steve is currently president of the Class of '68 and a Colby Fund agent, and he has been an active volunteer since graduating. Both his son Bill '05 and his late father, William '26, are Colby graduates, so there's a Colby tradition in the family. Bill, who spent his junior year at Colby in France and already has served on the Alumni Council, is currently working on his M.B.A. at Yale and expects to graduate in May.

Steve retired from his position as senior vice president and general counsel at Coty in 2008. He does pro bono work in the Philadelphia area and is an active fundraiser not only for Colby but also for Villanova University, where he earned his J.D., and Ithaca College, from which his son Peter graduated. Mary worked as a nurse before taking the lead in raising the couple's five children. In retirement the couple enjoys spending time with family and friends in Maine during the summer and traveling during the colder months. Their previous gifts to Colby include a Miller Library conference room named in honor of Steve's father.

Let’s talk.
To learn more about how your inspired gift can make a lasting impact on generations of Colby students, please contact the Office of Gift Planning. Call Susan F. Cook ’75, P’11, at 800-809-0103, e-mail sfcook@colby.edu, or visit www.colby.edu/willows.
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