Albert H. Ford, rose grower

Albert H. Ford, a retired Bendix Field Engineering Corp. executive who was a noted Maryland rosarian, died Jan. 3 of pneumonia at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 90.

The son of a newspaperman and a homemaker, Albert Henry Ford was born in Atlanta and raised in Norfolk, Va., where he graduated in 1940 from Maury High School.


He briefly attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk before enlisting in the Navy during World War II, where he completed flight school at the naval air station in Pensacola, Fla.

Mr. Ford spent the war years as a flight instructor at various stateside naval air stations and was discharged in 1945.


While attending William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Va., where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1947 in mechanical engineering, Mr. Ford met Evelyn June Haller, whom he married the year he graduated.

Mr. Ford enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a master's degree in 1949 in psychology, and then moved to Towson when he took a job at Bendix Field Engineering Corp.

He was later promoted to vice president and worked in the field of employee relations. He received numerous awards for his work including the Skylab Achievement Award in 1974. He also was recognized for his work with the Howard County Workshop's Developmental Services Group, which he continued doing until 1986.

In addition to his work at Bendix, Mr. Ford taught industrial psychology from 1950 until 1987 at McCoy College, the Johns Hopkins University's old evening school.

Mr. Ford retired from Bendix in 1986.

He and his wife both enjoyed performing in community theater and designing sets for the Loch Raven Players.

"He starred in the play 'Harvey,' which features a large imaginary rabbit," said his daughter, Sidney-Anne Ford, a social worker who lives in Timonium.

In his retirement, Mr. Ford became interested in growing roses and with his wife planted more than 400 of them in the yard of their Timonium home, where they had lived since 1954.


"He had all kinds of roses which he had in the front and backyard of his home. He got interested in roses because his wife had a love for them and she became a prominent exhibitor, so he got involved," said David M. Walsh, a fellow rose enthusiast and expert who lives in Hampstead.

"His mother had also grown roses and had quite the green thumb," he said.

"Al also cultivated hybrid tea roses and liked miniature roses. In his backyard, he had Heirloom Old Garden Roses, which were his pride and joy," said Mr. Walsh. "He really enjoyed growing different types of Old Garden Roses. It was their fragrance that appealed to him. He also liked English roses, of which he had a few."

Mr. Ford was also an expert hybridizer.

"He liked propagating roses as well, and one he successfully hybridized was named Esther Ellen for his mother," said Mr. Walsh.

The rose, an orange blend, received a patent and was introduced in Canada in 2005 by Hortico Inc., said Mr. Walsh, who said there is one at Cylburn Arboretum.


Mr. Ford was a member of the American Rose Society and the Maryland Rose Society, where he was a consulting rosarian. For 25 years until stepping down last year, he edited the society's newsletter.

"Al was always providing information and help, and willingly shared his knowledge," said Mr. Walsh. "He did a lot of speaking engagements at local garden clubs. He was the kind of guy who willing drove to a caller's house to identify roses and give advice on pruning, feeding and their cultivation."

Mr. Ford enjoyed having groups to his home to see his roses and would often stage a pruning demonstration.

In 1991 and again in 2006, Mr. Ford received the Outstanding Consulting Rosarian Award presented by the Colonial Rose Society District of the American Rose Society, which encompasses Maryland, Washington, Virginia, Delaware and West Virginia.

Mr. Ford was also a much-sought-after judge who traveled throughout the Mid-Atlantic judging rose exhibitions.

"Judges always work in pairs, and I've gotten numerous emails from other judges who said they always enjoyed working with Al," said Mr. Walsh. "He had such a vast knowledge of roses that he could just look at the bloom and tell you its name."


Mr. Ford was also fascinated by the history of roses.

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"That was one of his biggest accomplishments. He knew the history of roses and had researched their names," Mr. Walsh said.

Mr. Ford's other interest was YANA — You Are Never Alone — a nonprofit organization that serves at-risk women and children with which his daughter is affiliated.

Ms. Ford said her father had a "great sense of humor and was described by others as being a true Southern gentleman."

Mr. Ford's wife, who had volunteered for more than 40 years with the Baltimore County Public Library, died in 1994.

He was a communicant of Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 W. Allegheny Ave., Towson, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.


In addition to his daughter, Mr. Ford is survived by many nieces and nephews.